I've been making rule lists for over 20 years, today I found a rule list addressed to me.
Today. It's hard to define "today". You see, time works differently here. When I first arrived here, I had been cold. Cold and empty, with a feeling of dread raging through my sleepless mind.
It was dark in there. I think I'm in some sort of hole, a pit. It's almost a guarantee that something terrible was bound to happen to me in a place like this, right? Well, yes and no.
I've been stuck here for a while now. It must've been over 20 years. It all happened after my death, at least that's what I think.
I must've died and fallen into this hole, this void. I fell for what felt like hours until I had finally hit the bottom. Cold ground embraced me, and it felt like I had become part of the pit. It took a few minutes for my eyes to adjust to the darkness, the hole itself wasn't significant. It could barely fit my frame, but at least I could breathe and move my arms a little.
After having adjusted to my new environment, I started concentrating on the darkness surrounding me. The first thing I felt in the pit was a piece of paper and a few pencils. I must say that I had expected something entirely else. Maybe I had been a sinner in my past life, thrown in here to suffer for all eternity. But no, all I got was a pencil and a single piece of paper.
Well, that brings us to the present. You know how many stories are spreading about people getting a list of weird and sometimes, malicious rules, right? They'd walk around their house and find them, or a colleague would inform them of their workplace's abstract practices. Some may even have built a cult around them, forcing their children to follow the rules until a certain age.
You see, I'm the one making those rules, at least most of them. Before you ask, no, I wasn't forced by some higher being, a demon, or whatever you want to call it. It was just me, and this unsatiable boredom I felt.
It started simple. I picked up the pen and began drawing doodles for a while. This got tiresome after a short while so I decided to write down my feelings at the time.
"I'm cold and alone and hungry."
That was the first line I had written down in the pit. As soon as I had finished that one line, the paper disappeared and I got thrown into a deep slumber. Now, before we go any further with my tale, I must inform you that I have no memory of a life before the pit. All I knew was that I had hands to write with, and eyes that could barely see what I had written down. Nevertheless, I think I'm a human or at least humanoid. Every breath I took hurt my inner being, every small stroke of my pencil took all of my strength. I had become an empty husk of a human, and all that kept me sane were the pen, that single piece of paper, and my visits to the world of the living.
Yes, you heard that right, I can observe the world through the eyes of the living. I call them my hosts. You see, when I said that I don't have memories of my own, I do have memories of the world. Whenever I'd finish my craft, writing down whatever I feel like writing down on that accursed paper, I fall asleep and wake up with new memories. Memories about events of the world I'd left behind, memories of people. It felt like watching through someone's eyes. When they woke up, ate breakfast and read the newspaper, I followed. When they browsed on their phones and computers, I was there with them, following their daily routines through their own eyes.
Of course, I didn't know why or how, but it just happened. I didn't care that much at first. I saw it as a break from my eternal boredom in the pit. That feeling changed soon when I saw my piece of paper in the home of the person I was looking through at the time.
I hadn't seen my works of art before that, though. It seems like it doesn't work when I'm drawing things. It had to be words, coherent words.
The man looked to where my work was, and I followed through his eyes, excitement filling me for once in a long time. The man finally stood up and inspected my work.
"I'm cold and alone and hungry."
He chuckled, dismissing it quickly and moving on with his life. Nothing else happened after that, and I promptly woke up after he'd gone to sleep.
It seems like I can affect the world somehow, at least on an individual level. So I did what any bored person would do, and started writing down various things. At first, they were simple jokes; I just wanted to try out different things and started writing down whatever came up. Did I try my best to write down something remotely funny? No, but I'd finally be able to laugh with my host when he or she would read it, even if the joke was far from entertaining. I know it's silly, but it helps me through these dire times. That is if they will ever end.
The idea of making rule lists followed soon after. Once, I saw my host reading a creepypasta about someone getting a rule list. If they failed to follow the rules, something horrible would happen to them. This gave me an idea, what if I made my own rule lists? I mean, they would get sent to the person I was observing, and it would be hilarious to await their response, right?
Yeah sure, they could dismiss it for a joke, move on with their day and I would wake up with even more boredom awaiting me. But, luckily for me, I can afford the wait. I have time, an endless amount of time.
My first rule list was relatively straightforward and went as follows.
Rule 1) Every time you sneeze, you can't blink your eyes.
Rule 2) Before breakfast, repeat the following: "I'm cold and alone, and hungry."
Rule 3) You can't tell anyone about the list.
If you find these rules boring then you're absolutely right, they are. But I had to start somewhere. I just wanted to test it out. Let's call it my beta rule list, first of its kind. Brings back feelings of nostalgia when I think about it.
To spare you the effort I'll be blunt about what happened with my so-called beta list. It didn't exactly work out how I had planned it would. The person just dismissed it and moved on. I have tried the same list again with different people but, to no avail. Some had even shredded the list to pieces and gotten angry about it.
This didn't stop me. I just had to come up with better ideas. That's when I came up with a punishment for those that didn't follow or destroyed the list. I hadn't thought about this before since I never included a penalty. Nothing was binding my host to my rule list after all. Nothing would affect them if they broke the rules.
So that's when I started writing longer lists, this time including a punishment at the bottom of the list.
Rule 1) If someone calls your name, ignore them at all costs and run away as far as possible.
Rule 2) If you see a homeless person, ask for their age. If said person is older than 40, give them a red pencil and a piece of paper. Don't answer any question they may have; just slowly walk away and avoid eye contact.
Rule 3) If you walk by a school, enter the school and ask the first person you see if "Miss Banesly" is back. Go to one of the school's toilets after asking this and wait there for exactly 10 minutes before leaving the school through the emergency exit.
Rule 4) You can't eat or drink anything between 1 and 2 pm.
Rule 5) If you have kids, don't call them by their names. It's best to avoid having contact with them at all.
Rule 6) If you're married, then apply Rule 5 to your spouse.
Rule 7) Anything you do can't be done an odd amount of times, it has to be even. For example: If you sneeze, you need to sneeze twice.
Rule 8) You can't use your car or public transport. You must walk to wherever you want to go.
Rule 9) Don't brush your teeth every Monday and Thursday.
Rule 10) You may only sleep for 4 hours at any given time.
Now for the punishment. It took a while to find something that wouldn't be too harsh for my first victim. I had thought about various things, but the one that spoke to me the most was the following.
Punishment: you won't be able to see for a week.
Well, I guess it's a harsh punishment, but it's not like I'm affecting my host in the long run and it had to be bad enough for them to be willing to follow the list in the first place.
After having written down my new and improved list, I fell asleep once again. A few moments of darkness passed, and I woke up to find my host already observing the list. This was new; it usually took them a few hours to find the list.
I could feel my host getting nervous. But in the end, he'd rejected my list as the ones did before him. He tore it apart and headed to work. This time, however, something strange happened. Even though I could still see through his eyes, it seemed like he couldn't, or had trouble to. He started panicking, frantically searching for his phone. I guess the punishment had worked after all? I could hear him whispering to himself, cursing himself for breaking my rules.
But my new hobby ended as soon as it had started. It got sent back to the pit shortly after he had found his phone and called for help. This wasn't enough, the list worked as intended, but It hadn't been enough for me. I had to increase the number of rules and adjust the punishment. I had to be more creative about it.
And so I did, I created various lists, some for satirical purposes, some horrific, some harmless, and some life-threatening. And if it hadn't been for what happened today, I would've continued for a long time. I had nothing to lose, remember?
Nevertheless, It had always been the same thing over and over ever since I arrived here; just me and the pit, writing down the rules and observing my victims' reactions. However, today, something had changed. My pencil had vanished, I tried searching for them, but soon realized they had indeed disappeared. After searching for a few minutes, I found the usual piece of paper in one of the pit's corners. I noticed that someone else had already written on it. I leaned in closer and focused on what looked like a title, written in dried blood. I was sceptical since it hadn't been the first time that I'd forgotten my previous lists' contents. Although, this was the first time I'd find them back in the pit after visiting my host and returning.
"A Rule list for he who makes rules."
My breath staggered, my entrenched frame cracked the walls of the pit. I was made fun of by whatever being had imprisoned me here. Anger filled me. Who were they to challenge me? I calmed myself and inspected the list once again, trying to find the punishment attached to it. Maybe the punishment was that I couldn't continue with my barrage of rules. Someone else had clearly taken note of my hobby, my meddling in the old world.
Below it was written a single rule.
To my surprise, there wasn't any punishment listed below it. Nonetheless, I assumed there was one. Well, it looks like I pissed off some higher being after all. I'm an asshole, and it's time I get the same treatment. The same I've been given my hosts for over 20 years. I guess it's time to find another hobby. Let's hope that I don't return to this place when I eventually pass out due to lack of oxygen. If I can die again. I put the paper back down, shoving it away from me as far as possible and took in one last deep breath, thinking it would be my last time in the pit. Who knows, maybe I'll return to earth, or, perhaps I'll fall deeper into hell. It didn't matter now; let's follow the rule. I don't want to find out what its punishment entails.
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