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Antiques

Being a 13 year old girl is tough. The ravages of puberty at that age, especially for a girl, are pretty well known to just about everyone these days. My name is Kat, short for Katherine, and my personal experience of puberty was what amounted to a hormonal whirlwind of “boys boys boys!” and “I wish everyone was dead.” Throw in being an only child and having two parents that were gone a lot for work didn’t help the situation, and I found myself finding new and stupid ways to do illegal or risky things.

It was summer vacation in 2002 and I was hanging out with my best friend Cindy in our usual smoking spot, underneath a bridge about a mile down the road from my house. We were smoking cigarettes that Cindy stole from her deadbeat dad. Apparently he would pass out drunk just about every night and it was easy for Cindy to convince him he smoked the entire pack.

We were sitting along the edge of the concrete slab that ran down to the river below the bridge, the water flowing inches below our feet. This had been the habit over the last couple weeks since summer began, and was beginning to take its toll on our psyche, especially Cindy’s.

“Ugh, I don’t see why we can’t just smoke at your house,” Cindy said with a look of disgust, “It’s not like your parents are there to stop us.”

I rolled my eyes, “You know my dad can smell cigarette smoke from a mile away. As soon as he gets home I’d be fucked for sure. I’d probably get grounded for the rest of the summer.”

Cindy groaned in frustration. She hated hanging out under the bridge and, to be honest, it was pretty gross. We lived in a small town outside of Baltimore, so it’s not like there were crack addicts or used needles strewn about, but there were spider webs, animal droppings, and a surprising amount of garbage. Still, it was a great place to get away with our more questionable activities. Not a lot of people go around checking under bridges out along country roads.

“Hurry up and finish your smoke,” Cindy said, “I’m bored as hell. Let’s go do something.”

I tossed my cigarette into the river and stood up, “Well I don’t have any money, but we could walk around town and see if we can find something to do. Maybe we’ll run into Jake Melford and his loser friends, and they can pass you around like the village bicycle like you’ve always wanted.”

“Fuck off!” Cindy replied, as we walked out from underneath the bridge, heading towards town. Jake was Cindy’s crush, but he was nearly 17 and had no eye for a 13 year old girl. I never liked him myself. He was kind of a jerk and his “bro” friends were all annoying as hell.

It was early afternoon when we reached the main street through town an hour later. Good ol’ Mayville, A.K.A. Gayville if you were under the age of 18. What a shithole. It had been a bustling town about a decade before I was born apparently, but a when a Walmart and a shopping mall popped up a half hour’s drive away, a lot of the local shops went out of business, leaving a lovely main street of boarded up windows and doors every other building. I never really understood why my parents stuck around.

“Hey, that’s new,” Cindy exclaimed out of the blue, pointing to a building to our left. She was right. Mayville Antique Mall had finally gone under. The lights were out and a big “Closed” sign hung in the window with a note below it.

To our friends and neighbors,
We are deeply saddened to say that we are closing up shop for personal reasons. We greatly appreciate all of the wonderful business you have provided us and the great times we have shared together over the many years. Best wishes to all of our wonderful citizens of Mayville!

Mayville Antique Mall had actually been a pretty neat place to visit. I had always thought some of that old timey stuff was cool. Toys from the early 1900’s, records from 60’s and 70’s, and always plenty of those super creepy china dolls. Plus, the older couple that ran the place would always give candy to kids that came in.

An idea popped into my head, “Hey, want to go inside and look around?”

Cindy raised her eyebrows, “Yeah, they could have left some cool stuff in there. Could be kind of eerie, too!”

We walked up to the door. I put my head against the clear glass and looked inside, “This is weird. All the stuff is still there. If they closed, why did they leave everything?”

“Maybe the building is haunted and the ghost scared them off,“ Cindy exclaimed, sarcastically. She tugged at the door handle, but it didn’t budge, “Not going to be that easy, I guess. Let’s go around the back and see if we can find a way in.”

The building was part of a strip mall that ran along the main street through town, right up against the sidewalk. Too many eyes would have been on us if we had decided to break a window or something. We walked around the strip mall to the back of the building. There didn’t appear to be anyone around that would have spotted us, but it was then that I got the idea that maybe we should do something else, and for good reason: In an X across the back door was yellow tape that read “CRIME SCENE – DO NOT CROSS”.

Cindy looked a little worried, “Hey, I’m not so sure I want to go in there anymore. What if there’s a dead body or something?”

I rolled my eyes, trying not to act concerned, “Then there would be police here, wouldn’t there? And we would have heard about something like a murder. It’s probably a joke or something. This wasn’t on the front door.”

Cindy started to calm down, but still appeared a bit nervous, “Anyone could have torn down the tape on the front for whatever reason. And it’s not like we would have heard of a murder unless our parents told us. We’ve only been hanging out with each other for the last week.”

I argued back, “Calm down. Somebody probably just broke in and stole some stuff. The place isn’t empty, remember? There’s no way there’s a dead body, even if someone did get murdered there.”

I went up to the tape-covered door and tried to turn the knob, but it was locked, of course. Cindy was still nervous, "See? We can't even get inside. Let's go."

I wasn't giving up that easy. I went to the window next to the door and tried to open it. To my surprise, it opened! The lower half of the window slid up freely. Someone forgot to lock it, and now I had my way in.

"Well, you coming?" I asked Cindy as I hopped over the windowsill and stood up inside the building.

A thin layer of dust coated most of the floor and objects. The old wooden floor creaked under my feet, echoing through the empty building. I was standing in a back office. A desk, file cabinets, and a few pieces of décor made up the small room. I walked out the open door leading out of the office into a hallway. The locked back door to my right and the showroom down the hall to my left. I was about to head that way when I heard a loud crash behind me and spun around. Cindy was sprawled on the floor under the window.

“Nice job,” I laughed at her. Cindy just gave me an angry look in return.

I walked towards the main showroom. The assortment of antiques was extensive. Toys, cookware, jewelry and more all littered the area. Cindy and I wandered around for a bit checking out some of the items and pocketing a couple pieces of jewelry.

I walked through an archway to another area of the showroom and stopped dead in my tracks. Aside from a few displays, in the corner was a large brown stain on the floor. Next to it was one of those triangle shaped police evidence markers, with the number “1” on it. Someone had died here, or at least been seriously hurt.

It’s hard to explain what goes through a person’s mind in this situation. Your natural instinct is to flee, but the human brain is a strange thing, and my curiosity overpowered it. I crept towards what I was sure was a blood stain.

“Oh my God!” I heard behind me. Cindy was standing in the archway, hands over her mouth, “Please tell me that isn’t what I think it is.”

I ignored her and leaned down to get a closer look at the stain. It was then that a glitter of light caught my eye. Nearby at the base of the wall next to the stain was one of those old baseboard heaters. Underneath it something was sparkling. I got closer and reached out and grabbed it. It was a necklace, sort of.

I heard Cindy take off to the back of the store, probably trying to get out as fast as she could. I just sat there, somewhat captivated by what I found. The necklace, instead of a chain, had a thin leather strap, tied together where a clasp normally would be. It ran through two small metal loops attached to the top of an ornate “V” shaped piece of metal that looked like silver, but not nearly as bright. Near the bottom of the V was an oval shaped hole with a bead of what appeared to be gold that lined the inner edge.

The leather strap left a little bit to be desired, but the ornament itself looked beautiful. I’m not sure how long I sat staring at it, but I was snapped out of my trance when I heard Cindy yell my name from the back of the store. I got up, put the necklace around my neck, and headed in her direction.

As Cindy and I left out of the window we entered from, I distinctly remember feeling a strange shiver run down my spine. I thought nothing of it at the time, but looking back at it now, I think that some part of me knew that something wasn’t quite right with what had just happened, and not just the trespassing and burglary. Given the horrors that followed throughout the next year, I really wish I had thought twice about keeping that necklace. Some things are just better left alone.

Hidden Worlds

For the most part, things had been uneventful since the incident at the antique mall. Summer had turned into fall and school had started up again recently. I had turned 14 near the end of summer and was starting my freshman year of high school.

I came to find out someone had, in fact, died at the antique mall. I had offhandedly asked my parents about it closing and they broke the story that they had heard that someone had died about a week prior to my visit. Not wanting to make them suspicious of anything, I didn’t press them for information. After scouring the house for some local newspapers that my parents hadn’t thrown away yet, I managed to find an article on the death.

John Doe Dies Mysteriously at Antique Mall

The Mayville Police Department is still investigating the death of a man in his late thirties after being found on the floor of the local Mayville Antique Mall. The victim appears to have vomited a large amount of blood before his time of death. He was found with a number of recently used syringes on his person. Autopsy and Toxicology results are still pending.

In the statement that the store owners gave to the officers, the man entered the store in the early afternoon, and was looking to sell various pieces of jewelry. He seemed jittery and worried but was non-threatening. It is believed that he walked to the store as no car was found on the scene that would have belonged to him.

Police have asked that anyone with any information regarding the victim or incident are asked to contact the information hotline at…

The rest of the article was just contact information and some details about the jewelry possibly having been stolen. It obviously crossed my mind that the necklace I found had belonged to the victim, and very well could have been one of the items he was trying to sell, presumably to feed his drug addiction. Having found the necklace under the heater like I did seemed like someone had dropped it and it bounced under there. It wasn’t out of the question that scenario could have played out when the man died. I got a bit of a chill thinking about the idea that I was wearing jewelry that belonged to a dead man. Then again, he was a junkie and probably had stolen it, I thought.

Cindy and I didn’t talk much about the incident, especially once we found out someone had died there, recently, in that very room we had been standing in. Cindy knew about the necklace I found and had the same discomfort I initially did having it around.

Regardless of the strange details surrounding the whole thing, life went on. High school brought with it more interesting subjects and strangely enough I found myself more focused on school and less on screwing around. Looking back, I think the incident Cindy and I went through scared me straight a little bit. A drugged-up drifter pawning likely-stolen jewelry? Even at my age, a part of me realized that a man like that may have been very similar to me and my habits when he had been my age.

It was a cool October day when I was in the girls’ locker room changing clothes after gym. Cindy had a different class at the time, and I was somewhat of a loner when she wasn’t around. Melissa McKinney, a thin sophomore, and her pudgy friend Lisa came up to me.

“Oh look, it’s emo girl all alone again,” Melissa said, sneering, “Are your wrists feeling better from your last suicide attempt?”

Now it is true that I gave off an emo vibe. Back in those days I went pretty heavy on the eye shadow and I’m naturally pale. Still, Melissa did this kind of thing on a regular basis because she had low self-esteem. At least that’s what I assume. Normally I just called her a bitch and left, but for whatever reason I wasn’t feeling it today.

“Oh hey, Melissa. Yeah, they’re healing pretty good,“ I replied, sarcastically, “How are things with you? Has your mom gotten over her latest herpes outbreak yet?”

It was no secret that Ms. McKinney was a whore, having ruined a couple of marriages in town, and when Melissa shoved me against the lockers behind me it occurred to me that I hit a nerve. I pushed her back, yelling a few obscenities. She grabbed me and we grappled for a bit until we lost our balance and hit the floor, my necklace coming off in the process. Melissa’s friend Lisa took off, not wanting to get involved. Way to help your friend, fatty.

The fight ended pretty abruptly when two things happened. First, when I kicked Melissa square in the face, hearing a sickening crunch from her suddenly broken nose. Second, when Mrs. Mills, our gym teacher, pulled the two of us apart, as furious as I’d ever seen her.

Fifteen minutes later I was sitting outside the principal’s office. I had managed to grab my necklace off the floor before Mrs. Mills dragged Melissa to the nurse’s office for her quickly swelling nose, of which I took no small bit of pride in, and then dragged me to the principal’s office.

While waiting to get called in to see the principal, I was inspecting my necklace for scrapes when I caught a strange glimpse of something weird through the open hole in the ornament. I put my face up closer to the opening and saw what couldn’t have been possible. When looking through the hole, I was no longer seeing the outside of the principal’s office. I was looking at a field as large as the eye could see. A strange mix of blue and red plants littered the landscape. The sky was an otherworldly orange color. I was able to turn my head with the ornament still in front of my eye and the view moved as though I was there. It was breathtaking.

I wasn’t sure how long I was looking at this mystery landscape, but I was interrupted by my name being called by the principal, standing in the doorway to his office. I dropped the necklace ornament and walked into the office to face my fate.

The principal was all fire and brimstone. I got the lecture I expected about fighting and how it was immature, wrong, blah, blah, blah. My parents were called and my mom left work early to come pick me up. I was facing a three day suspension and I wasn’t looking forward to the grounding I was sure to receive, but I was distracted through most of it due to the strange discovery I made regarding my necklace.

To my surprise, my parents weren’t mad. They believed my story of the events, and while they weren’t thrilled about the suspension, they supported the fact that I stood up for myself. Once it was all said and done, I was going to be home alone for the three days like I was during summer vacation, only this time I had no one to hang out with since everyone was in school but me.

I spent a lot of time the first day of my suspension looking through the necklace’s ornament hole. I learned a number of things about it. First, the opening in the ornament had to be about six inches from my view to be able to see the other places. Once it was further away than that, the view faded back to normal. And yes, I said places, plural. Depending on the time of day or where I was, the places I saw through the opening were different. There was the field I had seen before. I saw a tropical jungle with yellow trees, a purple sky, and animals and creatures I had never seen before. There was a tiger-sized cat with pink spots instead of stripes, and an extra pair of hind legs. I saw birds the size of a robin but with the wingspan of a bald eagle. As far as I could tell, I could see the creatures but they could not see me. If I put a finger through the opening, it would appear on the other side of the ornament, so whatever I was looking at wasn’t a portal to another place so much as it was some sort of looking glass, for lack of a better term.

Not all the places I saw were pretty or breathtaking. Not all were safe, either. The afternoon of the first day of my suspension, I was in my backyard wandering around with the ornament up to my eye. This time I was seeing what appeared to be the remnants of a city under an ominous red sky littered with black clouds, but no rain coming from them. Nothing moved in the city, which appeared to be made entirely out of dark, gray concrete. The buildings were massive, windowless monoliths of varying size, some extending above the eerie black clouds, built from the same gray concrete as everything else and appearing to have been pulled straight out of the concrete ground. There were what appeared to be streets and sidewalks around the buildings no different than a normal city, but all seamlessly made of the same gray concrete.

Spotting movement to the side I rotated my head and the looking glass to the right. Across the side of one of the buildings were three humanoid shadows running across one side of the building and disappearing around the corner. Spinning around, I saw nothing that could have made the shadows, but as I turned, I saw more of these “shadow people”, all looking like they were running full speed. The more I looked around the more appeared, never standing still and disappearing behind the corners of the featureless buildings, as though they were trying to avoid my gaze. And from what I could tell, nothing was around that could have caused these shadows.

That changed when one of the shadows abruptly stopped and stood still, with what appeared to be its left side facing me. Able to get a better glance at one of the shadow people now, I saw that its head was strangely long, extending a few inches in front of its chest to nearly a foot behind its back. Its legs looked like a dog’s hind legs with its knees bent and an extra joint above its feet. I could not see much more of its features as they were hidden in its dark outline.

Moving closer to it to get a better look, the shadow suddenly dropped down, moving across the ground in my direction at incredible speed before rising up in front of me, no longer as a shadow but as a physical creature. I didn’t have much time to see the details of it, as it reached a strange pincer-like purple hand at my face. I fell backwards, dropping my necklace on the ground. I landed on my back, arms covering my face. I froze for a moment before looking around, seeing nothing but my back yard.

After a few minutes of letting my adrenaline pass, I carefully picked up my necklace and went back inside, somewhat nervous about my increasingly mysterious piece of jewelry.

A Returned Gaze

“This is so cool!” Cindy exclaimed, looking through the hole in the necklace’s ornament as she wandered around my family’s living room.

It was the day after my run-in with the shadow creature in what I now referred to as the Dark World and the second day of my suspension from school. Cindy had ditched school to hang out with me, which I was thrilled about. I decided to show her what the necklace could do, despite my discomfort with what had happened with the Dark World.

The incident had unnerved me, that’s for sure, but the more I thought about it, the more I calmed myself down. Even if the creature had seen me, wouldn’t an eye be all it saw? And it’s not like it could have reached through a hole the size of a quarter, even if it was able to get through. I decided that I would be more careful when looking into other worlds, but saw no reason to stop exploring.

“So what do you think we’re seeing through this?” Cindy asked as she set the necklace down on the coffee table, taking a seat on the couch next to me.

I shrugged, “Maybe other worlds. Maybe other versions of Earth. Who knows?”

Cindy stared at the necklace, “This is some serious sci-fi shit. Are you going to show it to anyone else?”

“Who would I show it to?” I asked, “If I show it to my parents, they might think it could be dangerous and take it away, especially after that weirdness with the Dark World I told you about. Plus, I don’t want to have to explain where I got it from. They think you gave it to me for my birthday, and I don’t want them digging too deep into it.”

Cindy scratched the top of her head, “I guess if we showed it to a lot of people someone may try to take it or have it shipped off to some scientist at NASA or something.”

I grabbed the necklace and put it up to my eye. This time it was a place that looked like an icy tundra one would find on Earth. Snow covered the frozen ground, leading up to white coated mountains or possibly massive glaciers in the distance. I turned my head left to see an ocean of icy blue water. In the distance was a solid yellow boat with a single large sail. It looked like the size of an average speedboat, at first appearing to have been made solid gold. After lingering on it a few moments, it appeared to me to just be wood, possibly painted yellow. There was movement on the deck by whoever was manning the boat, but I couldn’t make out any features.

I dropped it from my eye and handed it to Cindy, who immediately put it up to her eye. She gave a confused look, removing it and putting it back up to her eye a couple times, “This is strange. Everything is black. Maybe it’s night ou—whoa. Ok that’s really creepy.”

Cindy stared into the opening for a little bit before finally saying, “You need to see this. It’s really freaky.”

She held the ornament in place as I slid over to take her spot. Neither of us had been able to figure out when or why the scenes we saw would change from one world to another. Sometimes moving a few inches would do the trick, sometimes just waiting a few minutes, too. The only thing that was certain is that it never changed worlds while actively being looked into.

I took Cindy’s spot on the couch and the ornament from her hand. When I looked through the opening I made a small gasp. Everything was black, but not black as in darkness. Black as in there was nothing there. At least, nothing except the strange being in front of me.

The creature stood on a floor I could not see, unmoving and staring to the right of me. It was tall, possibly seven or eight feet if I could guess. Its dark navy blue skin looked loose and wrinkled on its inhuman body. It had a bulbous head and a thin neck, one that should have been unable to support such a large head. Its torso and legs were covered by a long gray, dirty, hoodless robe that looked more like an oversized, ratty T-shirt that extended past its feet, pooling on the invisible floor. Its arms reached down much lower than a human’s, fingertips reaching near where its knees would be.

The creature made a small twitch, its head kicking closer to my direction, as though it heard a sudden sound. I pulled my head back a bit in response, but leaned closer in when I saw that it still wasn’t looking directly at me. Its two large eyes, large enough to stretch from either side of its big head were a dark purple with a single black dot in the center, unmoving like the rest of it. Other than its eyes, the only other feature on its head was a tiny mouth, maybe a half inch across, with no noticeable lips. It hung slightly open, showing no sign of movement as well.

“What the hell is that thing?” I asked, a look of disgust on my face. It stood slightly hunched over, visible small protrusions along the back of its robe where its spine was.

Cindy was looking at me wide eyed, “It’s so creepy, right?”

I dropped the ornament from my eye. The creature made me uncomfortable, and after my experience with the Dark World, I did not find the idea of the creature seeing me in a similar way the shadow creature did very appealing. I briefly considered getting rid of the necklace altogether. Perhaps there were some things we aren’t meant to see.

“Let’s see if we can find any info on this thing,” Cindy exclaimed, not nearly as unnerved by the creature as I was, “The internet may have something.”

We headed to my dad’s office and turned on his computer. I held the necklace in my hand as Cindy hopped in the desk chair and booted up AOL (2002, remember?) and began scouring the internet search engines with different searches. Unsurprisingly, looking up information about other dimensions and seeing into them resulted in lots of theoretical quantum physics and words that to this day I doubt I could pronounce, much less define.

We finally landed on a site that was related more towards witchcraft and mysticism than actual science. It described various rituals to contact or transport to other planes of existence and similar things. Despite the events of the last 48 hours, I had a hard time thinking that any of these things would actually work. I was more interested in information it could provide about my situation.

“Ok here we go,” Cindy said, scrolling through the page, “It says ’There are objects that are rumored to exist that can see or interact with other planes of existence. While the actual existence of such items has never been confirmed, it is important to note that these objects may or may not have the protections provided by rituals that perform the same function. There is very little knowledge on what kinds of beings or entities, also known as Outsiders, exist outside our plane, nor is much information available as to how friendly or dangerous they might be. It is recommended that if such an object is found, that it is not used and, if possible, destroyed.’ Well that is some creepy shit. What do you think?”

I don’t know what went through my head at that moment, but to this day I regret my actions. Despite the suspicious death of the John Doe at the antique mall, to my frightening encounter with the shadow creature, to the new creature both Cindy and I saw, to the dire warning on the website, for some reason I put the necklace’s ornament up to my eye.

I immediately screamed and threw the necklace across the room. What I saw was no beautiful world, or amazing creatures. It was the empty world again. The same as last time. And that same hideous creature was there. But this time it wasn’t the same. It was staring directly at me. And it was smiling, its lipless mouth extending nearly to the edges of its head. It had to have had at least a hundred teeth in its mouth, all small, identical, and a sickly yellow color.

My scream startled Cindy, who spun around in the office chair wide eyed, “What is it?”

I just shook my head, terrified of what I saw. There was no doubt in my mind that the creature could see me. Cindy walked towards the necklace, now lying on the floor next to the wall. I grabbed her arm, “Don’t look into it!”

She shook me off, “It was just a stupid website. Relax.”

She picked up the ornament and looked into it. Her brow furrowed, “I’m not sure what you saw, but this just looks like a forest to me. Come see.”

I shook my head, “No. No way. I’m done with that thing. I’m going to get rid of it. Give it here.”

“Hell no. This thing is awesome. Why would you want to get rid of it?” Cindy asked.

I explained what I saw to her and that I thought it may be dangerous. We argued back and forth for a few minutes. I don’t understand why she was so interested in keeping it, but eventually she volunteered to take it home with her so that I wouldn’t have it around. Despite my concern for my best friend, I was so ready to be rid of the damn thing I agreed.

Cindy left shortly after that, not really wanting to stick around after our argument. I was angry at her and frightened, and stayed at home the rest of the day. I felt much better once my parents got home from work and I was no longer alone in the house. I had dinner with them and then went to bed early, wanting to forget the day. I fell asleep shortly after I hit the covers, that thing’s disturbing grin still fresh in mind.

I was awakened late that night by a strange pressure on my face. I opened my eyes. The light from the clock next to my bed revealed nothing out of place in my room. I tried lifting my head, but the pressure on my face, now feeling more like a hand, held it in place. I grabbed at my face, trying to get off whatever was there, but felt nothing. I tried to scream, only for it to be muffled by the invisible force.

I started kicking and swinging at my invisible assailant, wherever it might me, as it became harder and harder to breathe. My fist finally landed a hit on a translucent arm that was forming above my face, slowly becoming more solid. Unfortunately, the hit I landed didn’t seem to do anything. I was nearly out of breath at this point, and in one last attempt, I pulled both my feet in and kicked out in the direction of where I assumed my attacker was based on where its now almost completely solid arm was. I didn’t exactly make direct contact, but similar to the strange pressure that had been on my face, my kick hit a pressure of its own, like kicking a large pillow.

To my lungs’ immediate joy, the hand left my face. I inhaled deeply as the arm that left the area above my bed disappeared. As strange as it is to explain, I felt a surge of anger permeate the room, followed by what I can only describe as a shockwave, tossing objects around my room. My dresser fell over, closet doors were flung open, and my bed was violently shoved to one side. As soon as I had air back in my lungs I screamed, resulting in my parents bursting in my room two seconds later.

My parents never saw my assailant, but given the state of my room, the police were called. I was not a child, and this wasn’t some low budget horror flick. I knew full well that if I told the police or my parents about the necklace and the other worlds that I knew was related to this, that they would have needed proof. At best they would have not believed me. At worst they would have stuck me in counseling. So I said I was attacked by a dark figure that I never got a good look at. I kept it as vague as I could so as not to raise any suspicions about my state of mind.

They believed my story, despite there being no clear way for the assailant to have left the house or my room without being found out. It was nearing 5:00 AM when the police were wrapping it up. My workaholic mother said she had to go into the office for a couple hours so my dad said he would stay home with me, which I was perfectly fine with.

Something had happened in town that abruptly pulled the police away from our house, but they were going to leave an officer there to keep an eye on things for a couple days. My dad and I went inside. He put on a pot of coffee and we sat down on the living room couch. I hugged him close and fell asleep quickly.

I woke up a couple hours later on the couch with a blanket covering me. My dad was nowhere to be seen. After a short moment of concern I got up and went down the hall to hear him snoring in his bedroom. I felt a little better before I realized that my life had been put in danger even though I no longer had possession of the necklace. There was no doubt in my mind that the arm that attacked me was connected to that smiling bastard I saw the last time I looked into it. And now Cindy had it.

I immediately called her house. It was about 7:15 in the morning, so I was hoping she hadn’t left to catch the bus to school yet.

I heard the phone get picked up, followed by Cindy’s voice, “Hello?”

“Oh thank God,” I exclaimed, “Are you OK? Nothing weird happened with you last night?”

There was a long silence before Cindy responded, “No, everything is fine here.”

There was something strange in her voice. It was monotone, as though it had no emotion in it. I went on to explain that the creature we had seen the day before had attacked me overnight. I told her we needed to destroy that necklace like the website suggested.

Another long silence followed until Cindy once again spoke up, “No, everything is fine here.”

Her statement was quickly followed up by the sound of the phone hanging up. What the hell was going on? Was she super high or something? I tried calling back but got no response. I actually kind of wished I had school so I could talk to her.

I set the phone down and decided to head back to my room for the first time since I was attacked. My dad must have done some cleaning while I had slept on the couch. My furniture had been put back where they belonged, and most of the mess on the floor was cleaned up. My bed had been made. It looked inviting so I laid down.

I must have fallen asleep because the next thing I remember was waking up around lunch time, incredibly thankful nothing bad had happened while I slept. I wandered out to the living room and spotted my parents both sitting at the couch. My mom had returned from work apparently. Despite the animosity I had with them over the past year, I was comforted by them both being there.

“Hey,” I said as I walked by towards the kitchen to look for food.

My mom looked over towards me, “Hey Kat, can you come sit down for a sec? We need to discuss something with you.”

That was odd. My parents weren’t usually ones to sit and discuss things with me. Regardless, I nodded and took a seat on the recliner next to the couch.

They both looked nervous. My dad spoke first, “My buddy Jerry on the police force called me about an hour ago. You remember him? Well, the reason a lot of the cops got called away this morning was that something happened at Cindy’s house.”

My heart skipped a beat. Part of me knew what was coming next as my father continued, “The police were alerted to commotion at her house early this morning. When they got there, both Cindy and her father were found dead at the scene.”

I said nothing. Two things went through my mind. The first was that I just lost my best friend, and I knew it was that goddamn necklace’s fault. The other thing was that if the cops found Cindy dead before the time they left our house, then who the hell did I talk to on the phone this morning?

Outsiders

Cindy was dead. Was it my fault? I let her take the necklace without too much of an argument because I didn’t want to have it around anymore, despite knowing deep down it wasn’t nearly as safe as I had originally thought. Now my best friend and her father were dead, and was my family any safer?

In the state of mind I was in, I had only heard about half of the few details my dad gave me on what had happened. He didn’t go into specifics, but he did say that Cindy and her father’s deaths were violent. The police would be putting out a notice that that they were looking for suspects. Given my friendship with Cindy, they believed that the attacker was the same person that assaulted me. I wanted to break the whole story to my parents, but knew I couldn’t. At least, not yet. Not without appearing traumatized from the night’s events.

I hugged them both and cried for a long time, feeling a little better and more clear-headed afterwards. I didn’t take long for my sorrow to turn into anger. Anger at myself, the necklace, and whatever that thing was that had murdered Cindy. My dad asked me if I was OK answering some more questions for the police. I said sure, and when an officer arrived to ask me about Cindy, I feigned ignorance, same as last time. I asked for some details but he explained that he couldn’t give out any information yet.

The officer eventually left late-afternoon. My parents had both gone to take a nap to catch up on some more sleep after the events from the last 24 hours. I decided that it was time for action. I went to my dad’s office and hopped on the internet, searched my history and found the website that Cindy had pulled up the other day. My best hope was to find some way to destroy the necklace. If that didn’t work, then I would show it to my parents. I spent several minutes searching the sites and checking links on more info on supernatural objects. I had no luck aside from the paragraph that Cindy had found the day before.

“Hey Kat, could you come here for a moment?” I heard my dad call from outside the room, surprised that he had gotten back of bed so quickly. I left the computer and headed out the door and into the hallway. Walking out into the living room, no one was there. I looked around, confused for a moment.

That’s when I heard it again, “Hey Kat, could you come here for a moment?” This time it sounded further away. I walked out of the living room and through the kitchen, turning to face the open door to the basement. I stared down into the darkness, a chill running down my spine. Our basement was completely underground, so unless the lights were turned on, it was pitch black.

I slowly backed away when it came again, from down in the dark, “Hey Kat, could you come here a moment?”

I crept back through the kitchen, eyeing the open basement door. The sun was beginning to set, darkening the house and making me all the more nervous. I continued to slowly move through the house, glancing around corners and over my shoulder in the direction of the basement. I made it to my parents’ bedroom without incident.

I slowly opened the door and looked inside. I saw their normal forms in their king sized bed. My dad faced me, snoring lightly, while my mom was on the other side, facing in the opposite direction. Standing on the far side of the bed, hovering over my mom, was the creature, the Outsider. This time it was fully formed as opposed to just a half translucent arm like the night before.

Its head was down, looking at my mom, its inhumanly long arm reaching down and very lightly stroking her brown hair. Its head slowly turned up to face me, revealing that same horrible, sadistic smile I had seen before. Its other hand rose towards me, pointing a long, bone-thin finger directly at me.

I stood frozen in place, unsure of what to do until its outstretched arm pointed up and to my left. Glancing behind me, I found myself staring into a ratty gray cloth. I looked up to see another one, another of these Outsiders, towering over me, arms hanging loose at its sides with that same nightmarish visage staring back at me.

Unable to make a sound, I was terrified that waking my parents would mean their deaths, if that hadn’t been the case already. I found myself dropping to the floor and as fast as possible scrambling down the hallway. Looking back, the second creature had not moved. Even its head stared in the same direction that I had been in when I first saw it. I took off through the house. I had to get out.

I got to the front door, and half expecting to see another one of those monsters standing behind it, I pulled the door open. Thanking God, I saw that nothing was there and ran out into the yard as fast as I could. I made my way up the driveway, hearing my mom call my name from the house. I had no idea if it was her or another one of them, but I had no intention of going back at that moment.

After the attack the night before, the police department had left an officer to keep an eye on things in an unmarked car. Since we lived on a country road, rarely did anyone park on the street, so when I made it to the end of the driveway and saw the car parked across the road from our house, I ran towards it, but stopped when I got near. The driver side door of the car was wide open with no one visible inside.

This couldn’t be happening, I thought. Were these things taking away every option I had for safety? First my parents, now the police officer? What about Cindy? Why murder her?

I headed down the road away from my house, glancing back every few seconds. My mind swam with thoughts of what I should do. More than anything, I wanted to break down and cry, but knew that wouldn’t get me anywhere. That’s when I thought back to the website and knew the answer: Cindy’s house. That was where I needed to go. I had to find the necklace and destroy it.

I’m not sure what made me think that destroying the necklace would get rid of the Outsiders, but that website had suggested it, and in the mind of a traumatized 14 year-old girl, it seemed like the best option at the time. The only problem was what to do about my parents. Could I get to the neighbors’ house and call the cops? No, that may cause the neighbors to not let me leave until the police arrived, ruining my plan. I could use the phone at Cindy’s house.

Cindy’s house was a couple streets down. We lived along a country road and by bicycle it was ten minutes, but in my escape I didn’t exactly have time to grab it, so I was due for a sizeable trek. The cold October winds buffeted me as the skies grew dark, the sun setting over the horizon. I hugged myself close, wearing only a t-shirt, jeans and socks. Miraculously, I made it to Cindy’s house without incident after about a half hour, with just sore feet and goosebumps. The police must have finished up their investigation at this point as the house was pitch black.

Peering through the darkness of the night, I wandered down the driveway towards Cindy’s house before a sudden blinding light hit me. It was the motion sensor light above the garage. Despite the surprise, I was thankful for the source of light. Able to see the details of the house now, I went around to the front door, with an eerily reminiscent “CRIME SCENE - DO NOT CROSS” tape on the door. I wasn’t in the mood to be careful. I tore it down and went through the door.

I felt around for the light switch and found it, lighting up the entryway of the house. I moved into the living room, hitting every light switch I could, until I found a scene from a horror movie. The living room was a mess. A flipped couch. A recliner lying on its side in the corner. The TV had been apparently thrown from the entertainment center across the room and lay smashed on the floor. And all of it splattered with blood stains, the biggest one soaked into the carpet in the center of the room.

I put my hand to my mouth, stifling the urge to vomit. Those police evidence markers littered the room. I moved past it all, trying my best not to step on any of the stains. Making my way carefully through the mess, I made it to the kitchen and grabbed the cordless phone off the counter. I needed someone to check on my parents.

I dialed 911 and listened to the receiver until I heard the woman’s voice, “9-1-1, what is your emergency?”

“I need help at my house, there’s an intruder!” I exclaimed, “My address is 153 Westmore Drive. Please hurry!”

There was a brief scream of static. I pulled my head away from the phone until the sound died. I listened for a bit to just dead air before whispering, “Hello?”

“Hey Kat, could you come here for a moment?” my father’s voice replied. I pulled the phone away from my head, staring at the receiver. This wasn’t possible. Were they just toying with me? Was it just a sick game to them?

Then another voice came. This time it was Cindy’s, “No, everything is fine here.”

I threw the phone as hard as I could, watching it smash against the wall. Spinning around, I marched up the stairs to the second floor toward Cindy’s room. I was greeted with a site not much better than the living room. Standing in the doorway, the foot of the bed faced me, a bedside table on either side. The bed was disheveled, blankets ripped and torn. Lamps, posters and other clutter had been tossed around the room. Instead of blood having been scattered around the room, there was only one massive stain on the bed. There was no doubt in my mind whose it was. I emptied my stomach in the corner this time.

After wiping my mouth, I searched the room, praying to God that Cindy wasn’t wearing the necklace at the time of her death, causing it to be sitting in a police evidence locker somewhere. I searched the floor through the clutter at the foot of the bed to no success. As I glanced up I nearly fell back. The one window in Cindy’s room had the blinds pulled up, and on the outside of the house, there it was. The Outsider was there, somehow peering through a second story window, the same disgusting smile on its face.

I glanced around the room desperately, needing to find the necklace. I looked down either side of the bed, there! It was on the floor by the bedside table on the side of the room with the window. That bastard was still staring into the room, unmoving except for its eyes, constantly following me. I walked around to the side of the bed opposite of the window and the necklace. I climbed across the bed, unwilling to walk around to the other side next to that window. I felt my knees press down into the blood-stained mattress and cringed in discomfort.

Keeping my eyes focused on the Outsider, I reached down to the floor, feeling around for the necklace. As soon as I felt it, I gripped it tightly and pulled my hand back, only to find that I was unable to when something grabbed my arm. Glancing down, a dark navy blue hand was curled around my wrist, its arm leading to underneath the bed. I shrieked and yanked desperately to pull my arm away, but its iron grip held tight.

I reached my foot over the edge of the bed and slammed it down as hard as I could on the creature’s forearm. It finally let go. As I pulled myself away from the edge of the bed, the window in front of me shattered. I looked up just in time to see a dark hand swipe across my face, one of the fingers barely grazing my nose. As fast as I could, I jumped from the bed to the door to the room, trying to stay clear of the Outsider under the bed.

Landing in the doorway, I took off down the hallway and back down the stairs. Arriving in the kitchen, I looked around for any of the Outsiders. With none in view, I moved until my back was against the wall, facing the stairs. I glanced down to the necklace, trying my hardest to bend or break the ornament with that accursed hole in it. I had no luck. What was I going to do? The thing was metal. I couldn’t snap it in half or burn it.

I wondered what the odds were that I could get back home to show it to my parents, if they were still alive. I ran back into the disheveled living room, looking for something that could have given me a way to destroy the damned necklace. As I entered the room, there it was again. The Outsider stood in at the threshold to the entryway to the house, facing me. It just stared and smiled that goddamned smile.

“What do you want?” I yelled, “Just leave me alone!”

Its smile faded down until its tiny mouth returned. It blinked a few times before speaking, “9-1-1, what is your emergency?”

The echo of the woman’s voice hit me like truck. What was the point of all this? There was no rhyme or reason to anything these creatures did. Their singular purpose seemed to be to terrify me as much as possible. Shaking my head in disbelief, I spun around towards the kitchen only to see another one of the Outsiders standing in the entryway. Backing away, I looked toward the only other exits, the two windows in the living room. Outside of both was a smiling Outsider staring at me.

I was surrounded. Every exit out of the room was blocked. I backed away from the four Outsiders in my vision, hope slipping away quickly. In an instant, the one by the entryway, its unsettling smile having returned, was in front of me. Its long arm grabbed my throat, lifting me off the ground. I struggled against its arm as its grip tightened. I was running out of breath quickly and, due to its unnaturally long arm, I was unable to kick or hit the creature. I slowly felt consciousness slipping away.

I don’t quite know why my reaction happened the way it did. It occurs to me that different people would react in different ways in my situation. Some may try to keep fighting, some may give up and accept their fate. I, on the other hand, for whatever reason, put the ornament up to my eye as I had done so many times a couple days before. I only caught a glimpse of a world. I vaguely remember some teal trees and vines. What was important was that the Outsider gripping my throat was suddenly gone. I crumpled to the floor, gasping for air.

Glancing around, I saw that all of the Outsiders were gone. Was it really that simple? The necklace, their conduit to our world, couldn’t multitask? My first thought was to once again get out of the house, but running out into the darkness of night seemed like a bad idea. I needed something that could finally destroy the necklace, and in a strange sudden clarity, I realized that meant I needed tools. I got up and moved to towards the kitchen.

As I passed the stairs, an Outsider was standing halfway up them. No longer was it smiling. A twisted, horrible grimace was on its face, a look of pure rage. For whatever reason, this was no longer something they enjoyed. I put the necklace’s ornament to my eye. A chrome coated ground with mile high blades of grass crossed my vision. When the sight left my eye, the Outsider was gone.

I moved on, through the kitchen, into the mud room and into the garage. I hit the light switch and flooded the garage with fluorescent light. I was clear, none of the sons of bitches were here. There was a workbench that spanned the length of the wall on the far side of the garage. As I moved toward it a hand grabbed my shoulder and dragged me to the ground. I’m not sure where my attacker was but I threw the ornament to my eye. Pink snow and penguins with horns.

I got back up, looking around and seeing nothing out of place in the vicinity. I moved towards the workbench. Looking through tools, I’m sure there were half a dozen tools that could have done the job I needed, but I had no clue how to use them. I glanced around until I spotted a bench grinder mounted on one end of the workbench. My dad had one in our own garage. I remember seeing him use it to sharpen knives and tools.

I moved over to the piece of machinery. It was a simple tool, one “ON/OFF” switch and two grinding wheels on either side used to sharpen or cut through metal. I hit the switch and the two wheels started spinning. I jammed the necklace’s ornament into one of the wheels, sending sparks flying across the workbench. I was thrilled to see the grinding wheel begin to cut through the metal. As I ground the ornament straight through the center of the “V”, the temperature of the metal rose quickly, burning my fingers. Only my adrenaline kept me focused through the pain.

After a few seconds that seemed like an eternity, the wheel had cut past one end of the hole. My hope rising, I began cutting through the rest of the part, desperately trying to cut the ornament in half, when I felt a stabbing pain through my stomach. Looking down, I saw four long fingers had pushed through the lower right side of my torso.

I saw the fingers disappear as they were pulled out of me from behind. I stumbled backwards, seeing blood stain my shirt from my wound. The sudden pain subsided and I began to feel strangely woozy as I began to go into shock. I fell backwards onto the floor. Towering over me were three of the Outsiders, looks of pure hatred on each of their faces.

In a strange moment of subconscious, I put the ornament up to my eye to make them go away, only to find that it didn’t work. The top half of the hole had been ground off, with most of the ornament held together by barely a thread near the bottom of the “V”. Dazed, I looked back up the Outsiders then down to the ornament. I grabbed it on either side and pulled it apart with all my might. As the two halves separated I remember all three Outsiders screaming in an inhuman, metallic yell an instant before vanishing.

I don’t remember much after that. What I was told later was that apparently my 911 from Cindy’s house had made it through but had disconnected. They traced the call and sent an officer that found me wounded in the garage who in turn called for an ambulance that saved my life. My parents ended up being alright and unaware of the entire ordeal with the Outsiders. The officer that had been outside our house was reported missing, and as far as I know still is to this day.

While recovering in the hospital I made up a story about wanting to see Cindy’s house because I was a mental wreck and got attacked by some lunatic which was easily blamed on the mysterious killer prowling around town that had attacked me and killed Cindy and her dad. I claimed that I didn’t know anything about why it appeared that I had been cutting the necklace in half. I had to sit through a few counseling sessions but eventually healed both mentally and physically.

I never really got answers on what exactly the necklace was or the nature of the Outsiders, and despite having plenty of theories I'm not all that sure that I really want to know. Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote "If thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee." Never more have I felt this to be true. So to a warning for all of those out there looking for things beyond what we know to be a part of our reality, there are things out there that are beautiful and wondrous, but at the same time there are things equally terrifying and hostile. Be wary of the dark places that may try to make their reality yours.

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