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Monday, March 10, 2014

Facades

Brooklyn Brownstone by Timothy McAuliffe

Dictated February 2012

On one of the priciest streets in London, there’s something lurking below the surface.  It’s there, although you’d never guess it, right there on the same street as Princess Diana’s home.  Go on a double-decker bus tour these days and you’ll be sure to hear all about JM Barrie, but of this no one will make a peep.  Kensington Palace Gardens may bring to mind the whimsical world of Peter Pan, but to others who know the whole story, it brings to mind much darker things.

It started when people started reported the sounds of men screaming, men crying, men weeping into the night.  The sounds--inhuman, some people said they were, but when they were reported as human, they were always men--that were reported were very specific that they sounded as though they were in great pain.  There were often corresponding reports of a low moaning sound, or the sound of a train hurtling underground.  The reports were made specifically around street numbers 6, 7 and 8 Kensington Palace Gardens.  All of these buildings look just like the others around them.  You would never know something was afoot.  They blend right in, seamlessly.


~*~


There’s a street in Brooklyn where strange things have been reported lately.  It’s a row of brownstones, identically charming as the next block and still the next, flowers on the stoops, curtains hanging over the tall windows.  But between these homes, there is one that is set apart.  There are no flowers on the stoop, and the curtains that mask the windows are not printed with birds or flowers--they are black as night, and every window is blocked.  

The sounds that have been reported here are not those of weeping, screaming men.  No, the sounds that have been reported at this address, number 58 Jorelemon Street, have been more...muffled, if you will.  The sounds are hardly ever reported as being human, although one or two souls who have called in have said that perhaps they are, though they really couldn’t be certain, and were really concerned some poor animals were being abused there.  

Once again, save for the lack of flowers and the blackout curtains, you might not ever notice something was different about 58 Jorelemon Street, if you weren’t hanging about after dark.


~*~

In France, it’s 145 rue la Fayette that’s causing some people to startle awake at night, and finger the digits on their phones as they ponder whether or not they should report what they hear, or whether it’s all in their head.  

It isn’t, of course.

If you look at it from a satellite map, which I did, once, a long time ago, before I put all the pieces together.  You could see on the picture the person posted in that thread that there was a gaping...hole.  A mass.  An abyss.  Something wrong.

(source)
I should have stopped looking when I saw that picture.  I will not see it again.

But I should back my story up a bit, I think.  

It all started when the reports started being posted to the net.  People hear things, and when their official reports go ignored, or mysteriously disappear, they start to get...upset.  The night I was crawling the web, I was particularly bored, and browsing the /r/Brooklyn reddit board for anything interesting.  Normally, there was always someone baiting someone else, some sort of drama to latch onto for the evening.  That night however, the thread title that caught my eye was one that had been bumped up after a long period of inactivity:

The screams don’t stop

I couldn’t see a thread title like that and pass it over, so naturally I delved in.  

It all started with a message that had been posted by someone two years prior:

The screams coming from the house next door to me will not stop.  I hear them almost every night, at exactly the same time: 11:30PM.  It’s right on the dot when it happens.  There’ll be a whooshing sound, and then a low moan that turns into a scream that will not stop until it abruptly gets cut-off at midnight.  

Please tell me I’m not going crazy and that someone knows what’s going on.  I don’t like posting my address, but I can’t help but give away my location by saying the screams are coming from 58 Joralemon Street.

Please help.  Anybody?

At first, there were no replies.  But then, as I scrolled down the thread, it became clear that at some point several months later, someone else had moved into the original poster’s home, either the same brownstone, or the home on the opposite side of said 58 Joralemon Street, because now someone else claiming to be a neighbor was posting asking for help about the screams.

I just moved here a week ago and this has been happening every night for the past 6 nights.  I don’t know if the OP was in my house or not, but it’s definitely number 58 that’s making the noise.  I can hear it through my bedroom walls every night at 11:30, and yeah they don’t stop for exactly half an hour.  It sounds almost like a train is repeatedly running someone over, or something.  OP you are not crazy, but holy shit somebody is.

And it went on from there.

The funny thing was, nobody ever posted twice.  The OP of the thread never came back to find people to commiserate with.  The second poster never replied ever, and on and on it went.  Someone new would arrive, saying they too lived near 58 Joralemon Street and were hearing strange scary screams and rattling and moaning, but then they’d never post in the thread again.  

Which led me to start clicking on their usernames, which is how I realized that not only did they never come back to the /r/Brooklyn The screams don’t stop thread...they never came back to reddit at all.  Whenever somebody posted to the thread, it turned out to be the last post they’d ever make.

Needless to say, while I read the thread, the thought of contributing did not entirely appeal to me.  After all, there had to be something larger going on--surely not everyone there would post something so strange, clearly appealing to the masses for a way to talk about it as a group, and then withdraw not only from the conversation but from the very board itself.  Why would so many people post the same fears and concerns, and then simply...vanish from the community?

Did they vanish in real life, too?  Or was this purely an online sweeping-up being conducted by someone behind the curtain, a sort of “you’ve spoken, but we’ll pay you for your silence from here on out” sort of deal?  But wouldn’t the people pulling the strings want to delete the original posts too, if they didn’t like what was being said?

None of it made sense to me.  Sure, people would post questions and disappear, but to have it be so strikingly similar for everyone bothered me.  It bothered me a great deal.  It bothered me for the rest of the night, and the rest of the next day, and the rest of the week.

Which is why, a week later, I found myself back at the The screams don’t stop thread, carefully composing a message of my own.  I’d thought it over.  I thought I knew what I was doing.  What I was getting myself into.

But I wasn’t going to go into it without testing the water.  First I wanted to see what would happen if I lied.  After all, I didn’t live near this 58 Joralemon Street and I certainly didn’t have any intention at the time of moving there.  So, I lied.  For science.

Hi all, I just moved into 56 Joralemon and although it’s pretty faint, I can hear some weird shit going on around midnight.  Glad to know I’m not going crazy, but has anyone figured out what’s causing the noise?  Called the police?  I’m thinking of calling them tonight if I hear it again, it’s creepy as fuck.  

Of course, I had to take the chance that whoever was actually living at 56 Joralemon Street wasn’t going to come in to reveal my lie, but it didn’t seem likely, given the track record of other people who presumably had lived at numbers 56 and 60 on either side of the mystery building.

I submitted the reply, and then I logged out.  I wasn’t going to mess with the theory that between now and when I would normally post again something was going to happen to me.  I didn’t want it to, but looking at the pattern of the previous posters, I wanted to give it a chance.  

So, I waited.

I made myself some coffee.  It was late, but I was wired with anticipation anyway, so at that point I thought, fuck it.  I couldn’t imagine how fucked up I’d be getting in this anticipatory stage if I actually lived at number 56, but as I thought about it more, I began to feel sweaty and clammy, wondering if something was happening to whoever did live there for real.

Essentially, I could have just gotten somebody killed.  I knew it.  Don’t think the thought hadn’t crossed my mind, wasn’t crossing and re-crossing it over and over again as the minutes, then hours, ticked by.  6PM.  7PM.  8PM.  9PM.

Still nothing.

I wondered if I should try logging back into my account, just to see if posting to the thread had done something technical to my login credentials.  Maybe they’d coded something so that whoever posted got their username hacked or frozen.  Something like that.  

I waited, though.

I wanted nature--or whatever it was--to take its course.  I didn’t want to fuck with it too much, ruin the experiment.  It had to be done naturally.  Somehow, I knew this.

10PM.

Not wanting to sit around letting my brain melt into a mess of worry, I finally checked my phone, figuring that since I wasn’t doing anything on the reddit forum, I wouldn’t be messing up the experiment.

11PM.

I had a text message waiting for me.  It had arrived about thirty minutes before, but I hadn’t heard my phone chime.

It was Fiona.

Fiona was this girl.  I’d met her at a party months before and we’d hit it off.  I’d felt attracted to her, like a magnet almost.  Every since we’d met, I hadn’t been able to get her out of my mind, so naturally I was trying to play it cool and not text her too often.  The fact that she’d finally been the one to text me first made my heartbeat race.

“I’m at a party, want to join me?” it said on my screen.

“Definitely.  Where?”  I texted back.  

I slipped the phone into my pocket as I waited for a reply, so I could get ready.  This just meant replacing the sweatshirt I’d been wearing with the button-down shirt and vest I remembered Fiona said she liked.  Well, she didn’t say she liked it on me specifically, but I remembered her saying at some point that nothing turned her on like a guy dressed up in a shirt and vest.  She was kind of a hipster, but if that’s what it took...

I was grabbing my hat when my phone chimed with her reply.

“58 Joralemon Street”

I stared at the screen for what could have been hours, even though I’m sure it was only a minute or two.  Still, it seemed like I stood there in shock forever.

Fuck.

So something was definitely happening.  Had I set it in motion?  There was no way this could be a coincidence.  No way.

The question was, should I stay or should I go?

I had to go, obviously.

“I’ll be there in twenty.”

By the time I got there, I was in that strange state where you know something bad’s going to happen but you can’t do anything about it.  Sort of like when you’re sitting in the waiting room at the dentist.  You’re not chained there, but you kind of are, too.  You’re locked in.

I walked up the steps to the innocuous brownstone.  I’d never gotten this close to it, not even in the week leading up to my post, because I didn’t want to attract attention to myself.  But standing here, I realized I didn’t know why I would have thought that.  Nobody was paying attention.  The stoop was empty and the curtains were blacked out just like people had confirmed, but it looked just like its neighbors in every other way.  

The house had one of those old brass door knockers shaped like a lion’s head, and I let it fall against the door and waited.  It didn’t sound like a party was going on inside, in fact quite the opposite.  There was no ubiquitous thumping bass, no shrieking, no horde of shadows dancing by the windows.  It was silent as the grave.

But the door opened, and there was Fiona, dressed in her usual long plaid shirt worn like a dress, and black tights that hugged her slender legs.  

Stepping tentatively towards the threshold, I asked, “A party’s going on here?” because, frankly, it was pretty obvious that it wasn’t.

“Come on up to the roof,” she said, tugging at the lapel of my vest, a coy smile on her lips.  And I was hers.

The house was spartan inside.  She led me quickly through a series of dark rooms, and I was too enraptured with the way her body moved against that shirt to ask why none of the lights were on.  Everyone had to be upstairs, I thought absently, letting my eyes rest on her ass as she tugged on my arm to pull me up a set of narrow stairs. 

We were on the second floor when Fiona went to a large window and draped her legs out of it, climbing onto the fire escape and tugging at my hand to do the same.  So, the party was on the roof.  This was fairly typical, so I followed her obediently like the puppy she had turned me into.

But when I climbed over the guardrail at the top, the roof was empty.

Fiona turned to face me then, and that was when I saw that her eyes had begun to melt.  They were black and bleeding down her face in dark ink stains, blotting against her shirt, and yet, still that smile stayed upon her face.  

The sight of Fiona, her red lips in a smirk, her eyes dark and bleeding and blackened, is blotted on my memory.  It is the thing I see in the darkness, everywhere.

There was a whooshing sound.  I heard it.  I know I heard it.

A whooshing sound, and suddenly my eyes were burning, burning like they were on fire, then burning as though they were full of salt water, but burning, burning, burning.

I could see Fiona still, though she was not much more than a blurry shadow to me then.  Her voice was hard and cold, like steel.  Even above the roar of wind that I felt, that burst of air that felt as though a tunnel had opened up before my feet--still I could hear her voice like slicing silver through it all.

“Our sight is our gift to Him.  Let it go.”

I reached my hands, trembling, to my face then, only to feel there was nothing there where my eyes had been.  My hands came away sticky, but it didn’t smell like blood, it felt like something darker, something blacker, though I could not see to know.  Somewhere, from some hidden place in my chest, I felt a low moan build up, choking itself out from my throat like vomit.  The rushing sound grew louder to me, like a train roaring in my ears, and the wind whipped at my face.  

From somewhere I could hear Fiona--or whoever, whatever, she truly was--chanting, and it grew louder by the verse.  Her voice seemed to echo into some unseen abyss.  

TAKE HIS SIGHT, TAKE HIS SIGHT, TAKE HIS SIGHT, IT IS MY GIFT, HIS GIFT, OUR GIFT TO YOU.  I AM BUT YOUR SERVANT.  TAKE HIS SIGHT, TAKE HIS SIGHT, TAKE HIS SIGHT.

That was when I started screaming.
~*~
Aside:

In case you didn't notice the obvious, er, break from the usual type of post here, I'm just posting the above creepypasta as a way to introduce the upcoming creepypasta book a good friend of mine and I are collaborating on together, creatively called Creepypasta!, which we'll be publishing at the end of this month. One of the hallmarks of a good friend is that they push you to try new things, things you didn't necessarily think you're capable of. Seeing as how I'm the type of person to wet herself watching a scary movie, the idea of writing a collection of creepypasta stories was hardly something I'd thought about doing before. However, once he proposed the idea, I was hooked. It's a weird genre, and kind of fun in a campy way.

Our collection comes out March 31. If you're looking for some more creepy entertainment, I'll turn you towards his story What Happened to Chelsea, PA?

And if this type of thing tooootally isn't your cup of tea, never fear! This is but a small diversion on the blog today, and definitely not a direction I plan on going in here long-term. Thanks for sticking around!

2 comments:

  1. Into it! And do you, by any chance, listen to Welcome to Night Vale?

    ReplyDelete