Category Archives: Interview

Deep Down, Where He Should Be

“You think they want to drown you?”

“I don’t just think so,” He said. “I’m sure of it.”

His arm jerked to the side.

“Okay, Steve, when exactly do they try to drown you?”

“All the time.”

“Even right now?”

Steve nodded; his whitish-yellow face seemed to reflect the light.

“Yes, right now. They are pulling on my arms.”

“I can’t see anyone.” I said.

“No one else can see them. It’s only me.”

“And you can feel them pulling on your body?”

“Yes, and when I am close to home I can sometimes smell them too. That’s when they are also the strongest.”

“How many are there?”

“Twelve. Eight men and four women.”

“And they just stand around here, right now, and pull on your body to try and drown you?”

“Not all of them,” he said. “There’s always at least two, sometimes three or four, but never all at once.”

“And since when do those figures attack you?”

Steve jerked sidewards; his chair leant to the side. Steve grabbed the table just in time to catch himself.

“See?” He said.

It seemed as if there were tears in his eyes, but otherwise Steve was composed.

“Okay.” I said. “Since when do those figures appear?”

“Since I’m eight, I think.”

“Did something unusual happen that caused them to appear?”

“I was playing with my friends next to a lake.” Steve said. “And my friends dared me to swim to the island in the middle.”

“And you did?”

“I wanted to be cool.”

“So you did?”

“Yes, I did, and I made it to the island. But I was exhausted and couldn’t go back; so I stayed on the island for about an hour and then, when it began to get dark, I tried to swim back.”

“You tried? So you didn’t manage to get back on land?”

“I’m not sure what went wrong.” Steve said. “I was swimming towards where the others were sitting; I was already halfway there, but then either my leg cramped or maybe something pulled my leg down. I screamed for help, but the others didn’t do anything; or maybe they just were too slow. I sank and I couldn’t breathe anymore and then I felt this immense pain in my lungs.”

“So you nearly drowned?”

“I’m not sure.”

“How did you get out?”

“I don’t really know. I remember that I was struggling and then suddenly I had ground under my feet and I pushed myself out of the lake. My parents were there and everything was dark already. But my friends were gone.”

Steve leaned his head backwards.

“Sorry,” he said. “That’s not me.”

“And since then the figures appear?”

His head first leaned further back, and then quickly returned into a normal position.

“Yes,” Steve said. “They started attacking me while dad carried me home. Mom was walking next to dad, crying, and then one of them grabbed my leg and pulled. Dad told me to stop struggling; I told him that it wasn’t me – and he said that I should stop making silly excuses. But mom cried even worse and said ‘Maybe God wants that we leave him.’”

“And your dad still brought you home?”

“Yes. But since then they kept me at home. They didn’t allow me outside at all and they didn’t invite any friends over. I thought they were just scared of the figures pulling me back in the water; but it stayed like that all the time – the figures kept pulling and dad made me stay inside.”

“And your mother?”

“She wanted to bring me to the lake.”

“Your mother wanted to drown you?”

“I don’t know what she meant. But whenever I told them about the figures mom said that maybe it was the right thing and that it was the way things should be.”

“So your mom agreed with the figures.”

Steve lowered his head.

“I think so. I don’t know whether she really wanted to drown me; I guess she just wanted it all to stop.”

“So your parents kept you inside and the figures kept pulling on your body to try to drown you?”


“So you didn’t go to school or anything?”

“No, my parents didn’t allow me to. They said I would harm the other kids. I mean, it makes sense now, but back then it made me cry. I was so incredibly lonely. That’s why I ran away when I was fourteen. I couldn’t take it anymore”

“And your parents found you?”



“I don’t think they were even looking for me. I think they were happy I was gone. Dad was happy when I called and he asked whether I was okay, but mom didn’t even want to talk to me.”

“Sorry to hear that.”

“It’s fine,” Steve said. “It hurts, but I understand her. I’m a freak, with those things and everything.”


“Those people I mean; the ones that want to drown me. It’s hard to hide that when they keep pulling on my body.”

“They never leave you?”

“Never.” He said. “But at least they are weaker here, when I’m far away from the lake.”

“So you don’t go home anymore?”

“I don’t, but it’s not because of them. I think they aren’t strong enough as long as I don’t get too close to the lake where I drowned. I just don’t want to meet my mom. I think she is scared of me.”

“Your mother is scared of you?”

“Yes. It took me long to accept that, but it’s true. She is scared of me and thinks that I might harm her or others.”

Steve pushed his body forcefully to the right. The chair moved with him.

“Why would she think that?” I asked.

“Well, I think she thinks I’m one of them. She thinks I’m one of the figures and now I also understand why.”

“And, why?”

“Please, just tell me how to get the figures away.”

“I’m not sure how to do that, Steve. We can try some medication, but –“

“I tried medication. They don’t go.”

“Then what do you want me to do?”

“I don’t know, maybe you can talk to them, tell them to go away, tell them I’m alive and that they have to find somebody else. They don’t listen to me and when I talk to them they always get stronger. It feels as if every time I talk to them part of my strength goes over to them.”

“So your strength is feeding them?”

“I don’t know,” Steve said. “I think it’s more my soul or something. I think they have my soul.”

“Why would you think that?”

“I don’t really remember any of this, but a few weeks ago I tried to look for articles about other people drowning in the lake; I thought that maybe if I knew what they wanted I could make them go away.”

“And you found them?”

“I found a few articles,” Steve said. “And one of the articles had a picture that looks like one of them.”

“And it helped?”

“No,” Steve said. “But he also died while swimming back from the island. And they never found his body.”

“So you think the figure that’s pulling you is this other guy that drowned?”

“One of them,” Steve said. “But my point is that while I was looking for these articles I found articles about myself.”


“My own drowning.” Steve said.

“I thought your parents saved you?”

“That’s what I thought too,” Steve said. “But the newspapers said that I had drowned and that they looked for me for a week and couldn’t find my body.”

“I don’t follow.” I said.

“I was down there for a week.” Steve said. “They sent divers and everything but they couldn’t find me.”

“You mean –”

“I think I died.” Steve said. “And I’m still dead, but somehow I got out of the lake, and now those things try to pull me back down where I should be.”

This is my story, originally I published it on Reddit.

Blinded by Love

“You know the expression, don’t you?” He asked.

“What expression?” I asked.

“Oh, you know,” Nikolay said. “Blinded by love.”

I nodded.

“Well,” he said. “For me it was like that. She blinded me. She made me go through all those challenges and tests; it wore me out.”

“You are talking about Lauren?” I asked.

“Yes, Lauren.”

Nikolay smiled.

“I always like her name. It sounds like ‘laureate’; it sounds smart.”

“Sure.” I said.

“But that’s what she used, you know? She used her smarts against me.”

“In what way?” I asked.

“She kept testing me with her games.” Nikolay said. “She always had some new tricks that she played. That started right when we met at the bar.”

“How did you meet?”

“Oh, she talked to me.” He said. “She dumped some cocktail on me and then she apologized and we made small talk.”

“And you fell in love with her that day?”

“Yes.” Nikolay said. “But first Lauren fell in love with me. I saw it in the moment she threw the cocktail – there was so much passion in her eyes. But she was shy about it; she always tried to hide it. That’s why she left so quickly and took the taxi home rather than let me walk her to her house. That was her first challenge.”

“She left, right after meeting you?”

“Well, we talked for a bit. Must have been at least half an hour. But that girl, her eyes, she was just so greedy – she had to control herself by looking away from me. She barely even spoke before she left and I knew that secretly she was already dreaming about us.”

“How did you know that?”

“Oh, it was obvious,” Nikolay said. “The way she averted my gaze and she barely even answered. She was so aroused that she couldn’t even hold her thoughts together.”

“Are you sure she didn’t just try to avoid you?”

“No.” Nikolay shouted. His fist slammed on the table. “She was into me. Why else would she have said her address so loud to the taxi driver?”

“Why did she?” I asked.

“Because she wanted me to hear it, that’s why!” Nikolay said. “She wanted me to come but she didn’t want anyone else to see it; you know how women are, with their reputation and everything.”

“So you think she took the taxi because she wanted you to follow her?”

“Yes.” Nikolay said. “Isn’t that obvious? And that’s why she wasn’t surprised when I showed up at her front door. I rang the doorbell and she didn’t answer the door. But I saw her glancing through the curtain and I’m sure she was smiling. Oh, she was definitely smiling; her smile was intoxicating; that’s the moment I fell in love with her – when I saw her standing behind that curtain in her white nightie.”

“So she didn’t answer the door?”

“No.” Nikolay said. “She wanted to get in my head; she wanted to make me crazy for her – that’s why she did all of it, you know?”

“What did you do?”

“I rang the doorbell a second time, but Lauren was too shy. So I just waited; I waited all night for her and dreamt of pulling the tank top of her body and kissing the smooth skin on her neck. Despite the cold I felt happy; just by thinking of her.”

“So you were in love with her?”

“Of course I was. That was her plan, don’t you get it?”

“Okay, maybe.” I said.

“You sound just like the officer.” Nikolay said. “But it’s true. That was her plan. She knew I would wait. That’s why in the morning she walked into the kitchen with just her bra. And she pretended not to see me, but when she drank the tea I saw her blushing; I saw how aroused she was.”

“What did you do?”

“I just enjoyed the scene. That’s what she wanted me to do anyway. And then when she came out of the house I tried to talk to her again.”

“And she talked to you?”

“She just walked past me.” Nikolay said. “She wanted me to see those tight pants; ah, they just drove me nuts.”

Nikolay had a wide smile on his face.

“She wore them quite often, you know? During those two months she wore them for 22 days. And I’m sure she knew why; she knew what effect she had on me.”

“You stayed outside her house for two months?”

“Well, not the whole time.” Nikolay said. “I also went to some of her classes – history bores me but I knew I had to sit through it for her. And with her it wasn’t boring. Those were the most exciting lectures of my life, while someone talked about Roman history – and she sat in the fourth row, always the fourth row, with her head lowered and her hands making smooth round squiggles on the paper.”

“So you followed her all day?”

“No, of course not. I mean, I had to eat, but sleeping I did mostly outside her house. And then I showered and shaved every two days; I shaved just for her because she told me in the bar that she didn’t like my beard.”

“And while you were outside her window – did Lauren talk to you? Did she maybe ask you to go away?”

“No.” Nikolay said. “A few times she asked me whether I didn’t need to go home and shower or work, but she never told me to go. She just looked at me with these serious eyes and ordered me to go home – and of course I obeyed. It made me happy to know that she liked what she saw.”

“And she never asked you inside or so?”

“Well, she asked on the last day.” Nikolay said.

“We’ll get to that in a moment.” I said. “But you are telling me that you stayed outside her house for two months and she didn’t speak to you?”

Nikolay shrugged.

“That’s the way she was, you know? That was her game, her plan, her strategy; she wanted to make me wild and passionate. And of course she succeeded. A girl like her always succeeds at making drooling idiots out of men like me.”

“But she didn’t give you any signs that she was actually interested in you?”

“Of course she did.” He said. “All those peepshows she gave me through the transparent curtain, and all those times she walked seductively past or in front of me, or when she commented on my appearance, or when she winked while she walked past me, and of course with the love notes she left me.”

“She left you love notes?”

“Yes.” Nikolay said. “I would show them to you, but the police took my coat. Every time in class she made those little notes, twice she even filled a whole page –hearts and of course large ‘N’s everywhere on the page.”

Nikolay smiled.

“’N’ for Nikolay.” He said.

“She left you pages with ‘N’s and hearts in class?”

“Yes.” Nikolay said. “Lauren left them on the table for me. There were other squiggles on there, you know, because she wanted to be tricky about it. But she always left the crumpled papers under her desk for me to find.”

“And you think she did all that to make you want her more?” I asked.

“Exactly.” Nikolay said. “For the same reason Lauren sometimes sent her roommate out. Her roommate was the one that asked me to leave; she said that seeing me made Lauren uncomfortable.”

“And you stayed?”

“Of course I did.” Nikolay said. “I knew that I was arousing her. It was so nice of her to send her roommate out to tell me about it. And of course then she asked her roommate to invite me in.”

“Lauren’s roommate invited you inside the house?”

“Yes.” Nikolay smiled. “She left the door ajar for me. So of course I went in – and Lauren was pretending to be asleep.”

“You went to her room.”

“Of course,” he said. “That’s why she invited me in. She wanted me to crawl under the blanket with her. And of course I did.”

“You went into her bed?”

“Sure.” Nikolay said. “I had waited long enough and she made me crazy for it. It was nice to finally feel her body next to mine. Lauren didn’t even say anything when I rolled on top of her; she just stared at me with those beautiful eyes of hers. And then she began to passionately hit and scratch me. She got really red from her arousal and even screamed from the pleasure. I held her mouth so that we wouldn’t disturb anyone – and then that roommate of hers barged into the room with the knife.”

“Her roommate came with a weapon?”

“Sure.” Nikolay said. “I knew that they just wanted to force me to stay. But luckily the roommate fell and so their nice little plan failed. The roommate even hit her head pretty nice and the moment I had the knife they stopped fighting. They knew I’d won. And so, of course, I paid them back.”

“Can you be more precise?”

“Well, the roommate was a bit too loud so I had to, well, silence her.”

“In what way?” I asked.

“First I cut her tongue.” Nikolay said. “But she was still loud, so I had to, well, silence her for good.”

“You killed her?” I asked.

“No, I didn’t mean to.” Nikolay said. “I just gagged her. The thing with the blood in her lungs that wasn’t on purpose; I guess tongues just bleed a lot and the gag kept it in.”

“And Lauren?”

“Well,” he said. “She took two months of my life so I wanted to take two of hers.”

“You kept her locked in for two months?”

“Only for two weeks. She got too annoying after that, the way she constantly cried.”

“And so you murdered her?”

“Well.” Nikolay smiled. “I’m sure you know the expression ‘An eye for an eye’?”

I hesitated.

“Yes?” He asked.

“Yes.” I said.

“Good, so you understand what justice is.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“I thought she would be able to handle it, to find a doctor to fix it. I thought I was actually being nice – I took only two weeks rather than two months, and I only hurt her body. She hurt my heart, you know? You can’t heal a broken heart; it will always hurt.”

“What did you do to her?” I asked.

“Just justice.” Nikolay said. “She blinded me with love; well, so I did the same thing to her body that she did to my heart.”

This is my story, originally I published it on Reddit.

Old Smoke and New Fire

It was summer when I met Naomi. We were at the barbeque of a mutual friend and she wore a yellow summer dress with blue details and smiled while she talked.

I don’t remember who introduced us; probably it was the host or maybe the host’s girlfriend-of-the-day. Naomi laughed when she said her name – and she laughed louder when I forgot it for the second time and she introduced herself for a third time. “Na-o-mee.” She pointed at herself while pronouncing the “mee.” Then she laughed again.

That day it was normal; that day I expected everyone to smell of barbeque smoke.

Only a week later we met for the second time. It was a random encounter at a far-too-common coffee franchise. She wore a white dress that danced around her body while she walked.

That day we arranged to meet for a lunch; since then we have been friends; just friends. I admit there was a spark, but we have never been more than that. We were both in relationships at the time, and by the time those ended our friendship had grown too comfortable. Somehow the spark disappeared and only the joy of spending time with each other remained.

That day, in the coffee shop, I noticed the smoky smell again. I made a joke about her addiction to barbeques and again she laughed with this inviting, all-encompassing laugh that makes everybody want to hear the joke.

All that was two years ago. Our friendship remained, and so did our regular meet-ups over coffee or lunch. Usually monotony bores me; regular meetings with the same regular people become draining and exhausting. With Naomi things are different. I think it’s because her smile is genuine, and so is her laugh – genuine, honest, fresh. Genuine smiles and laughs and conversations don’t get boring.

For a while I told myself that the smell was just my imagination – an olfactory memory of the day we met; an association that my mind replayed every time I saw her face and her smile. But there was no repeating memory for the perfumes she wore or the foods she ate. The only memory that returned every time I met Naomi was the faint smell of old smoke.

I never dared to ask her about it. There is something insulting about telling a woman that she always smells of smoke – or any other thing. Of course, on the one hand a friend deserves honesty and bluntness, but on the other a friend ought to protect a friend, not make her self-conscious about a smell that is either just in the friend’s head or that she is already aware of and tries to ignore.

The smoky smell was faint, and I have always been a particularly smell-conscious person. I told myself that probably nobody else noticed it; certainly no one else ever mentioned it. Naomi’s strong perfumes usually covered most of the scent anyway.

Whenever we hugged hello or goodbye, or when we sat or stood next to each other for a while; that’s when it was hard for me to ignore the smell. It was like the common joke– “Now you are aware of your breathing.” – From the moment you hear or read the sentence it is hard to not feel your own heaving chest or the cold air moving through your nose and the back of your throat.

I learned many things about Naomi: why she had tried to learn sitar (too many Bollywood movies), the way she had become vegetarian (on a trip to France she became friends with a cow that later ended up on her plate) and even that she thought the size of a man’s heart and the way he valued his woman’s pleasure was more important than the size of the probably most size-compared object in the world.

The only thing Naomi never spoke about was her family. I knew that she left home with sixteen and that her mother had had an accident, but not much more.

Last Friday, when Naomi pressed a gin and tonic in my hand to celebrate a pay rise, I finally asked.

“I don’t talk about that.” She said.

“Why not?”

“Because my family believes we are cursed. That’s why I left home.”

“They actually believe you are cursed?”

“I really don’t want to talk about it.” Naomi said. “Let’s just say the gist is that supposedly all women in my family are cursed. We will all die in a fire.”

“As in ‘burn to death’?” I asked.

“Something like that.” She said. “And my grandma used to say that there is a sign for it, that you can smell it on our bodies.”

“Just like you smell a bit of smoke?” I asked and immediately felt like sewing my mouth shut with a hot needle. Naomi stared at me with her eyes and mouth wide open.

She hesitated.

“You can smell it?” She asked.

I bit my lip.

“Yes.” I said. “You smell a bit like old smoke.”

In the end we did talk about her family.

Naomi’s maternal grandparents had fled their home country. Naomi was never told why, but she thought it had something to do with their superstition.

It was hard on Naomi when her dad left. At the time she was only nine. That her dad left was hard on her, not just because he always made Naomi feel safe and protected her from her overbearing mother, but also because it was shortly after her grandmother’s death.

Naomi didn’t meet her grandmother very often, but when she was told that her grandmother had died Naomi cried for a long time; then she cried again at the funeral. At home, after the funeral she locked herself in her room and then cried more. But this time she cried because of the fight outside her room; the angry shouting of her father, the furious insults and pleas to “think of Naomi” voiced by her mother.

There were three such nights of fighting. Naomi stayed in her room most of these days. She played loud music so that she wouldn’t have to hear the words being spat. Still she remembers part of the fight:

“It was an accident.” Shouted her mother.

“I don’t care.” Shouted her father. “I don’t want my children to die like that.”

The next day his part of the wardrobe was empty. A year later he had a new wife – and two years after that he had twins. He sent Naomi photos and gifts and talked to her on the phone, but he never allowed her to visit.

When her grandmother died Naomi was told it was an accident; something had gone wrong in the kitchen. She was young and didn’t want to know any details, and her mother was careful not to say any more. Naomi was only nine; she didn’t understand the significance of a closed casket.

Her mother found a new partner, one she never married but with whom she had a son. Naomi felt they preferred her brother over her.

When Aunt Iris died Naomi was 14. Again nobody told Naomi how her aunt died, but while she listened to a funeral speech about pain as the path to redemption Naomi stared at the dark wood of the casket and tried to imagine what her Aunt Iris’s body might look like. With 14 she understood the meaning of a closed casket.

After Iris’s death Naomi got close to her cousin Cassandra. They talked nearly every day on the phone and met every few weeks. Naomi was even invited to Cassandra’s 18th birthday party. Naomi made a card for Cassandra and gave her heart-shaped chocolate.

Not even a week after the party, about a year after Iris’s death, Cassandra stopped calling. Naomi and her mother heard only three days later what happened. Cassandra had been in her bedroom. A problem in the electrical wiring. The fire killed her and three others.

Naomi’s mother didn’t allow her to go to Cassandra’s funeral. She said it would bring bad luck. Naomi never forgave her for that.

For her sixteenth birthday Naomi refused to have a party. Her mother insisted. She said that they should “seem normal.”

At five in the morning Naomi carried her packed suitcase downstairs, collected her shoes and coats and left. That day, while pulling her full suitcase out of the front door, Naomi stopped being angry at her father. That day she finally understood why he had broken her heart.

While she told me about her past, the glass long empty in her hand, Naomi wasn’t smiling her usual smile.

Back then, when I saw Naomi’s expression, I thought she was just scared for her mother’s life; suffering because she knew a loved one was in pain; scared because her mother’s dress had caught fire at a New Year’s party. Now I know Naomi was also scared for herself.

“My mother survived the rocket.” Naomi said to me last Friday. “I thought that it would all be over; but when I visited her in the hospital I could still smell the smoke. It was more intense than ever before.”

“Oh.” I said.

“When I was small my grandma told me to tell her whenever the smell got worse. She said that if the smell got worse something bad would happen.”

“Oh.” I said.

“I should call mom.” Naomi said. “I hope she’s okay.”

When she got up to refill our glasses I blew out the candles.

“You like your gin strong, I remember?” She said.

“I just don’t want to fall behind.” I said.

She laughed.

We talked about gin, drinking, and then about other things.

I swayed when I walked home. I could barely keep my eyes on the road. But it wasn’t the alcohol, or at least not the alcohol alone, that got to me.

Since our conversation a question was stuck in my head. I kept wondering whether I should tell her that the smell of burnt wood, the scent of smoke that had always hid under Naomi’s perfume, had gotten stronger.

This is my story, originally I published it on Reddit.

White Eyes – A Father’s Love

Trigger warning: Child death

They brought him on a Thursday morning with shackles on his arms and legs. He struggled against the officers that kept pulling him forward. His screams rang through the hallways, over and over and over:

“I’m not insane! Let me go! I’m not insane!”

Three hours later I sat opposite a crying man. Dark spots had formed on his orange sleeves.

“Hans.” I said. “You need to talk to me.”

His head stayed on his arms while the chains around his wrists tapped on the table with every sob.

I left after thirty minutes.

“Relax.” I said. “It will all be fine.”

Even then I knew that was a lie.

The next day I found him lying on his bed; a penetrant smell of old sweat lingered in the air.

Hans sat up when I greeted him. His eyes were red and his pupils large; he had been crying all night.

He didn’t remember me, but the nurses had warned him that someone would come.

“I was happy.” Hans said. “We were happy. And then they took everything.”

They had just bought the house two years earlier. Three kids: His son was four, the two daughters seven and nine. Hans’s wife, Lyndsay, was working in a small coffee shop. He himself worked part-time as an English tutor and part-time as a programmer.

Then, on the 4th of November, Hans woke up to noise from downstairs.

“I wasn’t sure what it was. It just sounded like a scratching sound, and occasionally like water flowing. I sneaked slowly down the stairs, careful not to wake Lyndsay or the kids, and every step I took the noise got slightly louder. Some sort of movement, mechanical sounds and a slow, steady hum. You can’t imagine how relieved I was when I realized it was just the dishwasher.”

Hans decided to turn the dishwasher off so that he would be able to fall asleep. He pulled the door open, steam rose to his face – and he froze.

“There were no plates or cutlery at all, the dishwasher was completely empty. Except on the top level, where the glasses go, there was one of our kitchen knives.”

Hans grabbed the knife, sneaked out of the room and to the front door. It was locked. Then he slowly moved back towards the stairs, quietly and slowly walked up the stairs and went back to the bedroom. He woke Lyndsay up.

“I asked her whether she had turned the dishwasher on.” Hans said. “But she said ‘no’. At that point I didn’t even wait anymore, I just ran, with the knife in my hand, to the childrens’ rooms. I first check on our youngest, Tzyy, but he was just sleeping peacefully. Then I ran to Momo’s room, but she was happily snoring in her bed.”

Tears welled in Hans’s eyes while he spoke.

“I actually relaxed then. I would never have imagined that something could happen to Jessica. But still I opened the door to her room; I still remember the cold door handle in my hand, how I pushed it down and slowly opened the door. First all I saw was the blood, on the floor, the walls, and all over the bed. Then I saw Jessica’s body, in her bed, curled into a small ball. Her mouth was wide open, as if she had screamed for a long time.”

Jessica was long dead when the police arrived. They questioned Hans and Lyndsay, and even Momo and Tzyy. But they all had just slept. They hadn’t heard anything. The police wanted to keep Hans at the station – because they couldn’t find any signs of a break-in and the only fingerprints they found on the knife were his. But Lyndsay begged them to allow Hans to leave; she swore that he would never touch his children and that he loved his children and particularly Jessica with all his heart.

Lyndsay’s testimony, and the assurance by Momo that he had always been kind and gentle, saved Hans. Tzyy didn’t yet know what ‘death’ meant, still he cried, as if he knew that he would never see his sister again.

The family moved to Lyndsay’s parents. They organized a small funeral, planted flowers on Jessica’s grave. Lyndsay and Momo cried a lot. Hans walked again and again through their house, desperate to find just any clue as to what might have happened. But just like the police he didn’t find even the slightest clue.

“They said the only thing they knew for sure was that Jessica was asleep when she was stabbed. She didn’t fight at all; she was dead quickly. At least she didn’t suffer.”

That was the only solace: She was dead quickly. Still, there were more than a hundred knife wounds in Jessica’s body.

A month after the funeral Lyndsay and Hans planned to return to their house. They had exchanged all locks, installed strong window shutters. But the pain of walking past Jessica’s room was too strong. They sold the house and moved into a small rented apartment not far from Lyndsay’s parents.

Lyndsay and Hans took the small bedroom for themselves; Momo and Tzyy shared the second, larger room. Momo protested against sharing the room with her brother, but she accepted the argument: She was his big sister, his protector. After Jessica’s death Tzyy had begun to wet his bed. Only when he slept with Momo he felt safe, and only then he slept deeply and didn’t wet his bed.

In the early morning hours of the 16th of December, just the day after they had bought Christmas presents together, Lyndsay shook Hans awake at three in the morning.

“Lyndsay asked me whether I heard anything. I didn’t even need to think; I recognized that noise right away: The dishwasher in the kitchen was running.”

“I told her to call the police and I grabbed a squash racquet and ran to the childrens’ room. I pushed the door open – it felt like a punch to my chest when I saw the blood. It was smeared in thick stripes on the wall next to her bed, and on the floor and there were bloody handprints on Tzyy’s bed.”

Momo was dead. Tzyy was unharmed. He must have slept while his sister was stabbed to death.

In the dishwasher they found four plates, four glasses, four sets of cutlery and one large kitchen knife.

No fingerprints.

There were scratches at the lock of the front door. Still, they kept Hans in a holding cell while Lyndsay was escorted to her parents. She and Tzyy slept huddled together with her parents in the same bed, the bedroom door locked.

Hans slept in a cell. He missed the funeral; Lyndsay’s father held Tzyy in his arms while Lyndsay’s mother held Lyndsay, so that she would not faint. Hans’s parents held each other and cried with open mouths while the rain soaked into their clothes.

The scratches on the front door saved Hans. There was no other evidence of a break-in – and no fingerprints on the knife.

After a week Hans was released. He, Lyndsay, and Tzyy moved to the guest bedroom. Hans cleared out their old apartment – at least all those things that were not covered in blood. Lyndsay refused to go back.

They slept together in an old queen size bed, Hans on the side towards the door, Tzyy in the middle and Lyndsay on the other side of the bed, near the window. Every night Lyndsay waited until Tzyy was asleep. Then, when she was sure that Tzyy wouldn’t wake up, she cried, quietly, while Hans patted her head and shoulder until she too fell asleep.

On the 8th of January, at 5 am, Lyndsay’s screams woke Hans up. The moment he was awake he, too, felt the warm liquid on the mattress. It took him a few seconds to realize what it was.

By the time Lyndsay’s parents reached the guest bedroom Hans sat, crying, on the floor; Lyndsay was sitting on the bed, cradling the still warm body of her dead son. Hans, Lyndsay and the bed were all covered in blood.

Lyndsay’s father stopped the dishwasher. When the police opened it they found several half-cleaned plates, several cups, some cutlery – and another large kitchen knife.

Both, Hans and Lyndsay were taken into custody. They had cooked together. Both their fingerprints were on the knife, and so was Tzyy’s blood.

The back door was unlocked. Lyndsay’s father told the police he had checked all the doors before he went to bed; that had become a habit since Jessica’s death.

The police interviewed several hundred people – neighbors, friends, relatives, even Jessica’s teachers. They tried to find reasons and a person to blame. They found neither.

Lyndsay was released a week later. They held Hans for two, then the law required him to be let go. They both swore that the other would never kill; they both swore that neither of them would ever have harmed their children.

Hans and Lyndsay moved into a hotel. They placed a camera next to their bed. They barricaded every entrance to the room – the door, the balcony door and the two windows. They made sure not to bring any sharp items.

On the 1st of February Hans woke up from a strong pain in his hand. Then he felt the cold, sticky liquid on the sheets.

Lyndsay’s body was already cold; the blood covering Hans’s body was already dry. The tap was running and a piece of the mirror lay in the hot stream.

Hans cried while he described to me how he called the police; how they took him away.

“It wasn’t me.” He said. “I loved her so much. And I loved my children. I would never have hurt them. Please, you have to believe me, it wasn’t me! They were my everything; I would never have touched them. Somebody must have framed me. It wasn’t me!”

He sounded sincere. He didn’t sound like a man that killed his family.

The tape shows Lyndsay and Hans first talking, then crying together. They fall asleep, her in his arms. Occasionally their bodies shift during the night.

At 2:31am Hans slowly sits up. He opens his eyes, but his face stays motionless. His body slowly turns to the side, his legs move over the edge of the bed. He gets up, very slowly walks towards the foot of the bed. He walks out of view.

A few seconds later Hans’s face appears in front of the camera.

His face looks stiff.

His eyes are all white.

His arm moves.

The tape ends.

This is my story, originally I published it on Reddit.

The Last Ferry

Emma was leaning to the side, as if her long brown hair was too heavy for her neck.

“You heard about the ferry?” She asked.

“The accident a month ago?”

“Yes.” Emma said. “I was on that.”

“I thought there were no survivors?” I said, more to myself than to her.

“That’s why I’m here.” Emma said. “I was on that ferry.”

“Oh.” I said.

“You need to tell them that I’m sane.” Emma said. “I was on that ferry, I swear. There is something out there and they need to find it.”

“What do you mean?”

“Something attacked the ferry.”

“Okay.” I said.

I glanced at her file, although I knew the data already: No abnormal brain activity, no hormonal imbalance, and no history of psychological disorders.

“I swear, something attacked us.”

“A terrorist attack?”

“There was something in the water. And it pulled the ship down.”

“Something pulled the ship down?”

“Yes.” Emma said. “And it was alive.”

The ferry left at 5pm and should have arrived around 6:30pm. No SOS signal. No call for help. The wreck was never found; not even any debris. 400 people – gone without a trace.

“It must have been off course,” read one of the news articles. “Else the ship would have been found by now.”

“There was already this weird air;” Emma said. “Everything felt a bit odd. And I wasn’t the only one that felt it. It was sunny and usually on these trips everybody stands at the railing and looks out at the waves or has drinks on deck. But most were inside the bar or restaurant and even those that were outside were away from the railing.”

“It must have been shortly before 6pm. I was outside for a smoke, and then suddenly there was a single large wave, moving towards us. It was less than a wave and more like a bulge in the water, as if something was pushing the water from below. But it came really fast towards us, and only a few seconds away from the ship the bulge disappeared, as if whatever it was had dived deeper.”

“You were watching?” I asked.

“Yes. I saw this thing coming closer and otherwise the sea was calm, so it really looked odd, even from the distance. But then it disappeared; I thought it was just some freak current. It was maybe five or ten seconds – then the ferry shook, as if it was being pushed from below; and then there was this really loud noise, like metal being ripped.”

“I heard people screaming.” Emma said. “God, there were screams everywhere and some people were running outside and some inside – and then the ferry was just pulled down.”

“You mean it sank?” I asked.

“No.” Emma said. “It was pulled down. It went down so quickly, I fell over from the first shaking, and before I was back on my feet I saw the water at the sides higher than the deck; it came crashing down on us, but the main thing was that we were still being pulled, the whole ferry was being pulled underwater.”

“What did the staff do?”

“Are you even listening?” Emma said. “It all went incredibly quickly. There was no staff that could respond. From one second to the next the waves came crushing down on us. I’m not really sure what happened, I must have been flushed off the deck and the next thing I know is that I’m fighting against some sort of current that pulls me down, I’m fighting and swimming upwards; I already felt the pressure on my lungs, this pain, but then I saw the light above and I gave one last push and came through.”

“You were the only one?”

“No. It took me a while until I could see again; everything was just white for a while. But when I saw again there were others swimming there as well. Some of them were screaming, and they all looked as panicked and confused as me.”

“So you swam to safety together?”

“No, we wouldn’t have had a chance. We were in the middle of the sea, far from any coast. When you’re shipwrecked the one thing you should do is to stay in the same place so that rescuers can find you. I don’t know what the others did, but I was looking for things to hold onto.”

“Like a lifesaver?”

“There weren’t any. I saw a guy holding onto a suitcase, I even thought of pushing him off, you know, to fight for my life. I was already swimming towards him when I saw this body drifting to the surface. He looked like a young man, but his chin was completely ripped off. I was disgusted at myself, but I just held onto his body.”

Emma looked down.

“He was still warm, you know?”

“And you just drifted there?” I asked.

“Yes.” Emma said. “I saw some others fighting over things to hold onto. I could see maybe thirty or forty people. The guy with the suitcase actually got pushed off and the two men were then fighting for it. I was shouting at them to stop, but they didn’t. They just kept going and going and then the first men pushed the other underwater and held him there and he just didn’t come back up.”

“You mean the other man killed him?”

“That’s what I thought,” Emma said. “I mean, I was crying and screaming, but on some level I understood. You know, we were out there for half an hour or more. Without the body to hold onto I think I wouldn’t have survived.”

“But then, just when he had gotten back to the suitcase, the first man also disappeared underwater. It was just from one moment to the next, without any warning; he was there and then suddenly pulled down. I thought that was the second guy and that they would continue to fight – but neither of them came back up.”

“So they drowned?”

“No. They weren’t the only ones that disappeared. Just a moment after the guy with the suitcase I saw a woman being pulled underwater. I think she didn’t have anything to hold onto, she was just drifting, but she wasn’t waving for help or anything – she just shrieked for a moment and then she was gone. Then another woman disappeared.”

“A few seconds later I felt this weird whirling below my feet, and just a moment later the body I held onto was pulled underwater. Do you understand? They didn’t just sink or drown; one by one we were fished off, pulled underwater.”

“And the others realized that too. Everybody was trying to swim away from each other; but this thing was so much faster. I heard this weird plunging sound, over and over, and some shrieks in between, and I saw how one after the other disappeared.”

“And all were pulled down except you?”

“It was only five minutes or so,” Emma said. “And there were like five, or maybe seven of us left. I saw the others paddling away, but honestly I just gave up. I was so exhausted and cold and there was no ship or anything else in sight. I just thought it was over. The others were making an effort, but I thought that I’d be the next.”

“I saw a man that was still fairly close, how he was pulled down. I saw the expression on his face; he didn’t make a noise but he opened his mouth as if for a scream – and then his face disappeared in the water; his hand lasted a moment longer, but it just disappeared in a small wave.”

“First I felt the whirling again, like an animal swimming right below my feet. Then, within an instant, this thing grabbed my leg; it was smooth, but felt hard like a strong muscle or a leather belt. I felt it tightening on my leg, and before I could even think of reacting I was already underwater.”

“This thing pulled me down; I saw the light disappear from above me and then felt the pressure increasing and this incredible pain growing in my head and my arms and legs, even worse than the grip of this thing. The air was pushed out of my chest and the water got cooler and heavier. I tried to bend forward, to try and bite it or claw at it, but we were moving so fast, I just couldn’t fight against the water streaming past me.”

“But I managed to pull my knees in and I pushed with all my strength to get my arm down and I reached this thing and I dug my fingernails in it; I felt them pushing inside this thing, like through skin, and I pushed them deeper – and from one moment to the next it let go off me.”

“My lungs felt like they would explode and my whole body was aching. But I began to drift upwards and somehow I moved my hands a bit and helped and despite the pain I managed to paddle. I kept paddling even when I saw black. The last thing I remember is that the water was getting warmer.”

“And then?” I asked.

“And then I woke up in a hospital bed.” Emma said. “Somebody found me at the beach in the morning.”

“Okay.” I said. “But nobody believes your story?”

“No, they don’t.” Emma said. “That’s why I need you to verify that I’m not crazy or suicidal. They said that I tried a copycat suicide; you know, that I wanted to die and pretend I drowned with the ferry. But I promise it wasn’t. I want to live. I would never commit suicide.”

Emma jumped up and pulled her left trouser leg up. “Look.” She said, revealing a large, fading but still blue and red bruise mark that led all around her lower leg. “Does that look like I could have done it myself?”

This is my story, originally I published it on Reddit.

How She Got Her Job

Her face was smooth, not a single wrinkle was on her skin. Even her body was thin, graceful, glowing from the inside. She didn’t look like her 29 years.

“Confidence is everything.” Kayla smiled. “Isn’t it?”

“Possibly.” I said.

She laughed.

“That’s why it worked.” Kayla said. “Isn’t that the bigger question? Not why I did it, but rather why it worked?”

“Not for us.” I said.

“For me it is.” Kayla said. “Else I would never have gone on. The first time was an accident. But after that it just went on and on – and nobody doubted me. Nobody cared. Humans are ants; humans like to follow orders. That’s why the Nazis –“

“Kayla, please hold that thought, I’m sure it’s interesting but we are talking about you. The first time was an ‘accident’? Can you tell me about the ‘accident’?”

“Oh.” She said. “Sure I could. But why would I?”

“Because I write a report.” I said. “Formally I only advise. But how many years would you like to stay here?”

“Fine.” Kayla said.

She folded her hands over her chest.

“It had been more than a year. I was qualified, if anything I was overqualified. I have a bachelor and a master and the rest of the platter that all employers demand. But I was working in a petrol station; I couldn’t even afford a car. I wrote more than ten applications per week; that’s 500 in a single year.”

Kayla laughed, but her eyes stayed hard.

“I had forty or so interviews. Do you know that feeling, when they invite you, the hope? And every one of them crushed it. Half of them said I was overqualified, the other half that I didn’t have enough experience. But I know the truth. Wrong accent. Wrong address. Wrong skin color. Wrong gender.”

“That’s why you planned to kill her?” I asked.

“No.” Kayla said. “I didn’t plan it. I was invited for an interview. But the moment I stepped into the room and met Mia I knew I wouldn’t get the job. I had seen that look before, those eyes that say ‘Your kind doesn’t belong here.’ I tried my best, I was nice, gave the right answers – and still, near the end of the interview I felt Mia’s hostility, how she didn’t even want me in the same room. That’s when I snapped.”

“You snapped?”

“I asked her why she hated me, and Mia got defensive and denied it. Then we got into an argument. And somehow this paperweight got into my hand.”

Kayla leaned forward.

“I swear I only hit her once. I was too shocked to do it a second time. And then I just sat down and waited. I thought either Mia would get back up, or somebody else would walk in and wrestle me to the ground.”

She smiled.

“I waited for nearly an hour. But when I finally got out of my trance and looked outside – the corridors were all empty. They had all gone home already. That’s when I got the idea to take over.”

“Take over?” I asked.

“You know, to take her place.” Kayla said. “It was just a wild shot. I think even in that moment I knew it was insane; I thought it would never work. But somehow I felt that I was in trouble anyway and that I deserved that position; after all the things I went through I thought I deserved a job.”

“You killed the interviewer and took her place?”

“Yes.” Kayla smiled again. “I replaced the door sign and everything. I took her body to my place. And in the morning I came early and sat in her office. One of the secretaries brought a new candidate to my room around 9. She made big eyes when she opened the door and led him in – but she didn’t say anything. I gave him the job, and when she brought another candidate at 9:30 I gave her the job too. But I knew I couldn’t keep doing that – so I went to the secretary and asked for the list of other candidates and canceled all of the following interviews; I didn’t want to reject anyone in person.”

“It was funny, actually. The secretary didn’t doubt me a single time. And the other employees saw me interacting with her, and somehow that made them accept me too. The IT guy even made me an email and computer account. And when the manager saw that I had an email he asked me why headquarters had sent me. I said I was a replacement and he just nodded and welcomed me to the team.”

“That’s the one thing I learned that day: confidence is everything. It was a bit more difficult to get the finance department to put me on the pay list – but the manager liked me and when he intervened they obliged. And the moment I had access to the system I deleted the old candidate manager from the personnel roster and added my name instead – and no one doubted me anymore.”

“And the body?” I asked.

“Oh, that was easy. I found a short guide online. I cut the flesh and threw it out with the normal trash; then I crushed the bones and skull and threw them out in a different load. It was messy and hard work, but in the end not really difficult. Oh and the organs, I froze them for a while and a few weeks later I chopped them up and then threw them out in pieces.”

“And you felt no regret?”

“Not really. I mean, she must have been a bad person. That’s why no one missed her, I think. The police came a few months later to ask about her – but at that point no one remembered when I had started; and no one suspected a thing.”

“But you didn’t stop there?”

“No.” Kayla said. “I’m not sure why I continued. It was just easy, you know? The whole office was on this adventure-team-building exercise trip in the mountains.”

Kalya leaned forward.

“The head of HR was horribly self-obsessed. Really, he had it coming. He always flaunted how bold and courageous he was; I think he actually tried to impress me, he knew that I was single. He stood too close to the cliff. No one was looking, so I took my chance and pushed – and then quickly pretended that I was trying to save him.”

“And still no one suspected you?”

“There was an inquiry, afterwards. I think one of the secretaries liked him and she looked at me strangely afterwards; but the others actually hailed me as a hero for trying to save him. They said I had risked my life to try and help. That’s why the deputy head of HR, John, became the new head of HR – and I became the new deputy.”

“Nobody else was suspicious?”

“No. They liked me, you know? I was easy-going, and at that point several of the staff got their jobs because of me. They were on my side; and even afterwards, as deputy, I made sure that all new recruits were routed through me, so that I had the last say and so that I told them that they go the job. I made sure to take those that were unemployed for a long time. A man never forgets the person that gets him off the street.”

“And the secretary?”

“Oh, first I made sure to spread rumors. She had been nearby when the head of HR fell down the cliff. I told one of the gossip girls that I had seen them fight shortly before he fell. Messages transform – and the next thing I heard there were rumors about her having an affair with him; some even said that she might have pushed him.”

Kayla brushed her chin.

“Nobody missed her when she had the accident on the stairs a few weeks later. She’s still in a coma, I think. It’s a shame that she might still wake up; I don’t like nosy people like her.”

“And then you were caught?”

“What? No.” Kayla laughed. “As said, they liked me and they didn’t like her. I heard the gossip afterwards, that she had deserved it and that it must have been her fault. Nobody cares if an unpopular person has an accident. That’s why I always made sure that they were unpopular before I did anything.”

“How so?”

“Gossip, you know? It’s really easy. The head of HR – I told a colleague that he kept brushing his arm against me; she then told another that he was looking at her strangely – and rumors never stop, you know? Rumors only grow, and they are as sticky and smelly as French cheese.”

“But you are here now. So I suppose people got suspicious?”

“Oh, no.” Kayla said. ”It all went smoothly. The new head of HR, John, he was just too annoying for me. I didn’t even care too much about his job. The rumors were running already well; first that John was gay, and then that he had hit on some of the other men. I made him suggest a joint sauna trip – and that was the end of his popularity. The men shunned him very quickly, and the women followed.”

“When they all ignored John it was easy for me to gain his trust. It was easy to get him to take me home. And there, well, John was very careful. He didn’t make any missteps, he didn’t do anything that I could have turned into an ‘accident.’”

Kayla dug her fingernails into the table.

“Still, John was acting really nervously. I wanted to leave because I thought I wouldn’t be able to overpower him. But he stopped me at the door. John said ‘I know about you.’ And then he told me I would have to have sex with him or he would tell the police about me.”

“I didn’t want to take any chances – I sprayed pepper spray in his eyes and stabbed him to death. I think he didn’t expect that. I cleaned the place, stole a few things to make it look like a robbery, and rushed out. That was definitely my sloppiest murder. I wasn’t surprised when the police came the next evening to the office and took me away.”

“They said they had evidence of me committing murder. I confessed to killing him right away, I thought it better to come clean right away – but they were surprised. They said that the tape wasn’t of me murdering him; they said that they thought he had been my accomplice and his death a revenge murder.”

“You know,” Kayla said. “I don’t know how I could have overlooked it, the camera. When I had my interview Mia even told me that it would all be recorded. The camera must have stood there while she interviewed me, and when I smashed the paperweight on her head, and even when I pulled the body out. And John must have had the tape since then.”

This is my story, originally I published it on Reddit.