Tag Archives: insanity

She tried to convince me that she’s not a figment of my imagination and I played along.

The young pale man sat upright in his chair. When I entered the room Dalton only glanced at me for a moment. His eyes seemed to be focused on the corridor.

When the door shut his eyes flicked around the room. Finally his pupils honed in on me.

“She’s not here, right?”

“We are alone,” I said.

“Okay. Okay. Sometimes I’m just worried that she comes in. She likes open doors.”

“You are talking about your girlfriend?”

“No. Well, yes, in a way. I imagined her as my girlfriend when I was a teenager.”

“And you are now 21?”

“Yes.”

“And you still see your imagined girlfriend?”

Dalton nodded.

“She just didn’t want to leave.”

“You don’t mean that metaphorically? You are really talking about an imagined girlfriend?”

“Yes. Her name is Arielle. You know, like Arielle the mermaid because I had a crush on her.”

“So this girlfriend is imaginary but she is bound by walls and doors?”

“Not really,” Dalton said. “I mean, she didn’t use to but now she pretends that she is.” Continue reading

I Just Want to Live Alone

I want to say this right away: I’m in my office now. I think I’m safe.

I shouldn’t have waited. That was my mistake; that’s the one thing that really is my fault. I shouldn’t have waited; I should have run while I still could; while things were still normal and sane.

I used to like my roommate. He was the artsy type, cheerful, always up for a beer. I don’t know what changed along the way, or when exactly he changed.

I first noticed it when his girlfriend moved in. The first days he was cheerful, then, after their first big fight, Martin began to act servile, submissive even.

She called herself Amaya but I was never sure whether that was her real name. On the letters that arrived for her there were at least three, maybe four different variations of the spelling and some altogether different names. She was somewhere from Asia, that was really everything I knew, and that she liked chocolate.

Either way, around the time Amaya moved in everything changed. It could also have been the job and visa trouble Martin had, or maybe just the winter weather; he became a different person.

Since then I lived in solitude. I paid my share of the apartment, but being in the living room or kitchen or even just to stay for long in the bathroom made me feel uncomfortable, as if I wasn’t quite welcome. They weren’t even in the living room that much – they too just stayed in their room – it was more that the apartment itself, the rooms with the wooden floors, bare white walls and mélange of furniture began to feel threatening.

Around that time my social life died. I can’t really blame my roommates for that, but the constant sense of discomfort, the shallow sleep and the feeling that somehow I was sinking into a black hole; the social part of my self was slowly slipping away. Work and the internet filled the place where once friends had been.

Apart from gray and stiff colleagues the only people that stayed in my life were Martin and Amaya. I thought I could sit it out; wait for the last six months of our contract to finish and then quickly find a new place and become a new and healthy person again. I shouldn’t have waited.

It seemed cute at first – they fought at night and in the morning Martin brought Amaya breakfast to say sorry. That day I left with a smile when I went to work.

When I came home Amaya was again – or still – in their room. Martin cooked and brought her food. At night I heard them shouting.

A week went by before I saw Amaya again. She looked sick and exhausted. Our conversation consisted just of “You okay?” and “Yeah.”

The next days she seemed happier, although the color didn’t really return to her face. I saw both of them occasionally in the living room where they were watching movies on their laptops. That seemed to be their only entertainment, the only thing I saw them doing at all. There was no artsy soul left in Martin; for Amaya I wasn’t even sure if there had ever been one.

My main connection with them was their noise; the way they were seemingly unable to keep any movie or piece of music at a sane volume; not to speak of their constant shouting. Whenever I asked them to be more considerate Martin said “sorry,” turned it down and – after I turned around but before I had even left the room – turned it up again.

They fought a lot. And after every long and loud nightly fight Martin brought Amaya breakfast and dinner for a few days. I hated the sheepish expression he had while carrying the food to their bedroom.

I lost track of my roommates. I forgot when I last saw them; I forgot even when I heard them last or what they were fighting about – although, for the hearing part, the guess “last night” and “something about love” would probably have been the right guesses for most days.

At some point our trash rotation system broke down. I stopped cooking and soon stopped feeling responsible for trash that I was sure wasn’t mine – and they just didn’t care. The kitchen began to smell of old fish, then of rotting fish, then of rotting fish and meat; the smell broke through the closed door, made the living room unbearable and finally invaded our bedrooms. The bathroom with its strong vent and moist air was the only refuge.

They had many fights, Martin loudly and Amaya with a weak voice that at some point always broke into crying. Often he cried too. I didn’t dare to interrupt their fights; twice I brought the trash bags with their nearly liquid contents out myself; then I took the passive-aggressive way of “please bring the trash out” text messages instead.

At some point the fights got shorter, then stopped. When Martin proudly told me that they were engaged I offered a celebration beer – but he refused and went out alone. I sent my congratulations to Amaya by text. She replied late at night with a simple “thx.”

From then on I didn’t see Amaya at all. It might seem strange in retrospect, but at the time I didn’t notice it. I barely ever saw her anyway and our encounters were usually so brief and so meaningless that my mind didn’t bother to remember them.

They only watched movies from then on. Occasionally I thought I heard them speaking between the movie dialogue – but I’m not really sure of that. I gave up and stopped complaining about the noise; I was just happy that the fights had stopped. I slept badly with the movie soundtracks blasting through the wall, but at least, without the fights, I slept.

I really can’t tell whether it’s been two or three months since I last talked to either of them. It’s not that I didn’t try – I definitely did on the few occasions that I saw Martin coming out of the kitchen with two large plates of food in his hands, but he just ignored me, squeezed past me and disappeared in their room.

He began to do weird stuff, as if he was trying to make me get angry or even more uncomfortable. He move furniture to strange places, turned the washing machine or microwave off while I was using it; used my kitchen utensils and even my toothbrush and left thick crusts of smelly brown or red stuff on the brush. No matter how many times I asked him to stop – first politely, then angry, then loudly – he never even responded. Instead he just continued whatever he was doing – usually to cook pieces of fish or large slobs of meat; to burn them a dark black in what used to be my nonstick pan.

The smell began to grow worse. I stopped eating even bread at home; I stopped actually being at home for anything but sleeping. When I signed up for a gym I told my colleagues I wanted to get fit for the summer; the truth is that I just wanted a clean shower.

Every day the same routine: Sleep; buy a croissant on the way to work; shower in the gym; work; eat lunch – sometimes alone, sometimes with colleagues; work; work overtime; eat a sandwich for dinner; sit in the office to video chat with family or waste time online; finally go home and try not to gag while falling asleep.

I was happy when the notice period came. I sent Martin an email and he replied that he would send the email off – his first words to me in months. Three days later I asked how it went; he replied that out message was too late and that we had to pay another month but then “it will end.”

That night I heard Martin leave the house. There were no tears rolling down my cheeks, but inside I cried at the prospect of being in that apartment for another three months. I had a drink to help me fall asleep, then a second and a third and I’m not sure how many after that. I never felt so lonely in my life. Lonely and drunk enough to fantasize about the pretty girl Amaya I met for the first time months ago. Lonely enough to think it a good idea to say “hello” to her.

After all, it’s not like we had any fights or anything. Amaya was quiet, but somewhat nice, most of the time. We just had lost track of each other, right?

The smell should have been a warning. People who live in such smell can’t be good people. My drunk mind told itself that it was okay, that it was probably just Martin’s messiness, dirty plates and they forgot too often to bring the trash out. I laughed at myself when I realized that I too was living in that smell; that I too couldn’t be a good person.

The loud movie dialogue told me Amaya was home. I knocked on the door to their room. No response.

I knocked louder and, when still no response came, finally banged on the door. There was a sound; I took it to mean that I could come in.

The door handle was sticky; the door hard to move.

When I pushed the door open a suffocating smell hit my face; like the burnt and moldy slobs of meat in the kitchen combined with the week-old rotting fish and topped off with old diarrhea.

It was nauseating; sickening; I had to take a step back to keep my dinner in my body. Still I felt the urge to say hello, to at least have some social interaction for the day.

I finally got myself to push the door further open and step inside the room. The thick curtains were drawn; illuminated by just the light of her laptop screen I saw Amaya’s shape on the bed. She was at least three or four times bigger than I remembered her.

“Hey.” I said and stepped inside; my foot hit some sticky mass. I suppressed the urge to run just like the one to vomit. Some fusion of alcohol and loneliness drove me forward; drove me to say “hello” again.

The floor was covered in dirty plates; trash bags; piles of rotting food; and so was the bed on Martin’s side. On Amaya’s side the trash was piled on her body, right on the ripped blanket.

Only at the foot of the bed I realized that the ripped cloth on her stomach wasn’t cloth. Her skin had ballooned and ripped open all through the middle. The rotting food wasn’t on her; it was spilling out of her; through a thick layer of a crusted, brown and red mass.

I left the door open for the police.

While running to the office the image of her bloated body refused to leave my mind. She must have been dead for months. I had seen pictures of bloated corpses, but none like hers.

Then, just when I arrived at the office, my memories clicked into place.

Dead for months. Still he always carried two plates.


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

White Devils

“The war made him first from a boy into a man, then from a man into a broken man.” Grandma always looked sad when she said that.

The three years of war never left him. You might have heard about PTSD, but hearing about it is not the same as experiencing it. Even when I was just a child I knew that something was wrong with grandpa.

When I was very young he scared me. He was nice to me, always nice and friendly, but I could hear him scream behind closed doors and stomping up and down the stairs in the middle of the night.

Whenever my dad came home late after his bowling nights I would tell him that he “smelled like grandpa.” That was grandpa’s way to cope and I think he inherited some of it to dad and dad in turn to me. When you grow up with the knowledge that alcohol solves problems and preserves sanity then it is hard to get around that idea.

Grandpa drank to forget; to forget the memories and flashbacks and nightmares. When Kim Il-Sung attacked the South grandpa’s boots were some of the first Western boots on the ground. They drove the North back; then they got too close to the Chinese border.

I still remember grandpa’s cursing when he spoke about the “millions of Chinese” that crossed the border. Their weapons were inferior, their training too. Still, by sheer mass, they drove the UN forces back.

Grandpa was one of thousands that came home with scenes and images etched in their minds. Some lived a normal life; grandpa barely functioned.

As a teenager I read many books about the war; their authors often served in the same battles as grandpa. Others I asked in person.

Still, no one else ever spoke about nightly attacks on the camps and no one else ever called the Koreans “White Devils.”

Grandpa always cursed about them. Ever since the war he stayed up at night and slept during the day, just because of them. He said that he needed to protect his house and family.

I hated it when we stayed over at my grandparents’ place; there sleeping was impossible for me. If grandpa’s cussing didn’t wake me up it was the baseball bat crashing on floors and furniture, and sometimes even gunshots at imaginary enemies.

I never dared to go down to stop him. I never dared to sit down and talk with him. I feel guilty for that now, but as my dad usually points out it was already much too late – no one could get through to him.

All grandpa talked about were his nightly encounters with the white devils. Dad usually cut him off and told him grandpa that he needed to go again to see his therapist. No matter what time of the day – grandpa always answered the same way: by pouring a large glass of liquor.

Twice grandpa tried to talk to me about the white devils. The first time I must have been around 11. I cried when he told me about the shrine he destroyed and that the Koreans, as revenge, killed most of his squad. That was the only war story he ever told that day – else he only talked about the white devils; that they were trying to harm his family and him.

After that I too began to have nightmares, but only whenever I stayed over at grandpa’s place. I saw small white figures behind the window, white-socked feet behind the door, and a few times even figures standing in or walking through my room.

When I told grandpa about my nightmares he made me sleep with the door open. He patrolled the house, the baseball bat in one and a cold glass in the other hand. His presence made me nervous and it was harder for me to fall asleep – but in return the nightmares ended.

The second time grandpa sat me down was when I was 14. I don’t remember the details of our conversation, but I remember the sickening smell of his breath, the way he slurred words and that he kept talking about the white devils.

He said that I was old enough, that I had to help him protect the family because my father refused to do so.

In retrospect it seems obvious that around that time grandpa’s mental health began to deteriorate rapidly. The shouting got more frequent, often furniture was broken in the morning and several times the neighbors called the police because grandpa’s gunshots broke through their wall. Back then I didn’t notice the change, it was too gradual and I think I wasn’t the only one deluding myself that the deterioration was just ‘temporary’ and that grandpa would return to his previous state.

Then he began to speak of “proving it.” A few times others had stayed awake with grandpa to help him hunt his memory ghosts, but no one ever saw anything.

Grandpa was prescribed new, stronger medication, but he never took it. He usually said that he needed “to be awake and alert.

His screams woke me up. Not cussing and cursing about white devils; screams. Grandma too was on the corridor and followed me downstairs.

“Help.”

“Get off me.”

“Let go.”

“Help!”

Grandma and I heard the shot from the stairs; just one. Then silence.

I tried to keep grandma out of the garage, but she was too quick. She too saw the open skull, the fleshy mass splattered on the floor, and the red spots on the ceiling.

The gun was still in his mouth.

At the other end of the room, on the floor, was a camera. It was on, but there was no tape.

Grandpa got a funeral with full honors. We were proud of him that day. Grandma cried, and so did dad. For me it was strange to hear grandpa being called “a hero.”

Now I too call him that, and not just for the war. Now I too have a house and a wife that I want to protect; I feel the urge and drive to protect.

My son is now six. This morning he told me that he can’t sleep. He said that there are figures next to his bed; small figures with dark black eyes that stare at him; he said that otherwise the figures are bright white.


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

“I can show you how to time travel.”

YouTuber “NoahJReads” kindly narrated this story:

http://youtu.be/-qOTHsQtOWw


I’ve known Guillaume for years. We had the same metaphysics class back at university, and he was the one that kept my attention away from the lecturer. He was always the clown and he always had crazy ideas.

I thought he was joking when he said he found a piece of ripped out notebook paper that allows you to “look into the future.” He said that, of all things, he found it in an old copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in the university library.

I don’t remember the words Guillaume said, but he sounded incredibly excited. The next day he passed me the slightly yellow paper in a lecture – I remember that the topic was whether or not objects exist through time.

It was obviously ripped out of a normal notebook – there were the usual punch holes on the left. And the lower part of the page was ripped off.

At the top, in capital letters was the sentence “YOU CAN TRAVEL THROUGH TIME.”

The rest of the page was filled with small, tidy block letters – but someone had made the effort to write it all in mirror writing. It was somewhat confusing but still possible to read.

There were a few sentences that sounded like they were advertising time travel, and below a series of instructions on how to achieve it. I don’t remember the details, but the gist was this: You were supposed to make a mix of several powders, and then find a strong light source in an otherwise dark area and carefully draw a line where your shadow fell. In the center of it there were supposed to be two arrows, not unlike the recycling symbol I’ve seen in some countries – two arrows, arranged in a circle and each pointing towards the end of the other arrow.

Then, I think, you were meant to light the whole thing on fire and “keep your shadow within the lines.”

There was no information on what exactly was supposed to happen. All it said was that it will make you understand time and allow you to travel through it.

I think at the bottom of the page, where the paper was ripped off, was the beginning of a sentence – and the other part was ripped away. It started with “Make sure the moon –“ and that was it. Guillaume told me he had looked for the other part, but he wasn’t able to find it in the Hitchhiker’s Guide or on the shelf where he found the book.

Guillaume wanted to try the experiment on the same day and he had already arranged most of the ingredients – I remember salt and powdered white chalk and there were a few other things – but the one thing he wasn’t able to get was magnesium. We tried to convince Dacota, a chemist friend of ours, to steal magnesium for us, but she refused and we couldn’t find another way; the mix Guillaume had made ended in the trash. I thought the yellowed paper ended there too.

I thought that the note was gone – until two weeks ago, when Guillaume texted me. It was years that I last spoke to him – and his sentence only contained two words:

“Guess what?”

I gave him a call and Guillaume asked me the same question. I guessed that he was engaged. He laughed and asked me whether I remembered “the note” – which I didn’t until he said that he meant the “time travel instructions.”

Guillaume found the note in one of his old notebooks – and he wanted to give it another try.

I laughed; I thought he was joking – and we ended up talking for nearly an hour about the good old times; then I told him about my awesome-sounding-but-horribly-boring job and Guillaume told me about his recent break up.

We met up on Friday night, had a great laugh – and just before we said goodbye Guillaume said that he had all the materials ready and was going to “try time travel” that night. I was too tired for his jokes and –like an old man in a young man’s body – went home instead.

In the morning I had several messages from Guillaume.

00:14 (am)

Gonna try it now. See you in the future, mate!

00:51

Burned like hell but not much else happened. Seems like it’s still the same day. Damn, I wanted to see whether my wife will be hot.

01:09

Whoa, dude, I think the fumes got to me. My shadow seems strange.

01:14

Dude, my shadow moves faster than I do.

01:30

Listen, this is really freaky. I feel completely sober and I can touch my nose and everything – but my shadow is still strange, it looks as if it’s predicting my movements.

01:58

Okay, I think I’m nuts. My shadow just grabbed a glass off the table long before I did. And then it got up. God, I’m serious, my shadow moved as if I got up and took a few steps. It literally left my feet and was a few steps away until I followed.

02:04

Fuck man, it’s not predicting my movements, it makes me do things.

02:08

Dude, really, I can’t do anything but what the shadow does. I’m not joking. This thing works. This thing fucking works.

(Two missed calls)

02:16

Can’t reach you. Call me man.

02:22

My shadow just went to bed. I see it lying there. I’m still standing in the doorway but my shadow is already in bed. I can’t stop my feet from moving.

08:40

(One missed call)

My shadow is not here. I don’t have a fucking shadow. Fuck man this is scary. Call me.

09:09

Dude, my shadow was waiting in the shower. I’m not joking. It left the room when I stepped inside, but I couldn’t follow it. Now I’m in the kitchen and my shadow is moving near the counter. I think it’s making sandwiches.

09:20

You should try time travel too. It’s awesome.

09:28

(One missed call)

I didn’t want to write that. I wrote that to several people. I didn’t want to. Don’t fucking do it. Help me.

09:30

It just left the house. It took something out of its pocket and threw it on the table. I think it was the phone. Please

I tried to call Guillaume but he didn’t answer his phone. I only reached him at night – and he behaved normal and said that he was fine and that he was just joking in the morning. We talked for a while and everything really seemed fine. There were some erratic sounds in his voice, some occasional cracks as if he was interrupting himself, but he said it was just a rough throat.

I wasn’t sure what to make of Guillaume’s his behavior. It was just two days before April the first and I didn’t put it past him to play an elaborate prank on an old friend.

On Sunday I texted Guillaume again, but he didn’t reply.

And on April the first I was proven right. He sent me a bunch of messages, one after the other.

11:03 (am)

Call me.

11:03

I need to show you something.

11:04

You won’t regret it.

11:05

I can show you how to do time travel. Call me.

11:05

This is awesome, man. Call me, or better even, come over.

At 11:06 Guillaume called me. I didn’t see his messages until after the phone conversation – but the conversation was nearly the same as his messages. He kept repeating that he had travelled in time and that he wanted to show me how to do it.

“Come over.” Guillaume said again and again. “You really need to try this.”

Guillaume seemed disappointed, nearly angry, when I told him that I didn’t have time to come over. I knew it would take me at least an hour to get to his house – and I already had plans with my girlfriend for the night. I promised Guillaume to meet up the next day.

After our phone conversation I got straight away another message.

Come over. I can show you how to time travel.

He sent the same message three more times during the evening. When he sent a fourth message I put my phone on silent.

In the morning I had two mailbox messages from Guillaume.

The first was from around 11pm and was very short:

“Come over. I can show you how to time travel.”

The second was from around 3am. In this message Guillaume’s voice sounded hoarse.

“Come over. You can travel through time. You need to try this. I can show you how to time travel. Come over. You can travel through time. You need to try this. I can show you how to time travel. Come over. You can travel through time. You need to try this. I can show you how to time travel. Come –“

Guillaume’s voice paused for a moment; then he screamed “Help!” and the message ended.

I tried to call Guillaume when I heard his messages, but his phone was dead. I checked my email and finally Facebook. His page was filled with several people asking Guillaume to stop spamming them, and one saying that he must have a spam bot in his email.

Then I saw his last status, from 1am the same morning:

“I can show you how to time travel.”

It had about forty likes and several comments – the first were asking Guillaume for his “secret”, but the latter comments were all asking Guillaume to stop spamming their inboxes.

Throughout the night he had sent me 14 messages, nearly all identical, except that two of them had spelling errors. They all said the same thing:

“I can show you how to time travel.”

I wrote back, asking him to stop and tried again to call Guillaume, but his phone was still dead.

The whole day I was unable to get in touch with him – text messages, phone, email, Facebook – but Guillaume didn’t respond.

I wasn’t sure whether Guillaume was still available for our evening meet-up. Still, right after work I drove over to his place. I hadn’t been there in years and got lost on the way. My mobile phone finally led me in the right direction.

Just then, when I was about five minutes from his house, I got another message from Guillaume.

“When you come over I can show you how to time travel.”

Guillaume’s house looked strange. All the curtains were drawn and his car was parked half on the street and half on his front lawn. I stopped my car in front of his garage.

Before I was even able to get out of the car Guillaume came running out of the front door. He had a wide grin on his pale face.

“Come in.” He shouted. “Quick, quick, come in.”

He grabbed my arm and pulled me away before I was even able to lock the car.

“What’s wrong with you?” I asked.

“Everything is great.” Guillaume said. “I can show you how to time travel.”

I played along with his joke. I felt guilty that he had it all planned for April fool’s and was sad that I hadn’t been there.

The moment I stepped inside the living room I knew I was wrong. The smell of burnt plastic hurt my lungs made me cough.

“Come in. Come in.” said Guillaume.

The curtains on the back windows were drawn too and the furniture was pushed towards the walls. Only one large floor lamp was lighting the room from the direction of the kitchen. On the wooden floor in the center of the living room were several plastic sheets.

Guillaume pulled me towards one of the two plastic sheets lying flat on the floor, a heap of grayish powder at the end near me. Two more plastic sheets were crumbled in the corner of the room, I noticed they were a darker color.

“Stay still.” said Guillaume, while he placed me at one end of the plastic sheet.

He smiled while he grabbed a handful of the white powder and kneeled down.

“Stay still.” He said again. “I will show you how to time travel.”

It took me a moment to realize the single floor lamp behind me; to see my shadow placed perfectly on the sheet. Guillaume quickly moved quickly and placed a thin line of the gray powder around the edges of my shadow.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Time travel.” He said.

When Guillaume reached my head I had my first realization:

Guillaume was using his left hand. He had always been right-handed, but he was using his left hand to place the powder.

The grin on Guillaume’s face began to grow when he finished my head, grabbed another handful of powder and moved over to the other side of the sheet to outline the other side of my shadow.

The moment Guillaume kneeled down on the other side I had my second realization:

Guillaume didn’t have a shadow.

I stepped backwards, my shadow grew.

Guillaume stopped distributing powder and looked at me. His grin was gone.

“Stay still!” he said.

“Stop it.” I said.

“I can show you how to time travel.” He said. “You have to time travel.”

I took two steps towards the front door.

Guillaume got up, the powder still in his hand.

“You have to time travel.” He said.

Guillaume took a step towards me.

I took a few step towards the front door; Guillaume quickly followed me; I took another step, then began to ran. Guillaume was closely behind me.

“Time travel!” he screamed.

I pulled the front door open; Guillaume tried to grab my arm, I pulled it away and ran out of the door.

He froze for a moment; then he ran after me.

“Time travel!” he screamed. “I can show you how to time travel!”

I pulled my car door open, leapt inside and slammed the door shut; I just managed to lock the door before Guillaume pulled the handle.

Guillaume grimaced and stepped backwards.

I pressed the key in the ignition, turned it. Outside Guillaume threw his gray powder on the floor and pulled something out of his pocket.

Just when I began to pull backwards he lit a match.

“I will show you how to time travel.” He screamed.

The car moved away from Guillaume’s garage, just when the powder began to burn.

Only when I got on the street I realized that the fire was just right next to where my car had been. Guillaume hadn’t tried to throw the powder on my car; he had thrown it on the car’s shadow.

“Time travel!” screamed Guillaume while I pulled away.

On the drive home I convinced myself that it was all just a prank. When I got home I was half expecting to find a video of myself online. Instead I realized that I couldn’t access Guillaume’s Facebook page anymore.

I still can’t. I still can’t access his page and I can’t reach him. I thought about calling the police or maybe social services or somebody else that deals with mental problems.

But, late that night, I got another text message, from a mutual friend of ours from university. It was Dacota, our chemist friend. And since then she has sent me 30 more messages. They say all exactly the same thing:

“Come over. I can show you how to time travel.”


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