Friday Pasta — Video Edition

This week, we’ll be doing things a little differently. Instead of a regular creepy pasta, I’m posting a short horror film based on a creepy pasta. It’s eerie. It’s chilling. It’s just downright creepy. Here is 2AM: The Smiling Man:

If you’d rather read the creepy pasta it’s based on, here it is. Enjoy.

I take no credit for the story and video. All credit goes to the original creators, Michael Evans (film) and blue_tidal (story).

Friday Pasta — 50s Edition

I really enjoy creepy pastas that possess an aura of authenticity, the ones that sound like they could be real and not just a scary story. This week’s pasta is just this kind of tale and from what I hear, there are people who genuinely wonder whether it is actually true. Here is The Disappearance of Ashley, Kansas:

Sometime during the night of August 16, 1952, the small town of Ashley, Kansas ceased to exist. At 3:28 AM on August 17, 1952, a magnitude 7.9 earthquake was measured by the United States Geological Survey. The earthquake itself was felt throughout the state and most of the midwest. The epicenter was determined to be directly under Ashley, Kansas.

When state law enforcement arrived at what should have been the outskirts of the farming community, they found a smoldering, burning fissure in the earth measuring 1,000 yards in length and approximately 500 yards in width. The depth of the fissure was never determined.

After twelve days, the state-wide and local search for the missing 679 residents of Ashley, Kansas, was called off by the Kansas State Government at 9:15 PM on the night of August 29, 1952. All 679 residents were assumed to be dead. At 2:27 AM on August 30, 1952, a magnitude 7.5 earthquake was measured by the United States Geological Survey. The epicenter was situated under what used to be the location of Ashley, Kansas. When law enforcement investigated at 5:32 AM, they reported that the fissure in the Earth had closed.

In the eight days leading up to the disappearance of the town and its 679 residents, bizarre and unexplainable events were reported by dozens of residents in Ashley, Kansas and law enforcement from the surrounding area.

On the evening of August 8, 1952, at 7:13 PM, a resident by the name of Gabriel Johnathan reported a strange sight in the sky above Ashley. The town itself, having no official branch of law enforcement, called into the police station of the neighboring town of Hays. Gabriel reported what appeared to be a “small, black opening in the sky.” Within the next fifteen minutes, the Hays police station became overwhelmed with dozens of phone calls all reporting the same phenomenon. The phenomenon was never reported by any neighboring communities. A decision was made to send of a trooper to Ashley to investigate the matter the following morning.

At 7:54 AM on the morning of August 9, 1952, Hays Police Officer Allan Mace radioed the Hays Police Station. He reported that, despite following the one way road leading into Ashley, he had become lost. According to his report, the road “continued along its normal path, but somehow ended up back in Hays.” Officer Mace went on to add that the road never curved, or bent in any direction. At 9:15 AM, seven of the town’s 10 police cars were sent to investigate the situation, and all members of the team came to the same conclusion. The only road leading into Ashley stopped leading into Ashley, but instead led back to Hays. Phone calls continued to pour into the Hays Police Station, all reporting that the black opening in the sky continued to grow in size. All callers were advised to remain inside, and to not travel outside unless absolutely necessary. At 8:17 PM, Mrs. Elaine Kantor reported her neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Milton, and their two children, Jeffery and Brooke, missing. According to Mrs. Kantor’s phone call, the Miltons attempted to leave town in their family car earlier in the evening. They never returned. Law enforcement officials from Hays never reported the car, or individuals, coming up the one way road.

At 7:38 AM on the morning of August 10, 1952, phone calls from Ashley into the Hays Police Station reported that the town was in total darkness. The sun had never risen. At 10:15 AM, at the request of Hays Law Enforcement, a helicopter from Topeka, Kansas flew over the region in which Ashley, Kansas stood. The town was never observed from air.

At 12:43 PM on the afternoon of August 11, 1952, Ms. Phoebe Danielewski called into the Hays Police Station. She reported that her daughter Erica had begun to have conversations with her father, who died three years prior in a drunk driving accident. To add to her concern, Ms. Danielewski reported that Erica was attempting to go outside into the dark, to “join them.” Over the course of the next twelve hours, a reported 329 phone calls were placed into the Hays Police Station all describing similar phenomenon with the children of the town.

The following morning of August 12, 1952, the situation became dire. During the middle of the night, all 217 children in the town of Ashley, Kansas disappeared. A reported 421 phone calls were placed into the Hays Police Department. Unable to be of any useful assistance, Hays Law Enforcement instructed all callers to remain inside and to avoid any and all attempts at finding the missing children.

At 5:19 PM on the evening August 13, 1952, Ashley elderly man Scott Luntz reported a growing, distant fire to the south. According to his description, the fire seemed to turn the distant black into “bright red and orange [that] seemed to extend high into the sky.” Throughout the rest of the day, calls continued in, stating that the fire, in addition to moving north, now seemed to “come out of the black sky.” No fire was ever witnessed by any of the neighboring communities or law enforcement officials.

The reports continued until 12:09 AM on the morning of August 14, 1952. The last phone call, placed by a Mr. Benjamin Endicott, reported that the fire in the sky had grown so intense that it began to appear as daytime over the town. The phone call ended abruptly:

(FROM THE PHONECALL PLACED BY BENJAMIN SHERMAN ENDICOTT)

Benjamin:
Just hold on… wait…

(continued silence)

Benjamin (cont.):
Yeah, yeah I see something. It’s to the south. It looks like-

[END PHONECALL]

The next phone call wouldn’t be placed until the following evening.

The following is the entire transcript of the final phonecall to be received by the Hays Police Department out of the town of Ashley, Kansas. It was placed at 9:46 PM on the evening of August 15, 1952. In this recorded phonecall, the officer on duty is Officer Peter Welsch. The caller has been identified as Ms. April Foster.

[BEGIN PHONECALL]

Officer Welsch:
Hays Police Department.

(muffled static)

Officer Welsch:
Hello?
Foster:
YES… yes, hello?
Officer Welsch:
Ma’am, who am I speaking with?
Foster:
My name is April, April Foster. (coughs) Please, sir. Please help me.
Officer Welsch:
What is happening, ma’am?
Foster:
Last night… last night they came back.
Officer Welsch:
Ma’am, I’m going to need you to –
Foster:
LAST NIGHT THEY CAME BACK! (cries)
Officer Welsch:
Ma’am, I’m going to need you to calm down, and speak clearly. What happened? Who came back?
Foster:
(sobbing) Everyone.
Officer Welsch:
Everyone?
Foster:
They all came in the fire.
Officer Welsch:
What do you mean everyone?
Foster:
My son… I saw my son last night. He was walking… he was walking down the street. He was burned. Jesus Christ HE WAS BURNED.
Officer Welsch:
Ma’am I –
Foster:
He died last year. I raised him since he was a baby… it was just me and him. I told him to watch for cars when he rode his bike. But he never wanted to listen.
Officer Welsch:
Ma’am, what you’re saying isn’t making any sense. You said everyone came back?
Foster:
ARE YOU FUCKING LISTENING TO ME? EVERYONE. Everyone came back. Everyone who died, or went missing, they’re back. And they’re looking for US! (cries)
He…he said: “Mommy, I’m okay now! See, I can walk again! Where are you, Mommy? I want to see you!” (sobs)
Officer Welsch:
… Ma’am, where are you now? Are you safe?
Foster:
I’m hiding. Just like everyone else. We saw them coming through the fields… and… some people opened their doors for them. God, the SCREAMING. (pause) I don’t know what happened to them. But their houses caught fire and they… caved in. I have my curtains drawn. I’m hiding in the closet right now and- (silence)
Officer Welsch:
Ma’am, is everything alright, are you okay?
Foster:
(silence)
Officer Welsh:
Ma’am?
Foster:
(glass breaking)
Oh… Oh my God.
Officer Welsh:
Ma’am?
Foster:
Something just came in. (muffled cries)
Officer Welsch:
Ma’am, stay as quiet as you can. Don’t make a sound.
Foster:
(Muffled: “Mommy… mommy?”)
(sobbing) He came inside.
Officer Welsch:
Stay absolutely still. Don’t leave.
Foster:
(Sound of muffled footsteps)
(Muffled: “Mommy? Mommy, where are you hiding?”)
Officer Welsch:
Stay quiet.
Foster:
(Sound of heavy footsteps. Laughter. Muffled: “I found you, MOMMY!”)
(Indiscernible screaming and noise)
Officer Welsch:
Ma’am? MA’AM?

[END PHONECALL]

The following morning, at 6:55 AM, the law enforcement officials of the Hays Police Department arrived at the location of Ashley, Kansas. A smoldering, burning fissure in the Earth was all that remained.

Above story was NOT written by me and I take absolutely no credit for it. All rights go to the original writer.

Friday Pasta — Worldwide Edition

I really enjoyed this week’s pasta because it really felt like something that could be true. You can almost believe that there is a worldwide mystery out there and all you have to do is put the dots together to discover the horrifying truth. It reminds me of Lovecraft in that way. Here is A Game of Tag by Cainmak.

In 2017, a certain video appeared on Youtube.

The phone recording presented a busy intersection in a rather large city, probably in the United States. The circumstances indicated the situation took place during rush hours on March or April, as people were wearing light coats and some snow was still visible along with blooming trees and grass.

The recording starts with screaming.

You can hear distant cries. Few people are seen running and even from a distance, it is clearly a panic rush, with lots of scuffling and pushing aside. There is a sense of confusion and uncertainty in the air. Among the obscured noises, one clear “What’s going on?” can be heard. The video is good quality, but shaky, as the person holding the phone is trying to get closer to the commotion.

Around the tenth second the chaos starts spreading. Pedestrians are now moving faster and more people are running. If it wasn’t for the crowd on the crossing, some would definitely got hit by a car as they are reckless and focused on getting as far as they can. The faint sound of police sirens can be heard at the moment. The phone user is now more or less 40 feet away from the center of the ruckus, getting a nice panorama shot. Two seconds later there is a scream somewhere very close. Mass hysteria ensues.

When the timer hits nineteen seconds, a girl in a green hoodie emerges from the right corner of the screen.

She is unnoticed by the camera person. The crowd is thinner where she appeared and she easily navigates among the pedestrians. You can see she is somewhere around her early twenties, has long black hair that covers half her face and seems less distracted than anybody else, holding her hands in her pockets and hunching as if having back problems. People are now running around her. When she gets closer to the center, a fifty-something man in a wool jumper turns in her direction. He says something muffled and the subtitles below read “Do you know what’s going on?” Before any of the viewers start wondering why this random voice is subtitled, as nothing else is, the girl says something in response, then releases her hand from her pocket and touches the man on the shoulder.

The camera notices the sudden movement in the corner and zooms at the scene, where the man starts twitching frantically as if having a seizure. Something happens to his face as it starts getting red and blistering. Three seconds later and the phone’s owner cries (it’s a guy) “Oh my f*****g god! Oh f**k! Oh f**k!” as the man falls to the ground, with an unnaturally swollen chest. The nearby passers-by watch this in fear, only to start screaming and running away.

The crowd, now knowing the source of the panic, began spreading, a vast wave of bodies that flooded the street, stopping vehicles. Some people run past the camera person, the phone catches glimpses of their horrified faces. We can also start noticing other phones recording the commotion. The police arrives, their flickering lights appear somewhere in the corner. The girl is now in focus, she walks toward another person and touches them. It’s a teenage boy, who makes choking gestures and starts bleeding from his mouth as his chest bloats to giant proportions. Two other boys, probably his friends, scream and try to run away, but one is snatched by the girl. He stumbles onto the ground, red and choking blood; the other one cries so loud it can be heard above the noise. Someone, a young woman, in the general confusion, bumps into the girl. She falls to the ground, not moving. The girl then proceeds to leap towards every person she is able to. She touches them and each one ends up the same way. After touching about four more people, for a brief second, she looks in the direction of the camera, grinning widely.

The video is one minute four seconds long and has over six million views. The comment section consisted mostly of “WTF” and “Is this real?”, but many were not really convinced: some shouted it was fake, there were few who believed it was one of those pranks used to promote new horror movies (and in a very bad taste, they added); trolls were joking they would bang her either way.

This was the most popular video of the happening. Overall, there were over fifteen original recordings, all shot from different angles and moments.

After the incident, the girl in the green hoodie was nowhere to be found.

The event received media coverage all over the world, but the fact that people died after being touched was barely mentioned. Most news reports described it as a biological attack organized by terrorists and that the girl in the green hoodie was using either some kind of gas or syringe filled with toxic chemicals. This blatant lie wasn’t overlooked by the Internet, as millions of commenters shouted that no gas nor syringe was present during the event and witnesses actually saw that a simple touch would turn a person into a blood-choking red mess. The media, however, refused to accept this explanation and turned a blind eye to the accusations.

No real explanation was given to the deaths as well. According to medical authorities, the victims had been dead before any help arrived. For a few days only a range of symptoms were presented to the public: skin lesions, obstruction of the lungs, eye inflammation, etc. as the official cause of death was still unknown. However, two days after the incident, a post was published on an anonymous message board. The creator claimed to be one of the morgue attendants that were examining the bodies. He or she felt obliged to tell the truth about the condition of the bodies, but were shut down by their supervisors in order not to spread panic. They explained that the cause of death was asphyxiation caused by severe pulmonary injuries, which explained the bleeding and swollen chests. OP expressed their shock as they have never seen such amount of damage caused in such a short time. They also added that the victims were exposed to aflatoxins. Aflatoxins are cancerous chemicals often found in corn, walnuts or peanuts, to name a few, that, especially when improperly stored, can lead to liver cancer and other horrible things such as hemorrhage. According to OP, the amount of aflatoxins in the bodies was twenty times larger than in normal instances of an aflatoxin poisoning, which caused severe damage to their livers. The list of symptoms goes on: throat injuries, internal bleeding, dermatitis, sore and bloodshot eyes, etc. developed to a very serious stage. “The effects are similar to being exposed to black mold for a prolonged period of time” wrote the anonymous user and never responded to any of the comments. Although people were skeptic, the post gained a lot of attention.

For a few months, Youtube became flooded with reaction videos and theories. Conspiracy theorists believed the girl in the green hoodie was a governmental experiment gone wrong, a real-life SCP or even Pestilence, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The girl even gained her own cult following, becoming an Internet meme. She was dubbed Rosie, in reference to “Ring Around the Rosie,” as it was a nursery rhyme about the Black Death.

But this was not the first time Rosie appeared on the Internet.

In 2011, a Youtube video appeared, with a title written in Japanese (which could be Google translated as “DEATH on the Streets Japan WEIRD GIRL Found???”), depicting an intersection in a suburban area seen from a third floor balcony. People are running away and screaming, the camera is focused on the girl in the green hoodie in the middle of the street, monitoring the surrounding chaos. She keeps her hands in her pockets and this time her face is hidden under the hood. Around her lie bodies, like a macabre version of petals surrounding a flower bud. You can hear the camera person talking with someone next to them – their voices are pitched to an almost chipmunk-like squeak – but unless you know Japanese, you can’t make out what they are saying. After almost two minutes of footage, Rosie leaves the scene before the police arrives.

At the time, people believed it was fake as there was never any media coverage of the event. No one knew where it had taken place nor who recorded this. However, after the incident in 2017, I, the person who remembered the Japanese video, decided to create a subreddit about it.

“I first encountered the Green Hoodie Girl aka Rosie video yesterday and couldn’t shake off the feeling of deja vu. I searched my old Youtube playlists and found an old Japanese video from 2011 (link below). I’m certain this is the same girl even though you can’t see her face. The hoodie is the same. I want to know if these are related somehow. Does anybody have any information concerning any of the videos? Has someone ever seen this girl before?”

The first response appeared two days later. “When I first saw that video, I was freaked out because I had a very similar experience two or three years ago. I was sitting on a bench in a park. There was not many people and, walking, jogging, etc. I was on my phone, waiting for a friend, but when I raised my head I noticed a girl in a green hoodie. She bypassed me without any interest and I only remembered her because she had a big smile on her face which I thought was cute at the time. After that I stopped paying attention, but a few minutes later I heard a scream. I ran to see what happened and I found an older guy laying on the ground with a really red face and a swollen chest. I thought he choked on something, so I called 911. It took them some time to get there, besides I was scared right out of my mind at that time, so I can’t remember if the girl was even there. But seeing all the bodies on the video reminded me of that guy – and the girl who passed me by with a smile on her face. If this is the same girl, I think I’ll go mad. She would have touched me if she wanted to.”

The post gained a lot of replies, but one was more interesting than the others. The user shared a blurry photo of two dead horses near a fence – their barrels swollen, with patches of red skin in between the fur. They were positioned in a way that you couldn’t see their faces, but I could imagine their eyes were bloodshot.

The user wrote: “I live in a family farm in the outskirts of France, where we breed horses. Over five years ago we found two of our mares dead just like this. We thought it was some wild animal, as we live close to a forest, but there were no bite or claw wounds. We called a vet, he did an autopsy and claimed the horses had a severe case of mold poisoning and we should check our stables as quick as possible. Our stables are well-maintained, but we checked every nook and cranny just in case – not even a speck of mold. Besides, there were several other horses in the paddock, healthy and unharmed. For years I believed the two dead ones had to eat something toxic until I saw the video on Youtube with Rosie (the green-hooded girl). I couldn’t believe my eyes, because the victims had the same symptoms as our mares back then. Then I found the post of that autopsy technician who described the cause of death: asphyxiation from severe black mold exposure. F*****g mold exposure. I don’t know if she killed my horses, but the symptoms were exactly the same. There is a path next to the paddock, right near the fence where our horses were found.”

People were horrified after seeing the photo – you can kill a man and no one bats an eye, but animal cruelty is, fortunately, less tolerated on the Internet. Many hypotheses appeared before someone posted another video. He wrote an introduction in broken English, but I managed to make out the general sense. Apparently OP used to work at a bar and some night while on shift he heard screams and gunshots coming from outside. He was too scared to check as it was a really nasty neighborhood and after about ten minutes everything went silent. The next day he and his boss checked the video surveillance. I watched the footage he uploaded: in the dim glow of the entrance lighting, two men ran through the street. One disappeared from the shot, but the other one was quickly snatched by someone whose face was hidden under a hoodie. The captured man twitched erratically before falling on the ground motionless and the hooded figure quickly followed the one who escaped. It was dark, the footage had a very low frame rate and was really bad quality, but many agreed, me included, that the attacker was rather short for a man, didn’t use any weapons and was wearing something resembling a zip-front sweatshirt of uncertain color. What really bothered me was the mention of gunshots – as it was a CCTV footage, no sounds were recorded, but if someone was shooting, Rosie, if it really was Rosie, didn’t seem to be affected in any way.

Over the span of a few months, my subreddit has grown over three times in size. People shared their own experiences and posted photos and videos they found. There were a few who decided to make Youtube documentaries about Rosie, based on all the uploaded material. And there was a lot to find: we received video recordings from airports, stores or streets all over the world. The number of photos depicting dead, swollen bodies was remarkable. Some people claimed to spot Rosie, even taking pictures inconspicuously, but in most cases there were a false alarm or faked. Theories started popping up like mad. Even Rosie’s popularity grew, as she received a lot of fan art, very often disturbing in more ways than one.

“I think she is misunderstood. maybe that smile is fake & she is really suffering. I want to help her.” One of the users wrote and received a quick reply “you are a f*cking idiot you know that?

But what really shook me up was a photo that was posted about five months after I created my subreddit. The user described it only in one sentence “I didn’t make it”.

The photo presented Rosie from behind, without her hood on, her hair hanging from her shoulder as she was leaning against a brick wall. At her feet lay a boy, maybe eight or nine years old, probably of Middle Eastern descent. He was curling up, as if trying to hide inside himself, and was looking at Rosie with sheer terror in his eyes, his face red from crying.

There was no background story to this, no one could recognize the place nor the boy. People who clearly didn’t read the post started accusing the one who posted it for just staying there and taking pictures and were reminded to read descriptions first. The photo stayed in my mind for a long time, the boy’s face haunts me to this day.

I quickly connected the dots and began my own investigation. I started posting videos of me trying to solve the mystery of Rosie. I tried to dig information about her real name, origins and possible relatives, but to no avail. I contacted police departments in countries Rosie was reported in. Despite evidence I presented, she was never caught or even seen. In a Skype interview with a police officer who witnessed the 2017 incident he said “we kept hearing about a girl in a green hoodie, but we never found such a person. No personal information, no address, nothing. We send police notice all around the country. Whoever she was, she disappeared without a trace.”

Despite my best efforts, I wasn’t able to find anything. It seemed as if Rosie came from nowhere and could appear and disappear wherever and whenever she pleases. Sometimes when I check all the evidence, I start doubting myself. Blurred photos, easily manipulated and staged videos, accounts of people who might be lying or simply gullible. I might be up to something, but maybe it is all a wild goose chase and I need to stop believing in everything I see on the Internet.

But I can’t stop worrying. All the videos and written accounts of other people described locations that were remote or barely inhabited. The 2017 video was actually the first time Rosie was seen in a more crowded, populated space.

Above story was NOT written by me and I take absolutely no credit for it. All rights go to the original writer.

 

Late Friday Pasta — Red Edition

I thought I had this scheduled for yesterday, but it looks like it didn’t go through. So it looks like you will enjoy a Friday pasta on Saturday this time.

This week, I’m posting one of my favorite pastas. This one stuck with me ever since I read it. Best of all, it’s short enough to tell your friends but still manages to pack a wallop of creep in just a couple of paragraphs. Here is The Keyhole:

A man went to a hotel and walked up to the front desk to check in. The woman at the desk gave him his key and told him that on the way to his room, there was a door with no number that was locked and no one was allowed in there. She explained that it was a storeroom, and that it was out of bounds. She reminded him of this several times before allowing him upstairs. So he followed the instructions of the woman at the front desk, going straight to his room, and going to bed.

However, the insistence of the woman had piqued his curiosity, so the next night he walked down the hall to the door and tried the handle. Sure enough it was locked. He bent down and looked through the wide keyhole. Cold air passed through it, chilling his eye. What he saw was a hotel bedroom, like his, and in the corner was a woman whose skin was incredibly pale. She was leaning her head against the wall, facing away from the door. He stared in confusion for a while. Was this a celebrity? The owner’s daughter? He almost knocked on the door, out of curiosity but decided not to.

As he was still looking, the woman turned sharply and he jumped back from the door, hoping she would not suspect he had been spying on her. He crept away from the door and walked back to his room. The next day, he returned to the door and looked through the wide keyhole. This time, all he saw was redness. He couldn’t make anything out besides a distinct red color, unmoving. Perhaps the inhabitants of the room knew he was spying the night before, and had blocked the keyhole with something red. He felt embarrassed that he had made the woman so uncomfortable, and hoped she had not made a complaint with the woman on the front desk.

At this point he decided to consult her for more information. She sighed and said, “Did you look through the keyhole?”

The man told her that he had and she said, “Well, I might as well tell you the story of what happened in that room. A long time ago, a man murdered his wife in there, and we find that even now, whoever stays there gets very uncomfortable. But these people were not ordinary. They were white all over, except for their eyes, which were red.”

Above story was NOT written by me and I take absolutely no credit for it. All rights go to the original writer.

Monster Hunter Alpha — A Review

Spotlight is a film that won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2015. It won “over 100 industry and critics awards and nominations“. I never heard of it until today and I don’t know of anyone else who has seen it. Compare this to John Wick, an action movie that came out in 2014. As far as I’m aware, John Wick did not win any major awards. And yet, I know many people who have seen and thoroughly enjoyed John Wick. I can’t say the same for Spotlight; like I said, I never even heard of the movie until today.

MHA
The cover really says it all.

Monster Hunter Alpha is the third book in the Monster Hunter Series by Larry Correia. This book (and the series as a whole) is the John Wick of books. It may not have won any fancy literary awards, but it was some of the most fun I’ve had with a book in months. It’s got action, humor, mystery and romance that doesn’t make me roll my eyes.

*POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD*

In this outing, we leave Owen Zastava Pitt behind and follow everyone’s favorite ass-kicker, Earl Harbinger. Harbinger leaves his team behind and travels to a small town in Michigan to square off against an old nemesis. Once there, things unravel quickly and become a lot more complicated as multiple parties converge on this small town with their own agenda, including a sleazy government agent and a rival monster hunting company. Each of these parties start out as parallel storylines that converge and intertwine as things get messy. And finally, we’re also given a view into Harbinger’s past through his journal. At the beginning of every chapter, we have a few pages that detail parts of Harbingers past, from his beginnings as a werewolf to his role in the Vietnam War.

A lesser writer would have great difficulty juggling the various plot lines, but Correia handles them with ease. Each plot line is interesting, well-written and memorable. I especially enjoyed the antics of the rival monster hunting company as they sink in over their heads very quickly. It’s all extremely entertaining.

A minor nitpick is that practically every female character is simply different versions of the same ass-kicking, amazon warrior woman. They’re all tough, strapped and ready to kill. Besides a few superficial details, the female characters in the series don’t feel all that different from one another. However, this isn’t to say that Correia sucks at characterization. Correia excels at giving most of his characters distinctive and nuanced personalities and this continues in MHA. The government agents, the rival monster hunting corporation, Harbinger’s nemesis all have enough backstory to make them feel alive without bogging the reader down *cough cough* Stephen King’s characters.

I wish I could say more about the novel and the characters but that will likely spoil the fun. It’s much more fun going into the novel without knowing too much ahead of time. Just buckle in and enjoy the ride because it’s a fantastic one.

4.5 out of 5 stars

 

 

 

Friday Pasta — Wooded Edition

I had some trouble deciding on this week’s pasta, but ultimately decided to go with the one that gave me the most shivers. I especially like this one because not everything is actually explained. You’re left to make the logical conclusions yourself without really having it spelled out for you. These kinds of horror stories are usually the best kind. Here is What I Found Wrapped in a Dog Food Bag by Alex R.C.

This story came so close to being a funny, lighthearted little anecdote that I would tell in loud, exaggerated voices to my friends around our lunch table. But sadly that’s not the case.

I’m still reeling a little bit from the experience and I know that part of my brain is trying so hard to forget exactly what it was I saw that afternoon. I’m trying to explain it. I’m trying to deny it. I’m trying to convince myself that everything is ok.

I think I might be going crazy. I hope I’m going crazy. But deep down I know that I’m not.

This whole ordeal I’m about to relay to you happened about three months ago. I’m 18, in my senior year in high school and part of our graduation requirements in my school district is to do three hours minimum of community service. I had put my three hours off until the last possible second, like the lazy bastard that I am, and I had to turn in my form and the evidence of my service tomorrow or risk failing my civics assignment and being unable to graduate. So here’s what I did:

I grabbed two large, black trash bags, some gardening gloves, and my phone, and I headed off to the local trails. I thought that spending a few hours in the woods picking up beer cans and cigarette cartridges would be more than enough to satisfy my teacher.

I live in a semi-rural area and my neighborhood is surrounded entirely by woods. There are two trails that I can reach by foot, one that leads to my school, and another that leads to a large pond just off the nearby highway that takes a little while to get to. Lots of people like to go fishing and set up campfires around the water so I figured there would be the most trash there for me to pick up.

It was mid March at the time, and winter had stuck around. The snow from the recent snowstorm had just barely melted enough for me to do my work, and I hoped there would at least be a little bit of litter remaining from before the cold season. I slipped on my jacket, called my mother to tell her where I would be, should I get mauled by a bear or mountain lion, and left.
The weather was crummy to say the least. The ground was wet and muddy from the melted snow, the air was muggy but cold, and it had begun to rain. I moved as quickly as I could.

I didn’t see much trash until I made my way up to the pond, exploring fishing sites I picked up broken bottles of Jack Daniels, half empty Gatorades, sandwich bags, fishing line, and even a few shotgun shells. Making my way around the water I began to notice footprints in the mud. Some were human, some were those of a large dog. I had encountered a couple people walking their dogs down this path before, with one man in particular standing out to me. He had worn all camo and carried a rifle at his side. I had seen him a couple times and he always had his german shepard with him. He was a little bit suspicious looking, but seemed friendly enough the one time I had actually talked with him. I thought he might have been a hunter, despite it being illegal in this area of the forest. I kept thinking about this man every time I stumbled across more footprints.

I have mild anxiety, which sometimes, due to my “horror obsession” can delve into paranoia. And I was getting a bit paranoid. I recalled how a couple years ago one of my friends told me how every halloween he would have to sit out on his porch with a gun watching over his chickens, because occasionally, around that time of the year, farm animals would go missing, stolen away in the night by some unseen culprit. Lots of people thought they were being abducted and used for ritualistic sacrifice, and while I didn’t buy that story one bit, it was still fun to entertain the idea.

So there I was, walking through the woods, in the rain, completely alone. I began to pick up more and more concerning bits of trash. A broken pregnancy test, the hilt of a knife, and as I approached the public access area of the pond I watched an old rusted pickup truck speed fast down the gravel road and out onto the highway, startling me.

I had joked with my friends and siblings a couple times about how people met here to deal and purchase drugs, and pointed to the marijuana leaves and profanity carved into the wood of the bridge leading over the stream that flowed out of the dammed end of the pond. It was all a bit sketchy but I dismissed my fears and suspicions as stupid, considering how near non-existent the crime rate was in my town, and how wild my own imagination was.

After about an hour I was at the end of the trail, and by the main area of the pond where there was a sign, detailing what was and was not allowed in the area. At that point I was already a bit fed up with picking up other people’s crap, but I knew I had no where near enough. Struggling to find any I went down the one path in the woods I had yet to explore fully. It looked like it was made for trucks to drive on, it was overgrown and no one ever went walking down it, but I was desperate, and in the distance, a little ways down the trail I could see two or three bright blue and green bags slumped together in a heap. I thought having them would make my trash bag look more full for the picture evidence I was supposed to submit. So I went for it.

Approaching the trash I noticed they were dog food bags, their openings were sealed shut with those thick rubber bands you sometimes find in office supply stores, but no one ever really buys. I brushed the snow off them and tried to pick the first one up to shove it in with the rest of my trash. But it was heavy, really heavy. And then curiosity got the better of me, so I opened one of them.

The moment I removed the rubber band I knew something was wrong, really, really wrong. A smell hit me. The smell of rot. Old, dead-thing rot. It wasn’t fresh, this had been here for months, and when I fully opened the bag I couldn’t recognize what was inside. It was black, and red, and brown with decay and I could see the white of bone poking through.

They were large bones, each easily the size of my leg. They were all squished together and folded into that bag. Into all the bags. They were filled with the decaying carcasses of something. Something large.

And then I looked down at my feet. It wasn’t just what was in the bags, I was standing on top of something’s rib cage. Concealed almost entirely by snow and dirt, I had only just then noticed it.

I freaked out, ran back to the sign by the pond and crouched behind it. I pulled out my phone and dialed 911, talking through the sound of rain. I told them where I was, I told them what I found, and they said that they would send a state trooper over to investigate, and that I was to wait right there for him to arrive.

It took about 25 minutes for the man to get there and I grew more and more paranoid with every second that went by. Every sound of a car passing down the nearby roads I thought was someone out to get me. Someone who would shoot me, cut me up, stuff my body in a dog food bag and leave me to rot in the woods, under the snow. I hoped to god they were animal bones, but they seemed too thick and large to be deer in my mind, not that I knew much about deer bones.

I tried to calm myself down, told myself that I was overreacting.

So when the trooper arrived, stepped out of his vehicle and into the rain, took one look at the bones, and told me that people often came here to dump deer carcasses, I felt both relieved and extremely stupid.

I apologized, told him I was stupid and that I had overreacted.

He was a gruff man, wearing that light brown uniform and hat, he didn’t seem that tolerant of my mistake, just kinda mumbled to himself angrily the entire interaction. But he was an officer, and instinctively I guess I trusted him. I asked for a ride home, not wanting to walk the way back, but he ignored me, said nothing more, got into his banged up car, and drove away.
Tired, fed-up, and drenched in rain, I said fuck-it, figured I’d fudge my assignment and decided to just go home.

I was walking down the trail back to my house, when I got the call. I was almost out of the woods when I answered it. It was the state trooper’s office. They told me they had sent someone to the place I had described, but when he arrived, I wasn’t there, and in the place where I had described the bags as begin, there was nothing.

My heart dropped. I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t know what to think, so I just stuttered and told them everything was ok, that I was just confused, and that I was sorry I wasted their time. The lady on the phone was about to ream me out for playing a prank on them, but I hung up.

Who was the man I had talked with? What happened to the bones? I couldn’t make sense of it all. Surely they were just deer bones? Maybe that man noticed me there and took them away before the real state trooper could arrive, because after all, hunting was illegal in this area? The question kept buzzing and shaking around in my head, and I struggled for an answer.

I had finally been able to explain what had happened to myself in terms that I could understand and that wouldn’t cause me to panic, but that was when I saw what was in the middle of my path. I hadn’t noticed it before, but right in front of me, sitting in the dirt, was a jaw bone. A human jaw bone.

There was no denying it.

And then I ran, as fast as I could, until I arrived home, breathless and slick with mud. Not knowing what to say or do, so I did and said nothing. I hoped that if I put it in the back of my mind it would all go away.

But it didn’t, not completely, and I feel compelled to share this with you now because lately, at night, when everyone else is asleep, I can hear the faint echoes of gunfire, coming from the woods.

I don’t think it’s deer hunters.

I’ve included some images below that I took that day, I was too shocked to take pictures of the actual bones, but I hope this is enough. There’s my 911 call history and the texts I made to friends during my breakdown at the time.

Above story was NOT written by me and I take absolutely no credit for it. All rights go to the original writer.

The Dead of Winter – A Review

I don’t read horror novels too often. I stick to the short stories because that’s what I grew up with. Also, most horror novels I’ve read end up being too long for their own good, reveal things too early or fail to produce any shivers. Despite this, I do occasionally get that craving for a good, meaty horror novel. It was during one of these phases that I decided to buy The Dead of Winter (TDOW) by Jack Night. I read the Amazon sample and, despite a few misgivings, I bought the book. I should have listened to my gut because I was very disappointed.

DON

*POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD*

The premise is nothing too fancy: a bunch of weird things start happening as a new family moves into a small town. The only thing I will say is that the story never truly goes beyond this basic premise and, as a result, ends up feeling very mediocre. It’s not horrible, but never goes beyond extremely average.

The story starts out quickly and conjures up some quick chills. That is also one of the reasons I hesitated to buy the book at first. Good, creepy and atmospheric horror requires a bit of normalcy. The creepiest kinds of horror are intrusions into the normal. You think something is normal, you look a little closer and suddenly reality shifts as you spot something peculiar. As such, there has to be some time for the viewer/reader to settle in, get to know some characters and see what the baseline for normal is.

TDOW doesn’t really do that. The very first scene shows a family moving into their new home and right away, the daughter runs off into the words and has a creepy encounter. There is no time for things to feel normal before the creepiness ramps up. Had this been a short story, it would have been fine. But there is no way to sustain these kinds of chilling scenes without things getting boring. You start slow and slowly build to a climax. I hoped to be wrong, but the author simply doesn’t sustain the horror. He only piles on more and more supposedly creepy scenes and things become too familiar too quickly. As a result, the novel loses its creepiness early on and then shifts to a town-invaded-by-zombie-things tone.

There is a sort of central mystery as to why this is happening, but takes a backseat once the zombie invasion takes off (Ok, they aren’t REALLY zombies, but a rose by any other name…). It’s mentioned a few times throughout the novel and then becomes big in the very end. But, by that point, I kind of stopped caring.

The writing is serviceable: not bad, but not great either. The characters aren’t very interesting and some are downright annoying. We have the female who just has to prove to everyone that she’s just as strong as anyone else, the creepy scumbag, the dependable sheriff who loves his town, etc. One really annoying scene involves a character who splits off from the group. We all know it’s a stupid thing to do and we all have an idea of what will happen to this character. The entire thing is extremely predictable, but what makes it really annoying is the reason for this character splitting off. I won’t say what it is, but it’s extremely stupid given the circumstances at the time.

It’s little things like this that are sprinkled throughout the novel the really made it a chore for me to read through. The first couple chapters weren’t too bad, but as more characters are introduced and the zombie things come in, the novel completely fizzled out for me.

2.5 out of 5 stars