“Gardaí Síochána have now launched a national appeal to help find 19 year old girl Emma Townsend from County Kildare. Emma is described at being five feet five inches tall with long blond hair and blue eyes. Emma was last seen leaving her home with her friend during the afternoon of April 28th, wearing navy tights, denim shorts, a white shirt with flowers and a headband with a daisy in it. She has now been missing for approximately one month. Gardaí have encouraged anyone with information to contact them immediately.”


Barely anything unusual happens here...

It was that time of year again.

I live in a small urban settlement, along with roughly 20,000 other people. I’ll try my best to keep the description brief. Barely anything unusual happens here. We have an unusually low crime rate and people are freakishly very friendly, but I’ve never seen this as a bad thing.

It’s an average town you could say. A town house, a court, one hospital, a police station, a fire station, four primary schools, and three secondary schools. Several religious buildings (three Churches, one Mosque and one Synagogue to be exact), an unusual low amount of clothes shops (for a town that size), a lot of pubs though! (What can we say, we drink to get drunk) and several hotels, restaurants, banks, entertainment centres, etc.

Driving through here you wouldn’t think much of this place, but there is one unexplainable presence we’ve all shared for many generations.

My mother and father have had it ever since they moved here in 1987, our next door neighbour who has lived here since she was born has had it (which is the year 1949 I’m told), my best friend Stephen has had it, actually, now that I think of it, everyone my age from my town naively posts about it on Facebook all the time.

It’s the tongue of the town for the youth, but our elders are never comfortable talking about. My mom and dad are happy to talk as well, but when I asked our neighbour for more details, she seemed almost panicky and shut the door in my face, all the while giving me a pathetic excuse as to not interact with me about it.

This event, all links back, to that time of year.

It starts out with the weather. The cold, fresh air of Spring is suddenly replaced by this horrible heavy humid atmosphere. Even just going to the shop feels horrible and it’s hard to breathe. Thunder is frequent at night time but the weird part is, there is no lightning or precipitation. It’s just this loud rumbling from the depths of the sky.

Next to fall victim are the animals. And I’m not just talking about the average house pets, like literally the cats, dogs, birds, ducks, rodents, all of them. Ducks don’t stop quacking and birds fly in circles and become, well, idiots basically. They start flying into cars, buildings and trees. The same goes for people with tropical birds as pets. Non-stop tweeting and flying into the rail of the cage. As for rodents, they dig holes in people’s gardens, which is a nightmare for hardcore gardeners like my father.

I have two dogs at home, one male and one female. The male becomes agitated and extremely paranoid. All day he will stare out the window with absolute concentration, almost like he’s in a state of total focus. Ears fully pricked up and shaking and whining all day long. I’ve seen mental patients that seem more at ease than him. Any little sound or movement from outside will make him go ape-shit. My family and I decided it would be best not to disturb him during this time. Any time he’s not barking or whining, he’s… howling? This is quite odd because he’s a Chihuahua. The Huskies and the German Shepherds do it as well, but it seems normal coming from them.

My other dog now is a different story. For this period of time she sits in her basket solemnly sulking, breathing heavily. She’ll barely even eat, which is very out of character for her. She looks completely… miserable. I didn’t even think this could happen to dogs. She’s a Jack Russell and King Charles hybrid, and because she’s a female it’s her nature to be calm and courteous, but this is just disturbing. You could rub her on the ears (she loves that), put food right in front of her nose or call her name repeatedly, but nothing will work. It’s like she doesn’t exist for the week, like she’s alive in another universe. Her body is functioning… but she’s not there.

If you think that I had it bad, you should hear about my friend, Emma. She owns two cats, both female. This week is when the cats just turn into complete lunatics. It’s so saddening and disheartening to see all the dead cats at the end of the week. Whatever is going on, it just turns the cats into blood thirsty savages. Emma dreads this week every year. The cats are kept separate for a whole week (unsurprisingly) but it’s not just other cats they attack. Emma’s cats have been known to attack her as well. Oddly enough though this only occurs during the night. Over the last few years she’s complained of menacing meow’s coming from both ends of her bungalow. One night two years ago, she accidentally left her bedroom window open while the cat was in the back garden. She awakened at 7:30 a.m. to a searing, stinging sensation shrouding her scrawled and scratched face. She didn’t come to school for the rest of the week. She still has one scar below her left blue eye to this day.

For everyone, the animals are what concern them the most, but for me, it’s the dreams I have.

I’m not the only one to get them. In fact, I’m pretty sure everyone in town gets them around this time. They only way to describe these dreams are strange. These are not just “out of the blue” kind of weird though. The stories we have shared with each other about our dreams simply cannot be explained by the average human being. To put simply, they are bizarre. Nothing particularly wrong with them most of the time. In fact, these strange dreams are normally funny. A few I remember is my family trying to get a snake out of a house (even though there are no snakes in Ireland). Seems pretty normal, I’m not really sure why that one stands out. Other strange dreams during this period have included me being the spectator at a boxing match between Anne Frank and a baked potato, a feeling of complete joy when I found the matching pairs for all my odd socks and me being the captain of a submarine filled with 600 people, however, all the people were all just the closest members of my family, so 200 sisters, 200 mothers and 200 fathers. Slightly odd, right?

Those were the nice dreams. There were a few, however, that were a little more sinister.

Every year during this week I would have a least two nightmares, as far as I can remember. The most I’ve ever had is three. One that stands out was me in the middle of nothing. Literally surrounded by total blackness. Not darkness, blackness. Darkness is where there is an absence of light, but this place… it was just void of everything. Every time I looked down, up, back, forward I just saw nothing. Like I was blind. Like I was trapped in a big black box. I tried running but it felt like I was just running standstill. To keep up with my own sanity. I was terrified. After a while though, I began to hear a faint sound. It only took me a few seconds to realise but it was the old alarm siren used in Britain during World War Two to signal that the Germans were about to attack. This sound always used to scare me, but for some reason, I felt a sense of relief when it came on during my dream. A feeling that I wasn’t alone. That didn’t last long when I suddenly heard the faint sound of a young child weeping. Not the “I didn’t get what I want and I’m going to throw a loud hissy fit” cry, but the child was experiencing genuine emotional pain for the first time and didn’t know how to react. Just a silent weep. It wasn’t just that I could hear this, but I could also feel the pain too. It was like a mass mix of emotional torment and blinding confusion. The feeling of “I’m an innocent child, why do I feel this way?”

As an impending nightmare was due for this week, I decided to set my alarm for 3 a.m. to wake me up half way through it. I may not be able to sleep afterwards but to be honest I was just sick of that weak mental state felt the whole day after you experience a horrible nightmare. You never know, maybe I’d get lucky this year and just have a lot of pleasant (yet strange) dreams.

I set the alarm and read a book to help me get sleepy. It was as soon as I had closed my eyes that I had drifted off to sleep. Later that night as expected, I gained consciousness in a dream. At first, I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on but judging by the feeling of dread and the dark, damned atmosphere, this wasn’t going to be pretty.

I was trapped in my parent’s en suite bathroom. The room was dark and the sky outside was a very dark shade of purple. Out the window, I could see no moon but there were several stars shining very brightly. I had no clue why I was here. I could hear faint piano music coming from the attic. It wasn’t a like a hauntingly peaceful melody though, it was like a five-year old child violently banging it randomly. However, whoever it was playing, was playing it in perfect rhythm and was only banging the high notes. To put it straight, they were playing utter gibberish, yet they knew exactly what they were doing. I wasn’t even sure how that made sense.

This room is probably the smallest in my house, only behind the cloak room and the heating press. I put my hand on the door-handle, but I couldn’t leave. Not that the door was locked or anything, the door might have or might not have been locked, I didn't even know. My brain wouldn’t let me push down the handle. I tried, but my arm wouldn’t budge. I panicked and grabbed my right arm with my left and tried to push it down but my arm just wouldn’t move. I tried kicking the door and running into it. Nothing. I sighed and accepted that I was stuck here. I approached the other side of the room. I profoundly refused to even look at the mirror. I just decided I’d just try waiting this out with that God-awful piano music playing in the background. Suddenly, without me even realising, my head started twisting towards the mirror slowly. I tried my best to resist it but just like with the handle, it was no use. Slowly but surely, my entire body slavishly drifted towards the position where I’d be posed perfectly in front of the mirror. I tried turning my head, closing my eyes and looking the opposite direction, but I no longer had control.

I was left staring at my perfectly lit-up reflection for some time. I had a neutral pose upon my face, but I knew I was frightened out of my wits. What was going to happen? Why was this happening? When will it end? I had so many questions but such little information. All I had was this dark room and myself, the banging piano music still playing over and over again. Without warning, it stopped. I paused all my thoughts because I couldn’t control my body. There was this maddening silence for what felt like the longest minutes of my life. Usually in total silence the human mind will start making you hear things but not this time. Total lack of sound. My body posed perfectly still but in my own head I was completely freaking out. And then it started out of nothing. Completely deafening me: a shrieking, beeping noise. It sounded like… a phone? My phone?

My alarm!

My alarm was going off. But I wasn’t waking up. I continued to stare at my own terrifying reflection with the somewhat relieving sound of the alarm perforating my dream world eardrum. The alarm getting louder, and louder, and louder. The piano music started again, blending in with the alarm’s beeping.

That’s when my head started tilting. The same expression on my face in plain sight on the mirror but my head tilting ever so slowly to the left. With every bang of the piano my head would move the tiniest bit, but the rest of my body stayed perfectly still. All I could do was watch until it got to the point where my head was bent down at an impossible angle to even still be alive. My neck and head hung loosely from my shoulders still with the same blank expression like nothing was happening. Then that changed too.

A demented smile started to grow on my face. The piano banging from the attic started to speed up as the alarm music started to become twisted, switching back and forth from playing normally, to backwards and the volume and pitch started to become distorted, playing at different volume ranges. The smile kept growing and growing until you could see even my wisdom teeth. My hazel eyes opened wider, and wider, and wider as my pupils swelled up my entire iris. Blood started to drip from the sides of my mouth as the smile started growing beyond my cheeks. The piano music no longer had rhythm or was professionally played, it just sounded like somebody repeatedly smacking their head off the keys as high and low notes were going off, sharp notes clashing with flat ones. My entirely black iris started to shake in my eyes as blood rushed down from both eyes and the once enormous smile on my face was now a gaping hole in my head as my teeth fell out one by one. The black iris in both eyes shaking furiously out of control. I suddenly froze. Everything froze. The music froze. What now?

I don’t have an attic. I don’t have a piano.

I woke up screaming as if I had just been stabbed in the leg. Today was not going to be a good day.

I opened the window to get a breath of fresh air, forgetting the air was still humid and horribly warm. No wind whatsoever. I walked downstairs to get some food. My family were all acting normally, nothing unusual going on between them. I checked my phone to see the time. The thought of even looking at that… thing only sent shivers down my spine. I checked it to see if anything was off. One new text from Emma. That was expected. I usually do. My withering senses, however, were new. I was becoming paranoid all of a sudden. This is the first year this has happened.

Emma had text me asking what time I was getting the bus to college. It was things like this, this morning, which I was extremely grateful for. My ordinary, boring life. It had settled me down from my traumatising night. It had been seven days now. I was now just waiting for the next few days to just fuck off. I enjoyed my average, daily weekday walk down to the bus stop, only with just one bit of thunder startling me on my way. I approached Emma waiting for me at the stop, wearing her usual headband with a daisy attached to it. She was a bit of a hippy. She was fiddling with her long blonde hair, staring into the distance. She looked like she had something bothering her. I could tell by her facial expression. I had known her for ten years and these were always her actions when there was something making her feel uncomfortable or upset.

“Hey, what’s up?” I asked

“Heeeeey, the usual, and you?” she replied.

Yep, definitely something wrong. Usually her response would be sarcastic, witty or teasing, often insulting me. That’s what I loved about her. One of the best personalities that I knew.

“Are you sure?” I inquired, “You seem a little… off…” I admitted.

“Oh, it’s just that time of year again y’know, had a pretty messed up dream last night,” she said.

“Ha, you’re not the only one,” I said, “I had an awful aul dream last night.”

“Yeah but you deserve one though, shithead” she said with a cheeky little smile.

Ah, there she is.

I giggled it off, “What was your dream about anyway, no way I’m talking about mine, fuuuuck.”

“You pussy!” she exclaimed. “Hahaha, mine was freaky as fuck though, I dreamt I was locked in this creepy-ass attic playing a piano, and I just... could. Not. Stop. No matter how hard I tried.”

My face dropped.

“There was like, a bunch of other weird crap as well, like I kept hearing this…”

“Alarm going off?” I interrupted immediately, with a pose of despair.

Her face turned from bright and bubbly to empty and frightened.

“Ho… h… how did you… w… wh… what??” she mumbled, while mildly flailing her arms towards her head in disbelief.

All I could do was watch open-mouthed while Emma was close to breaking down in panic. I grabbed her arm and confronted her, trying my very best to calm her down. Usually I was never good at these kinds of things, but Emma always appreciated the effort of people comforting one another. Her breathing was heavy and a rare look of dread had overcome her usually quirky face. We stared at each other for a few long seconds, trying to catch up with reality. For a brief moment I had forgotten all about it. I was expecting this usual town to just pass on as it always did. Until now. There was something menacing about all this. Why does it only happen here? My cousins in the neighbouring town never experienced it. Why the terror? Why all the animal chaos? Scores needed to be settled. Somebody knows something. “We need to talk” I told her. No response. That was a yes. SHE knew something.

It was mutually agreed that we would both take the day off to discuss plans. The story explained for this town: it’s just the drastic change in weather causing it all, but that can’t be it. I know that’s not it. This town is brainwashed and has been for years now. My neighbour was hiding a secret from me, a secret which clearly made her feel at unease. What had her so agitated at this time of year? Why did she change the subject and freak out any time I brought it up? I was just so goddamn sick of just being given stupid, insincere, vague slander for answers all the time. Well no more.

After I brought Emma home and spent about an hour calming her down, we set out to my neighbour’s residence. Emma hated anything to do with the supernatural or the paranormal. She acts all tough around most people about it but I can see right past it and she knows it. She won’t watch any horror movie that doesn’t have any logic behind it, always giving some abysmal excuse to everybody; while at the same time texting me complaining why we have to watch such “filth”. Even just silly little coincidences could leave her rocking back and forth in extreme paranoia for the guts of an hour. I couldn’t even imagine how she was dealing with this right now.

My neighbour had always been a very introverted person. I’ve been her neighbour for 14 years, and for as long as I can remember, every single night she has had the blinds pulled on every single window on her house. Anytime I wave at her in the street or stop to say hello it was like she never had any time for me. She has one daughter who visited her quite frequently and every week a group of other elders visited her house for approximately an hour, although sometimes they could be there for up to four hours. The longest they’ve been there is four days if I recall correctly. These elders I also recognised from the town. There are always four regulars there for every single meeting. Rain, wind or shine, they’ll be there. The most I’ve ever seen is well over 20. This odd behaviour has always intrigued me. The house itself looks like any other house on my road. It’s clean, painted white, and has a well kept garden and a shed. Nothing out of the ordinary there then, I suppose.

As we approached her house, we noticed the absence of one silver Mercedes. That was the signal for the go ahead then. Emma and I decided it would be best to enter her house from my garden. So we ventured through my house, out the conservatory door and peeked through her kitchen window and the dining room door which led into the garden. No sign of her. I hopped over the fence and landed on the grass, only to be met with a tongue-biting scrunch sound against my shoe. I leaned over and brushed my hand through what I had discovered was… fake grass? Why would my neighbour have a plastic grass lawn? Come to think of it, she has no grass or plants on her front garden either. It’s made entirely of pebbles and stone. Emma then hopped over the peeling green fence and landed on the so-called grass. I stretched my hand out and rubbed all her flowers, trees and the bushes. These were all artificial as well. I honestly didn’t know what to make of this. I never noticed this before. It all looked so… real. To have your garden reshaped like this must of cost her an absolute fortune. Emma stared at me with a concerned perplexity; we spaced-out for a while, trying to make out what this was all about. We agreed to keep going before she got home. She ran ahead of me and looked through both windows, and that’s when I noticed something horrifying.

The daisy in Emma’s headband. It was curling up, all the petals turning brown in seconds, the stem turning into a disgusting, murky, dry yellow colour. Sure the daisy was already dead, but rotting just as soon as we get into a synthetic garden and at that rate? I thought it was best not to say anything.

Emma jerked on the door. Nothing. We tried all the windows on the side and back of the house. All locked. That’s when Emma took a clip from her hair and started twisting and turning it, turning it into a picklock. She stuck it into the keyhole and fiddled it around for a few seconds before we heard the victorious click of the lock giving in to our demands. Crafty little flower. We were in.

Emma crept inside and instantly turned around to me with a wrinkled up facial expression. As soon as I set foot in the house I knew what she was signalling. The smell. It was just the overwhelming smell of tar. This house looked like the ordinary suburban 80’s house but the inside looked like an 1800’s cottage. Her kitchen “table” was just a large slab of marble. I desperately looked around for a light switch, except… there were no lights. I looked around one more time. All candles and fire lit lamps. No plug sockets could be seen. The only light coming from outside, and seeing as there’s no sun, the atmosphere in here was absolutely miserable.

I checked around one last time. There was absolutely no electricity at all. Candles decorated the counters. Stoves and pots scattered everywhere too. This was a total clash to the synthetic garden within eye shot of us both. The slight headache that all the colours of the garden had given me was being unsettlingly soothed by the plainness of this residence. With hesitation, we continued on to explore the rest of the house.

The hallway was laid out pretty similarly to the kitchen and dining room: no lights, stone walls and creaky wooden floors. You would expect this place to be freezing but it was much warmer than the kitchen. The smell of tar was now much stronger and Emma and I were finding it very difficult to breathe. As we progressed through here, my vision started to blur and my pace started to stutter. I resorted to a clumsy, disoriented mess within a rapid space of time, struggling to make sense of any of this situation.

Suddenly, there was an unexpected thud.

I half-heartedly hauled my heavy head to the source of the sorrowing sound. After half a second of tensing my focus, I saw that Emma had lost consciousness and collapsed to the ground like a rag doll. After the realisation, I made my best effort to struggle over to her assistance. For now this needed to wait, we both needed to leave.

I limped to my best efforts over to her body lying in a heap on the dark damaged floors. I placed my left hand on her warm left arm and grabbed her right shoulder with my right arm. I hoisted her up as quickly as possible as my vision started to fade into darkness, merging objects into indistinguishable blobs. I slowly stumbled towards what I made out to be the front door. I placed my hand on the knob and twisted to only confirm my worst fears.


I literally had seconds of energy left. It would of taken a miracle for me to make it back out to the back yard before I passed out. With nothing to lose, I headed for the hallway door leading back into the kitchen. As I was leaving the main part of the hall, something had caught my eye. It was where the stairs was supposed to be. It was just two doors. I paused and gazed over with all the attention I had left in my brain. Suddenly fearing for my safety, I thrashed towards the exit with the mightiest effort I could afford. I could never put Emma in danger like this; I would never forgive myself if something ever happened to her on my hands. On my watch, I was determined not to let anything happen to my best friend in the world. It was now or never. I was resolute to just get out of here and fast.

And then everything went black.

Dark window

My vision was completely gone. The last thing I remember feeling were my knees crashing down to the ground with the sudden feeling of failure and misery. The optimistic, determined thoughts once zipping through my head during those final moments were now replaced with total eerie quiet, a lack of understanding and emotion. We had collapsed, together in arms, waiting inevitably for whatever fate we had brought upon ourselves.

A queasy, nauseous feeling dominated me when I had regained consciousness. It had taken me a few seconds to recall the events of what had happened earlier. Disoriented, dizzy and bewildered, the seriousness of the situation had slapped me like a hot wet towel. The smell of tar was still present, but I was unsure as to whether it wasn’t as bad as it was upstairs, or if I had just become used to it. I assumed my eyes would adjust to the darkness of this indefinite area, which was deceivingly pitch dark. When I turned around then, I was hideously surprised to see a slab of white concrete, like the one in the kitchen, in clear, plain sight. Just as it was in my dream, like a painting set on a black canvas. This couldn’t be possible.

I looked around this… room? That’s when things took a turn for the worse.

Menacing, brutal and downright disturbing decorations lingered around this place. Hanging from the ceiling from nooses were dead foxes, dogs, cats and even small rodents such as ferrets, rats and even little pet hamsters. Including amongst these were kittens, puppies and other young animals. All just hanging. Some had had their skin torn off, had been disembowelled, eyes gouged out and their teeth pulled from their gums. All were different and had their own unique treatment. All animals had a look of pure pain and suffering on their faces, something which I never thought I’d ever be able to have to tell. My eyes followed them down from head to toe analysing the torture these creatures had been put through. Poodles of thick crimson blood gathered underneath each carcass, and seemingly almost gathering into one big glossy, ruby ocean.

This horrifying, brutal image forced me to lean over and project vomit all over the “floor”, making the puke look like it was just bouncing off of nothing. I coughed several times after, spitting up little remains from the contents of my stomach, procrastinating myself from having to look up at those poor animals again. Trying my best to seek beyond the mutilated animal corpses, I slowly put one foot in front of the other to try find a way out.

My sanity was draining having to walk past it all. Eyeballs, blood and guts were still dripping from them, with and odd body part landing with a slight squidgy sound onto my clothing. I kept on walking until I saw something faint in the distance. I stopped and squinted, still feeling a little dizzy from the vomiting. With that, I tip-toed as quick as I could towards the mysterious dot, all the while trying my best to not to disturb the hanging animals. As I approached this dot, other dots starting appearing in the distance, first tens, and then, I could of sworn, hundreds of them.

After a spell of squinting, I noticed that these were paintings. All of them were the same. Every single one I saw was just a painting of a grey eye, enclosed in a whitish grey frame. Just one eye which covered almost the whole width of the frame, took up about a third of the height and was placed dead centre in all the pictures. I found myself staring into one in particular, even though they were all the same.

After a while pondering about it, I started walking in parallel with the paintings. I had no idea where I was, or how big this “room” was, or if this was even real. Was I just dreaming from passing out? Usually my dreams aren’t this sophisticated, but for now, I was only focused on finding Emma. If I found her, I could almost assure myself that I wasn’t dreaming, as it was once in a blue moon that I had a dream with people involved. It happened, but rarely.

While thinking about it all, I kept one eye on the paintings. They started to slowly evolve realistically. The first few I saw were just plain grey eyes on a black canvas and were pixelated like how you would see on the old Nintendo 64 or something, but as I progressed they started to become more detailed. Suddenly, while still developing, I paused to stare at one in particular.


I flicked my eyes back to the previous one: Perfectly healthy eye. I tilted my head to the one next to it. Also bloodshot. It was clear to me now that this was a part of the puzzling progression. I took another look around the rest of the room. Animals were still hanging and dangling everywhere. I was now convinced this was a dream. I had been walking for at least four or five minutes. I studied my trail and the hanging dead creatures littered the room’s horizon. No way would somebody go to all this effort just to hang all those animals from the ceiling. Would they?

I continued forward with constant alternating attention to the paintings and the animals, looking to suss out an upset in the pattern. It was because of this, that the smallest little factor had caused me to jump out of my skin with sheer fright

A ringing.

I had no idea what it was, but it was faint. Very faint. Jesus Christ, how fucking big is this room? I started to do a mild jog but keeping alert in case of some other sinister matter. To my much unwanted revelation, this ringing was starting to sound a lot like screaming as I started to advance towards the source of the noise. With that, I halted to a sudden stop. All my surroundings still the same, the screaming remaining now at a disgusting ambient level. I thought to myself that if I was to get out of this dream with any ounce of sanity, I would need to take this risk.

“EMMA!” I roared out with a desperate might.

The screaming stopped. All sounds of any sort stopped, the room all of a sudden lacking an echo. A silence so quiet it hurt my ears. You could hear the sound of your own bodily organs performing their duty. The faded heart of mine pounding away was like the sound of a child banging his milk bottle off his cot.

And then that stopped.

I was left in this total silence for minutes on end. I tried to look around but my head wouldn’t move. I tried pointlessly running. To no avail either. All I could do was stand around and wait for this mind-numbing phase to stop.

And then the alarm went off.

Within that second, all the pictures collapsed off the wall and all the animals fell off the ceiling simultaneously. The floor was now a bloodied mess of corpses, ropes and broken frames. Red paint started leaking from the eyes of the painting, seeping on the floor and blending in with the blood. The ringing of my phone alarm was now monstrously loud, shaking this realm with a thundering roar. The ringing forced me to curl up in a ball on the ground holding my ears, while trying and failing to just drown it all out.

Out of the corner of my eye, a man and a woman as pale as mannequins walked motionlessly hand in hand towards my crippled tormented body. With the room still shaking furiously to the deafening ringing roar of the alarm and me now drowned in blood, guts and glass, my eyes started uncontrollably crying. Suffering through it all, I seemed to have no choice but to just start shouting, “NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!” over, and over, and over again, each no getting louder to the point that I starting coughing up blood, my throat torn to shreds from shouting too loudly and frequently in such a short space of time. I could now feel the words coming out, but I couldn’t hear them.

The music stopped, the shaking stopped. I was staring into total black and exposed to total quiet once more. My eyes were now stinging from the acidic teardrops gushing from my face, my lower lip dripping blood combined from the fierce biting of it and the constant curdling coughing from my esophagus. I knew what awaited me as I was about to look up. Hesitantly, I steadily jilted my head ever so slowly up towards the ceiling. My eyes made contact with, and were repulsed, by the eerie sight of an all white bride and groom staring into my soul with ghostly white eyes.

They said and did absolutely nothing for the time that I struggled to get back to my feet. Their heads had followed my every move. Vice versa, I hadn’t taken my eyes off them either. Those eyes were horrific, empty sockets of self-destruction, but I got lost in them somehow. I eventually made it back to a normal stance. My breathing as laboured as a marathon runner.

“Wh... who... who are you?” I stuttered. How could I not, I didn’t know how they were going to react.

“You need to wake up,” the woman uttered in a monotonous voice.

“Wh… wh… what?” I replied.

“You need to wake up.”

I tried my best to maintain my current facial expression in an attempt to stay calm, cool and collected.

“Just please explain to m–”

“WAKE. UP.” This time, louder and threatening, whilst still monotonous. “YOU NEED. TO WAKE. UP.” Her voice becoming starting to become demented and twisted now.

My breathing became heavier. “How do I return?” I asked patiently.

“Waakee upil,” she mumbled once more.

Wait, what the fuck? Her voice now suddenly worn out as if she was on a caffeine crash.

“Ples Tim, I ned you to wahe. UP.”

I shut my eyes and imagined myself making it back to reality.

“Emma. Neeh. Tim. UP wake,” she muttered again, her speech resembling somebody who is sleep talking.

The piano music from my earlier dream started to play again. I shut my eyes and opened them again, and again, and again. I was now seeing the same old blackened room but a slit of light started to glow in a gap between the man and woman.

“You neeh che waaa uo Tem. Helh,” the woman uttered in what sounded like a dying, last stitch effort. It was then that I noticed that the man was talking as well, but all I could hear was a woman’s voice.

I contemplated what to do. I put my left foot forward while staring at the light. I outstretched my arm and quickly gathered walking pace. Slowly but surely I made my way towards the light. The piano banging still throbbing at my head, my index finger now tasting what felt like an inadequate freedom. With the two menacing statue like beings guarding over me, I had felt safe to just now leap in to this unknown light.

They had made me feel safe.

I awakened in a dark room. The only light source came from four flaming torches at each corner of the room. My hands were tied behind my back and there was a noose hooked around my neck. Rusty coloured pentagrams scattered the walls, the floors and the furniture. I gazed up to see six figures standing about ten feet directly in front of me. Their necks pointed upwards in a religious-like pose, dressed in all black from head to toe: black gloves, black robes, black everything. It took me a second to realise that the banging piano music was still here. I searched around frantically to locate the source and discovered something that has engraved in my mind, even still to this day.

“Tim… hell… meh… plah…” Emma struggling to speak over her mindless organ bashing.

I could barely make out my surroundings in the dark, but her furious banging of the piano contrasted completely to her almost total limp facial expression. Blinking slowly and going cockeyed, I caught eye of a drip beside her which was hooked up to her arm. I looked right back at the hooded figures who were staring right at me. My neighbour. Her eyes had that evil texture about them, the type of person you just wanted to vanish.

Looking into her eyes, I experienced a resentment like I never thought was possible. My blood boiling and rising as this bat took a step closer towards me. I remained perfectly calm and still while pouting an angry poker face, but on the inside fear was tearing me apart like a clumsy chainsaw. Only a few feet away from me now, Emma stopped banging the piano. I looked over at her lifeless body almost floating on the seat. I squinted once more at this a little perplexed, not realising my concerns were about to be solved.

They started chanting four words in Latin, in that horrible monotonous tone that I had to bare once more. The only word I could make out was “Et” which I know was the French word for “And”. The other three words began with "p". As the tone become higher and the chanted the words louder, all the pentagrams in the room began to glow, revealing a darkened room similar to the blackened nightmare. Dead goats and chickens missing heads, hooves and other various body parts all stuffed into little rabbit cages, all mutilated from what I presumed were satanic rituals. My facial expression now no longer able to contain itself. All I could do was roar and screech. Fear had elapsed me; I didn’t know what else to do.

I looked back over at Emma who was now banging the piano once more. I noticed that four strings were attached to her, two to each arm. My eyes followed the strings up near the ceiling where I laid my sights on a marionette, which was bouncing up and down by what I understand to be just total thin air. With the pentagrams now totally lit up, one of the hooded figures ran up behind me. The chanting continued but the hooded figures stopped completely, standing there and staring at me. The piano music continued down its noisy path.

I felt two cold, boney hands press against my back. I gripped my teeth and continued to hysterically struggle in the ropes. I heard a whisper in my ear, a cold, almost smokey kind of whisper that seemed to rush through my brain and slice it up.


Without even thinking, I jumped up and gave a mighty, bolting kick like a horse to the evil little gremlin behind me. I posed my feet on his abdomen against the wall behind us. My neck now loose in the noose, I lifted up my neck and pulled my head out, thumping to the ground face first. My nose now stinging, I didn’t care, I now was fully focused on getting out of here. I rolled over onto my back and used my clenched fists to push myself back up to my feet. By the time I had, the other four hooded figures had rushed to the man’s aid.

As I started to escape, flashbacks of the white-eyed woman began to appear in my mind. “YOU NEED TO WAKE UP.” Running in my mind over and over again. This only made me more determined to escape. All the cages opened up and animal carcases started flying towards me at dangerous speeds. Chicken claws, goats eyes, even a horseshoe had caught me on the knee. I was in tremendous pain but I continued towards the steps that led towards the door. The violent piano music, the pale eyed woman and now, the twisted ringing flurrying into a harrowing whirlwind of dread and terror.

The water now gushing out my eyes can’t even be labelled as tears as I simply had no emotion. I was simply oblivious to everything around and focused with all my own thoughts. As the four hooded figures were now chasing me, I ran into the door, not even a little considered about my pain. The door seemed to quietly dis-hinge in slow motion as I landed face first onto the tiled hallway. I laid eyes on the front door and grasped in overwhelming joy. I once more rolled onto my back and wiggled as fast as I could backwards towards the door as the hooded men ran at me with determination. I gazed at them in unobvious despair as I had now just gave up. My efforts had gone unrewarded it seemed. At least I had tried.

On the contrary, they all miraculously fell to the ground simultaneously as soon as I they had gone past the door. Life resumed to normal motion as I watched them suddenly suffer horribly. I caught a glimpse of one of their faces which were suddenly turning into a burning, hot pink and covered in expanding facial boils. Their screams were painful to hear but at the same time, relieving. I looked at up once more above their heads and saw that this was one of two doors that Emma and I had seen earlier before we had collapsed.

I stood up and ran to the kitchen, remembering the front door was locked, but that Emma had used a picklock to open the back door earlier on. With one last peek I saw the spine-chilling basement now totally engulfed in flames, with no sign of that repulsive woman escaping. Good. Let the bitch burn. I hope she stays alive down there forever.

I placed my hands above the flame of a candle in the dining room, while glancing at the slab of marble I had encountered earlier. The smell of tar seemed almost inconversant to me now. Latin writing decorated all of it and one particular sentence had caught my eye. I couldn’t remember back then what it had said exactly but I remember I instinctively knew that it was the same words. The words had now brought back my recent experiences as I became heavy lunged once more. I spewed vomit all over the floor, along with a few drops of blood. I didn’t feel it coming, but it had not surprised me.

I felt a burn on my hand and heard the rope drop to the floor, the heat from the basement now starting to radiate on the floor. With that I jerked at the sliding door which would lead back to the synthetic garden and eventually to freedom. Locked, of course. I grabbed the candle holder, ran back and with all the mighty strength of a desperate creature, flung the object at the window, giving out a mighty smash. I quickly maneuvered through the glass and ran and jumped the green, rotting fence once more.


I entered my house through the conservatory and went through to the bathroom. My nose now red and swollen from my experiences. Little drops of blood decorated my face and clothes, with a big blob hiding just under my nostrils. I stripped naked and got into the shower, throwing all my clothes in the back of my wardrobe. I wasn’t going to be wearing them for a while anyway I can tell you that. I thanked my lucky stars my parents were gone. There was no way I was going to have to explain anything to them again.

About a month has passed since the events I described above. I’m sitting on the couch with my father about to watch RTÉ news. This has been my routine now for the last month. They think it’s for a different reason, but I need not explain why. That woman. Why is her house still intact? Why is she still intact? She seems just as normal as ever. Like nothing even happened. I have lost about a stone in weight, but why should I eat much? I have no reason to. My life is meaningless. I missed all my college exams. Looks like I’ll repeat them in August. If the opportunity even comes around that is. My parents have been trying to help me for a while now but they’ve given up on me at this stage. I’ve become a statue to them. I don’t speak, eat, wash or interact. Why should I? I know that I haven’t much time.

“Gardaí Síochána have now launched a national appeal to help find 19 year old girl Emma Townsend from County Kildare. Emma is described at being five feet five inches tall with long blond hair and blue eyes. Emma was last seen leaving her home with her friend during the afternoon of April 28th, wearing navy tights, denim shorts, a white shirt with flowers and a headband with a daisy in it. She has now been missing for approximately one month. Gardaí have encouraged anyone with information to contact them immediately.”

"In other news, many people from across County Kildare have come out to pay respects to respected artist Anthony Johnson and his wife Belinda, who both passed away this day 50 years ago. Anthony, who was considered a painting prodigy would often paint unusual sights, which would include paintings of dead, mutilated animals, close up of human eyes and his most famous painting of his hometown with a purple and brown sky and dead vegetation."

"His wife Belinda was also remembered for her descriptive poetry, which included themes such as death, misery and depression. Labelled an “Irish Sylvia Plath” her most famous poem titled “Alarm” talks about how the many alarms used throughout the years, linking back to herself, saying the poem was a warning to her own mental health."

"Other poetry would describe her unusual dreams, her hatred of hot and humid weather, about animal instinct and one poem named “creatures” focuses on how any little change to our world could upset the behaviour of animals."

"On May 26th, 1963, Anthony had hung himself in his home, while his wife was found dead beside him on his piano. The cause of death were both ruled as suicide as Anthony suffered a broken neck and Belinda suffered from an opium overdose."

A shot of their graves came on screen with the words “Probitas poetae et pictori” scrawled across it. I had found out everything. Their story, their struggle and my neighbour’s obsession. Both Anthony and Belinda were seen as outcasts by our town. People made false allegations that they were satanic and made sacrifices because of their strange art and poetry. It was only after they couldn’t take anymore and both committed suicide that the town started to respect them, that people realised their talents.

I thank Belinda every night for saving me.

I fell asleep almost instantly last night. I was sick of people asking me about it all. I didn’t want to be reminded of Emma’s alleged disappearance. Friends, family, teachers and councillors. They don’t care about my well being. They just want the truth. That night I dreamed I was walking through a field of flowers. In the middle of the beautiful plants was Emma. Her pale skin glimmering in the sun, her ocean blue eyes reflecting her own beauty. I approached her standing in the same white dress that Belinda wore when she appeared to me in that dream. I stared those big beautiful eyes.

Then they turned pale. All the flowers around me suddenly withered and died as quickly as the sky had turned into a mess of dark purple and brown. The banging piano music screeching once as Emma’s face turned into the same blank expression as it did in the basement. I felt my neck twist down past my shoulder once more as a maddening grin grew right across my face. I couldn’t see it but I could feel. I saw the blood trickle onto the deceased field as Emma’s skin turned into the numbing blue corpse colour.

Emma is trying to warn me, Belinda is trying to warn me, and I can feel it when my neighbour glances at me.

I know that she's coming for me.

Written by CrashingCymbal
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