Tag Archives: fear

The Boy with the Paper Hat

Marvyn stumbled into the sandpit while his sister still sat on the stones, unsure what to make of the yellow material in front of her. That day, in early March, I saw the boy for the first time. He was older than most of the other kids, maybe eleven or twelve. his t-shirt and jeans had holes.A paper hat sat slanted on his dirty blond hair.

The boy just stood at the other end of the playground, staring towards the sand and sometimes at the other kids. I remember thinking that he must be cold.

It was Anne’s first time at the playground, at least she wouldn’t remember the first time. For Marvyn it was the first time in a few months – and he was accordingly excited. Marvyn was five. Anne was only one. Continue reading

Rex brought a gift

It’s been two days since Rex disappeared. It was Friday night and it’s Sunday now. Two weird things have happened since then.

I’m not sure whether I should count Friday night as a ‘third weird thing.’ Shana and I were both unable to sleep. It might have been that Rex wasn’t there or that our back door was broken or that Shana or just the whole crazy week, but I think it was something else. It felt to me as if the air was electrically charged. And it probably was my imagination, but in some moments I heard an extra breath, one that wasn’t ours.

I blocked the bedroom door with our dresser. I know that sounds crazy but even Shana didn’t object – usually she calls me out on my stupidities. Afterwards she cuddled up, placed her head on my shoulder and I think she fell asleep.

For me that wasn’t possible. I tried to sleep, but with every passing hour I got not just more tired but also more nervous, nearly agitated. I felt my legs shivering, but not from cold.

I saw the first sunrays through the window. From one moment to the next my nervousness fell away and I fell asleep.

My body was shaking.

“Wake up,” she said. “Please wake up.”

Shana’s face was right above mine. There was sweat on her forehead, like a warning sign.

Then the first weird thing happened.

“Sorry;” she said. “I didn’t want to wake you, but I have to ask. Did you eat all the meat? Did you?”

I said No.

Shana’s cheeks lost their color.

“Oh,” she said. Like an additinoal word one drop of sweat fell on my face.

Shana had gotten up a few hours before me. She had asked Travis for help, the older bachelor living next door with his cat. He always had woodwork projects and Shana had rightly assumed that he would have a slab of wood to block our back door until the replacement on Tuesday.

Travis had decided that it was easier to walk around the back of the house rather than carry the heavy plate through both of our houses. He had left his garden and Shana had entered our gate for him.

“Lot’s of trash here,” he had said.

Travis went inside with his slab of wood. Shana went outside to look for the trash.

It was in the bushes right behind Travis’ house, just out of sight from our usual way into the forest. Stained wax paper. Cling film. Empty plastic bags. Soft white plastic trays for meat.

Shana recognized most of them. She even recognized her handwriting on the bags that should have been in our freezer.

Saturday was a long day. I won’t go into the details but there was screaming and accusations that I was lying. Then Shana called her father and I listened to her crying and screaming while I sat in the living room with a bowl of cereal.

In the end her father convinced Shana that it was all not such a big deal. Shana’s father said it was likely just a homeless person or a drifter hungry for a good meal and that the guy probably also stole other stuff and we just didn’t notice it. He also suggested that Rex was maybe on his tracks and that that was the reason why he ran off.

Then, after Shana had repeated all of that calmly to me, there were more accusations that she wanted an alarm when we moved in and that I was the one to reject it because it was too costly. I reminded her that it wasn’t possible to install an alarm because the back door would have to have been replaced.

At some point the police came and wrote all these things down and a bit later an alarm company came and made us an offer that Shana signed while I was out of the room. Then there was more fighting.

And in all these fights there was one thing I didn’t want to bring up. One thing that I thought Shana would at some point realize or that the police would possible bring up:

There were no signs of a fireplace. Either the thief had used our stove – and I like to believe we or at least Rex would have noticed that – or he had eaten the meat raw.

Let’s just say Saturday night I didn’t sleep much either. We blocked the back door with Travis’ slab of wood and brought all valuables into our bedroom – nothing seemed to be missing except for my camera but I often misplace it and didn’t think much of it. I blocked our bedroom door again, this time with a wedge, a shelf, a stack of books under the door handle and a small bell tied to the handle as an improvised alarm.

An hour later I took the bell off because it kept ringing. There was no other noise and I couldn’t see the door handle move, so it was certainly just the draft.

I don’t know when I fell asleep. It must have been pretty late, probably around 2 or 3am. I kept imagining breathing sounds and every creak in the old house seemed like footsteps or something crawling along the walls or pressing against the door. A few times I nearly dozed off but a sudden noise made me rip my eyes wide open to stare at the window.

A second night without sleep. A second weird thing.

There never was anything that sounded real. There were no loud noises, no sliding or pulling noises. Certainly I didn’t hear the back door being opened.

And yet, when we woke up, it was opened.

Sunday morning Shanah woke me up. She couldn’t move the big shelf on her own but needed to use the bathroom.

When I pushed the door handle down there was a sudden push from outside and the door opened. Rex’s body rolled partially inside the room. Rex jumped up with his tail wagging, the tongue hanging out of his mouth and his eyes full of excitement.

I just stared. My mind was still too sleepy to decide whether to stroke his head or whether to recoil. Shana’s gasp freed me from my dilemma.

Rex’ whole head and front legs were soaked in dry blood. Dark red stains even covered his back and neck. Rex didn’t seem to mind. He just tried to push his nose and the side of his head against my arm the way he always did when he wanted me to caress him.

Shana volunteered me to wash him. While I pushed Rex towards the bathroom Shana went downstairs. Rex left red stains on my pajama pants and the white wall.

Before we even made it to the bathroom Shana screamed.

She stood at the front door with shaking shoulders and her hand on the key. The other arm pointed towards the kitchen. The key turned. Shana went outside.

Then I saw why she screamed.

There was a dead deer in front of the kitchen counter. The body was torn open; intestine and organs were spread all over the kitchen floor. The deer’s neck was ripped apart and the mutilated head barely anymore attached to the body.

Rex followed me down the stairs. While I stared at the carcass in our kitchen Rex rubbed against my leg. Without thinking about it I caressed his head. When I pulled my hand away I realized that, from the look of it, Rex’s whole head must have been inside the dead deer.

I washed Rex first. During that time Shana came back inside, got dressed and left without a word.

With Rex locked inside the bathroom I went downstairs to get rid of the carcass. When I tried to pull the deer corpse into a black bin bag the head completely ripped off and blood splattered all over my clothes. The head went in a bag together with a severed leg. With some squeezing and through breaking the second hind leg the rest of the body fit inside another bag.

It took me around three hours just to clear the blood away. I didn’t even have the energy to deal with the stains that Rex left on the stairs and the walls upstairs.

Shana later texted me that she went to a friend’s place. She told me she wouldn’t come back while ‘my dog’ was still in the house. After a lengthy debate she agreed to come as long as he was locked inside the living room and I made sure to bring him to the pound on Monday.

Rex was peacefully sleeping in the wet bathtub. I dried him roughly with a hair dryer – he seemed to enjoy that – and locked him in the living room.

Only then, with Rex locked away and Shana on her way home, I realized the one thing that should have jumped straight in my face:

In the morning Rex was inside. The carcass was inside. But the Travis’ slab on back door was still in place. And the back door was still locked.

I went outside to check. The garden gate too is still locked.

There were no open windows. No open doors. No nothing. I don’t know how Rex could have gotten inside.

He is still in the living room. I hear him whining right now. He is scratching against the door. I locked the door but I can see how he is pulling the door handle down to try and open it.

It’s been more than three since we found him on the street. I know he is a smart dog. But in all these years, not a single time has he tried to pull the handle.

Update: Rex, the goddamn best dog in the world

Solid Ground

Water can swallow you. You can fall from the sky. I can’t count the times that I left a shaky ship or airplane and finally set foot on solid ground. I always felt relaxed when I was back “home” in our element. I always thought the ground was safe.

Soil, stone and wood. Only wooden floorboards sometimes disturbed me with a creepy creak or their slight elasticity. Still the ground seemed safe. It seemed so solid.

Then the shaking started.

Molly woke us up. She was six.

“Mom! Mom! Mom!”

I pulled Molly into our bed and hugged her.

“I want mom!” Continue reading

The Dark Red of the Night

“I can’t relax,” she said.

“That’s why I would like to prescribe you something.”

Nateal shook her head.

“It is absolutely safe,” I said.

She shook her head again.

“For how long haven’t you slept?”

“I can’t sleep.”

“For how long?”

“Three days,” Nateal said. “A bit more than three days.” Continue reading

Pale Man’s Flight

Regina Pelayo kindly narrated this story:

Two years ago I saw a man in our garage. His face was squeezed against the small, dirty garage window; his eyeball right on the glass.

I had first seen a moving shadow near the garage. I thought it was a cat or maybe a badger. By the time I made my way to the glazed back door the shadow was gone. I looked first to the lawn on my right, then to the dense bushes opposite the window, finally on top of the garage. Nothing.

Only then, only when I turned away, did I see the pale face pressed against the window. Instinctively I jumped backwards and slammed right against the dining table. The pale man’s eyeball was touching the glass. Continue reading

The Valley of the Kings

In 2008 the number of graves in the Valley of the Kings increased. The Valley of the Kings: now 65 royal graves of ancient Egypt.

It’s been five years, but the two graves still don’t have names. Others are named for their inhabitants – Tutankhamun or Ramesses II. But the two tombs found in 2008 are just numbered: KV64 and KV65.

KV64 has been opened. KV65 is still untouched.

The official reason is that the entrance is unstable; it could break and bury those entering the tomb.

The real reason that KV65 is still not opened is that the archeologists fear what they might find inside. More exactly: They fear that they might find an empty grave.

KV64 was opened twice, first two days after it was found and then again two days later. No official would admit either of those openings, and if you step through the sand past the large, well-known graves, search for the small metal plaque and look at the seemingly unbroken seal you might think that the mummy is still undisturbed as it has been for 3500 years.

But then you move closer, your courage overcomes your fear of the penalties written on the small metal plaque, you just want to touch it for a moment. Your finger moves and gently touches the rope – and right away you recognize the plastic. It is artfully recreated to look like the original seal, but the moment you touch it you know that the grave had recent visitors.

As said, those visitors came in 2008. And for all we know the mummy has been undisturbed since then.

But you might still wonder why KV65 has not been opened yet. The reason is simple:

When they opened KV64 there was no mummy.

A team of four men and two women went inside. A black tent covered the entrance to avoid sand and curious looks. Two guards stood outside.

They broke the seal and carefully pushed the large stone blocks aside. The team leader, Orin, a seasoned Egyptian archeologist in his 50s, went first. A bright flashlight in his hand he stepped forward through the narrow corridor, admired the murals. The others followed.

A second stone wall stood in their way. They took photographs, then three men pushed against it until it moved.

They found an untouched grave. The murals still shone bright, the golden offerings for the afterlife still stood on the floor. And the clay jugs that contained the mummy’s organs were still in their place. The sarcophagus, carefully sealed, stood in the middle of the room on a stone pedestal.

They took photos of it all, the murals, the burial objects, the clay jugs and the sarcophagus. Then they went to the most exciting task.

Orin gave the command, the women took photos, the other three men pushed the heavy lid. It took three attempts to move it at all – then it slid smoothly, nearly without friction off the lower half of the sarcophagus.

The held their breath. Everything was in place: The golden mask, the scepters and insignia, the bandages. Just one thing was missing: the mummy.

The bandages were carefully arranged, as if around a body. But they lay flat with no body between the white linen.

The research team was at the same time shocked and excited. Shocked because they had expected a mummy, they had expected fame and newspaper articles, maybe even the chance to write a book. But they were also excited because of the riddle, the mysterious arrangement of valuables in an empty grave.

One of the women carefully placed a clay jar in a cushioned box. They wanted to date the grave.

They took more photos, some just of the objects, some with proud postures.

Then they left the grave, sealed it with a metal gate and said goodbye to the guards.

They celebrated the night with seafood and wine. They debated wildly, curiously on how to solve the riddle and where the mummy might be hidden. They had found other graves, such with more mummies than expected – maybe one of them belonged to KV64?

They moved to a hotel room. They analyzed the photos of murals and symbols – but nothing made sense.

An hour before midnight they decided to sleep. Orin went home, the others, being only guests, stayed in the hotel.

In the morning they noticed that the clay jug was gone. The cushioned box was still there and still sealed – just the contents were missing.

Fingers were pointed; loud accusations made. They called Orin to mediate and solve the riddle. He had gone home. They were sure that he could not be at fault.

Orin didn’t pick up the phone. Only in the evening, when his wife got home, did they learn that Orin had not come home.

The five worried about the traitor. They thought he could have sold the jug already – with the right buyer it could have been worth a retirement.

But they were even more worried that Orin might have gone back; that he might have stolen more from the grave.

The next day they returned to the tomb. The guards were surprised – they had been told it would at least be a week until the return. But they assured the team that they had been on guard, that no one had come near the tomb.

They were relieved, still they pressed on. They opened the metal door they had placed above the original entrance – and were surprised to find the stones back in place.

The seal, too, was in its original state.

In disbelief they checked whether they were at the right grave. The maps and signs were identical. The guards assured them that they had been at the same grave before.

They pushed the stones aside.

They walked through the corridor. The murals seemed brighter than before.

They pushed the second stone door open.

The sarcophagus was closed. The clay jugs were all in their place.

One of the women picked the first clay jug up and placed it again in the cushioned box they had brought along. She told the others that the jug felt heavier than before.

They noted a sweet smell.

Again the three men pushed the sarcophagus open.

This time the women didn’t take photos.

And this time they found a mummy.

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