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For Anyone Willing to Listen

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Okay, so I need to record this whole thing somewhere because I need somewhere to get it off my chest. That isn’t the only reason, but… it’s a big one. I guess it’s the only one I need, really.

Let me start off by saying that yes, while this happened, I was fresh off a graduation party and hadn’t exactly been laying off the alcohol while I was there. So you can interpret what I’m about to say as you will. But no matter how skeptical you are, I know what I saw and I trust my own eyes, so I’ll plead with you to at least bear what I’m about to tell you in mind when you’re out at night.

Enough procrastinating, I better get started.

So… like I said, graduation party. It was one of the craziest parties I think I’ve ever been to, and might’ve made for the best night of my life if not for later events. Everyone I’ve ever know from high school was there and we were blasting music, doing shots, people were hooking up… it was off the wall no holds barred insane. However…the guy hosting the party, Jeff, was rich as fuck. And, being the rich and aristocratic type, his parents were pretty big names in the town we lived in, and lived in a neighbourhood befitting that. It just so happens when you live in that kind of neighbourhood, it tends to get shared by cranky old men and women hoarding away their millions and sipping away at whiskey on a Friday night. At least… it does where I come from.

Anyway, in a neighbourhood filled with people like that music blaring away over the cacophony of screaming teenagers in hot tubs and trampolines isn’t going to go unnoticed. My friends and I had come as a group, and had been putting away cans and bottles all night, so when somebody started shouting about the police and there was a heavy knock at the door, it took more than a few seconds to register.

Being teenagers, nobody wants to have to take responsibility for the destroyed light fixtures, ruined antiques and bathrooms slick with vomit when the police call the house owners, and so everybody bolted. My buddy Jake came up to me shouting about how we had to get out of there because his Dad would kill him if he got taken home stinking of alcohol and weed, so we had to get out of there. I grabbed my bag and we ended up joining the hoard of kids fleeing through the woods behind the garden wall in Jeff’s backyard. I threw my stuff over and gave Jake a boost over the brick wall, then he pulled me up and I did the same for the next person, and so on and so forth.

I ended up in a group running through the woods, and I was honestly relieved to see that all the people I was friends with were there when we thought we were in the clear, plus a few others. It was me, Jake and Alex, Jake’s girlfriend Keira, Alex’s girlfriend Sarah, and then Samantha and Josh. We were all panting and heaving like crazy, and Josh, being totally insane, just starts laughing his ass off from the adrenaline.

Once we all took a moment to recover, Jake asked everyone if we wanted to move the party around to “The Manor”, since him and Josh and a couple others in our group still had alcohol in their bags. Now, let me explain a few things here. The Manor, as everyone in our town who knew anything about our town called it, is this huge park, basically open areas of grass and hills bordered on almost every side by forests, apart from the front, which has a big wrought iron gate that leads out onto the main road, just across from the primary school. The Manor is pretty much the centre of our town and because we’re up at the top of a valley it’s basically the middle point in terms of height too. That’s not the thing about The Manor though. There were a million different rumours of stuff that went down in The Manor and the woods around it during the night, from murders to drug labs to demon sacrifices to…well, porn shoots. So when Jake says, “Let’s go hang out at The Manor,” at almost Midnight, that translates to “Let’s go dick around in one of the most dangerous parts of town.”

I want to clarify by saying that originally I didn’t want to go. I wasn’t afraid to admit that the idea of being in The Manor after dark freaked me the fuck out, plus the fact that it was almost midnight by the point that we got turfed out and I was just tired. Samantha and Alex were with me, we all just wanted to head back to Alex’s place and crash there for the night and then we could worry about our hangovers when we got them. We all argued for a little while, but while we were arguing, I hear someone running towards us from the direction we just came in. I freeze up. I’m a pretty cautious and suspicious person as it is, so hearing something unknown run towards me was already bad enough despite the fact that it was almost midnight and we were stood in a dark wooded clearing. Once I saw who it was though, I instantly relaxed. It was a girl I knew, called Alisha. I had known Alisha for years and had been crushing on her hard since I had first met her.

Unfortunately, I had yet to tell her that.

“How come it took you so long to get to us?” Jake had asked, obviously a little wary. She just huffed in return, chuckling a little.

“Had to get my bag from upstairs, but a cop was hanging around on the landing so I had to climb down off the roof out of the master bedroom without getting seen. Nobody can’t call me a committed party ninja.” She giggled, winking at me. It had been an in-joke between us at the time; she always had a way of getting out of the craziest situations completely unscathed. I laughed, and it eased some of the tension of the group when Jake started laughing too.

She asked everyone what we planned on doing now and people either turned to Jake or me. Jake explained the situation to her and she said that she was down for getting the party started over at The Manor again, since she only lived around the corner from it anyway.

I could immediately fucking sense the huge shit eating grin that plastered Jake’s face the moment she said that, because he knew how much I liked her and he knew that I would jump at any opportunity to be around her for a while. Jake was a total bastard, and as much as I could feel that he was enjoying the look on my face, I knew I didn’t have enough pride to hold my ground here. Especially because of how close I thought I was to getting with Alisha.

So because I’m a fucking tool, I went with it.

Our group gathers up, and we head through the woods to The Manor. As it turns out, Josh had planned for this sort of thing to happen and had a load of fucking blankets and extra booze. We took everything to the bandstand. The bandstand was this big elevated stone gazebo that, as the name suggests, bands perform on from time to time, as well as other public acts in festivals other shit like that. So we set up there, but Sam was still pretty drunk and Josh, who was basically her best friend, had been taking care of her on the walk over. She was getting pissy about sticking around, and none of us said anything cause we just wanted to have fun, we didn’t want deal with any more arguments. So we sit down, and start drinking whatever we have.

We’re slowly getting more and more fucked as time passes by. We played a few different games, traded spooky stories…I scooted a little closer to Alisha, and she said she was cold, so I put the blanket from my bag over her. I can see out of the corner of my eye though that Sam is getting increasingly twitchy and grumpy. I try my best to ignore it, but eventually, at around 1 AM, she throws up her arms in frustration and everyone shoots her a look.

She starts shouting, “I’m fucking done with this, I just want to go home, I’m tired!” And so on and so forth. So she gets up, and storms off over The Manor. I would’ve gone after her, but Alisha and me had been getting closer and she had her head on my shoulder while we were against the sidewall of the bandstand and I just didn’t want to move at all. Especially when I made like I was going to get up and Alisha held onto me a little more tightly, so it just wasn’t happening.

Josh stood up and said, “I’ll go get her, no worries guys.”

Thinking back, I wish I’d appreciated that sentiment more. I’m sure he was being kinda passive aggressive about the fact that we were all drunk and didn’t seem to give a shit that our friend had just run off into the woods at night, but in hindsight…I think I just want to thank him for biting the bullet. And once you get through the rest of this that’ll sound terrible. But I guess it hasn’t gone unpunished.

So Josh and Sam are gone, it’s me, Alisha, Alex, Sarah, Jake and Keira. We keep talking into the night, and one by one we start falling asleep and the conversation stops getting as rowdy and more emotional, like it does with drunk teenagers. Because we’re idiots, we gave up on the idea of leaving and just figured we would stay in The Manor the night, everyone forgetting the reputation this place had under the haze of alcohol and tiredness. Eventually, it’s just me and Alisha, and we’re just talking to each other about anything and everything. Conversation was easy, and we snuggle up next to each other. Eventually she gets listless and stops responding with anything more than “mhm” and “yeah”.

Then she falls asleep completely, and it’s only me left.

I’ve always been a pretty light sleeper, so I’m just nodding off at around two… and then I hear a faint noise in the distance. You know the kind of noise where you know if you were right next to it it’d be really loud, even though it sounds really quiet where you are? It was like that. And that was when I fell asleep.

I had a nightmare while I was sleeping. It was… odd. Not quite like anything I’d had before. Normally, I have nightmares about being chased or beaten up… there are a few personal reasons behind that which I won’t go into, but that’s always been how it is.

This was so much worse. I could feel myself disappearing into this huge mass beneath me. The ground was trying to swallow me up. I was being eaten away by the floor of this void, and I was screaming but because it was a dream there was no sound coming out. It was more than that though. Like when you're underwater and the world is just muffled. I screamed and screamed and my entire body was gone and I felt myself start to really disappear. It felt so real. Then there was a sound that breached the silence, the same unintelligible one I heard while I was awake.

I woke up with a start, and looked around to see that everyone else was asleep. The noise was still going a little, but then it dropped out of my hearing range.

I strained a little to try and hear it again… and that was when something hit me.

The Manor was completely silent.

And I’m not talking night-time silent. I’m talking dead silent. Nothing flying around, no crickets chirping, not even the wind.


Trying to figure out what it could be in my still semi-drunken state didn’t go well. I ended up just giving myself a headache. So I decided to get up and take a look. I moved as quietly as possible, taking care not to disturb Alisha or step on anyone else. I stepped out of the bandstand, and took a look around.

It was kind of unsettling. Not to mention something just felt totally off about my surroundings. It felt like something was missing that should be there. Chalking it up to just me being paranoid again, I turned around to walk back up the stairs to the stand and decided to wake up everyone and get moving back to Alex’s so we wouldn’t be sleeping on the cold stone all night.

It took me all the way up to the top of the stairs to realise what exactly was wrong with the situation.

Sam and Josh were both still gone.

My blood froze. Immediately I felt myself begin to panic, thinking of all the fucking rumours about what happens to people in The Manor. At first I was comforted by the thought that they might’ve just went home, but I knew Josh. He would’ve said something. He never liked worrying people. I remember calming down for a moment when I thought, "Maybe he just left a text," so I checked my phone, and there was nothing, so I woke up everyone straightaway, telling them we needed to start looking. Obviously, in their groggy state they had no clue what the fuck I was talking about. I told them our friends were still missing and everyone snapped to action like I had. Sarah and Jake started panicking out loud, talking about what if they were dead and what if they’d been kidnapped and Alex just told them to shut the fuck up, because we were all spooked now. We didn’t know what we were going to do about that, I just knew how unsettled I was, and we needed to get the fuck out of there now.

And then I heard it.

That noise again. It was a shout. And my heart lifted when I recognised it as Josh’s voice. I turned around and just over on the crest of a small hill that curved along the side of the woods was Josh.

At least… I thought it was Josh. I couldn’t be sure. It sounded a lot like him. I was kinda wary about shouting him back, but Jake must’ve recognised the voice too. Before I could say anything, he shouted over to him.

“Josh is that you? Thank God, are you okay?!”

There was silence for a moment, everyone stopped to stare at this figure. Where he was stood, we couldn’t actually see anything of him apart from this dark silhouette, but we were all pretty sure it was Josh.

The silhouette did this weird little… shiver for a second. Just a split second. And then it cups its hands around its mouth and shouts back.

“Hey, hello, I’m… I am okay! I’m okay! I’m okay!”

And everyone there shares a confused look. The way he spoke was fucking eerie. Every word he said had these weird gaps in pronunciation to it. It wasn’t how he talked, Josh had always sounded like some out of place surfer kid in a town of farmers. This was Josh’s voice but… it didn’t sound like him. It was too choppy and raspy.

“Is Sam okay? Did you get her back?” I yelled over a little nervously at him.

Another moment of silence. He seemed to be totally still for a period in between his replies. Josh twitched again and I think Alisha saw it to because she grabbed onto the side of my shirt a little when it happened. Then a reply.

“Sam! Sam, she, Sam, went home Sam! She went home. Come on, guys, let's go into the, woods! I found… I found… I… found… something! Let’s go look!”

And then he just turns on his heel and walks in the opposite direction into the woods.

During the end of his reply… his voice seemed like it was… melting. It was so wrong that it made me want to just fucking run. And the way he walked was so jerky. Every fibre of my being was screaming at me to just leave, my survival instincts were going crazy.

But then I thought, no, that’s insane. Josh is my friend, and Sam is too, and I didn’t feel like either of them were safe. Sarah was fucking shaking, and she practically begged Alex to take her home. He was still looking kind of pale at the time, and the way Jake kept asking “Should we go after him, I don’t know if we should” and the way Josh had acted was obviously fucking with him. But I know he felt guilty about the whole idea of just leaving. So he turns around and says “Me and Sarah will go back to my place, get everything set up. We can call the police too if you want, or at least let Josh and Sam’s parents know.”

The weirdest thing was, nothing had really happened to warrant calling the police. What would we have said? The entire situation was just so surreal, and the idea of an adult figure seemed comforting. We ended up telling him not to call the police unless we weren’t back for forty-five minutes, since Alex’s house was only about ten minutes away from The Manor. So they left, and the rest of us resolved to go after Josh. As they were leaving, I told them to stay away from the edge of the woods, and just climb the front gate to get out. Sarah nodded a little shakily, and we watched them leave.

Jake asked if we should really go after him, and Keira told him that we couldn’t just leave them, as much as she wanted to. Alisha just stayed silent, seeming to lock up despite her normally outward and bright personality and that made me even more tense. We grabbed our bags and start walking toward the edge of the woods that Josh disappeared into, and as we passed the crest of the hill…

…We saw him standing there. He had been waiting there completely still the entire time we were deciding whether to go after him or not. He was just staring dead at us. There was something so off about how he looked and it was completely fucked up but I just wanted to leave him. Right there, I wanted to go and leave him in the woods with whatever it was he wanted to show us because of how creepy he was being.

“Come, everyone, let’s go and find, it!”

It sounded a little more like him. But it still wasn’t… Josh. It wasn’t him. At all. I think deep down, I knew that as soon as he opened his mouth but I didn’t want to believe it. It was the same for everyone. I didn’t know how it wasn’t. It was his face, his body, even his clothes.

Somehow though, it just wasn’t him.

But, even if I knew that this wasn’t the real Josh, I still had to try and find out where or at least what had happened to my friends. So when “Josh” turned and walked away, we followed him. We trudged through the woods in silence, not knowing what to say or what to do.

I’d always lived a pretty comfortable life up till that point. I never really had anything big to worry about, even things that I had thought were big when they were happening. I think the one time I could maybe link to this was the time that I broke my arm climbing trees when I was five. I had snuck out of the house to go and hang off branches because my mom didn’t like me doing it in case I injured myself. Obviously, I fell right out of the tree in the woods and landed so badly that my bone was sticking out. But it wasn’t just the pain that made me afraid. No matter how much I screamed for my mom, she couldn’t hear me because I’d snuck away from the house. So I had to carry myself back and all the while I just remember screaming and being terrified.

That was what this was like. Nobody was going to come for me if I screamed.

We were walking for a while before Josh just stopped. The woods were dark, almost pitch black, and if it hadn’t been for the lights shed by our phones, we would’ve been in total darkness. As it stood we could barely see our feet in dirt below.

Silence. We all just stood there, waiting.

Jake cleared his throat.

“Josh… was there something that you wanted to show us?” he asked nervously. I could hear the waver in his voice.

Josh didn’t move.

Then I heard a voice. It was faint, and small, as if coming from mouse, but still there.

It sounded like a girl, but the tone was loose.

And then I realised. And I felt my fucking knees buckle. That wasn’t just a voice.

That was Sam.

I think somehow, whatever that… thing was, it knew we had heard.

Keira cracked. She screamed and backed up, the same recognition that hit me obviously occurring to her too. We all turned around to look, and she started running back in the direction we came. I heard Alisha scream and yell, “Josh’s gone” and when I turned back to look… whatever monster had stolen Josh’s voice was gone. Jake had turned to run back after Keira and I heard her scream again but this time, it wasn’t fear it was pain. Jake cried out in terror as well so I spin on the spot and…

I don’t know whether you’ve ever been into shock. Maybe if you’ve suddenly fallen into cold water, like an icy lake or something, you might know how I felt, because that was what it was like. When I saw what I saw next… I just felt my whole body go numb. I couldn’t move and I stopped breathing and…

Keira had tripped in a clearing, or maybe she’d been thrown down, I don’t know, but she was on the floor and this thing, this horror…I couldn’t get a proper look at it from where I was stood. It was this horrific red mass of gashes and muscle and it was so fucking tall. It pinned Keira to the floor by her throat. Jake howled and ran at the thing and started beating at its back, again and again but it didn’t even budge.

Then…sorry, this next part is hard to recall. I think part of me has just tried to block it out. That was something I remember reading about, where your mind is just so disturbed by something that’s happened that it forgets of its own accord. But I think…if only for Keira’s sake, I have to try and remember this.

It was the way she screamed that terrified me most. It was like watching a car accident in motion, I wanted to look away but something rooted me to the ground. The panicked frenzy of shrieking that left her open mouth was that of someone having a blowtorch fired under their eyelids, like her skin was being shredded away with razors or a hacksaw. Her eyes rolled back in her skull as that fucking nightmare tightened its grip around her neck. And I almost started to run forward to help Jake, I thought I might be able to save her, maybe if me and Alisha pitched in we could… but… no. My hopes were gone immediately.

Because that was when it absorbed her.

Keira’s lower body seemed to suck into itself. The legs of her clothes began to flatten moving up along her shins to her thighs until the lower half of her clothes were completely fucking empty and it continued, it kept going like I nightmare I couldn’t escape, her stomach disappeared, and then her chest and her arms and finally, finally her face melted away into this creatures hands. Her wails tapered off and dropped in pitch to a low toned bubbling sound until her voice was gone. Only her clothes were left behind. Every single piece of flesh seemed to travel up through the creature and its mouth opened in silent glee, jaw distended and disconnected from the rest of its face. Its skin cracked and melted and then, for just a few seconds, it was Keira, naked and screaming and dripping with this disgusting bloody slime, like a newborn baby. I swallowed the bile that rose in my throat as it changed back because it turned and stared at us like food going cold from a plate it had yet to finish. This thing…whatever it was, it turned to Jake and grabbed him, slamming him against one of the trees in the ring around the clearing with enough force to make the trees roots pull up in front of it.

Before I could even think about acting, I heard a shattering and Alisha charged past me. She cried out in an adrenaline fuelled dash brandishing a broken bottle in her hand. Alisha rammed it into the inhuman thing as I sprinted to follow and it uttered a guttural gurgling sound low enough to make my legs wobble underneath me. It let go of Jake and dropped to one knee. Jake gasped for air and I grabbed him. I yelled at Alisha for us to go and as I turned to look at her I got a good view of…I guess I still haven’t thought of a name for it. And I don’t want to.

I just know that everything about it was… wrong.

It was tall. Probably about nine feet. Its head was a little elongated, but the deformity was upwards instead of backwards like the kind of head you think of when someone says the word “alien”. Its neck was distended and contorted. The jaw hung loose, and this viscous liquid pooled in the bottom of its mouth. The neck…the neck was so long, it made no sense how it kept its head upright the way it did. It didn’t have a tongue and its throat was just this contracting hole that seemed like it was trying to tear away from the body with every single disgusting movement. Its body was so ridiculously jointed that maybe if I hadn’t seen how fast it could move it could’ve even been something to laugh at. As it absorbed the last of Keira, its distended limbs seemed to even out, just a little.

But…that wasn’t even the worst part.

All along its body… were faces. Some were shrivelled and unrecognisable as anything but a face and others…

I worked out where Sam’s voice was coming from.

Her silently screeching face pooled in a bubbling scab, just like Josh’s, and now Keira’s too, the muscle and flesh and the liquid that stank like piss and vomit and seemed to infect the air with every single pulsation rolling on the mass underneath.

It touched a throbbing hand to its side and then looked in Alisha’s direction and did that horrible silent shriek again while it stared at her. In a moment of pure panic fuelled thought I remembered that my bag still had a heavy crate of drinks in it so I screamed at Alisha to run and then swung my bag up and over me into the creature’s skull. I heard a crack and it dropped backwards so I took my chances, I grabbed Jake and we just fucking bolted.

The next few minutes seemed to pass by in a blur. I just remember running until I cleared the woods and reached the iron gate and then practically hurling Jake upwards towards the top. We climbed it and when I turned around I saw Alisha just behind me, so I pulled her up over too. And we just ran. We ran for Alex’s house, our feet pounded against the pavement and even in the moments where my lungs felt like they were going to rip themselves out of my rib cage I didn’t stop. None of us did. We reached the door and practically burst through, Alex and Sarah who were sat in the living room rising immediately.

“We were just about to call the cops, what happened to—“

But I didn’t get to hear him finish because I pushed straight past him into the downstairs bathroom and as soon as I reached the toilet I threw up. I threw up and started crying, and I heard Alisha and Jake start crying… I knew that I couldn’t ever be the same as I was after seeing that.

We didn’t say a word to Alex or Sarah no matter how much they persisted. Alisha and I were ghosts. We had no idea how to say anything.

Jake sat cross-legged on the floor, staring into space. The creature actually touched him. I couldn’t bear to look at it, and I don’t even want to think about what it must’ve been like to feel that on your skin.

It’s been almost two weeks since that. I’ve barely spoken to Alex or Sarah but I know I have to soon. They at least deserve to know. But I haven’t seen Jake in days, and part of me worries that he’s done something stupid like… like running away, or killing himself, or perhaps worse, trying to go back, and find it. Missing person’s reports got filed on everyone only a few days ago but I know they won’t turn anything up, except maybe a few discarded clothes.

I think the reason I’m writing this to you now is because… right now, I’m at Alisha’s house with her. Her house is just across from The Manor and she doesn’t feel safe when her parents are working late. We were watching a movie together, just trying to feel more comfortable than we can alone. I don’t think we can be together now. After what we saw, we’re both just a reminder to each other that people who used to be our friends are now nothing but a few scraps of clothes.

But that’s besides the point right now. Because I looked and the window a few minutes ago, the one that faces in the direction of that nightmare, and I saw some kids who were probably drunk fucking around. They were all shouting at one of their own, and he looked pretty mad about something. I assumed they were daring him to go in, and then one of them jumped the fence into the woods and just disappeared into the woods. They’re hovering on the edge of the forest now, all looking kind of nervous about going in.

So… I’m going to go and get them, because Alisha fell asleep. I’m gonna pull them out as quickly as I can. And… if I go missing, this is my last testimony, I guess. I love my family, and I’m sorry for being an asshole sometimes. I love all of my friends and I’m glad I could know you all.

But I’m going to leave my phone here. And I know if I disappear my phone will probably be checked. So… if anyone in my area is reading this, spread the word. Start a rumor, or better yet set fucking fire to it all, anything you think might get people to stay further away from that place than they already do. For anyone else, who is just reading this… start being a little more careful about going out at night. If one good thing comes out of this, I want it to be that someone can avoid the same fate as my friends.

And if you know me, and you hear my voice calling to you from that fucking hellhole, then please, for the love of God…

Forget me.

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