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9 December 1941

I stayed by Mr. Brahms's side when the men fled. A pursuit was the least of my worries; it was no use. People shouted and ran out of the tavern, yet I held his lukewarm body as close as I could as it slipped into a frozen carcass. His upper head was missing; it was horrendous. Bits of his crown stuck out of the broken flesh; parts of his skull scattered throughout the bar. While mourning out of shock, his warm blood poured and soaked into my uniform, but I didn’t care. He was dead.

Before I knew it, reinforcements arrived. After the carcass got wrapped and handed over to the morgue, the police lent me a fresh set of clothes they had on hand. They offered to wash my bloodstained uniform, to which I declined.

Not even I could identify the source of paranoia and stress. Was it the firearm, or was it the corpse? I had no idea. They say that the worse the battle, the fewer people remember. I'd say it could have been the corpse.


10 December 1941

My train of thought has been disrupted numerous times since the accident. I told the press to leave my involvement out of the newsletters and in any form of media. It would have been a hassle. Still, they questioned me for personal remarks about my late employee. I could not answer. I barely knew him despite being so close.

He is a good employee. He was a good employee. Mr. Brahms seldom talked and kept to himself. He was a private person who didn't speak about his personal life. Mr. Brahms never gave me emergency contacts. As far as I knew, both his parents were gone. Be it passed or moved, I did not know. There were no friends or lovers either. He rarely chatted with the staff. There were times I wished he could have been more talkative. Despite his neutral demeanour, his expression always felt tired when they came around. It was very depressive.

I have decided to close the pub for a few months if that’s fine with you, Mr. Brahms.


11 December 1941

Noticing as I was the only one who held accountability for his demise, there was a price to pay. As a failed manager and employer, I chose to play kin and attended the appointment at the morgue.

~

I attended the morgue the next day.

Upon signing Mr. Brahms’s papers, they asked me if I wanted a burial or cremation. I answered cremation. As much as I desired to bury them, money became scarce as inflation rose. Besides, cremation was indeed cheaper and required less work to manage.

Though, the morgue notified me with an absurd statement. I requested to see the body.

They kept saying his wounds never stopped bleeding. It seemed ridiculous when I first heard it. A corpse, those injuries never ceased percolating; what a statement! I informed myself when we headed toward the mortuary’s cold chambers. I haven’t seen Mr. Brahms since the tragedy. The thought of his corpse lying there, frigid and quiet, terrified me.

The mortuary assistant was already there when we arrived. The room felt flat and dim. The surrounding area grew colder as I walked closer to the centre of the room. I dared myself not to look up, but I did anyway. And there it was, underneath rotten gauze, laid the corpse of my former employee.

They did not lie.

As opposed to his body, his head was left open and damp. Blood; blood flowed ever so slowly out of his wound and into a bucket carefully placed underneath to catch it. The bucket remains half full.

I stayed by his corpse, observing it with empty thoughts and tempered emotions. The sound of his blood trickling into the bucket triggered every nerve in my body. A few minutes later, amid silent daydreams, in the corner of my eyes, I saw it move.  

I saw his body move. Mr. Brahms’s fingers twitched two times. I insisted it did. He was still alive.

The mortician disclosed my claims, stating it was only a scientific phenomenon. Rigour mortis was the stiffening of the body’s muscles after 12 or so hours. The body had only been decomposing a few hours ago. It was only natural that his muscles tensed and retracted. Their explanation calmed me down.

After additional random jolts in the deceased later, I couldn’t bear it anymore. I decided to leave. In the cold room, I prayed for Mr. Brahms’s safe trip to Heaven and bided farewell to the morticians. Cremation will suspend until the blood ceases leaking; they allowed me to pick a date: December 18th. I went back to my house, promising to visit another day.

On my way to the tram, succumbed emotions finally unravelled.

He wasn’t alive.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t alive.


25 December 1941

Gone.

Mr. Brahms’s corpse was gone.

I blinkered with the morgue’s staff and fought myself in the battle of my anger and despair. It hadn’t been a week. Furthermore, cremation had entirely ceased. Now, the body’s gone. Disappeared into thin air, the mortician said.

How could they lose a corpse? It’s not like it could walk away and vanish.

I could have sued, but my emotions got the better of me as I sulked, waiting for more solemn to fill my mind. In the end, I didn’t bother to argue with them anymore. What’s the point? There was little to no energy left to care.

~

With a heavy heart, I bought a gravestone for Mr. Brahms and positioned it in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery near the Headless Horseman Bridge. He loved that story.  I figured with such coincidence, both Hessians died from a horrible fate and the loss of their heads. It acted as a substitute for the missing body; there was no casket to lay for the empty ground. A few people attended this “funeral” – coworkers, acquaintances of the deceased, and such but never kin or friends.


28 December 1941

I saw him in the hallways.

I found his corpse.

Mr. Brahms stood in the hallways, slightly swaying as if getting used to the new balance. His corpse darkened in a grey hue, and his body remained stiff. Thick blood still spilt out of his gaping wound. Though strangely enough, he had his old uniform on though I didn’t question it further. However, I discovered smoke coming from his throat. Why? How? I’m uncertain. No matter; I was happy to see him.

Did I blame the Devil’s necromancy for such a miracle? Or had God become generous with my prayers? I might as well waltz with Death to thank Grace for my irresponsibility and inconvenience. Alas, I’m at peace.

~

He disappeared in the day once I opened my bar, then returned at night. To this, I worked at a routine for me to manage him and the tavern. I didn’t disclose this information to anyone, not even the staff.

I tried to communicate with him. It didn’t seem to reach him as he ignored my pleas and questions. He wandered across rooms and halls, neglecting my advances which were acceptable to me. His cold hands flinched when I attempted to touch them. Mr. Brahms could have been nervous since his return. I left him to formalise his settings again.


16 February 1942

There was a corpse in the hallways.

It wasn’t Mr. Brahms; it was someone entirely new. I couldn’t tell who it was. His face had stood mauled with his abdomen spilling out. Skin immaturely ripped as I found a piece of Mr. Brahms’s flesh near him. His fingers grew damp with blood from dents in his crooked nails; the shirt had been yanked and ripped. This man struggled before he passed. Did Mr. Brahms do this? Why did he do it? The fresh carcass hadn’t been my first, yet Mr. Brahms wasn’t my first either. I have seen worse.

Of course, I couldn’t let it stay in my pub. Police would have to investigate, and the thought of them finding Mr. Brahms’s corpse roaming made my heart drop. I couldn’t let them discover him.

I didn’t want them killed. Why did I have to choose between the living and the dead?


4 March 1942

It had been three weeks. One week since I disposed of the body. Two since two more appeared. Same situation, identical manner, but in different places.

One man and one woman, I dumped their bodies into the Hudson River after sawing their flesh into miniature sizes for the fish to consume. Their bones were left to sit in caustic soda and water. The bone hulls were the result of dissolving said carcasses. I scattered them into the land once they were bone dry. The Lord would have smitten me for my iniquities, yet I loved Mr. Brahms too much to let him go.

~

At night, he would roam the bar. He did nothing in particular. I kept my eyes on him after he butchered those three, yet I never caught him despite the conspicuous assumptions. He wouldn’t let me see him kill.

Would he kill me too?


6 October 1943

People started to grouse about my pub.

More people started going missing from the town. More started chattering about it.

Mr. Brahms brought in more bodies.

They noticed Mr. Brahms’s foul scent. I pushed to mask the smell with bleach and sanitiser, anything I could find. Blood had been challenging to deal with. Dark stains appeared, and I would mop and scrap the wooden boards morning and night before opening time. My staff worried about my deteriorating health. I cannot rest in the kidnapping and manslaughter of the undead, for the undead. Dignity swept underneath my soul once I vowed to keep him safe.

His hauntings became more abrupt, and it remained a task to maintain his existence secrecy. He had several mental breakdowns in one sitting. The bar itself moved and caved. The walls creaked, and floors hollowed through attempted assassinations. I made sure destruction stood kept underground. However, silence couldn’t hold forever.

Would I get rid of such a blight was what I would have asked if I had the strength to face my late employee again. Everything I had witnessed and experienced felt absurd or unreal, the equivalent of a fever dream - a nightmare. While tending to Mr. Brahms’s mess, in my mind, there was one question I longed to ask him.

Are you happy, Mr. Brahms?


11 April 1945

Dear Mr. Brahms, or to whom it may concern.

After unfaithful events of disturbances in the tavern, I do not have the will to continue with the business. I have been patient with your destruction, yet I can no longer tolerate it. Words could not describe how heartbroken I am to see you like this. When I saw you in the hallways, I could not bear the remorse I have upon your death. Your return from the dead had me on my knees.

I was happy.

But I will not come back.

Haven’s Bar will be your paradise and property when I am gone; she will be your home. Please take good care of her. You were a good employee, Mr. Brahms.

May God forgive our sinful hearts; may He forgive you too.

Sincerely,

Walter Osborne


Written by PaxArsenal

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