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I quickly walked through the cabin, making sure everything was nice and tidy, just right. I've gotten pretty good at getting the whole cabin clean in less than a day. After a quick alignment of the magazines on the coffee table, the place was perfect. Penny would have been proud.

The name of the place was "The Comfy and Cozy Cabin". Sounds relaxing, right? The cabin was built into a slab of rock, right in the middle of nowhere, North Carolina. It's three stories tall, and features a breathtaking view of the mountains. We bought it for basically nothing, it was in total shambles. It took quite a bit of money to get the place up and running again. In four months, I'll finally pay the mortgage off, and start making money. If business keeps up, I'll be able to quit my job.

I stood and admired the cleanliness of the house for a few minutes. You could have eaten off the floors. I heard the unfamiliar sound of a car, the sound of rocks being pushed around by the tires. Finally, they're here. I stepped out to greet the strangers.

My welcoming smile was replaced with a look of shock, disgust.

Sam and Martha Anderson, from Alford, Florida, looked nothing like I expected them to. The elderly couple with the sun hats and disposable cameras I had in my mind was replaced by two young, very thin, very pale individuals. They looked downright sick. Nonetheless, I tried to keep my composure. "How was your trip?" I said in the most welcoming voice I could muster. It may seem like I'm making a big deal about the way these people looked, but they literally appeared as if they hadn't eaten for weeks, like skin over bones. I guess you just had to be there.

"It was fine," the man, Sam, said to me. His voice was completely devoid of emotion, humanity. His eyes never met mine; Sam gazed at nothing.

There was about two seconds of awkward silence. I broke it, my voice felt weak. "O- OK. Let me give you guys a tour of the place, then I'll be on m-"

Martha turned her eyes toward me; they looked glazed over, dead. That's when I realized what these people looked like; walking corpses. Martha's voice had a little more pep to it, but I could still feel the same humanless vibe from her. "We'll be just fine. We don't need a tour, we saw the pictures online." She sounded tired.

My stomach started churning. They were the first to refuse the tour. There have been some that didn't want it, wanted me to leave as soon as they got there, but said yeah anyway. You can kind of tell these things. They sigh when you open the cabinets, say "Yeah, I saw all this online." See them glance over to their significant other in a smarmy way. Not a single one of them refused the tour, though. I didn't like this, not one bit. "A-are you sure you don't need me to show you where the towels are?"

"I think we can manage, don't worry," Sam said, in his emotionless monotone.

"Alright. Do you have the money?" Most people pay for their stay online, but a few prefer to hand me the money in person. I figured someone who drove for hours to get here wouldn't try to con me, so I let it slide. Also, it's not like I wouldn't know where they were if they gave me fake money. I was hoping that Sam forgot to bring it. Oh, I'm sorry Sam, you and your ghoulish wife can't stay here. Get the fuck off of my property you spooky bastards.

Sam slowly put his hand into his pocket and pulled out a wad of twenty dollar bills. He didn't pull them from a wallet. I carefully counted the money, wishing they were a few twenties short, counted it again. It was the right amount, seven hundred smackers. Fuck.

"Well! That should do it!" I said with the most fake enthusiasm I could muster. "I hope you enjoy your stay at the 'Comfy and Cozy Cabin!' I'll be back in week." On pure mechanized instinct, I put my hand out, expecting a handshake. Sam looked down at my hand for a beat, as if he couldn't remember what to do. He wrapped his hand around mine. Sam's hand was cold, fucking cold.

My entire body went tense. It felt like I was touching something dirty, something dead. My brain went to work, quickly trying to figure out how a living human being could get so cold. It was summer, so he could have had the air conditioning blowing on him for four hours straight. No. This was colder than that, it wa-

I realized I was still shaking hands with Sam. He stood there with a vacant look in his eyes, moving his hand up and down. I pulled my hand away, it felt contaminated. I walked away from them, from the cabin, without saying a word.

As I passed Sam and Martha's car, I glanced at it.

There was a little girl in the backseat. She looked worried. Unlike the two adults, she was as cute as a button. Her skin actually had color to it.

Something in my brain started clanging bells. My senses started screaming at me to take the kid and run. Fuck what you've been taught all your life, Mark. You need to kidnap this child.

I quickened my pace, got to my car, and sped off.

Why didn't I grab her? Why didn't I follow that all so important voice in my head? That voice was there before. It told me to not go for that walk, and I ignored it. That ended real fucking well. Now, something in my head told me another person will die in that cabin because I didn't follow my gut instincts.

The girl's face, that slight, composed look she had. It was the face people have when they lie about everything being okay.

I deeply regretted my decision to leave her there later.

"Danny's Bar" is one of those places that still exist solely because it's the only place within thirty or so miles to get a drink.

Those people, the ones who are doing God knows what in my cabin right now. They made me want to drink, to forget them as quickly as possible. I honestly can't explain it. They made me feel fear, want to curl up in a ball and scream. I was shaken in a way I've never been before.

I walked up to the bar, sat down. Three whole people were here. Busy night, I thought.

Why did I let them stay at my cabin? I could have come up with a good lie. Rat infestation, sewer pipes exploded, something, anything to make them leave. No. I just let them in. Let them have full run of the house. I guess the need to get away from them as quickly as possible took precedence.

I ordered a shot of Old Crow. The bartender, Dan, presumably, poured the drink and pushed the shot glass towards me. He didn't even look in my general direction.

And what was the deal with that girl? Everyone else who brought a small kid to the cabin would introduce me to them. Promise me that their child isn't at all like all the other kids. Sam and Martha just left her in the backseat, like she was luggage. I can't believe how close I was to busting a window out, and taking her with me.

I drank the shot down in a quick gulp, grimacing at the strength. It tasted horrible. I ordered another.

I was sure that the kid wasn't theirs. Sam had black hair, Martha had brown. The girl was a blond, and I very much doubt anyone would have given those creepy fuckers adoption rights.

Those bad people were doing bad things in my cabin. I was never so certain of something in my life.

The next shot went down easier. I can't remember how many more I had, which probably means I had too many.

Somehow I managed to get home without a single incident that I could remember. I passed out the second my face hit the bed. I had a very vivid dream that night. The blond haired girl stared at me for the entirety of my sleep. Just sat and stared. It's the first time I've actually felt time pass normally as I slept. I couldn't move, so I watched her look at me with that composed, fearful face for ten hours straight. She tried to say something once, but it came out in a warbled mumble. Right before I woke up, I saw a shadow slowly appear on her. It was the shadow of a person standing behind me. It raised its hand, she breathed in real deep, like she was going to scream. I woke up before that happened.

My head was pounding. I was experiencing the general malaise of a hangover, and my dream had freaked me out pretty bad. Laying back down was not an option. I shambled towards the bathroom sink like a zombie, splashed water in my face, looked up at the mirror, screamed, and fell back into my bathtub.

My eyes looked just like Martha's: dead. Two minutes away from having my eyelids stitched over them. I sat in the bathtub, with all the clothes I had on since yesterday, for nearly an hour. I finally gathered the courage to stand up, to face my reflection. My eyes were normal, alive. I laughed it off. I was in a half awake state, it was all in my mind.

I washed myself, and felt two hundred times better. I went into the kitchen, started making breakfast.

The fog left my brain, and I started thinking again. Those people that are in my cabin left such a terrible, spooky impression on me that I sat in my bathtub for the better part of an hour because I thought a part of my body resembled one of theirs. There was no way they were normal, and my brain kept cycling through the same spiel over and over again. I finally broke down and called the police.

I called the station located twenty minutes away from my cabin. I was going to lie at first, tell them that I think they might have loads of drugs or something. I decided on being frank. I told the woman on the other end that the people in my cabin made me very uneasy, that they had a kid that was more than likely not theirs.

"...What do you think they're doing?" The woman sounded slightly annoyed. I imagine she had to stop watching her soaps to deal with me.

"I don't know, but I just think they're doing something bad. I just can't shake the feeling."

"Okay, we'll have someone look into it. What's your name?"

I had already told her my name earlier. "Mark Gray."

"Okay, we'll see what we can do." She hung up.

My mind was a little more relaxed. If they really were doing something, I'd be notified, and the cops would deal with them. If I didn't get a call, then I was being extremely paranoid for nothing. Or it meant that they didn't send anyone to check out the cabin.

I went to work the next day, sold loads of furniture. It was the best week I had all year. My phone rang once. It was a friendly robot wanting to help me get rid of my credit card debt. As the week went on, I stopped thinking about Sam and Martha.

I was going to make the trip up to the cabin on Saturday to clean it. I had another group coming up on Sunday.

On Friday night, I had another one of those vivid dreams where I could feel time pass. I could move my head around this time, but nothing else. I couldn't even close my eyes. All I saw for a long time was darkness. After a while, I started to hear a low murmur, and something darker than the darkness came out of the black void. It moved closer and closer until all I saw was the dark figure standing before me. It opened its eyes. They were long dead; the right one was slightly oozing some kind of liquid. I couldn't scream. The only sound I could hear was the murmuring, the whispers of a language I've never heard before.

The black thing stared at me for a good hour before it decided to move away. When it did, I saw two more figures in the black void. One had the same dead eyes, it just stared at me. The other one was shorter, the size of a child. It didn't have eyes. I saw two bloody holes where its eyes were supposed to be. Blood slowly dripped from the small black apparition's eye sockets. The figure with the oozy right eye walked over to the two and stood beside them. The blackness slowly started to seep away. My surroundings slowly became the cabin. The things with eyes became Sam and Martha, they were horribly disfigured. I tried to not look at them. The small figure turned into the little girl. Her clothes were covered in blood, as were the tips of her hair. Her eyes were gone, and still leaking dark red blood. She looked at me with contempt on her face.

I woke up screaming.

It takes me about two hours to get to the cabin. Sam and Martha are supposed to be gone by three. I waited until four to leave. I wanted to make damn sure that I never saw them again.

In the back of my mind, I wished for some kind of car trouble on the way up there, something bad enough that would stop me from being able to use it for a few days. Unfortunately, my car is an unbreakable warhorse. I got up to the cabin at 6:07 PM. As I approached the structure, I saw that Sam and Martha's car was still in the driveway.

"Fuck!" I slammed my hand on the steering wheel. Those creepy fuckers were in the cabin for way past their allotted time. I parked my car, sat for a minute to compose myself. Maybe they were having so much fun, they lost track of time. Or maybe they were doing bad things, and didn't care about the fucking time limit. I grabbed my cellphone, made sure it was on. Any sign of anything bad, and I'm calling the cops.

I stepped out of my car. It was a beautiful day. Summer was on the verge of dying, the cool breeze of fall lazily blew at me. I approached the front door of the cabin.

All the blinds were down. I couldn't look into the cabin at all. The door was also locked. I stuck my key into the lock, hit something gummy. They had put duct tape over the keyhole. I angrily tore the tape off, and some of the paint on the door went with it. Oh, they're gonna pay for that. I unlocked the door, and tried to open it. They had sealed the door with something. I pushed and pushed until I heard a loud crack. The door swung open, and I almost fell to the floor.

The place looked like a tomb. It was completely dark. The only light came from where I busted open the door. I flipped the light switch beside the door. Nothing. They must have flipped the breaker. I was more mad than scared at this point. I ran to my car, and got the strong LED flashlight I carry with me.

I stepped inside. A sickeningly strong smell hit me. It smelled like the antiseptic scrub they use at hospitals. The cabin was also cold. They must have turned the air conditioning down as low as it could go. It was silent, too, dead silent. Something in my brain told me to run. Told me to run and never come back. This was my cabin. Mine. I wasn't going to let a little bit of darkness scare me away. Besides, I wanted to make sure those creepy fuckers paid for every cent of damage they'd done.

I shined my light on the door; the broken and split wood nailed to it was once a piece of particle board. They nailed particle boards to all the windows as well.

I walked into the kitchen. They hadn't touched a thing. The note I left in the sink, telling them to please make sure they shut the water off completely was still there. Not a single dish had been touched. I shined my light to the magazines. They were just as I had left them.

Aside from all the windows being boarded up, it was like they never stayed here. I turned around to open the fridge, to see if they ate anything. Suddenly a chill started to run up my spine. It didn't stop, the chill kept going up and down. My stomach felt like it was going to explode.

Everything went dark. My flashlight went out. I heard a loud slam and became dizzy. The slam turned into a loud buzz that wouldn't stop. I saw eyes, the same dead eyes that stared at me for so long in my dream. I panicked, and ran to where I thought the door was. I hit my knee on the end table, fell to the floor. I gasped in pain, stifling my scream for no real reason.

I laid on the floor grasping my knee, my hands felt wet from touching it. I didn't realize what that meant. Didn't know who I was or what I was doing here. My mind was nothing but the buzzing noise. I can't remember how long this went on for.

The buzzing subsided. My flashlight came back on. The beam seemed to not go as far as it once did, as if it got darker. The temperature had dropped. I could see my breath. My mind became clear again. I looked at my knee. It was bleeding pretty badly. Fuck this. I'm coming back with an army. I carefully stood up, turned around to open the door.

It wasn't there. The door wasn't fucking there. I knew I was standing right where the door was supposed to be, but it was just wood. There was a black seam that looked like a burn mark around the wood. The mark was the same size of the door that was once there. I rapped my knuckles on the wood. It was solid.

I gave a quick survey of the living room. All the windows were gone, too. They were replaced with the burnt-on black seam to indicate where they once were.

I panicked. What the fuck did they do here? Am I even in my cabin anymore? It looked like my cabin, aside from all the exits being sealed. I calmed myself down, had to think one step at a time. My leg wasn't going to kill me, but I had to put a bandage on it. I keep a first aid kit in the bathroom. I'll fix my leg first, and then try to weigh my options on how to get out of here. I breathed slowly, tried to think of the positives in the situation. The grief counseling I took after she died was finally useful for something. I turned around, and saw what I actually cut my leg on.

The stairs leading to the upper floor were now metal. Thousands of spikes jutted from them. They were bundled in some places on the steps like rose vines. One of the tips shimmered with my blood. There was no way you could go up those stairs without getting horribly injured. I started to freak out again. This wasn't my cabin. Those creepy fuckers did some kind of creepy thing, and took me to a creepy place.

Leg. I have to fix my leg. Think about the terrifying staircase later. All I need to do now is fix my leg. I carefully moved around the spikes, and limped to the bathroom.

To get to the bathroom, you have to walk through the kitchen, and go down a short hallway. I walked down that short hallway for at least half an hour. It just kept going. I don't know how to describe it. I saw the door, and it just continued to stretch farther away. I don't know why I kept walking, either. It was like I was stuck on a loop.

Right when you step into the bathroom, the first thing you see is a mirror. My reflection had no eyes. Its mouth was open, and all I could see was red. I slammed my eyes shut and turned my head away. I looked back at it, it was normal. I gave a wan smile to my reflection, it did the same. I sighed in relief.

The medicine cabinet popped open with a happy click. There was nothing in the cabinet, literally nothing. I shined my light into the black void, and the light was swallowed up. There was no indication of an end. I grabbed a toothbrush holder from the counter. It wasn't the same one I bought. The toothbrush holder that I bought was porcelain, and had an image of a bear painted on it. This one was made out of wood, and had swirly designs etched into it. I tossed it into the void. It never made an impact noise. I slammed the cabinet shut. This was way too much for me. I turned the faucet on to splash some water in my face. The liquid that came out of the spigot looked like coffee, and smelled like antiseptic scrub. I sighed, and shut the faucet off. I hobbled back to the hallway.

My hands were burning from the cold. It became obvious to me that I would freeze to death long before I bled out. There was some winter clothing in the bottom of the blanket chest in the bedroom. It was on the other side of the hallway. I got there with no problems. I walked towards the blanket chest. There was a piece of paper taped to the wall above it. Written in quick, panicked letters, it said "DO NOT REMOVE." There was another piece of paper lying beside the chest. I picked it up. A police hat, badge, and one bullet shell was lying under the note.

I've been in here for days. I don't know how long exactly. My watch stopped working. I tried to dig through the wall to get out. They didn't like that. I saw something on the other side that made me not want to live anymore. Please don't look outside. You will regret it.

I'm sorry Sarah, but I have to do this. Tell Brad he can have my truck.
Terry Ames.

So they did send an officer to check the place out. I felt sick, tried to not think about it.

I lifted the blanket chest. Some of the stuff had changed like the toothbrush holder, but most of it was still the same.

I killed that man. I sent him here. I tried to put it out of my mind.

I dug through the blankets, and grabbed up all the winter gear I could. One sweater was now composed of something that felt like paper, it tore when I picked it up. I bandaged my leg with a scarf. It wasn't the best thing to do, but it will work for now.

I started crying. I sent a man to his demise because of my paranoia, my selfish fucking paranoia. Why did I do it? Why? I composed myself, pushed the thoughts out of my mind.

I got myself all bundled up in the winter clothes. I felt warmer already!

Where's his body? Someone took his body and gun, but left the note. My sorrow was quickly replaced with fear.

I heard a light tap, sounded like a piece of paper fell off a wall. I heard a hateful, angry grunt, and felt like I was being watched. I ran out of the room and slammed the door shut. I never looked back. My brain told me to keep my eyes ahead. If anything, today has taught me to listen to what my brain has to say.

I sat down on a chair in the kitchen, pulled out my phone. I should have done this a long time ago. My phone told me I had five bars, a full signal. I dialed 911. What was I going to tell them? My cabin has turned into a fucking haunted house? I was going to say I was being held hostage, and I was never more scared in my entire life. Neither of which were lies. I was also going to tell them that the people holding me hostage killed a cop. They would probably send more than one officer if I told them that. I hit the SEND button.

Before the second ring, someone picked up on the other end. I couldn't hear anything at first. "Hello? Hello?"

Then I started to hear murmuring. It was really low at first, but got progressively louder. I listened for a minute. I don't know why. It was incomprehensible, angry sounding whispers, in a language I've only heard once before. There were occasional shouts. They sounded like angry sobs. I started to feel dizzy again, felt like I was going to pass out. Then the voice stopped whispering, and started talking. Its voice was no longer in the phone. It was right behind me. I felt warm air on my neck as it spoke. I jumped out of the chair, and pushed the END button as hard as I could.

I slowly turned around, made my flashlight point towards the sink. The light gleamed off the faucet handle, and nothing else. I breathed a sigh of relief. I knew for a fact there was something behind me. My neck had condensation on it from the thing's breath. The fact of the matter is, though, it isn't there anymore.

My phone let out a happy little jingle, and vibrated. I got a text message. It had a picture attached to it.

I tore the battery out of my phone, and put it in my pocket. I wasn't about to invite whatever it was on the other side of the phone over again. It might stay.

I walked all around the middle floor looking for a way out. My flashlight went over every surface. The material of some things changed. The TV was now composed of some green, spongy crap. The remote control looked the same, but weighed a ton. I couldn't lift it. The magazines dissolved when touched. The salt shaker was the same, but the salt had turned into a single purplish crystal.

The most notable change was the stairs. They had become an impassable mess of sharp, metal thorns. There was no way I could go up them.

The door that leads to the bottom floor was still there. I opened it. A cold blast of air hit me. The stairs leading down to the landing were gone. They were replaced with the same black void that was in the medicine cabinet. I could still see the landing, and the stairs leading from the landing. I walked over to the kitchen counter, grabbed an apple. It was now made of metal, and weighed about ten pounds. I dropped it into the void. The apple was absorbed by the darkness. I never heard it hit bottom.

I had no options, I was stuck. I sat down beside the door. They had me trapped like a rat in a cage. I had checked every inch of the cabin that I could get to, there was no way out.

I searched the walls of the stairwell with my flashlight. What I saw gleamed like a beacon in my flashlight's ray. A sliver of hope attached to the wall. The stairs were gone, but the banister was still there.

Climbing down that banister was dangerous, but it was the only option I had left, and in my desperation, it sounded like a good idea.

I put the flashlight in my mouth, gave the banister a strong tug. It was securely fastened to the wall. I put my feet over the side of the pit. This is the craziest, most desperate thing I've ever done. I checked my gloves to make sure they were secure, grabbed the banister with both hands, and pushed myself off the floor.

I slowly made my way down. The angle made it difficult to stay balanced. My feet pushed against wall until I got about midway down. My arms were burning. I never shimmed across anything before, so I was in quite a bit of pain.

Right after I got to the middle, something started pulling on my feet. I almost lost my grip the first time it happened. I quickened my pace, started charging down the wall. It would tug occasionally. It almost pulled me down one time. The thought of spending the last moments of my life in that dark void drove me forward. I got to a point where I could put my feet on the landing. I kicked and shook my feet free from whatever was holding me, and threw them towards the landing. I quickly moved my arms down the last bit of the banister, crawling with my feet at the same time.

I made it. I was so happy to be alive! I sat in the corner of the landing for a good long while. The things I would have done for a drink of water...

My arms still felt like noodles, but I felt good enough to start exploring the bottom floor. I walked down the few steps leading to the entertainment room.

The first thing I noticed was light. Two candles dimly flickered on the coffee table. I turned my light towards it. I instantly regretted my decision to come down here. Between the candlesticks lay a pair of eyeballs. They had all kinds of muscles and cords on them. I was so fixated on the eyes, that I didn't notice the horror that lay behind them. I approached the eyes, heard a gasp for air. I shined the flashlight behind the eyeballs. I almost fell over in shock.

It was the little girl I saw in the car. She was hanging behind the candles. Her hands and feet were cut off. Her stumps were suspended to the ceiling and floor with large metal hooks and chains. Her eyes were gone. I assumed the ones lying between the candles were hers. She had a perfectly straight slice from her neck all the way down her body. There was blood all around her. The girl's chest moved in and out. She was still alive.

My brain was fried at the sight of this. This couldn't be real.

The girl let out a long gasp of air, craned her neck towards me in an uncomfortable way. I let out a yelp.

"Help me..." She sounded weak.

I didn't know what to do. I stood there dumbfounded.

"Don't... don't let them come through again. It hurts so bad."

"I'm going to get help, what's your name?"


"Alright Cindy, I'm going to get help, and we'll get you out of here, okay?" I was on the verge of tears. She sounded so done.

"You can't help me. There's no help for anyone here." The tone of her voice changed.

"What do-"

"There's no fucking help for you or me!" Cindy's voice was now an angry roar. Something in her changed, as if she had become possessed. "Why didn't you get me out of the car when there was a chance for help?"

I was shocked. "How did you know I thought about-"

Cindy cut me off again. "You can't save anyone, can you Mark? First Penelope, now me!"

"How the fuck do you know about Penny?"

"I know quite a bit, Mark. I know what was, what will be, and what could have been."

Cindy began to tell me my embarrassing secrets one by one. She even named a few I forgot. I started yelling at the girl. "Stop this now! Right now!"

The disfigured girl went quiet for a beat. "No. I want to punish you, Mark. I want to make you feel just a tiny amount of the pain I'm suffering." She still had a child's voice, so it was quite disturbing hearing this from her. "I know how my life would have been if you pulled me out of that car. I would have married a man named Arthur Levant when I was twenty-six. We would have been very happy together." Her eyeless sockets stared at me intently. "Now, because of you, I'll never talk Johnny Hicks out of driving drunk when I'm twenty, he's gonna kill a family of four."

"Look... I'm sorry. I didn't know!"

"I'm gonna show you, Mark." She continued on, as if I didn't say anything. "Gonna show you real good."

My brain felt strangely empty. I couldn't think or speak. My vision went black.

I was back in the cabin. It was 2005. I knew this somehow. Penelope was standing on the very top rung of the ladder. She was painting the top of the wall. I was stressed. This little project of hers put us eyeball deep in debt. She looked down at me. Her eyes were beautiful. Everything about Penny was perfect. Why couldn't I see that before?

"Don't worry about it Mark. We'll make all the money back and more!" Her voice was so soft, so inviting.

I heard myself speak. "Look, Penny, we didn't have money in our budget for paint this week. You could have waited until next week to do this."

"The faster we get this done, the faster we can get people to stay here. It's all going to work out, Mark. Grab a brush, we can go twelve dollars over budget, it doesn't matter." I could tell now that Penny was stressed as well, but she held it much better than me.

I stood there watching her paint. Her dad dealt with houses all his life. She had to have known something about making money with one. I didn't think of that then, though. I was mad over the twelve bucks she spent without telling me. I then said the five words I've regretted saying the most in my life. "I'm going for a walk."

The walk was nice. The sky was pure blue, a perfect spring day. It helped me clear my head. When I came back, I would find Penny on the ground, blood all around her head. She fell off the ladder, cracked her skull on the floor, and bled out. I would call an ambulance. She would be pronounced dead on the scene. Life would never be good for me again. I finished the renovations on the cabin. I felt it was what Penny would have wanted. People started coming in, word of mouth spread, and now I have to turn people away because the cabin is so booked up. She was right. It worked out. I hate having to come out to the cabin. It hurts every time I enter it.

Instead, in this little world Cindy is showing me, in this plane of existence, I walk to the door and stop. I turn around and say "I don't really feel like walking."

"Then come over here and paint! We still got a lot to do!"

So I did, I dunked a brush into the white paint, started to carefully coat the wall. The ladder Penny was on began to topple. I dropped the brush and grabbed the ladder before it fell.

"Holy shit! I could have taken a mean fall, there!" She sounded excited.

"I would have had to use the paint scraper to clean your brains off the floor!" She laughed. I did too.

The cabin would become a hit. Even more than it is now. I guess some people put more trust in a married couple. I saw myself turning down a couple from the small town of Alford, Florida. I told the Andersons that we were just too booked up, and we were sorry for not being able to squeeze them into this very specific time-frame they wanted. We had two beautiful children, Harry and Andrea Gray. Harry would make a modest living as an auto mechanic, and Andrea would become one of the best real estate agents in the South. She could have sold an igloo on the beach. I and Penny retired the cabin when it got too much for our aging bones to care for. We began to live in it permanently. Penelope was beautiful even in old age. I would die before her from some type of illness. The last thing I would have seen was my wife, my children, and my grandchildren.

Reality came rushing back to me. I didn't want it to. I was speechless, wracked with depression. I would never experience those things, all because of an argument over twelve dollars.

"You didn't save her! You didn't save her!" Cindy immediately began taunting me.

I moved my light to the mantle. There was an old cast iron fire poker sitting on it. There wasn't even a fireplace down here, but it made a nice decoration. I picked it up, it felt like it was made out of some kind of wood now, and walked over to the girl.

"I'm just a child!" Her voice became frail again. "You wouldn't kill a child, Mark!"

"You're not a child, you're a monster." I lifted the poker up. I was going to kill her for showing me what my life could have been like.

Cindy began screaming. It was a painful, terrified howl. I heard a terrible ripping noise. The split going down her body began to open up. The now massive hole in her body began to glow a dark purple color. The entire room lit up. I shielded my eyes and stepped back from the brightness, saw two emaciated figures walk out of the purple light.

Sam and Martha's bodies were much paler than before. They were white as mimes. Their lips couldn't close completely, so they had a constant grimace. Sam was smiling. His mouth went from ear to ear. They seemed to have an extra knuckle on each finger. Sam walked towards me, his claw-like hands outstretched. I swung my poker at him. Sam let out a screech. Martha seemed to respond to it. Her eyes were small, like a bird. She dove at me; her nails tore through my pants, and dug into my skin. I whacked her on the head with the poker. She didn't let go, didn't react to getting hit. I turned my head around to see Sam knock me square in the face with his long hand. I dropped my flashlight, but kept a tight grip on the poker. I fell to the ground. Martha issued a series of hisses and clicks. Sam replied in the same manner. Sam grabbed me by my jacket, Martha grabbed me by my legs. They began to carry me towards the light.

Something in my brain went nuts. I did not want to go to wherever the hell they were taking me. They didn't seem to notice that I still had the poker with me. Or they didn't care. I swung the poker at Sam, smacked him right in the face. He didn't even flinch. I had no options. They were going to drag me to that place, and there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it.

I saw it. Saw it rapidly moving in the purple glow. Cindy's heart was still inside her. It was beating really fast. Those stupid fuckers didn't realize the predicament they put themselves in. Sam was halfway into the light, and I was at the edge of it. I swung the poker at Cindy's heart as hard as I could. The organ exploded. I heard several inhuman screams. Everything went dark. The world felt like it was melting. My head got dizzy, and I forgot who I was for a brief moment.

I woke up. It was dark. I crawled around on my hands and knees until I found my flashlight. I turned it on, and looked around the area. Cindy hung limply on the chains, her body was pretty rotten. It smelled terrible. Lying beside her was the top half of Sam. The other half of his body must have stayed in that place. In the corner of the room, the pale, beady eyed Martha sat. She was breathing heavily and quaking. It was as if she was suffocating. I watched the creature slump over and stop moving. I poked her body, she was dead.

I needed to get away from this smell. I moved my flashlight around, noticed that the windows and doors existed again. They were just sealed up with particle board. I excitedly walked to the staircase where the void was.

It was gone. Stairs filled the void. I ran up them as fast as I could, and opened the door. There was light! Just a small amount, though. It was coming from the front door I smashed open earlier. I ran outside. I was free. I never thought I would see the sun again! I dove into my car, and chugged the bottle of water I had in the cup holder.

The LED clock on the dashboard said it was 6:13 PM. I laughed. Laughed like a madman, laughed until I cried.

It had been two months since I went to that place, since I had a good night's sleep.

I finally stirred up the courage to go and clean the cabin. I thought it might be cathartic for me to rip away all the boards from the windows. It wasn't.

I was in constant fear during my short stay at the cabin. I was scared that I would once again get swallowed into that dark, cold place that looked like the cabin. Scared that I would not be able to leave, and would slowly freeze to death in a place I would never understand.

When I got downstairs, I had to deal with the bodies. I put trash bags over my arms, and dragged the bodies outside. Maggots had started to writhe in them, and Cindy's body was so rotten, my fingers went right down to her bones. I threw up several times.

Worst of all, though, Martha was still alive in some capacity. Her small, beady eyes followed my every move. I tried to ignore it. I dug a deep hole in the flowerbed, and placed the bodies inside. I poured kerosene in the hole, making extra sure Martha was completely doused, and set the corpses on fire.

I ran back inside. I couldn't watch them burn.

The next few days were spent cleaning the cabin. When I absolutely had to sleep, I went to my car.

Once I was done, I sped off with no intention of ever returning. I haven't opened the cabin back up for business yet. I don't know if I ever will.

Occasionally, I'll see shadows moving around my house, and might glimpse a pale hand pressing against one of my windows. When I'm in bed, there are times when I can feel them standing over me. I do not have the courage to open my eyes.

I don't know what they want from me, but part of me wishes they would get it over with so I could stop living in total terror.

I have constant, recurring nightmares now. Most of the time, I'll dream about an endless field of pale, dead eyed people staring at me. Another common dream is of me stuck in a cold, dark room, screaming for help. My eyes are gone.

The worst dream of them all, though, is the one that shows me the life I could have had with Penny. The life that Cindy let me know I missed. It always begins with me saving Penny from the ladder fall, then it cuts to various moments of our life that could have been real had I not gone on that walk. I'll wake up, and throw my arm over to Penny's side of the bed, to hold her close, to tell her that I love her. Every single time, though, my arm hits the cold, empty bed. Every single time, I sit up, realize it was all a dream, and start crying.

Credited to goombapolice 
Originally uploaded on July 2nd, 2011