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The Friend Collector

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From time to time I go through my Facebook friend list and perform what I call ‘spring cleaning’. The fake profiles of bikini-clad girls I drunkenly accepted, the distant high school buddies who posted endless articles from the alt-right and far left blogospheres, and those whom I can’t even remember adding in the first place all get unfriended en-mass. No ceremony, no last profile views, just one little click and they are gone.The feeling that accompanies their removal is on par with the surge of contentment you get when you de-clutter a cramped room.
Jake Lemon was in that latter category of random adds gone unremembered. When I saw him on that list there was no vague recollection or a ‘that face looks familiar’. As far as I could recall I had never seen either his name or that face before.
His profile image wasn’t a casual selfie or even a picture with family or friends, instead, it looked like a studio portrait, the kind with fake backdrops and excessive lighting. He looked to be in his 20s or early 30s and had short dirty blonde hair combed to the side. His eyes were like the eyes of someone who had stayed up a week but was still amped on way too much caffeine. His toothy smile was even more offputting. It was unnaturally big with a touch of desperation. If someone put a gun to your head and said ‘smile wide or I’ll shoot’, you would probably be smiling like Jake Lemon.
I didn’t have to think too long or hard. I clicked that damn unfriend button in record time and felt much relieved when his unnatural nervous-energy brimming face disappeared from my list of friends. Obviously, if that was that then I wouldn’t even remember the name Jake Lemon today. That wasn’t that.
A week passed and I was mindlessly scrolling through my newsfeed the day the figurative snowball started rolling down the hill, careening toward me. It began like far too many real-life horror stories do, with an instant message. My phone alerted me I had a new chat request from Jake Lemon. The name I had already forgotten, but when I looked at the chat screen and saw that ghastly profile picture with an exaggerated forced smile my stomach warbled just a little.
Jake Lemon: Hi!
Since messenger is a tattle-tell about when a message is seen, I knew that he knew I had seen what he had sent to me. I sighed and slight trepidation I responded.
Kevin Belcher: Hello
Jake Lemon: I never got a chance to say hello! Then I saw you unfriended me 😦
Jake Lemon: Did I do something wrong?
The question sort of put me on the spot. While initially, I zeroed in on his name to unfriend because I didn’t recognize it, it was the crept out feeling that I got looking at his face that made it such a relief to be rid of him. I couldn’t say that though. I didn’t even know the guy and owed him no explanation.
Kevin Belcher: Nah not at all man you’re good. I just don’t know you are all and I was going through my list anyway. Not personal.
Jake Lemon: That’s great to know 😀 !
I got a notification no more than three seconds after he sent that last message. Now, I don’t check instantly each time I get one, I have a real life and try not to get too wrapped up in Facebook, but the second the notification appeared I instinctively knew what it was, and I was right.
‘New friend request from Jake Lemon.’
I looked at the screen a bit unsure what to do. I know that sounds ridiculous, the right thing to do would’ve been to deny it and block his chat right there but a part of me felt that doing that would’ve been rude now that he had messaged. Sort of like saying, ‘I don’t like you or think you are worth knowing’ to someone’s face…well, not quite that blunt but the same ballpark.
He messaged again.
Jake Lemon: I sent you a friend request since now we know each other. I hope I haven’t overstepped my bounds :/
Kevin Belcher: Nah, its cool man
Jake Lemon: ❤ ❤ <3!!!! I am so glad you feel that way. Friends make the world go round you know 😀
I was getting some serious creep vibes but I also felt a little bad for him. He was obviously very strange and I imagined he didn’t have many real friends. A judgmental conclusion? Sure but from even this short and awkward back and forth I felt it was probably the right one. If throwing him a bone and accepting his request gave him some contentment it wouldn’t be the end of the world if we were facebook friends.
Kevin Belcher: Cool. I gotta go, Jake. Work. Nice to meet you though
Jake Lemon: Nice to meet you, Kevin. TTYL 😉 😀 🙂
I was relieved to be done with the forced conversation, and those emoji’s only heightened the unnerving feeling that chat gave but I still felt some strange obligation. I cycled back to the friend request screen and re-accepted Jake Lemon as a friend. You’re probably thinking this was a big mistake. You wouldn’t be wrong.
Like I said earlier, I am not one of those types who live on Facebook and when I want to message a friend, I do it through old-fashioned SMS texting. I pretty much only had the Messenger app because my girlfriend Dottie (don’t ask) preferred it for sending me pics, videos and a world of stupid animal memes that were supposed to make me go ‘aww,’ but really only made me groan. So the next day when I found out she was cheating on me I had no desire to read her litany of apologies or tearful pleading. I disabled the app. I won’t go into that story, I owe her a little bit of respect.
I maintained my strength of will for seven days, which really is a feat considering the fact that I am pathetic. Eventually, though my resolve broke. I didn’t want to call. I wasn’t ready to hear her voice just yet, but a message would work. I re-enabled the app and saw that I had several missed messages from two friends. One was Dottie Strauss, the other was from Jake Lemon (shudder). I ignored his and opened Dottie’s chat window. I won’t bore you with superfluous details, suffice to say she groveled hard and I was likely beyond transparent in playing it cool. We were to meet the next night and I told her I would have to ‘take it one day at a time’.
After I finished talking with her I opened up the other dialogue. The string of messages made me very uncomfortable.
Jake Lemon: Hi! [MESSAGE RECEIVED SEVEN DAYS AGO]
Jake Lemon: Hello! [MESSAGE RECEIVED SEVEN DAYS AGO]
Jake Lemon: Hi! [MESSAGE RECEIVED SIX DAYS AGO]
Jake Lemon: What are you doing ❤ [MESSAGE RECEIVED FIVE DAYS AGO]
Jake Lemon: Are you mad at me 😦 [MESSAGE RECEIVED FOUR DAYS AGO]
Jake Lemon: Hi Kevin!!! [MESSAGE RECEIVED THREE DAYS AGO]
Jake Lemon: I just baked a cake, I dedicate it to all my friends who cant eat it with me anymore [MESSAGE RECEIVED TWO DAYS AGO]
Jake Lemon: Where’d you go, Kevin? I thought we were friends?? [MESSAGE RECEIVED YESTERDAY]
Jake Lemon: It appears that maybe you didn’t really mean it when you said we could be best friends </3 But I meant it and friends don’t give up on other friends. I just made a gift for you. I can’t wait to give it to you :D. [MESSAGE RECEIVED FIVE HOURS AGO]
Three things stuck out to me immediately. One, this guy had no conception of boundaries whatsoever. Two, he had zero social skills and was probably much lonelier than I had thought at first. And three… He wasn’t just creepy… he was a little scary. I made up my mind in that moment to give Jake Lemon the cleansing treatment for the second and final time but naturally just as I was making way to delete him from my life, I got a phone call from Dottie. She apparently interpreted ‘one day at a time’ as an open invitation to continue on as if nothing had ever happened and wanted to talk about all the cute noises her dog was making. Two hours later when I hung up the phone, I had again forgotten about ‘my new best friend’ Jake Lemon.
The next day was uneventful and routine. I worked four hours, shoveled some food in my mouth at lunch, worked four more, came home, watched TV, took a shower and got dressed for my date with Dottie at Il Dulce Vita Italian Restaurant. It was an OK outing and I could have taken her home and not slept alone that night, but the pain of her infidelity was still very raw. I came home alone instead, take-out bag in hand.
It wasn’t until noon the next day that I was forced to remember Jake Lemon; I can be a late riser on weekends. What woke me was the sound of Facebook’s chime coming from my phone. I had two notifications and just like before I already had a suspicion of who was at the heart of them.
“That’s right,” I said to myself “Its time to get rid of you isn’t it?” Before I made to do that, however, I clicked on the notification tab. I was fully expecting some light-weight creepiness from Jake. I drastically underestimated him.
The notification was a tagged profile post: “Jake Lemon is in Columbus Ohio with Kevin Belcher.” My breath caught in my throat and I think my heart missed a beat when I read this. You see, my profile had false information about where I lived. According to my Profile, I lived in Seattle, Washington…a world away from my real home city of Columbus. The status update was accompanied by a picture of a road sign saying “Ohio Welcomes You.”
My mind began to rationalize after those first few seconds. ‘He probably saw my friends commenting on my posts, realized they were all local to Columbus and made the basic connection’. I thought. ‘But that picture of the road sign… no this is a message, he said he was going to give me something and now I see this.’ Just like that, my heart began to quicken its beat. If the first notification put ice into my veins, the second one absolutely froze me solid:
‘Jake Lemon is at Il Vita Dulce with Kevin Belcher.’ This time the picture wasn’t some vaguely menacing street sign, it was a grainy picture of Dottie and I seated at our table, shot through the outside window. It was a god-damned photo of us both! I felt a mixture of surreal detachment and horror induced panic, with a sprinkle of righteous anger. It was time to phone the police. I honestly didn’t think anything would come of it but when a person is tracking you down and sending you photographs of yourself and your girlfriend, saying “get lost” is kind of a neutered response.
I called 9-11 and explained everything to the on-duty officer I spoke to after being connected to the police department. I even sent him to profile links via email as I spoke to him. His name was Foster; I didn’t think of him much at the time.
“Mr. Bilcher,” Officer Foster said “We don’t take stalking lightly, or any crime for that matter. Unfortunately, the information which you have given doesn’t quite rise to that level. This Mr…Layman..?”
“Lemon” I corrected not liking where this was going.
“Right, Lemon. From your account, this Mr. Lemon was breaking no laws. He has the right to travel to wherever he wants and to take photos of public places. The tagged photos do give the alarm and on a personal level, I believe that his actions are in-line with typical stalker behavior. But it doesn’t reach the criminal threshold… yet.”
I was exasperated.
“What you need to do Mr. Bilcher is removed this Lemon guy from your personal network and send him a message stating that any further communication from him is not welcome. This is important because if he continues to message you it reinforces your case should this…escalate. Aside from that, keep your eyes open and call us at the first sign of anything.”
‘What do you think I’m doing now!’ I thought to myself in anger and frustration that I had to swallow on the phone line.
A rational person would’ve probably taken the officer’s advice, but I needed to keep my eye out for what Jake was up to. I opened up my Facebook app and pulled up his profile, not to unfriend but to look around. I kicked myself for having not done so already but better late than never.
Jake Lemon had only the one profile picture and although his profile showed multiple photo albums, they must have had restricted access because each album failed to pull up a single pic. He also had two viewable status updates, the tagged ones. There was virtually nothing in his “about” section except for his home-state which was Michigan. Nothing came up under his friend’s tab. Either he had none besides me or that information had been hidden.
“Jesus Christ,” I said to myself. “You friended a God damned ghost.” I didn’t have time to kick myself for my stupidity. Whatever helpful information I needed to obtain needed to be figured out right away, the fucker was already in town and it was a foregone conclusion in my mind that he was well aware of where I lived.
A message notification popped up on my phone: New message from Jake Lemon. I quickly cycled to it.
Jake Lemon: Hi! 🙂
I cycled back quickly having another idea. I went to google and typed ‘Jake Lemon Michigan’ but I was inundated with thousands of results that I didn’t have the time to sift through. What I needed was a face. I went back to Facebook and typed in his name again, this time filtering the results only to Michigan. There were a hundred hits but the profile pics allowed me to breeze down the list. What I was hoping for was that at some prior time Jake had another account, one that yielded more information that I could possibly use against him and to protect myself.
New message from Jake Lemon.
Jake Lemon: I can’t wait to see you ❤ !
I quickened my pace But found nothing. I felt helpless. I knew he was closing in and right now I needed something, anything. I typed Jacob Lemon, Jake Lemons, Jacob Lemons; nothing, nothing. I was running in circles and feeling more desperate by the second.
Jake Lemon: When you see me I know I’m going to make you smile 😀
‘Layman.’ The officers miss-pronunciation repeated in my head. So I typed in Jake Layman, none of those listed with this name bore any resemblance to Jake’s profile photo. But I did see something near the bottom that caught my eye. Towards the bottom of the list, the results always show profiles that don’t quite match your query but are close. Two names up from the last I saw ‘Jacob Lehman’ from Kalamazoo. I paused. There was no forced monstrous smile, there were no crazed wide-open eyes, but the picture I saw was undoubtedly Jake. A Jake you might see in some alternate universe where he is just some normal looking guy, he even had a hint of cockiness to his affect. I was getting new messages but was so entranced I ignored them. I clicked the profile.
Jake Lehman’s last post was over a year ago, it was a picture of him holding a beer in one hand and pointing to it with the other while making a goofy face. It had over two hundred comments.
“I will miss you. This world just got a bit darker” the first one said.
“I don’t even have words,” read the second.
“Rest in Peace buddy.”
The messages went on and on like this. I was beyond feeling in that moment. I was in machine mode. I went back to Google and typed in ‘Jake Lehman Kalamazoo Dead’ but already had the puzzle put together in my head.
The top result was a news article written about how the body of Jake Lehman, age 27, had been found September 9, 2013, at 6:15 a.m. in the empty parking lot of a local grocery store. The article went on stating that his body showed signs of extreme torture. Lehman had been missing for three months and his time of death was roughly a few hours before he was found. Just as chilling, the words ‘BAD FRIEND’ were carved on his chest. The marks consistent with claw incision.
With a blank face, blank mind, blank feeling in general, I just sat for seconds that passed like minutes. The terror and the surreal nature of this situation had hit epochal proportions and my body responded by turning everything off. Even after the notification sound alerted me again, all I could do was sit there immobile.
BOOM.
The front door came crashing in.
I jumped straight up into the air just like in one a cartoon. Before I could even respond a figure came through its now open space. But It wasn’t Jake…or whatever his real name was. It was a police officer.
With his gun drawn in the ready pose, he gave me a quick nod and proceeded further inside, two other officers close behind. They quickly searched my house but there were no figurative monsters lurking in the corners. When the search was over the officer sat me down. The policeman turned out to be none other than Officer Foster.
“I told you on the phone that I believed you Kevin and I didn’t feel right letting you just wait there like some bug on its back,” Foster said. “I called Officers Philips and Sylvia in to watch your house and I looked into that profile link you sent me. I …recognized the victim… every Mid-West cop worth his salt knows about the god-damn Lehman case. I’m just glad we got to you before it was too late.”
I asked him if he needed my phone for evidence but he said they could just pull up the Facebook conversation records from their end. I don’t know why but I activated the phone’s screen while he spoke to me. I had two unseen messages.
Jake Lemon: Dottie’s hair smells really nice, like cotton candy. She kept crying but I made her smile real quick. She says she will be my friend. Know whats better than two best friends? THREE!
Jake Lemon: I thought you were my best friend. I was going to make you smile… but you called the police. They can’t see me, but I can see them. I guess we will have to hang out later </3 I was going to give you this:
There was an image attachment. I didn’t notice but Foster had pulled up behind my shoulder while I tranced-out reading the messages. He was saying something urgently over his walkie-talkie but I didn’t hear anything.
The attachment was a drawing. On the left was a depiction of me, detailed down to the barely noticeable scar that ran along the cleft of my lip. Only, I didn’t smile like that, and my eyes in the picture resembled saucers more than anything natural. The figure on the left was far cruder and looked as if a child had drawn it, there were no definite lines, just a scribbled and strangely proportioned humanoid shape with long arcing talon shaped fingers, a pair of gigantic eyes and a zig-zag toothed smile that encompassed half of its head.
Its been two years since that day. I was monitored by the police for about six months before they finally stopped. Dottie… was presumed dead quite some time ago, and I honestly hold no hope of her ever resurfacing. It took a while but normalcy has crept back into my life and it becomes more and rarer that I ever think about Jake Lemon.
That was until today. I am writing this all out right now for the world just in case I wind up disappearing. Earlier this afternoon I received a friend request from someone called Kevin Pilchered. He has no profile photo yet.

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Never answer your own phone number

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I received the first call at seven in the morning. There I was, eyes closed and soundly snoring under the comfort of a heavy blanket when the ascending clangorous jangle of my phone’s ringtone broke the spell of beautiful sleep.
‘Naturally’ I thought to myself curmudgeonly as consciousness was forced upon me.
I let it ring until it stopped. Though I was more than a bit annoyed at being roused from such satisfying slumber, I soon slipped back into the grasp of sweet dreams.
I woke an hour later. I had a coffee, brushed my teeth, hopped in the shower and inspected my reflection in the mirror to make sure I was still passable as mildly attractive.
‘Not going downhill yet Timothy,’ I said to myself, as I did every morning in some sort of ego enforcing ritualistic exercise.
At 8:25, with my ‘monkey suit’ neatly in place, I headed out the door and down four floors via elevator ready to start my day at Crawford, Crawford, and Reynolds. You guessed it, law firm gopher.
My phone began to vibrate in my blazer pocket, as it periodically does when a call is missed and the notification has gone unseen. ‘Maybe I won another Caribbean Cruise,’ I thought sarcastically to myself.
When I flipped it open I saw this:
Missed Call
November 7. 7:00 A.M.
(310) 542-6789.
This was odd because that was my phone number. I puzzled over it briefly when the elevator gave a ding. As the doors slid open I gave a shrug, grunted a quick hmph and was done with the matter.
The rest of the day was mundanely routine. I won’t bore you with the details…suffice to say that despite the suit, my job entailed making a lot of coffee, xeroxing a lot of papers and speaking my office time catchphrase to waiting clientele: Mr. Crawford will see you now.
After work I met my best friend Ben at the Toxic Manhattan, a sort of trendy ‘hipster meets corporate’ bar that I frequented often to unwind or pick up girls. There was more photocopying than usual today and I was a bit fatigued, so trying to get laid was not really in my gameplan.
“So this dipshit who took the bar exam five fucking times was made a god damned associate,” Ben said as we glugged down our mugs of imported Viennese Hefeweizen.
Everyone was a dipshit to Ben, except me of course. But that exception likely only extended to me so long as I was in his company. “And you want to know why? Because his God damned the last name is Seymour and the old man thought that that was ‘quaint.’” Ben was a junior associate for Seymour and Seymour Law and always had an ax to grind about something related to his work.
I was beginning to get bored of his complaints when God granted me a small favor, or at least I thought so. My phone began to ring.
“Hey Ben, I got to head out pal this is a very import-” I looked down at the call screen and saw it again: incoming call (310) 542-6789.
“What the….,” I said, not really to anyone at all.
“What’s up?” Ben asked.
“This is the second time today I’ve gotten a call from my own number.”
Bens face went from mild indifference to child-like interest and before I could do anything he pulled the phone from my hand and flipped it open.
“Yo, this is the Benjamin,” he spoke into the receiver.
“Speak dickhead,” he said after a few seconds of silence. He turned to me when no reply came.
“Your shit is proverbially whacked.”
I snatched the open phone back and pressed it to my ear. “Hello.”
“…Hello.” my own voice repeated after a seconds delay. The beginning bit sounded weird, almost like a backward echo that had been corrected right before the first syllable.
“This is Tim. Who is calling?”
“…Who is calling?…This is Tim.”
I was a bit unnerved. Of course, I had experienced the universal ‘phone echo’ before, as I’m sure most people who have used a telephone have. But this just sounded strange, like my repeating voice was affected by some kind of…reverse reverb. Add to that that this was my own number calling and I’m sure that vague drop I felt in the pit of my stomach was understandable.
I was about to hang up but the voice, my voice, spoke again.
“…You’re not going downhill Timothy…yet.”
I closed the phone, downed my beer, put a crisp twenty on the bar table and made to leave.
“Alright dick,” I heard Timothy in the background. “You don’t have to say goodbye or anything.”
Under normal circumstances, I would’ve shot back the old “Fuck you too Ben.” These weren’t normal circumstances and right then I could give zero fucks about Ben.
If I was stirred getting a call from my own phone, or hearing my own voice repeat back to me in some kind of unnatural reverse echo then I was completely shaken by that last line:
“…You’re not going downhill Timothy…yet.”
The line kept playing in my head as I walked hurriedly down the street.
“You’re not going downhill, Timothy.”
I could still hear it as I got in my car.
“…yet.”
I started the engine, reversed like a son-of-a-bitch without any semblance of caution and spend my way home.
When I stepped through my front door I made a b-line for the restroom. I inspected the mirrors, cabinets and every crook and cranny for something to make this make sense. I must have looked like some crank addict searching for that bit of inconspicuously hidden meth. I had it worked in my head that maybe someone had been recording me, though why I couldn’t imagine.
‘Maybe someone connected to one of my boss’s high-status clients’ I thought as I tore up the couch.
‘Or possibly one of the many girls I’ve scorned looking to settle some score.’ I postulated as I emptied all my dresser drawers.
Then a thought hit me.
‘Or maybe Ben is just fucking with me.’
I didn’t really buy it, but the idea eased my nerves and I forced acceptance. Five minutes later I was laughing, cursing Ben under forced chuckles while I made a rush job of cleaning my mess. That night I lay myself to sleep feigning relief but feeling an uneasy knot in my stomach.
I awoke at eight in the morning, drank my coffee, brushed my teeth and gave my reflection a serious studying. But everything seemed to be normal so I laughed and got dressed.
On my way down to a street level, I caught sight of myself once more on the elevator doors brassy surface. I practiced a winning smile and admired what I saw. I got so carried away that I pretty much leaped in the air when my phone rang.
‘No…’
Incoming call (310) 542-6789.
I let it ring to voicemail as the doors opened and hurriedly made my way to my car. But It kept ringing. It kept fucking ringing. It rang as I started the engine. It rang as I drove down the 405. It rang and rang until I snapped and answered.
“Cut the shit, Benjamin!”
“..Cut the shit Benjamin!” my voice replied back. The echo sounded faster now. The obscene silence that preceded my mirrored words had become an awkward pause. I don’t know why but that terrified me.
I hung up the phone, pulled out the battery and put the pieces in my jacket’s breast pocket. The action did little to comfort me, but I was able to get through most of the workday… that was until the final hour.
I was sitting in front of Mr. Crawford’s desk (the father not the son) taking dictation as he spoke aloud about strategies for pursuing a case he was retained for when my breast pocket started vibrating. My forehead was instantly dripping with a cold sweat.
‘But…’
My fingers kept typing, Crawford kept speaking and my phone…it kept silently buzzing.
‘I took out your battery!’ my mind screamed.
“Timothy are you going to silence that damn vibrating phone of yours!?” Crawford shouted breaking his stream of thought mid-sentence.
I stood up, reached into my pocket and pulled out my intact phone.
“I’m sorry Mr. Crawford I…”
There, outside the office windows, I saw him stroll by. I saw me stroll by!
“…I gotta go”
I ran out of the room leaving my very flustered boss screaming after me. The words “You’re finished” were used but I wasn’t really thinking about job security.
‘Backdoor. Backdoor!’ my mind automatically instructed as I sprinted down the office hall, bumped into one of the reception girls and sent hundreds of papers flying.
‘Get up! Don’t apologize! Backdoor!’
I did just that, but I couldn’t stop myself from stealing a look back towards the front of the office. I saw the doors open. I saw him…I step in. The son of a bitch smiled at me. A big toothy shit-eating grin.
I ran out, jumped in my car and for the second time in two days tore asphalt like a maniac down the Los Angeles road. I wasn’t thinking really, otherwise, I would’ve gone anywhere but where I went to. But home is where we all go when our minds check out in paralyzed horror and we need a figurative safe blanket to hide under.
When I stepped through my doors all I wanted to do was curl up in my bed and blackout. But I knew the second I was inside that confrontation was coming. As if to cement that realization, my phone rang. With trembling hands and a cracking voice, I answered.
“Why are you doing this!”
“Why are you doing this!”
His voice was virtually inseparable from mine now, save a millisecond or two, and together we sounded like a double-tracked recording. I looked out my window, phone in hand and saw him parking his…my car.
“My God..” I said to myself.
“My God..” my doppelganger mirrored into the phone he carried. I watched him make his way to the entrance of the building. He stopped and looked up at me making a sad face and shrugging his shoulders as if to say ‘I’m sorry.’ But the next second he was all smiles again and resumed his walk through the building’s doors.
I dropped the phone and ran to the couch pushing it against the apartment’s door. Then I threw my hutch on top of it. In a panic I started buttressing the door with anything heavy I could drag, dresser, television…the god damned toaster oven.
I was in a complete state of terror, heart racing, mind useless, hands trembling. But when I heard the ding of the elevator doors opening all I felt mere seconds before was dwarfed by the purest paralytic horror.
I could only take in sights and sounds, I could not synthesize them into thoughts.
Footsteps down the hall, closer, growing louder, stopping in front of my door. I felt a wet warmth running down my leg.
The sound of keys jangling, the lock turning. My eyes couldn’t be wider if you pried them open with clamps. The knob turned but the door wouldn’t give.
“You’re going down Timmy,” my…his voice said calmly from outside the door. He pushed himself against the door but my barricade held.
“You are going down,”
[push]
“Timmy”.
I don’t know if I had breathed in over a minute.
“No, no Timmy.” The pushes gave way to slams and the door opened a sliver as my barricade was forcefully pushed back.
“You’re really not listening,”
[Slam]
I could see bits of him now through the narrow opening.
“You are going DOWN!”
[SLAM]
His foot was through the opening now but he still could not make it all the way through.
I fell to the floor in a fetal position and looked away. The phone was right beside me. Maybe it was the inspiration for seeing it, or that my fight mechanism finally kicked on in response to my impending…well, whatever he was going to do to me. But I got an idea. It was a stupid idea, perhaps the hail mary of ideas but an idea nonetheless.
My doppelganger pulled his foot back from the opening and I knew from the running steps I heard moving away from the door that his next slam would be the kill shot. I just had one chance. I flipped the phone open and dialed as I heard him begin his charge:
(310) 542-6789
It rang. More importantly, I couldn’t hear my doppelganger outside my door.
“Hello?” I heard myself answer but I wasn’t paying attention. Pulling myself up, I cautiously made my way around the toppled mess and to the door of my apartment. There was no one there.
“Hellloooo… How are you calling me from this number, who is this?”
Tears streamed down my cheeks. Not tears of joy or triumph, but of survival. Traumatic survival. My lips started to move.
“Hey do me…yourself a favor and change your God damned number.” I said into the receiver before hanging up and throwing my cell unto the floor. It broke open. Circuitry flew out…and I was finally smiling.
That was two weeks ago. I am still recovering and probably will be for life. But I write this all now because I need to, to exorcise the shellshock I feel and to warn you. Please, don’t ever answer a call from your own number.

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So Cold….

/ by

I hear a clicking noise behind me as I walk through the woods. I stop to find where it’s coming from in the dark expanse of woods. Standing perfectly still I listen closely. Is it a bird or an insect? Both seem unlikely as it is the beginning of winter and snow lightly muffles everything around. Beginning to shiver, I can’t help but notice the chattering of my teeth sounds eerily similar to the noise coming from the woods.

I begin walking, but a few steps in I swear I hear whispering. I stop again, concerned that someone may need help.

“Hello?” I shout. No response.

“….cold” I hear faintly.

Moving closer I hear it more clearly,

“I’m so cold…”

Now I’m very concerned that someone is hurt and push my way through the snowy branches.
I find a small cave and in front is a pile of rags. Based on the size I worry it’s a child and I approach. The chattering gets louder and I notice an odd smell. Starting to have second thoughts I call out. There’s something very wrong here. It begins to stand, and I can now see that it isn’t a pile of rags after all, but a creature covered in what looks like rotted skin. I turn to run, screaming, but in instant hands are grasping my face as it spews a liquid into my mouth. I fall, trying to scramble away, but can’t move. I’ve lost control of my body.

Paralyzed, I’m fully aware as it grasps my feet and drags me into the cave. I feel everything as it cuts deep into my skin from the back of the head to the base of my feet. Excruciating, the pain gets worse as the knife slides under, peeling the skin from muscle. I want to scream, want to cry, want to die, but I cannot move as I watch it remove my skin and crawl into it. My awareness fades and I fall into a deep sleep.

I sleep for a long time, but one day I wake and it’s not moving. It’s dead. Desperate for protection on my battered remains I place my skin back onto my body, too exhausted to do more and fall back to sleep awakening only from hunger. Too weak to leave, I maintain myself for days eating the only thing nearby: the body of the creature.

I wake up to the sound of my teeth chattering. It is very cold and my rotten skin no longer offers the protection it once had. There’s nothing left to eat and I know I must leave if I want to live. I crawl out of the cave, but am too weak and flop to the ground. After a while, I hear something over my whimpers and chattering. Someone calling out. I want to shout for help, but all I manage is “I’m so cold.” As they get closer I can’t help but think that their skin would be very very warm.

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Freak Next Door

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I lived next to this one kid who always had bandages wrapped around their whole head, even covering their face. I remembered his name was Wilbur, a twelve-year-old boy who never left his house.
He sometimes looked out of his bedroom window on the top floor, at all of the kids who would play outside, while Wilbur sat and watched. I remembered his windows had metal bars on them, so there was no way he could climb out of his bedroom windows.
We sometimes communicated with each other by writing to each other on pieces of paper, since Wilbur can’t hear me because the window was locked. Wilbur only does it when his parents aren’t around since they’re weird.
His mother and father were one of those parents that were insanely crazy about science and chemistry, according to Wilbur. They would stay in their basement and work all day and night, except at the times where they have to give Wilbur some food daily. Now, they’re not treating him like an animal, his parents were just very busy.
They told Wilbur that he shouldn’t go outside to make contact with anyone until his face got better. He told me that he accidentally slipped on one of his parents’ chemicals and fell face first, ruining his appearance. And his parents feared that he would be made fun of by the other kids in the neighborhood.
I remember one time, a couple of older kids were throwing rocks and pebbles at his windows, laughing and pointing at Wilbur as he looked down at them. He told me that they do it a few times, but he’s used to it.
But to me, he’s a great guy, and still is today. I have never been inside his house, but he showed me some cool stuff he collected, like comic books. He had loads of them, from Marvel to DC to other non-superhero comics. He was a huge superhero fan, he even said that he felt like a superhero. “A normal human being who became affected by dangerous chemicals, and then became a powerful superhero!” He once wrote on a piece of paper and had it put up to his window as he pretended to be a superhero.
I had a collection of action figures and video games that amazed Wilbur. He told me that he never played a single video game in his life, which was quite sad. He also told me that his babysitter took them away from him before he could play them, and burnt them in front of him.
Wilbur had a mean babysitter named Miss Fitzgerald, a tall mean lady who never liked kids at all. This started before his face became messed up, he told me. She was basically every kid’s nightmare, of all the things I heard she has done.
Miss Fitzgerald had babysat many kids before, and trust me, it was not pretty. Wilbur told me that the last kid she babysat, a four-year-old girl, she made her live through seven hours of hell. Wilbur said that Miss Fitzgerald starved her and surrounded her bed with a few bear traps, and the worst thing that happened, the parents didn’t know about her deed. She would lie to them, just to get paid.
All those things I’ve heard, she is a foul, cruel woman with no soul. At all. And now she had to babysit this poor guy. Wilbur was old enough to make his own decisions, except for some, but his parents apparently hired an evil witch. The parents had to go to Texas to a scientist convention, so Wilbur was left alone with her.
One time, I was writing about her to show to him, but then I saw Miss Fitzgerald, forcefully pulling him away from the window. And that was the rest of my day without talking to him.
The next day, when I looked through my window to see Wilbur, I saw someone lying down on his bed. Looking at the person’s wrapped head, I bang my fist on the window, trying to get Wilbur’s attention.
He slowly sat up on his bed, wiping away tears from his eyes. He seemed to be crying, which that gave me a thought.
I had a worried look on my face as I saw bruises all over his arms and legs, a faded dark tone of purple. He went to write something down on a piece of paper. Then as Wilbur finished writing, he went up to the window and pressed the note on the glass. What he wrote had terrified me, the whole situation still burnt in the back of my mind. Something I knew I would never forget.
He wrote: “HELP ME”. What made it worse was that his handwriting was scribbled onto the paper, and was almost illegible. Wilbur kept banging on the window with his other hand.
Then suddenly, I saw someone else run into his bedroom next to him. It was her. You-know-who.
She had something in both of her big, chubby hands. In one hand was a lemon, and in the other was a pair of scissors. What Miss Fitzgerald did terrify me even more.
Miss Fitzgerald ran up to Wilbur, grabbing his head, holding it still. I saw him screaming in pain and fear, so I knew I had to do something. At the same time, I couldn’t stop watching.
She used her scissors to cut open the bandages, and unwrapped them off his head, and threw them to the side. What I saw almost made me vomit, something that sickened me, I was utterly shocked at looking at Wilbur’s real, deformed face.
His whole head was completely covered by bandages, and what was underneath, I knew the purpose too. I saw his face, almost melted off, showing a dark red layer underneath. I could only imagine his face looking like melted cheese on a cheeseburger. Wilbur’s whole face, even one of his eyeballs were burnt a bit. The chemicals had messed him up, badly.
Miss Fitzgerald sliced the lemon in half with the scissors, pinning Wilbur down on his bed. Then she threw the scissors to the side, next to the bandages, and held his head still with one hand. With the other hand, she squeezed a lemon slice onto Wilbur’s head, into his eyes, into the red layer of his face. The painful expression on his face, his loud, muffled screams, his face stinging from the acid of the lemon juice.
She used the other lemon to squeeze onto his face again, torturing Wilbur with extreme pain.
I decided to bang my fist on my window, which was a bad idea. Miss Fitzgerald looked over to the bedroom window, right at me. I jumped back, she noticed me. She ran back out of the bedroom, shoving Wilbur down as he screamed in pain and agony. I knew what she was going to do, so I ran out of my bedroom and ran downstairs.
The good thing about this situation was that my parents don’t know about Wilbur and the fact that they were at work for a little while.
I locked the front door, hoping that Miss Fitzgerald wouldn’t burst into my house. I looked around for the house phone, but as I was, a loud bang rang my ears. I looked at myself at the door, noticing her red, sweaty face and her curly blond hair. By the looks in her eyes, I knew there was going to be some trouble.
She kept banging on the door, nearly screaming her head off. As I looked around for the phone, I finally spotted it, next to the couch on the coffee table. I ran towards it, dialing 911 as the sounds of Miss Fitzgerald’s threatening screams were heard from outside.
Waiting for a few rings, I finally hear the operator’s voice, the usual greeting from a 911 operator. I started explaining the whole situation from beginning to end, as quickly and clear as possible.
They told me to wait patiently as the police will arrive at my house soon. It took a few minutes for the police to arrive at my house. Not only did they arrived, but my parents arrived early from work as well. Apparently, they got a call from the police, explaining my situation, and decided to come home.
My parents were extremely worried and frightened, they asked me more questions about it than the police did. I had to explain everything, from being friends with Wilbur to how his parents left him with an abusive babysitter to what she tried to do.
About an hour later, a police officer came to me, he had something he wanted to tell me about the horrible atrocities that took place next door. The truth about the babysitter, the parents, and Wilbur, was truly shocking.
Based on the evidence they found, Wilbur’s parents weren’t his actual parents at all. They adopted Wilbur from an orphanage that’s out of town, only to perform an experiment on him. It was the reason why they moved to Texas, to hide. The babysitter, Miss Fitzgerald, was part of the experiment too. In fact, Wilbur wasn’t the first kid to get adopted by the scientists. They had done illegal experiments on those orphans, and it was to find out how much pain a child can take before death, based on the cause of death and the age of the child. Thirty-eight children between the ages of two and thirteen were reported missing, and Wilbur was one of them. There were security cameras on the outside and the inside of the house. Right now, they arrested Miss Fitzgerald for child cruelty and the deaths of many children, and are on the case to find the two scientists. All of that, and I was friends with someone who would’ve been killed if I didn’t call the police. Apparently, Wilbur also tried to lie about almost everything he told me, he was trying to protect himself. He was sent to a new trusted family, a married couple who lived out of town. Since then, I never saw him again, until now.
Twenty years later, I went to a bar to get myself a few drinks by myself, when a man approached me.
“Remember me?” he said, that familiar man smiling at me. I smiled back, realizing how long it has been since I last seen Wilbur. In fact, he looks like a nice, healthy man now, without his bandages. He was a brown-haired man with sky blue eyes, he almost looked like a complete stranger.
And after that, we talked and drank a few glasses, finally speaking to each other in person. Wilbur and I knew that nobody would try to keep us apart, the scientists and the babysitter are probably locked away right now. After all, I still couldn’t stop thinking of the fact that this man would’ve been killed if I didn’t help save his life.

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Human

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I live in Osaka, Japan and often use the subway to go to work in the morning. One day, when I was waiting for the train, I noticed a homeless man standing in a corner of the subway station, muttering to himself as people passed by. He was holding out a cup and seemed to be begging for spare change. A fat woman passed by the homeless man and I distinctly heard him say, “Pig.” Wow, I thought to myself. This homeless man is insulting people and he still expects them to give him money? Then a tall businessman went by and the homeless guy muttered, “Human.” Human? I can’t argue with that. Obviously, he was human. The next day, I arrived early at the subway station and had some time to kill, so I decided to stand close to the homeless man and listen to his strange mutterings.
A thin, haggard-looking man passed in front of him and I heard the homeless guy mutter, “Cow.” Cow? I thought. The man was much too skinny to be a cow. He looked more like a turkey or a chicken to me. A minute or so later, a fat man went by and the homeless man said, “Potato.” Potato? I was under the impression that he called all fat people “Pig”.
That day, at work, I couldn’t stop thinking about the homeless man and his puzzling behavior. I kept trying to find some logic or pattern in what he was muttering. Perhaps he has some kind of psychic ability, I thought. Maybe he knows what these people were in a previous life. In Japan, many people believe in reincarnation. I observed the homeless man many times and began to think my theory was right. I often heard him calling people things like “Rabbit” or “Onion” or “Sheep” or “Tomato”.
One day, curiosity got the better of me and I decided to ask him what was going on. As I walked up to him, he looked at me and said “Bread.” I tossed some money into his cup and asked him if he had some kind of psychic ability. The homeless man smiled and said, “Yes, indeed. I do have a psychic ability. It is an ability I obtained years ago. But it is not what you might expect. I can’t tell the future or read minds or anything like that.” “Then what is your ability?” I asked eagerly. “The ability is mere to know the last thing somebody ate,” he said.
I laughed because I realized he was right. He said “Bread.” The last thing I had eaten for breakfast that day was toast. I walked away shaking my head. Of all the psychic abilities someone could have, that one must be the most useless.

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There Is Something Outside

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I live in a little island state that is apparently part of Australia, and my property is mostly bush apart from my driveway and the concrete path linking our ‘shed’ to our house.
Our shed is not an actual shed. It is more like another house, I guess, but I am the sole resident. It has a bar, a music studio, a film studio, a games room, art room, a bathroom, two garages and my bedroom. The doors in the shed are unlockable sliding doors, including all the ones leading to outside. I have two doors into my room; a normal wooden sliding door that connects my room to the inside of the shed and a glass sliding door that gives me a full view of the beginning of my driveway which is about 100 meters long and seems to continue forever. All the rest of my family sleeps in the house which is around a 20-meter walk away on the outside concrete path. My bed used to be right next to the glass sliding door and even with my curtains closed, I could see outside. My bed is now away from the glass door.
Now out here, we have a wide range of nocturnal animals. Wallabies, wombats, Tasmanian devils, possums… if it makes loud obnoxious noises at 3 am, we’ve probably got it here. But back when I had my old bed at my window, something didn’t feel right.
I swear I could see an animal watching me… stalking me… I don’t even know if “animal” is the right word. I’ve read a heap of creepypasta posts and horror movies/games are what I’m all about, so I know about a lot of urban legends. What I thought I saw those couple of nights, crawling around in the darkness almost looked like how they describe “the Rake”. If I were to describe it myself, however, I would say that it looked almost human on all fours but with an arched back and the legs looked too twisted and unnatural to be those of a person. It had a wide mouth and its nose was just two nostrils in the middle of its face. Its eyes seemed dead apart from the occasional reflection of the far sensor light every time a leaf blew past the side of the house. Unfortunately, the sensor light was too far away to be of any help in identifying whatever it was. I chalked it up to just being my overactive imagination as I refused to believe that urban legends could exist at all let alone in my part of the world.
For those nights, I wouldn’t sleep. I’d just watch it slowly creeping around, looking in my direction every now and again. I would be frozen in fear until before dawn when it would sneak off behind the trees. When the sleep deprivation started to take a toll on my moods and performance at school, I asked my mum before bed if she could sleep in my room with me for that night. When she asked why I burst into tears and told her everything I saw. She then reassured me that it was my imagination, which I wanted to believe, then agreed to stay that night in my room.
Unsurprisingly, I slept hoping that she would protect me from whatever was out there. In the morning we moved my bed away from the window where it has been ever since, but I’ve never stopped wondering.
I feel like I’m going crazy. Maybe it was just all in my head. I haven’t seen it for about five months now because I’m too scared to open my curtains. Has anyone else had this kind of experience?

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The Devil Never Knocks Twice

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I pulled the curtain aside with a shaky hand and gazed outside, and as I had feared he was still there. He was standing on the sidewalk with the god damn sign, the one that said the end is near. The batten he had stapled it to was resting against his shoulder, while the brown rectangular cardboard with the cheery, feel-good message was hovering just above his head. He was staring straight at me as if he had known that I was hiding behind the thick cloth. The free hand was waving at me, like a window wiper on a car only capable of swinging fifteen degrees in each direction. And on his face was the most bone-chilling smile I’d ever seen. I quickly closed the curtain and he disappeared from view. Then I leaned forward and took half a dozen deep breaths to try to calm myself. God, it couldn’t be long now. I just hoped it would be painless and over and done with quickly.
I tiptoed over to the kitchen on legs that felt like they were about to give up on me at any second, and managed to pour myself a cup of coffee. But the hand that lifted the cup was shaking so badly that I had to put it back down again and let it sit for a few minutes before I made a second attempt.
Cathy had already left, and I was the only one remaining in the house. Her shift started at seven, and she had got up early in order to beat the rush hour traffic. I had been standing by the window in the exact same spot when she walked over to her car, peeking out through a tiny gap in the curtain. And the old man had been standing where I saw him less than five minutes ago, doing the exact same thing. Holding the sign, waving his hand and smiling at me. The thought made me shudder.
Cathy hadn’t noticed him, despite having walked right past him to get to her car that was parked out on the street. I had to admit it wasn’t all that strange, given that I was the only one who could actually see him.
He was thin and extremely tall. If I had to venture a guess, I’d say close to seven foot. His complexion was that of an albino, and his silk-like straight hair that clung to his scalp like glue was as white as the snow that still blanketed the little patch of grass next to the footpath leading up to the house. And then there was the grin, the uncanny grin that made him look like a psycho that had just escape from a lunatic asylum. It covered almost half of his face and made him look like the devil himself.
It had started two weeks ago when I opened up an email and watched the fifteen-second video clip attached to it. It was shot at some cemetery god knows where. It was dark, but the flash on the camera was turned on, and I could clearly see the big hole in the ground and the dirt that had collected in two large piles on either side of it. But I had quickly pushed those images aside, and my attention had been drawn toward the black tombstone just beyond the hole. It had a name written on it, but it had been blurred out and I was thus unable to read it.
After having watched the clip twice, I had called out to Cathy to come and check it out, but she had just shaken her head and given me a quizzical look.
“It’s just static,” she said. “Why on earth do you want me to look at that?”
I had stared at her open-mouthed, wondering if she was pulling my leg, but stopped trying to convince her that there was actually something there when she got angry a couple of minutes later, slammed her hand down on the table and stormed out of the room. Subsequently, I didn’t mention the other clips I received, one every evening at exactly eight o’clock. Nor did I mention it to her last Wednesday, when the old man appeared in the clips, standing behind the tombstone, waving the sign and flashing me his eerie, sick grin.
My hand had finally calmed down enough for me to lift the cup up to my lips. But I immediately dropped it when I heard someone starting to thump on the front door. It hit the floor with a loud bang and hot coffee sprayed all over the linoleum and onto the bottom of the kitchen cabinets. I didn’t move I just stood there looking at the opening leading out of the kitchen like a deer caught in oncoming headlights, praying that the thumping would stop. But it didn’t. It continued with an almost rhythmic like precision. Thump, thump, thump.
A full minute must have passed before I dared to take a step forward, and as I did so I felt a sliver of ceramic sink into my foot. I swore out loud, looked down and saw blood oozing out from underneath it. Then I felt the sharp pain as the nerves began sending their signals to the pain receptors in my brain. I grimaced and lifted it up, and slowly pulled out the white, pyramid-shaped piece embedded there. Then I removed the sock, reached behind me and grabbed a tea towel from the countertop and pressed it against the wound. And all the while, I could hear the loud thumbing drifting in from the front of the house.
I managed to wrap the towel around the foot and started limping out into the hallway. The pain was shooting up my leg, and my heart was pounding out of control in my chest. When I saw the door vibrating in its frame like a massive diaphragm in some oversized loudspeaker, I almost collapsed. What the fuck would I do if he managed to get inside?
But I was able to move on, despite being convinced that the door would fly open any second. When I got there, I put my eye up against the spy-hole and looked outside. It was the old man. The sign was still resting on his shoulder and the grin was stretched across his face, just as big as it had been five minutes earlier. I could see his hand slamming the door like it was his best buddy and he was handing out free high fives.
I stepped back like I’d been hit by an electric current, not knowing what the fuck to do next. But as I was standing there, watching the door being pounded, a thought eventually entered my mind. I threw myself around and hobbled into the master bedroom where I got the gun out from the drawer on the bedside table. Why hadn’t I thought of the gun before? It was the first thing that sprang to mind whenever I thought I heard strange noises in the house at night-time. I quickly established that it was loaded and made my way back to the front door again. And that’s when the thumping stopped.
I tensed and raised the gun, moving slowly toward the door. To say I was on edge would be the understatement of the century. I was sweating like a pig and shaking like a junkie in need of a hit. Then when I was five feet away, I stopped and listened. But the only thing I could hear was my heart racing away, and my breath going in and out of my lungs at lightning speed. Had the old man decided to leave? Had he figured out that I wouldn’t give up without a fight? The sweat had started to drip into my eyes, and I quickly wiped it away with my sleeve. The gun was shaking in my hands, but I was able to keep it aimed straight ahead. How long I stood like this for, I don’t know, but it must have been for a couple of minutes at least.
It was still dead quiet outside the door, so I decided to head back over to the window and see if the old man had returned to the spot on the sidewalk. I lowered my gun and turned around, careful not to make any sudden movements. But as I was about to make my way over, the thumping started again, and this time it sounded like he was using a god damn battering ram. I reacted instinctively. I spun around, aimed the gun straight ahead and emptied the entire magazine through the door.
The shots sounded like firecrackers going off right next to my ears, and after it was over, I thought I could hear church bells tolling inside my head. Then I stood absolutely still and stared at the ten pencil sized holes that were now adorning the door.
It wasn’t until I felt my phone vibrating in my back pocket that I lowered the hand holding the gun, and watched the weapon drop to the floor. I turned my head, got the phone out and saw I had just received an email. I stared at the screen wide-eyed and barely registered that my right thumb had clicked on the attachment. It was another clip from the cemetery. The old man was standing behind the tombstone, but unlike the other times, I could actually read the name imprinted on it. My heart skipped a beat when I read it. It was Cathy’s name, and below it written in golden lettering was the date of death.
It was today.
I was completely dumbfounded and felt nausea hit me like a pressure wave. Had all this been about Cathy? Was she the one that was going to die today, and not me?
Then my phone started vibrating again and I looked down at it. I had just received a new voicemail message. I lifted the phone slowly to my ear and listened to it. It was from Cathy.
“Hi Tim, I’ve just come down with a nasty headache and I’ve decided to come back home. I forgot to bring my keys, so you’re gonna have to let me in. See you soon.”
The message had been recorded thirty minutes ago, but somehow just showed up on my phone. Then a horrible thought entered my mind, and I felt my blood rush down from my brain to my feet. If the message was sent thirty minutes ago, she should’ve been home by now. The phone slipped out of my hand and landed on the carpet with a soft thud. Then I sprang forward, jerked opened the door, looked down and screamed.

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The Animals

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So when I was 12, our neighbor’s 6-year-old daughter was abducted. This was 2004 and porch cameras weren’t really much of a thing, so there wasn’t footage of it. She was playing out in the front yard and was there one minute and gone the next. It was a really dark time afterward. The police never found anything, which I think made it way worse for the family. Finding a body or something means some sort of closure. My parents wouldn’t let us go outside without a parent for probably over a year.
It was hell for the girl’s family. She was their only kid, so it completely ruined their lives. Her mother stopped showing her face in public and would only really leave the house to buy food. They ended up selling the house and moving somewhere else after a year or so. I still feel guilty that our family didn’t show them more support. We were neighbors, but we didn’t really talk to them much. Anyway, it’s really sad to talk about and I’m only doing it to lay the groundwork for later.
So fast forward 8 years. We’re still living in the same house from 2004, I’m still living at home but go to a community college. The neighbors with the lost daughter have long since moved out and we don’t really think much about it anymore. It was 9 pm and everyone was at home. Someone may have been asleep, but most of us were watching the TV. Suddenly we hear a knock on the back door of our house, which weirded us out.
Just to preface, we’re from western Maryland in a sort of mix between the suburbs and rural forest. There were other houses nearby, but behind our house and yard was just forest for a good distance. Nobody would approach our house from the back, it was obvious we were home. Any normal person would just use the doorbell at the front door.
We didn’t answer the door at first and just waited for probably 10 minutes before my dad went and checked the door to see if anyone was there. We don’t know who did it, but on the concrete landing for our back door was a little beanie baby stuffed animal. We didn’t see anyone there like someone knocked and made a run for it. We brought it over to the workbench and left it there.
It happened again 5 days later. This time I went to the door as quickly as I could and found another little-stuffed animal. Over the next three weeks, we would get two more stuffed animals like this. The third one was collected by my sister when she was home alone, and we weren’t home for the last one. We went out to eat and found it when we got home that night.
The animals were a gray cat with a yellow ribbon, some dog that looked like a beagle, a bear with fairy wings, and a pink owl. They were all in really good condition, with only minor play wear. They kind of smelled like cigarettes. There was never a note or explanation, and we never saw who it was. There would just be a knock on the back door late at night, and a stuffed animal would be left behind. I don’t think we ever got rid of them, they’re probably in a box somewhere in our basement. It was weird at the time, but upon further thought, it just gets worse.
The neighbor’s kid was probably playing with something when she got taken away, but there wasn’t anything there when the police looked for her. I just get really uneasy when I think about it. If I’m right and they are the girl’s toys, who is leaving them, why were they coming from the woods behind our house?

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