This is a long creepypasta posted in January 2012 on /X/ by a female tripfag with the Tripcode * !/EpMBjVMsU .
The author claims it to be a true story and, knowing Otherkin, they just might be telling the truth. If you have any friends who claim that Otherkin are simply "harmless" you may want to point them to this story. Harmless insanity can always make the leap to dangerous....
Warning: This one is very, very long.
Chapter 1: August 2011 TEP and Gia
Hi /x/. I need your help. I don't expect you to believe most or any of this, but I literally have no one else to turn to. Reluctant as I am, there is a small chance that one person out of however many visit this place a day could help me, so here we go. For those who appreciate tl;dr, this involves walk-ins and sigils, I think? For those willing to listen, I'll need to share a few backstories so you can get the scope of what's been going on. Heaven forbid they lurk on here and recognize these stories. Then I'm really in trouble. Obviously, names have been changed, and some of the details will be vague to avoid stalking of myself or the people involved.
Anyway, in an effort to get to the good stuff, I'll spare you the intimate details on the background. I'm your typical success story from the age of Occupy Wall St, and by that I mean I majored in the effect of horse poetry on French cinema and couldn't find a job after graduating. Thrust into the adult world with student loans and my parents shockingly against putting up their deadbeat kid, I found myself in desperate need of job and to a lesser extent a life. I couch surfed until the road and my meager savings ran out, which put me in a tiny tourist town by the ocean. Facing eviction from my shitty apartment and being forced to live in my even shittier car and half-starving, I spent my days looking for any and all work to do.
That's where The Enlightened Path comes in. I'm certain every city has a shop like this, and I'm equally certain they all look the same. Located in the aging artistic part of town, the squat brick strip of buildings is a sad monument to urban decay, but TEP makes the best of things. The outside is covered in fading psychedelic murals with a giant eye vomiting a rainbow dominating the main wall. The large window out front always has some display of healing crystals or books on how to focus your qi. Windchimes and suncatchers usually hang from the awning, unless they've been ripped down or stolen. It's got its own charms, I guess, but it's not the sort of place I would ever willingly venture into.
In the interest of full disclosure for you /x/philes, I'm a skeptic. If it goes bump in the night, I'm more likely to investigate it with a baseball bat or call the cops rather than sit in my bed and cry. I've yet to hear a prophecy that doesn't sound ridiculous. No offense to anyone here, of course. It's always interested me, but as of this point in my life, any creepy experiences I'd had could be explained away easily enough by a bad trip or wind.
This shop was different though. This shop called to me, mostly through a Help Wanted sign in the window. I was so desperate to make rent that on a lark, I decided to apply. The interior of TEP is exactly what you'd expect. It's dark and the air smells of whatever incense best reflects the owner's wishes for the day. There are shelves of books and various crap collected ranging from antique dried coral and geodes to totems and charms. The back is dominated by a large plastic fountain and a circle of chairs, marking this as a gathering place.
My interview was less than standard. It involved sharing tea with the owner, a nice lady named Crystal. Heavyset with hair that hadn't been cut since the summer of '69, somehow she mixed a reading of my vibrations with a frank discussion on how I was not under any circumstances to come into work fucked up unless it had been approved by management. I may or may not have lied through my teeth about my interest level, but let's face it, when you're facing another day fueled by cardboard pizza and ramen, you'll be interested in anything. Apparently she liked me or at least took pity on how fast I devoured the honeyed sunflower seeds on her counter because I got the job. Part time store bitch with the understanding that if it needed to be done, I would do it. I would not judge. I would not ask questions. I would provide polite and prompt service and start my education on all things New Age and mystical immediately.
Which is to say, I pretty much sat behind the counter and told kids who wandered in that no, we did not sell bongs. No, I did not know where they could get pot. I mean, I did, but anyone dumb enough to flat out ask like that isn't getting any help from me. The first week went by smoothly with only a few of the “regulars” coming in and out. A few refused to talk to me and archly asked for Crystal herself, who remained in the back office to monitor my work. Some were more than happy to chatter about their chosen obsession, but I got the feeling this reaction would have been no different had Crystal replaced me with a cardboard cut out. My first true test came that Thursday evening, when Crystal asked me if I wouldn't mind covering one of the weekly meetings held at TEP for true believers of all kinds. There was free food, so I agreed, and that's how I met the otherkin.
That afternoon, I was in charge of moving any and all iron to the storage area and hanging a large heptagram in the door. By closing time, snacks were arranged on a table near the chairs, and soothing woodwind music was piped over the ancient sound system. While candles couldn't be lit for various fire code reasons, the lighting was pooled around the circle. One at a time or in groups of two and three, they filtered in.
There is a certain energy involved in large gatherings of the extremely socially awkward. It's carried in the forced laughs, odd smells, and twitching hands rubbed on cargo shorts every other minute. Not even Crystal's feel good vibes and heavy incense (and mind you, we did break out the heavy shit for this one) could counter the strange buzz in the air. It was electric. I would call it ominous if I hadn't once wandered into a table top tournament at the gaming store about a block over.
First to arrive, as I would find is pretty typical, were couple both at the twilight of a rough middle age. Marci, a fairy elf, was a woman who'd put a strain on the term Rubenesque, though she always wore a corset and fairy wings. She insisted they were handmade to mimic her own wings as they look on the astral plane. Apparently the astral plane loves the hell out of some cheap glitter and spray paint. James was a psychic vampire and her sometimes lover. He most often carried a cane and wore a top hat with the jack of hearts or the ace of diamonds in it. He claimed to have a small harem who allowed him to psychically feed off of them. Smug does not even begin to cover them. Both will tell you all about how they believed in Otherkin long before Usenet ever existed. At length. Usually while trying to stroke you, each other, or themselves.
Immediately they began questioning Crystal about who I was and why I was allowed to sit in on the meeting. Crystal assured them that I was perfectly safe. They then attempted to shock me by referencing BDSM, an obscure Changeling series, and just generally being too alternative for any normal pleb. At last they admitted I might be alright and introduced me to the mouthbreather tagging along behind them like a crowned prince of poor parenting. I could never figure out what Matt's relation to Marci and James was. He was either their actual son or spiritually adopted, and if he wasn't a juggalo in his spare time, I'll eat my hat. Last I checked, Matt had yet to figure out what he was for sure, but most weeks he felt like a wolf or a werewolf. He howled at me and then went to the back to fix his eye makeup. I wish I were kidding.
A few other fairies, vampires, elves, therian, and other such folk filled out the small crowd, but most just acted like I wasn't there, which was fine by me. I was surprised to see one of the counter guys from the gaming store stroll in along with a twitchy vampire with a patchy beard. Michael the gaming guy was tall with extremely light blond hair and pale eyes. If anyone looked like an elf, it was him, but he wasn't part of the circle. His best friend and ride home from work was that vampire named Jake, who was also a decent guy. Happy to see me there, he hung out to mooch pizza with me, and we talked about gaming or how shitty this town was.
Just before the meeting was about to start, she walked in. I don't know if it was a natural lull in conversation or if the room had gone quiet for her entrance. The latter is entirely possible. Marci and James might have been the old guard, but when she was still around, she was their queen. There's no question about that. Caramel skin still somehow pale with big dark eyes and pouting lips, she looked like someone's neglected doll. She was all limbs and long brown hair, and she never wore a bra. She always smelled of lavender. Her name was Gia, and just one look at her told you she was daddy issues given flesh.
Gia waltzed in and zeroed in on me without a word. She took my hand and stroked the inside of my wrist while staring at my eyes. She was silent the whole time and drifted towards the chairs a few moments later. I should have run far, far away right then and there. If I'd known what was going to happen, I would have. That's not me trying to be dramatic, /x/. That's the honest to god truth.
I usually didn't pay much attention to the meetings for the first few weeks. Mostly they talked about their lives or shows they were watching. For a few minutes they discussed how difficult it was to be an otherkin, vampire, or therian. Mostly it was a therapy and socializing session for people who otherwise didn't get out much. My time was spent messing around on my phone or watching Gia when she decided to show. It was almost impossible not to. Much to the dismay of Marci and James, the others gravitated around her like vines creeping for the sun. There was just something about her smudged eyeliner and fragile curves that drew attention to her, and she knew it. I'm sure she knew it. She would curl up into the fetal position on a chair some days and hardly speak above a whisper. Other days she'd discuss her dreams at length, no matter how nonsensical. Every once in awhile, I'd catch her staring at me, or at least in my direction. It wasn't always focused. It was always creepy as hell.
It didn't take him long for Michael to notice Gia's interest in me, but he didn't speak up until the fourth meeting or so.
“I wonder which one likes you,” Michael said with a nervous laugh. Let's be honest; he did a lot of nervous laughing.
I asked him what that was supposed to mean.
“She says she's a vessel for walk-ins. Those are like spirits that wander in and hang out in your head. I wonder which one of those is interested in you.”
As much fun as it might have been to see if crazy and sexual prowess have an exponentially positive correlation, there was truly no telling how many diseases she might have collected in her quest to teach daddy a lesson, and the vibes I was getting off of her were nothing but bad. Maybe Crystal was finally starting to rub off on me, or maybe huffing incense every day for nearly a month was finally taking its toll on my braincells, but the pit of my stomach informed me I wanted nothing to do with Gia. The only decent side effect of her unsettling attention was that most of the otherkin left me alone. Even Matt restricted his dealings with me to asking when the pizza was going to get there and brooding in his folding chair like an obese gargoyle.
Besides, I had other things to worry about. My rent situation was at least stable, but it was around this time that weird shit began to happen around my apartment. I didn't live far from TEP in one of the many generic complexes with shit brown vinyl siding and interior carpet from the late 80s. It was a step above the crack dens a few blocks over though, so that was good enough for me. Occasionally Michael and Jake would come over for movies or whatever happened to be in my PS3 at the time on my days off. By then Michael was a friend, and Jake was actually tolerable once he took out the fake fangs and stopped ranting about Twilight and the death of the modern vampire for five minutes.
It was during one of these afternoons off that the doorbell rang. Unless I was ordering out, no one rang my doorbell. Not even Michael, for all his anxious manners, bothered to do much more than bang a few times and ask if the door was unlocked. Jay refused to pause his speedrun of Castlevania, but Michael rose with me from my threadbare and busted couch to see just what was up. A peek through the eyehole told me nothing, so I slowly opened it, ready to slam it fast in the event of some crazy homeless type or a Jehovah's Witness.
Sitting on the landing before my door was a turtle. To be specific, it was a box turtle that had actually been painted. In some sort of red ink along his shell were what looked like eyes. I've done a shitty paint so you can see what I mean. For those keeping track at home, that's the sigil or whatever that soon becomes important. A quick look around found no one nearby who might've dropped the little guy off, but considering he'd landed on my doorstep, I felt obligated to try to wash him off. For all I knew, the stuff was toxic or would keep the lady turtles away from him.
Walt, as he came to be known, ended up crashing with me in a pretty sweet tank I set up. Whatever the paint was, it wouldn't come off, and I didn't want to be responsible for sending him out in the wilderness to die alone and disfigured. Strange as it was, I figured it was just some addict playing pranks or being insane. When I found the same symbol drawn on a piece of paper shoved into my mailbox a few days later, I became more concerned. When that thing started appearing all over the place, I bought a new baseball bat.
Every few days it would pop up in some new location. On my car windshield at work, taped to the lamppost outside my building, chalk on the sidewalk in my parking space... At first I did my best to ignore it or shrug it off, but the instances became bigger and bigger, and even I couldn't deny that it was clearly centered on me. The creepiest occurred about a week before shit went down.
I like to jog in the mornings. It's my one consolation to my body for all the garbage I usually shove into it, and it helps clear my mind. Plus, it's cheaper than a gym membership and if I'm lucky, I can get home in time to sleep again before I have to head into work. Shortly after arriving in this sleepy tourist town, I found a decent route from my building, down a few streets, through a park, and out to the beach. Not a bad way to spend a few hours, all in all. On this particular morning, the air was tinged with the smell of wood fires and crisp fall chill, and the sun was sluggishly pulling itself up above the horizon. It was perfect jogging weather, and once I hit my stride, I was gone. I barely remember pausing to make sure the streets were clear before crossing them, so wrapped up was I in the high of it. Only when I hit the park did I stop dead in my tracks.
Like a lot of greenspaces in this area, this small park is dominated by a massive, ancient oak tree. It's famous for surviving hurricanes and causing the death of a man who tried to cut through one of its lower limbs with a chainsaw. That kind of old oak. Normally it's draped with Spanish moss and looking majestic as any benevolent emperor, but as I rounded the bend in the path, I had to blink and make sure I wasn't losing it. Bathed in the soft red light of the early morning, the tree was covered in pieces of paper hanging from white string. When I say covered, I mean what looked like close to fifty or more, though I didn't exactly bother counting. In red and orange, the eye was painted on them, though one side was without the slash through the middle. When the breeze off the ocean blew through them, it looked like they were all winking and blinking at me.
Needless to say, I didn't bother sticking around to take in the sight long. I got the fuck out of there. Yes, this might make me a pansy, but in retrospect, it was a good idea. Trust me.
By this time, I was more than a little concerned. The tree made a minor segment on the local news, though they attributed it to some punk kid defacing public property or possibly a new terrifying gang, which is always the popular fallback for anything. Michael suggested I report this to the police, but what was I going to say? Walt aside, none of the vandalism had been permanent or hurt anything, and I doubt they'd put out an APB for sinister turtle painters. Jake suggested I talk to the otherkin group about it, but there was no way I was throwing them this kind of fodder. Not yet, anyway. Besides, they had other issues to keep them up in arms. Gia had disappeared again, and this time she'd sent a nasty email saying she had found something better and wasn't coming back. Naturally they were all delighted to be utterly offended by this. My problems were nothing.
I kept my windows drawn most of the time and traveled with mace on my keys. Most nights I couldn't sleep without waking up at the slightest sound. As far as I was concerned, I was one crack rock away from this lunatic finally getting tired of fingerpainting and having his way with my tender flesh. As the days went by with my stress level somewhere near a pretty mare at a zoophile convention, I started to look more and more strung out. Crystal finally ordered me to take a few paid sick days off and come back rested when she caught me napping during sitar hour. She sent me home with some cleansing tea and told me to get my shit together or I was going to be looking for another job in the sweetest terms possible.
Unwilling to lose the one thing keeping me off the street, I went home that evening and forced myself to get a grip. There was no reason to be so bothered by some artistic asshat with too much time on his hands. I fed Walt, took a long shower, splurged for Chinese, and even drank some of Crystal's disgusting tea in an effort to calm my nerves. Finally, I popped some sleeping pills and retired to my bed with the TV still on in the living room. This, I told myself, would convince the crazy stalking me that I was still awake and not to be pounced upon. I wasn't thinking entirely straight by that point.
After next to no sleep for about a week, I slept like the dead. If I dreamed at all, it was color and sound without meaning. I only awoke when the sound of clicking near my head forced me out of my dreamstate.
Coming around slowly, I realized a few things. 1) Both of my wrists were handcuffed to my bed. 2) My legs were in the process of being spread and tied as well. 3) The TV was still on in the living room and the bedroom door was open, casting flickering light across part of the room. 4) There was someone in the room with me, whispering to me. 5) There was a terrible smell in the air along with the strong scent of lavender. 6) I was fucked, but only figuratively. I hoped.
By the time I came around enough to realize all these things, it was too late. My legs were tied apart, and no amount of mostly useless kicking could loosen them. As adrenaline finally got its lazy ass in gear and started fueling my senses, I became more aware of the person in the room with me. Long hair, long legs, pale skin... I'm sure by now you guys have figured it out.
“Gia, what the fucking fuck are you doing in my house?” I demanded. That's paraphrased, but I'm sure it was something just as eloquent.
“Shhhhh,” she hissed through a wide grin as she crawled up the bed towards me. “Shhhh. He's talking to me. He loves you. He's always loved you.” Her hand slide up my side towards my breast, and rather than give into the unholy porno vibe going on, I finally started losing my shit. I struggled and kicked in an effort to get her away from me, but it was all hopeless. The most it did was make her grip harder, which is pretty damn unpleasant for those of you who don't have similar anatomy.
“Shhhhhhh,” she said over my yells for help. I was praying my anonymous neighbors would actually do something rather than pound the wall and tell me to shut the fuck up. Stranger things had happened, after all. I was currently in the middle of them.
“Shhhhhh,” she said again when I paused my struggling. “He wants you. Together, we will have his child. Don't you see? I knew from the moment I saw you that he would want you. You're perfect for him. You're perfect for us.”
There's just something about dealing with a truly insane person that puts the nerves on edge. There's a manic charge about their movements, and it shines in the whites of their eyes. I can't put it into words exactly, but I knew the minute I looked at her that Gia was definitely long gone. The lights were on, but whoever was home was not interested in anything involving logic or reason. To make matters worse, she was covered in something dark and foul smelling, almost metallic in nature. At the time I should have recognized the scent, but I had other things on my mind.
As her hands wandered over my body, I felt the cold realization sink in that I might very well be in for a bad time here. Her tongue came out to lick my cheek, and I nearly gagged from the stench of whatever was also matted in her hair. That might well have been shit. I'm not entirely sure.
“Gia,” I said slowly, trying to keep my voice calm. “He doesn't want me. You're the only one who's good enough for him. You should just let me go and keep him all to yourself.”
I had no idea who “he” was, but this was the best thing my brain could come up with. I hadn't yet reached that surreal calm state, but it was coming.
“No no no no no,” she cooed. “He's seen you. He wants you. Now, we're going to have his baby. Aren't you excited, *?”
As she pushed my shirt up, I noticed the shine of one of my kitchen knives.
had seen marks on Gia's arms at the meetings. I figured she cut herself. She was exactly the type, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if she did it on cam for the internet. As the knife sliced into the skin on my stomach, I realized that I did not have what it takes to self-mutilate. It fucking hurt, but I kept still in the hopes that she'd stay superficial rather than straight up stabbing me. I wish I could tell you I kept my cool, but the truth is I'm amazed I didn't piss myself. I was positive she was going to rape me and then kill me, and all that was left was to determine the order. In a bizarre moment, I found myself miserably wondering if my parents would bother taking care of Walt or just release him into the wild after I was found.
“There,” Gia hissed as she finished carving whatever it was into my stomach. She rubbed her fingers through the blood pooling there, making me tense and grunt from the stinging. “So pretty. Don't you understand? It's time now. We're so lucky. When the red rains down, we'll be by his side. We're going to have his baby.”
This time I felt the tip of the knife creep up my inner thigh. I had a terrible idea of where that blade was going. I was probably babbling some other rationalization at Gia as to why she didn't have to do this when a loud crash sounded from the living room. The crazy jumped and let out a hiss like a startled cat. She took one last look at me, and for a split second I could read her mind. I know she was considering stabbing me and being done with it, or worse. Then she rushed to my bedroom window, and with what I can only assume was agility fueled by pure crazy, she opened the window and jumped out. I lived on the second story. I silently prayed she broke her fucking neck.
I head a familiar voice call out my name from the living room after a bit more thumping. Cautiously, Michael and Jake poked their heads in while asking if I was okay. They both stared once they caught sight of the state I was in. Michael started apologizing immediately for interrupting and spun around, but luckily Jake stuck around long enough for me to start screaming for them to untie me and call the fucking police. Michael was nice enough to cover me up while they found a youtube video explaining how to get out of handcuffs on Jake's phone. After I'd babbled something that was probably not anywhere close to an explanation to them, I asked what they were doing here.
“We heard you took off work, and when you didn't answer your phone, we came to check on you,” Michael explained.
It was only after I'd finally gotten out and the cops showed up that I found out Gia had carved that eye symbol into my stomach. Not only that, she'd trashed my living room. The furniture was slashed to shreds, and eyes were painted across the walls. The substance was the same rust color she had been covered in, and at last I placed the terrible smell. She'd painted my apartment in her period blood and what may or may not have been shit.
I told the police everything, from Walt to the wake up call. She must have been stalking me and followed me around outside of work to see where I lived and where I jogged. We couldn't figure out how she had managed to get into my apartment though. The crash was the sound of Michael and Jake accidentally busting through my balcony door after climbing up in an Assassin's Creed impression, but according to them, that sliding door had been locked. Their excuse for climbing up was that I didn't answer their knocking. My front door showed no signs of forced entry. There was also no sign of her, which means she must've stuck the landing. That was plenty unsettling for me.
Needless to say after the cops and press had cleared, my landlord wanted my ass out of his complex. Even though I still had a steady job, I was barely making rent in that shithole as it was. Finding a place to stay on short notice added on to my general state of panic, made worse by the fact that I could not sleep in that apartment anymore. Even with the cops patrolling and looking for her, I had no idea when Gia might be back to finish whatever demon rape she'd started. Plus, I was still waiting for blood test results back because who knows what she'd smeared on me while playing with that knife. Thankfully, Michael stepped up and offered to let me stay at the place he shared with Jake.
I wish I could say that Walt and I lived happily ever after. Unfortunately, Gia was only the beginning. I wish I had known that.
Chapter 2: September 2011 Annie's Art
I moved in with Michael and Jake. The house isn't much, but we at least have locks and an alarm system.
Weeks passed, and the incident with Gia slowly faded from my mind. It took some time, but living with others and a healthy dose of scar prevention cream to my stomach helped ease my worries. I told myself it was an isolated event. Gia was crazy and still out there, but with any luck she was halfway to Mexico where she could commune with spirit animals in the desert or dead in a ditch by the interstate. As long as she wasn't near me, I no longer cared.
Nearly the next day, I packed up what was left of my apartment, and Walt and I moved in with Jake and Michael. Living with the guys was about how you'd expect. The house was a beat up affair with "character" on the other side of town, and they were nice enough to sacrifice a storage room for me. The minute I moved in, we installed new locks and an alarm system. There was no way I was taking any chances, and anything that could cut down on the nightmares I was destined to have would be worth the extra money.
Because of the distance, I'd be spending more on gas, but Michael made up for it by paying me to drive him to work on the days we had similar shifts. I found out he had a form of stress induced epilepsy, but that didn't keep him from participating from Nerf fights, urban exploration, or drinking like a fiend. I'm not sure if that's healthy, but I never argued.
Every Monday night, they'd have a D&D session with some guys from the otherkin group and gaming store. About five guys would huddle around the scuffed up dining room table and debate the merits of the plane of positive energy while drinking Jager and Mountain Dew. I know nothing about D&D despite their attempts to teach me, so I usually cooked for them and sat around watching when I didn't have something else to do. I will admit, it was nice. After months of feeling miserable over my nonexistent future and being stalked by a lunatic in a strange town, I was actually beginning to get comfortable. Maybe the innate understanding that this wasn't going to last made it that much better.
It was during one of these gaming sessions that the trouble began again. The usual crew was there, including the DM who insisted everyone call him the Gnome even outside of play because he was short and crafty (his words, not mine) and a guy named Fletch from the otherkin group. The pair were close friends, though they couldn't have been more different. While Gnome, real name Tim, was short and obnoxious, Fletch was a big bear of a man who was calm and pleasant. Fletch was older, but the guys had accepted him as a mentor of sorts. He also thought he was a satyr and had a penchant for running through the woods naked, but as long as he kept bringing us the beer he brewed, I couldn't care less.
That night, I was sitting on a stool in corner listening to Jake describe growing a tarrasque in a bag of holding while the game was on a food break. I had Walt out in my lap, and Fletch, who had been uncharacteristically quiet most of the night, looked over at him. His eyes grew wide as he got a look at the faded markings still on my turtle's shell. To be honest, I wasn't really listening to Jake's overly long tale, so I jumped at the chance to politely cut it off. Though sweet in his own way, Jake can go on and on about something when he gets excited, and if he forgets the smallest detail, he'll back the whole story up and start from the beginning. This happens a lot. I aimed to avoid the fourth do-over here and now.
When asked what was up, Fletch heaved a long sigh and poured himself more Dew.
“It's Annie. She's fallen into one of her funks again, and I'm not sure what to do. This is a big one.”
Annie was Fletch's wife and a local artist. I think most of her money came from selling handmade sports miniatures on Etsy, but her passion involved surrealist art in all mediums. I'd only briefly spoken with her once or twice at TEP, but she was always pretty distant, a dark cloud to Fletch's sunny disposition. A large woman, she'd spent the whole time talking to me about how she and Fletch were trying for kids, which left me with images of pieces of biscuit dough slapping against each other.
Tim/Gnome asked if there was any way we could help. Personally, I thought there was nothing short of a lithium cocktail that could pull her out of the doldrums, but I kept my mouth shut. My mistake. While Fletch was politely declining, the guys somehow decided that we needed to go over to his place and cheer her up. I say “we” because I was volunteered to bake something for her. Though I was reluctant, I was caught up in their enthusiasm, and I agreed to make some tiramisu or something to take over on my next day off. Had I been thinking, I would've asked him about his reaction to Walt's shell, but it slipped my mind at the time.
Fletch and Annie lived in an old cottage just outside of town. We arrived late in the afternoon a few days later and were greeted by an unshaven and exhausted looking Fletch. He smiled a weary smile and pushed three excited dachshunds out of the way so Michael, Jake, Tim, and I could enter. The place was cluttered but comfortable, and front room exuded the same woodsy warmth of the man himself, but we were ushered towards the back of the house.
“She's in her studio. She's in one of her moods,” he explained.
Till now I'd read and seen accounts of “real ghost stories” where people talked about ominous feelings or sensations of dread, and I'd considered them bullshit. It's so easy to dismiss such things as nerves, and I've even read about ultrasonic vibrations or something of the sort that would inspire the same sensations. Idiots getting hyped up, I thought.
I wish I could explain away the things that I felt that day. I really do. I wish I could tell you it was just my imagination, but the truth is, I didn't go into that house thinking I'd see anything strange. Armed with tiramisu and a good night's sleep, I figured we would listen to a speech on feminism, pet some dogs, and be out of there by dinner, but as we walked down the hallway towards her studio, there was something in the air. I can't accurately describe it. It was as if sounds were muffled, like something was pressing in on us from all sides. There was a thickness to the atmosphere that would better fit an oppressively humid day, but the further back we walked, the more the fall chill set in.
When Fletch opened the door, I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up. My hands gripped the glass tray till my knuckles were white. After a few hushed words to his wife, he waved us in. My little group exchanged looks that broadcast varying degrees of “Well, shit” before stepping inside.
Fletch spoke in the soft tones one reserves for feral animals or the violently retarded.
“Sweetie, some people from the D&D group are here to see us. * from The Enlightened Path brought tiramisu.”
The only light came from a dirty window on the far side of the room. In the dim colors of the sunset, I could just make out Annie sitting on a stool before the wall to the left. She was dressed in a large gray shirt covered in paint splotches and frayed at the edges. Her hair was halfheartedly pulled back into a ponytail, but much of it was frizzing to the sides as if she'd been tugging at it in frustration. Slowly she turned around to face us. Her eyes were hooded with thick bags and dark circles beneath them. She looked worn in more ways than one. I couldn't help but wonder if maybe being cooped up in this place meant she'd been sniffing paint fumes, but if anything the room just smelled like cold ozone.
“What is it?” she demanded in a flat voice.
As Fletch gently repeated, she pulled herself from the stool with a thick grunt and a high squeal of complaint from her seat. Heavy thuds might have been expected given her state, but her footsteps were light, unnaturally so from my point of view. With a vague frown, she considered our cluster.
“See?” Fletch said as he put a hand on my shoulder. “Tiramisu. Isn't that nice?”
Annie's glassy gaze wandered to me and lingered for a long moment before she lurched in my direction. I felt Michael press his side against mine protectively, but I stood my ground. I'd dealt with one crazy before alone. This one couldn't be that bad. As she shifted to stand before me, I held the dessert out like a peace offering.
“It's pretty good. I tried out a new recipe,” I said.
After gurgling up a snort at me that sort of sounded like a drunk bull, Annie's sausage fingers reached out and curled right into the middle of the dish. Fletch looked totally mortified, Tim snickered, and the rest of us were stunned silent as she shoveled the creamy treat into her mouth. She made a big show of smearing it around her sagging jowls before scraping what remained off on the edge of the tray.
“You think this is going to help?” she asked, spittle flecked with chunks of food flying out from between her thick lips. She continued ranting as she stomped back to her wall. “You think this is worth something? You think I don't know it's all your fault? Fuck off, you gaping cunt! Peddle your processed filth to someone who's been blinded by you!”
Fletch sputtered and stared bug-eyed at his wife before stammering out heartfelt apologies. Clearly he was shocked by her behavior.
“Uhhh, should we...” Michael began as he started to edge back, but I cut him off.
“It's cool. You guys seem busy, so we'll see you another time,” I said with a thin frown.
I had no idea what she was talking about, but I wasn't interested. You can tie me up and threaten to rape me for a demon baby, but insult my cooking, and we're going to have problems. We were all turning to leave, and Jake and Gnome were out the door already when Annie spat a yellow blob of mucus at my feet.
“See this one?” she cackled as she pointed to the wall. “This one's you!”
It was only then that I got a look at just what she'd been doing over there. Before that I was too focused on her, and the shapes had been nothing more than a distorted background. Now they sharpened into view as Gnome flipped on the hall light and illuminated things. Around the edges were smudged tendrils I would call smoke, but there was a fleshy quality about them, if that makes any sense at all. They gave the impression that the eye just wasn't focused enough to take them in, which I imagine could cause a headache if one stared long enough. Closer to the center were shapes of people, but they were bent in terrible ways. Some were either vomiting up other people or trying to swallow them whole; I couldn't tell which. In grays, greens, blues, bruise purple, and a shade of yellow that almost made me smell festering rot and bulbous fungus, they silently screamed and swam in a river of who knows what.
As a feminist surrealist, Annie's art had always been weird, but it had never been this dark. Fletch visibly winced when the light shone on it, as if this were a monument of proof that something was very, very not right with the woman he loved. Thankfully, the figure she was pointing to looked nothing like me. I bit my tongue to keep from asking if that was just because she was a shitty artist. When trapped in the gorilla exhibit, one does not poke the animals. Instead, I just rolled my eyes and said something about leaving to Michael that I can't recall at the moment but would ultimately be unimportant. The point is, she didn't take too kindly to that either.
“I know it's all your fault! We all know! It was all calm and peaceful till you came here like the fucking whore of Babylon! You and him and them and the rest of the Mousketeers. I see. We all see.”
As she continued ranting like this, Annie trundled over to an old desk that must have served as her workbench. There were various sculptures and such on or near it along with a potter's wheel and tools. At this point I froze, as did the others. Her hand wrapped around a large mallet I can only assume was used for clay or wood. I only knew one thing for certain: That thing was not going through me if I had to lob my precious tiramisu at her and book it right out of there.
“Soon everyone will see. This, this will be my masterpiece. They'll write about this one, Fletch. They'll tell everyone about this. The whole world will understand, and I'll be famous. We'll be famous, baby. We'll change the world.”
She continued babbling about paying bills and what people will see as she placed her dessert slicked hand on the desk. Annie raised the mallet above her head, and I swear time slowed down. Everyone could see what was coming next, and everyone held their breath even if were we all collectively tensing. It's the car wreck scenario. You want to stop it, but deep inside, you know you can't and you can't turn away. Your only job is to bear witness.
I had never broken a bone before, so I had no idea what it sounded like. Still, I knew it the minute I heard it, and that was before the awkward slant of her pinky registered. I have no idea if it's even possible to bring a hammer down on yourself with that kind of force, but she did. The impact seemed to echo in the room, but that may just have been inside my head.
“LET THE COCKCUNT PATRIARCHS ROT IN A RIVER OF BLOOD AND FIRE!” she screeched just after.
I just happened to be the first person to unfreeze after that, and not by much. As she shifted her hand and raised the hammer again, I turned to Michael and told him to call an ambulance right fucking now. He started frantically patting his pockets for his cell and pulling it out as I debated putting the tray down somewhere or keeping it just in case I needed to use it as a shield. Meanwhile, Annie had started droning in a singsong monotone voice that reminded me of a Catholic mass I had once been to. I wish I could tell you accurately just what she was saying, but truthfully my mind was too busy running in circles playing survival mode. What follows is the best I can recall.
“And they will regret. They will cry and scratch their eyes, and we will mock them. We will bath in their blood and they will eat the capitalist feces they have always suckled, and they will see. We will see. There is fire and blood and pain and beauty and...”
The sickening second pounding of the mallet was enough to get the rest of us into motion. I shoved the tray down and ran for her along with Fletch and Tim. Fletch was shouting at her to stop, to put the mallet down. As Gnome jumped for her, she spun around and smashed into the side of his head with the mallet, sending him staggering and cradling it. Michael was yelling the address into his phone and telling the 911 to hurry the hell up. Fletch was able to grab her wrists, but she twisted and struggled, screaming like a banshee. In the blur of the moment, I tried to grab her from behind, but she twisted and snapped at me like a damn pitbull. In a wild jerk she managed to push free and slammed me into the wall just before she pinned me. Squished by her stomach and breasts, I could smell the paint, sweet coffee, and tooth decay as she grinned at me.
“I'm going to fucking eat you alive, you cunt.”
Right as I kneed her in the damn ovaries, a pale blond blur came running at her from the side. As Michael tackled her like a nerdy linebacker, he probably yelled something heroic like “FUCK YOU!” or “LET GO OF HER, YOU BITCH!” but it was mostly muffled by the flab his face was forced into. Annie went down with a heavy thud, and from there the men managed to pin her down and keep her there. It took all of us to hold her till the ambulance showed up, which thankfully wasn't long. She spit and snapped at his, but by the time the EMTs were there her moaning had quieted into something I considered worse.
As they carted her off, Annie swung her feet around and hummed “Maxwell's Silver Hammer,” effectively ruining that song for me forever.
Standing there in the aftermath, we all said surprisingly little. Fletch went with Annie and Tim to the hospital, which left us all to pile into Jake's car and head home. Like hell were we going with them. I don't think any of us wanted to be anywhere near that crazy bitch, and though we wished him well, Tim was going to be fine. Honestly if anyone could have used a smack upside the head, it was him.
Apparently they blamed it on some craziness cat owners get combined with an already depressive nature. When she didn't get better, they transferred her to the regional psych ward for what they hoped was a temporary stay. Fletch wasn't totally forthcoming on the details, and we didn't press him. I think he was embarrassed on top of being worried for her, and there might have been a hint of protection in his behavior. Whatever the case, Michael and I agreed that we needed an olive branch, one that didn't involve my baking.
We offered to scrub that “masterpiece” off the wall for him. I know it was a work of art and all, but being around it day after day, even if he kept her studio locked up, clearly made Fletch uncomfortable. He hated the thing and said as much. He thought it looked like her nightmares, and he didn't see anything of Annie in it. Maybe he just didn't want to. Either way, we took some remover and primer over there a couple weekends later settled in for some satisfying destruction.
“So you've basically saved me twice now,” I was saying as we scrubbed the wall down.
I'm not an artist, so I have no idea what kind of paint she used. Whatever it was, it was thick enough that primer was going to look weird over it, so that meant taking off as much as we could. Plus, I honestly think we all decided even knowing those gaping maws and pleading eyes were still under there was too much. It needed to be gone.
“Nah,” Michael said with a modest smile. “I'm just amazed I didn't spaz out.”
I was about to say something else to him when I noticed something. There was something beneath the layers we were scrubbing and peeling away. Again, I have no idea what the paint was, but this was almost etched into the wall along with painted. Conversation died down as, we got to work uncovering it, and once we had enough to figure the image out, we both stepped back to stare at it.
“What the fuck?” Michael whispered.
Somehow I knew when his eyes drifted from my face to my stomach. I couldn't blame him.
Beneath the terrible landscape of bodies was a quickly done image. The figure was crude but definitely in Annie's style. Emaciated and covered in what were either splinters or thin thorns of some kind, it was clawing its eyes own. Behind it was a large symbol.
You can probably guess by now that it was the eye. The figure was the slash between the two curves or the pupil, if that's what you want to call it. Totally creeped out, I put down my things and marched right out of there. Call it my NOPE moment. I kept telling myself that it had to be a coincidence or maybe Gia and Annie had talked before Gia went nuts. Maybe this was something the group had shared. I didn't want to believe it was bigger than one lunatic. Of course you probably know by now that I was wrong, but what would you tell yourself to sleep easier at night?
Chapter 3: October 2011 The Sail and Walk Ups
This chapter is not actually otherkin-related, but is being posted here to keep things in their entirety.
I wish I could say that life was put on hold in the middle of all this, but for some reason the electric company doesn't consider “possible demonic possession” as a reasonable excuse for failing to pay the bills. I was still gainfully employed at TEP, but it was just enough to scrape by even with as generous as the guys were about late rent. I did eventually want to go back to school or at least save up enough to have a decent living beyond clinging to my college years like a barnacle in life's ever draining tide.
That's how I ended up working at the Blue Sail, and yes we did affectionately call it BS. As I've said before, this was a faded tourist town. I'm not sure if it ever had any glory days, but they sure weren't while I was around. Most businesses along the beaches closed up or worked shorter hours during the off season to save money, but the Sail was one of the few that stayed open year round. It was a pleasant little restaurant nestled in next to a long fishing pier where pros and the wandering vacationer alike could actually cook decent fish. The food was okay and the drinks were cheap. The cook would fry any fish you caught and brought him, which led to some interesting dishes I'm sure the health department would have thrown fits over.
All in all, there were worse places to work, and I found I didn't mind it nearly as much as I thought I would. The rest of the staff was pleasant enough. I rotated as a hostess, waitress, or both depending on the time of day, and I made good tips from the regulars. There was a small indoor area with the register, a few tables, storage, and the tiny kitchen, but most of the space was outside in a covered porch area. It was situated away from other buildings at the far, far end of one of the semi-popular beaches, and on a nice day you could see way down the coast.
I'm not sure if you guys were aware, but fishermen love to tell tales, and our usual bunch were no different. Often when I was working the late closing shift, the guys would come in, get drunk, and talk about the folklore of the area, if you could call it that. I have a feeling most coastal places have stories of abandoned boats being found covered in algae and floating in totally empty or strange lights being seen offshore. A particular local favorite is the warning that the spirits of the drowned come back from the bottom of the ocean when it rains and wander around the shores looking for someone to bring back with them. They also sing to sailors and fishermen when it's cloudy and try to get them to investigate beneath the piers or in the water, depending on who you talk to.
Naturally, every one of the usual fishing crowd had some kind of experience. With every pint they got more and more involved. I realize this might be hypocritical considering I'm here writing these things down for /x/, but I never gave the legends that much thought. Like I've said before, I really am a skeptic.
One afternoon, the Sail was especially dead. A storm had rolled in off the ocean and forced everyone inland or at least to some shelter. We'd seen it coming and prepared for a small rush. There's something ominous and beautiful about watching massive thunderheads slide in from a distance, and they turned the bright fall day dark and the dark seas foamy gray. A few people had come in to grab a late lunch, but as the hours wore on and the storm showed few signs of clearing up, even the most optimistic customers packed it in and headed for home.
The manager, a pretty apathetic guy at the best of times, sent two of the waiters home before informing us he was “going to get some supplies” which meant he was likely not coming back till the next shift. The cook, also an apathetic guy but nice and pretty good at his job, informed us he was going to go grab a smoke in his car since smoking was not allowed in the restaurant. We should come get him if any customers actually showed up. That meant he was going to take a nap.
This left me alone with one of my coworkers, Bryant. Bryant was tremendously gay but funny more because he thought he was witty rather than actually being able to fire off sassy quips like all the friends in the movies. He would constantly invite us all to the drag shows he did on Wednesdays for the gay karaoke bar downtown, and while I never went, I heard he did an amazing chubby Lady Gaga. What's more, he would throw himself at any offensive straight guy who came in and harassed the female staff which was always funny to watch. I'm amazed he was never jumped.
He and I had just finished rolling down the clear plastic covering we used to protect the porch during storms like this. It hung down and anchored just past the railings. It was a pain to put into place in the middle of a storm, but we had been busy during the small rush and put it off in hopes of the rain subsiding. It didn't, and we were now sitting on top of one of the tables drying off with some of the towels from the back.
The world outside was an impressionist wall of gray and white. With my feet propped on one of the chairs and my head in my hands, I was zoning out. Bryant was sitting next to me smoking and talking, mostly to himself.
“I think they're mermaids,” he said out of the blue.
I didn't have time to ask him what he meant before he continued even if he did pause as if waiting for my reply.
“The stories those guys talk about? Like, those dead people? I think they're mermaids. Mermaids lure hot sailors into the water by singing.”
I asked him why a mermaid would be walking around on the beach like the dead people were supposed to do, but he powered through like he didn't hear me.
“Do you believe those stories?”
Before I could tell him no, absolutely not, he lifted his chin towards the beach outside.
“I think we have a walk up.”
Walk ups were our term for people who wandered into the porch area from the beach. We had signs saying customers needed to go around to the front if they wanted to be seated, but every other day we would find some tourist wandering the dining area like a lost lamb or sitting down at a table wondering why no one had noticed them. It was annoying from a serving point of view mostly because frustrated customers don't tip as well, but I couldn't exactly blame them. You'd think we would have a stand outside too, but that just wasn't how things were done, and I'm no revolutionary.
The potential walk up in question was no more than a dark figure we could barely see out on the beach. He was standing some yards away, though I couldn't tell you just how many. I'm terrible with distance. The slight distortion from the plastic combined with the rain rolling down the side meant we couldn't make out any features beyond the obvious head and body, though I would say it looked like a tall adult.
“What's that dumb fucker doing out there?” Bryant asked in little more than a whisper.
“He must see our lights,” I murmured as we stared at him. For some reason neither of us wanted to speak too loudly even though there was no chance of him hearing us over the pouring rain.
Long moments passed, and he didn't move. We were totally silent and still, as if worried at any minute he might come rushing for us. The suspense quickly shifted into confusion and then bored irritation. Such is life in the esteemed service industry.
“It must be a log or something,” Bryant suggested. “It probably just looks like a person.”
“Why would someone stand a log up?” I asked, though I was also trying to remember if there was a post or something out there that we might be confusing for a person.
“I don't fucking know,” Bryant replied. “Whatever.”
I decided whatever was good enough for me, and we went back to our previously scheduled “doing ass all.” Every so often we would glance back to the figure, who failed to move from his spot there on the beach, but mostly we laughed it off by wondering what kind of idiot would stand out in the middle of a storm like that. Bryant suggested it might be someone depressed or suicidal, and that led to a tragic story about this one time with Bryant was like totally suicidal over some text or other his ex sent. The moving tale was only interrupted when movement caught in the corner of my eye.
I turned to look just in time to spot another figure moving into view next to the one already standing there. This one definitely walked or at least shifted in some manner, which killed the threadbare log theory. I frowned and squinted some as if that might help me pick out the details better, but as I was opening my mouth to point out what I'd seen to Bryant, he was grabbing me and yelling about something just ahead of us.
Directly in front of us on the other side of the plastic was yet another figure. I could almost make out the details of this one, but the water still made him look dark and distorted. At least I think it was the water and the plastic. For all I know, it wasn't, but that's mostly for you guys to decide. What I could tell was that this was probably a guy and definitely an adult of decent size.
“He probably walked up from beneath the pier,” I suggested even though I was a little startled too. “That's what walk ups do.”
As we watched, the person reached out and spread his hand on the plastic. I could be mistaken, but in the lighting it looked like his skin was pale and mottled with purple somehow. We both cringed as his stretched fingers slid down the side of the covering, making a painful squeaking noise. He pawed again with the slow and mindless insistence of a zombie, and that's when I frowned.
“It's just some moron messing with us,” I decided. “He's trying to freak us out.”
“Or he's too stupid to read the sign,” Bryant agreed as he finally let go of my arm. He yelled out, “Hey! Hey dumbfuck! GO A-ROUND!”
I laughed and told him to stop swearing at the customer as he motioned for the guy to head to the front. The walk up must have heard him because he moved away and disappeared into the rain again. I thought I saw him heading towards the front.
“No. No. Fuck that guy. I'm going in there, and I'm going to personally greet his dumb ass,” Bryant declared as he jumped off the table.
He marched towards the inside to go camp out the register, and I stayed behind just in case the other two decided to wander over as well. As I got down and wiped up the table and seat we'd been sitting at, I kept watching the pair out on the beach and trying to decide if they were getting closer or not. They never seemed to, but I couldn't be sure, and this led to an incredibly uncomfortable silence heavy with the feeling of being watched. I kept waiting for something to happen as I tried to keep myself busy straightening up, and when I finally heard the door chime in the front of the store, I did my best not to rush over and check it out. Instead I casually slipped in the back door and tiptoed in small hall by the storage closet and kitchen, pretending like I was putting something away.
There were beads and shell strings in the doorway between the back area and the front reception, and for whatever reason we had them drawn, so I couldn't quite see what was going on out there. I did hear the door close though, and I heard Bryant's voice.
“Welcome to the Blue Sail!”
He was amping up the annoying lisp, a sure sign that he was in a mood. I rolled my eyes and bit back a grin. Mr. Zombie deserved whatever small hell Bryant was going to inflict upon him just for creeping us out.
“Would you... What the hell? What the fuck?!”
Bryant came rushing through the beads and slammed into me. He grabbed me and hauled me into the storage closet before I could figure out what was going on, and once the door was slammed behind us, he started dragging boxes in front of us. When I tried to ask him what was up, he shushed me as if whatever was out there couldn't possibly have heard the door slamming just feet away from him or the boxes being dragged around. When I asked again, he clamped a hand over my mouth and pushed me into the back corner, wedging us between walls and some shelving.
I've seen Bryant mess around before. I know he's not the brightest guy or the most serious, but this was no joke. Whatever he'd seen had his eyes wide and his body trembling so hard I could feel it. He was panting and panicking while staring at the door. That alone made me shut up and go totally still. By this point I was getting pretty good at the cornered rabbit routine. Honestly, I was more curious and pissed off than anything else at this point.
I strained my ears over Bryant's heavy breathing and held my breath. I could hear what sounded like dragging footsteps sliding across the floor towards the door and the occasional squeak of the wetness across the smooth surface. Bryant tensed up and cling to me as we heard the beads push aside, and beneath the door, I could see the shadows of something approaching. A terrible stench filled the air. It was definitely rotting fish coupled with something else, and reminded me of a chum bucket one of the fishermen had brought in from the pier after an afternoon in the sun. It was awful, and I almost gagged against Bryant's hand.
The walk up paused before the door. There was a thud and the distinct sound of fingers trailing down after, just like when it had been outside. What I thought at first was Bryant whimpering turned out to be some kind of mumbling whining coming from the smelly crazy on the other side of the wood. It continued making that sound as it shifted away, towards the outside area. After that, it faded entirely, and we waited in silence. Bryant was too afraid to move, and I couldn't pry him off me even if I'd wanted to investigate, which I didn't.
Suddenly a loud banging on the door broke the moment and had both of us nearly in fits.
“FUCK OFF YOU MESSED UP ASSHOLE!” Bryant shrieked in a voice that had me covering my ears and begging for mercy.
“What the hell are you doing in there?” came the voice from the other door. “You guys can't leave the register alone with the door open. The manager will have all our balls.”
The cook had come back from his nap. I pushed past Bryant and got the boxes out of way while he demanded proof it was actually the cook and not some imposter. Opening up the door, our coworker did indeed stand there in a large puddle that pooled in front of the door but trailed the length of the hallway.
“Manager's going to kill you guys for flooding the place. Nice work,” he said before heading back to the kitchen to watch TV. I noticed belatedly that it had stopped raining.
While it wasn't exactly a flood, there was a lot of water around where our walk up had wandered. The stench still lingered, though I guess that helped hide the fact that Bryant had been smoking indoors. For his part, the poor guy was ghost white and didn't say a word about what he had seen no matter how much I prodded him for it. We mopped up and managed to get things in order before the manager showed up and released us for the day. I told him some psycho had come around to scare us, and he shrugged it off as local kids or asshole tourists.
The only conversation we ever had about that afternoon happened as we were leaving. Heading to my car, I noticed that Bryant stuck close to me and kept staring out at the now dark beach as if he expected someone to be out there watching him.
“Mermaids aren't real, Bryant,” I said as I unlocked my car. “I'm sure it was just a guy in makeup messing with us.”
“It wasn't a fucking mermaid,” he spat at me. Just before he slammed his door, he yelled out at the ocean, “I hate this fucking town!”
While I'm not sure if it was related, it's interesting to note that someone did die that day. A guy visiting was taking shelter from the storm under our pier and the authorities say the waves and riptide dragged him in. His body washed up way down the beach a little while later. It happens more than you might think.
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