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DIARY[]

-DATE CROSSED OUT-

My Soul To Take

I just got on the bus en route to the city. After the graduation ceremony, they told us about a part-time job as a substitute teacher at an art university in the neighbouring province. It’s quite far away, so nobody was even remotely interested in living such a lonely life, far away from our cosy little hometown and its close-knit community. Unlike my former classmates, I had nothing to hold me back: I had no job, no family, no girlfriend, not even a pet. To be honest, I was eager to leave the small apartment I was sharing with my friend -name crossed out-, so I decided to go ahead and take the job. I never really fit in anyway.

I found this cheap little house up for rent. It was next to a remote road on the outskirts of the city, rather far away from any other houses and about twenty minutes away from the nearest bus station. At first, due to the low price for renting the whole house, I was a little worried that it would turn out to be some rat-infested old dump, so I had to call ahead to check, just in case. The property was bank-owned at the time, and I was told that it’s cheaper because of the lack of accessible public transport to the city and that the previous owner passed away and left no papers for the house. He had no known relatives or any kind of acquaintances that knew him, so the bank eventually got the house, and after being abandoned for an extended period of time, it was put up for rent, and so it stayed for months on end. Although nobody lived there for quite a while, I was kindly reassured that the house was in good shape and that I won’t have any problems, apart from the actual location of the house and the outdated decor.

Now I’m sitting at the back of the bus, and I am quite bored. This nice old lady, sitting right across from me, tried to cheer me up by giving me a few crossword puzzles ripped from the pages of old local newspapers. She seems to be used to this long route, as she literally carries a bag full of ripped pages with puzzles, funny quotes, bad jokes, and short comics. After finishing the crossword puzzles, I turned the page around to read the random articles from the newspaper. They were a couple of years old, and apart from some partial news articles, it had nothing worth reading. One of the funnier articles was about a lost cat, found living happily with some random new owners for about a year until its original owners found it. The rest were about police investigations: one was about drug traffickers, another about a brutal car accident, and this last one was about an old man found dead in his sleep. Apparently, his death was considered to have been, to quote the paper, ‘under strange circumstances’. This particular article was ripped off so I couldn't quite read any details apart from the title and a partial picture, so I moved on to browsing through the rest of the pages when I realized the bus was coming to a stop. I thanked the old lady, and I got ready to get off the bus.

It’s finally time to check out the big city!



-DATE CROSSED OUT-

I just signed the papers for the house. It looks great. The bedroom is huge for this tiny house, and I love that. There is an empty room upstairs, where I found an old rocking chair in front of a seemingly unused fireplace. I like the feel of the room, so I decided to set up my paintings on the walls there. The rocking chair looks ancient compared to the rest of the furniture, but I think it gives the room a very relaxing touch, so I’ll just leave it there for now.

After I finish unpacking, I should really try to get some sleep. Tomorrow I’m going to the university to talk about the last details of my contract with the principal. I’m supposed to be starting work next week. I’m very excited about this job, and admittedly a little nervous.

SIDE NOTE: The chair is actually quite comfortable, despite the rough appearance.



-DATE CROSSED OUT-

I’m back from my first day at the university. The class I teach is great, and they have a lot of potential, so I’m feeling very optimistic. I think I will show them the new painting I am working on, as soon as I finish it, of course. Between getting ready for the new job and moving out to the city, I didn’t have much time for my art, but hopefully, I'll get some work done on it soon.

I also have to find some time to update my personal information at work, since my old flatmate has told me that they were still sending letters to my old address. I'll just do it later, I'm too excited about the job right now, and there is no hurry.

I just finished setting up the rest of my paintings in the room. I call it the ‘Gallery Room’ now, and it will also be the place where I’ll work on my future paintings. I’ve got quite the workshop set up here.



-DATE CROSSED OUT-

It’s been a few weeks now. Although this city isn’t as quiet as my hometown, it’s pretty nice, and I love my job at the university. My students really like me (as far as I can tell), and they’re showing signs of improvement with every passing day. I’m lucky to work with such a talented group. Unfortunately, I am rather busy, so I won’t be able to write as often as I used to. Oh well...

On a more positive note, I’m almost done with my new painting. I’m sitting on the rocking chair looking at it right now, as I’m writing this. I can’t wait to show it to my class. However, it might have to wait until after the group exposition we have planned for the next month since I’m also working on a few paintings with some of my students.

SIDE NOTE: God, this chair is so comfortable. I love it!

-MANY PAGES SEEM TO HAVE BEEN RIPPED OUT-

-DATE CROSSED OUT-

I’ve been pretty busy for the past couple of months. I didn’t have much time for myself, but I finally managed to finish my painting (much later than I anticipated). I feel quite tired, even though it’s pretty early in the day. Maybe I’m tired because of all the extra work and staying up late for so many consecutive days, in order to paint. I’ll get a good night’s sleep, and tomorrow I’ll show the painting to the class. They were quite disappointed that I didn’t bring it to the class exposition, but that was their chance to shine, not mine, and it wasn’t finished yet, anyway. Despite the minor disappointment, they’re still very excited about the painting.

REMINDER: The university’s secretary kindly reminded me that I still need to update my personal information, so I’ll just write it down. Hopefully I won’t forget to grab a copy of my documents next week to submit them.



MONDAY, -REST OF THE DATE CROSSED OUT-

I just arrived home, and I feel exhausted. Something unusual happened at work today that still leaves me scratching my head when I think about it. When I showed the painting to the class, a girl asked me how I managed to get the ‘blurry smudge-like’ effect on the lower part of my painting. I was shocked when I noticed the smudged area that she pointed out. I was cautious with the painting, and I’m quite positive that it was completely dry when I framed it. How did this happen? It felt kind of embarrassing, but I just went with the flow and said it was accidental, but I thought it looked good and kept it.

I’m so confused right now, but I am too tired to even think. It’s only nine p.m., but I really need some sleep…



WEDNESDAY, -REST OF THE DATE CROSSED OUT-

I just woke up. It’s Wednesday, and I have slept in for two days straight! What the hell?

I’ve got countless missed calls from work, obviously, and after I tried my best to explain the situation, I was told to go get myself checked out. I apologized for the inconvenience and scheduled an appointment with a doctor.

I am concerned, I need to think. I’m going to sit down in the gallery room; it relaxes me…



-DATE CROSSED OUT-

I’ve been exhausted for the past few days. The doctor said there is nothing wrong with me and that I’m just tired from work. I started to eat healthier, I don’t stay up late anymore (not that I could even manage to, considering my current state), but nothing works. I feel weird, I don’t know how to describe it, but…

I noticed that I seem to be just fine while outside or at work, but as soon as I get home, my body just collapses on the bed like a ton of bricks.



-DATE CROSSED OUT-

I am terrified… I was kind of getting used to the unusual exhaustion, and things were okay until this girl from my class, -name crossed out-, came to see me after class, quite worried. She asked me if I was feeling okay because she thought that I looked like I was in terrible shape. Meanwhile, her friend walked by and dismissively told her: ‘You know what they say, right? Teachers appear to grow old faster 'cause of all the stress and stuff.’

I was confused, so I excused myself and rushed to the bathroom and found the nearest mirror (I can’t recall the last time I’ve really looked at myself in the mirror). As soon as I caught a glance of my reflection, I was terrified. I looked tired, exhausted even, I also had huge bags under my eyes and looked almost ten years older.

I finally got home. I tried calling the doctor earlier, but he’s away on vacation. His assistant gave me the number of a colleague of his. The new doctor told me to make sure to bring my ID and meet him sometime next week when he has an opening in his schedule. I rushed to my desk and looked for my documents. When I pulled my ID out of the wallet, I started to freak out. My name, photograph, and every other personal detail on it was smudged. It looked just like the blurred part of the painting. All the text was crossed out. The picture of my face was smudged out beyond recognition. All you could make out was the shape of the face and maybe the colour of my hair. It was eerie and unsettling. It made me feel sick to my stomach just by looking at it.

I’ve spent hours looking through all my documents. The ones I could find are all blurred, the rest are simply gone. I instinctively touched the fireplace, and it felt lukewarm, and there are traces of ash inside of it, maybe from papers? MY DOCUMENTS?!

Am I going crazy? I literally don’t know what to do. I called the university and asked for an extended leave of absence. When I was asked why I just told them that I was seriously ill and desperately needed some time off. I didn’t even wait for a reply before hanging up. I don’t want to be seen like this.

-SOME PAGES SEEM TO HAVE BEEN BURNT OFF-

-THE DATE IS BLANK-

It was almost midnight (I can’t even remember what day of the week it is), and I was just sitting here in the rocking chair thinking about what to do when I scratched my head, and to my great despair, I realized that I was starting to lose hair. Handfuls of my, now grey hair, were just falling on the wooden floor in front of me. I started to cry, staring at the greyed-out hair in my hands. It took me a while to recover from the shock, but then it hit me…

I remembered the newspaper article I read on the bus. The old man must have been found in this house. There was part of a picture of a room. It was black and white, and the rest of the page was ripped off, but I could swear I saw a glimpse of a rocking chair in the picture. Now that I think about it, it was the very chair I am sitting in right now, writing this down, almost lifeless and terrified down to the very core of my soul. How did I not realize this before? Am I just imagining things? Maybe I’m just sick and paranoid. Maybe I have Alzheimer’s disease or something, and I’ve been sitting here in this chair for years, waking up each day, not remembering what happened the day before. Could that even be possible?

I am so scared. What can I do? What w…



-DATE CROSSED OUT-

I must have passed out. I don’t know what time it is; I don’t even know what day it is. I looked at my paintings, and all of them are blurred, and so are my pictures. It’s like I don’t exist anymore; no ID, no pictures, not even the paintings I worked so hard on. There is absolutely nothing to prove who I am, nothing at all. They are all just like me, a smeared shadow of what they used to be. I am nothing!

Maybe I should get rid of them, burn them, or maybe I should just get out of this damned house.

The door is locked. I can’t seem to be able to break the windows either. Maybe I’m too weak to break them. It took me almost half an hour to get upstairs, and I could just barely pick up my paintings from the wall. I feel so tired, but I must do something. I must get rid of them. They drive me crazy. I can’t see this goddamned blur again. I’m going to destroy them all…



-DATE CROSSED OUT-

I just woke up. I was on the floor in front of the fireplace. Everything has burnt in the fire.  I don’t know how much time has passed by. God knows how many days I’ve been lying on the ground, unconscious. I barely got up, but as soon as I was standing straight, I violently collapsed on the rocking chair. I can barely write anymore, but it feels like it’s the only thing I can do. It’s literally the only thing I’m still capable of doing, although it’s getting harder with each passing sentence. The pen feels so heavy, and I’m exhausted.

I don’t think I have much time left. It took me hours to write this last paragraph.

I might as well write my name down. This is the only piece of paper that proves that I ever existed. I’ll write as long as I can stay awake. Hopefully, somebody will read it.

My name is -NAME CROSSED OUT- and I was born in -REST OF THE PARAGRAPH CROSSED OUT-



MySoulToTake-Old



Those were the contents of the journal found next to the rocking chair of an old man found dead in his house. No paintings, pictures, or documents were found in the house, apart from pieces of paper and glass found in the ashes collected from the fireplace.

There were nails on the walls, where the paintings would have been, and the chair’s armrest had quite a few lines drawn on the lower part. These lines belonged to many different coloured pens, pencils and other writing instruments. Some looked much older than the others. The last one was from a blue pen, matching the type and brand of pen used to write the latest contents of the journal, as proven by the forensic analysis team.

The pages previous to these were strangely crossed out or smeared using some kind of thick black brush or simply just ripped off or burnt. Nothing else from the journal is legible apart from the pages attached above. The handwriting slowly changed throughout the text. The obvious changes in the handwriting could indicate the level of stress and the mood swings that the author was suffering from at the time of writing them, leading up to the very last paragraphs where the handwriting was barely readable.

The police made inquiries at all the Universities in the cities close to the house, looking for the records regarding art teachers in the area, and found none matching the address of the house where the man was found in. It is also worth noting that nobody recognized the picture of the victim’s body. Most of the absent teachers were much younger, and most of the older teachers that were not accounted for were crossed out as they did not resemble the victim.

Based on the frequent alterations in writing patterns, the forensic analysts assumed that the victim suffered from some kind of multiple personality disorder. It is believed that the so-called ‘alter-egos’ tend to have different types of behaviour, mood swings and even different styles of handwriting among many other personality differences in many recorded cases. They also assumed that the old man was writing a fantasy journal or some kind of personal experience from his past, which would explain the lack of any information about his younger self that he describes in the journal, probably caused by his decaying mental health. It is possible that, in his mind, he was not truly able to differentiate between the events from the present and those of the past, leading to his feelings of paranoia and desperation.

The house witnessed its second strange death to date, so it was closed down for investigation. However, assuming the journal was just the creation of an old mad man's troubled mind, that led to him burning down his documents and other personal belongings, the official cause of death was determined to be asphyxiation, caused by the smoke. The investigation was also influenced by the lack of leads or evidence of foul play. Therefore, the case was closed.

The house is now up for rent again.

-ONLINE NEWS ARTICLE ENDS-



Written by Alparos-Lilah
Content is available under CC BY-SA

Narration: My Soul To Take (YouTube Video)

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