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In Blaine, Minnesota, across from a slowly dying mall, is a Home Depot store. It's been there five years now, and is still much cleaner and brighter than most Home Depots in the area. We bought a foreclosed home recently, so with near daily trips there I've gotten to be on first-name basis with a lot of the staff there. Really, with its bright lights, music punctuated with announcements, and obnoxiously attentive staff, it's about as far from scary as a place can get. But it's not the store itself that this story is about.
This story is about Sara.
Sara is a part-time cashier. She's a rather plain girl, but very cheerful. Even her apron reflects it: SARA F painted in bold letters surrounded by paint splotches, a few awareness-type ribbons and a Deadpool pin. Get her talking about video or role playing games or something geeky like that- or especially anything creepy or scary-- and she'll light up like a Christmas tree. But there's something about her that seems... well, odd.
For one thing, there's the pacing.
When she isn't helping a customer or talking to another staff member, she's always pacing. It reminds me of a caged animal. She gets this far-off look, watching her own footsteps as if hypnotized. When you talk to her, she stops, brightens up and is herself again. I asked her once why she did it, and all she said was "Gotta get my exercise somewhere, right?" with an offhand smile.
And as I said, she adores anything creepy or scary. She loves talking about the creepypasta she's read, or whatever horror game she's currently playing. But ask her about personal experiences and she shrugs it off. Says nothing that interesting has ever happened to her, with a smile that doesn't quite reach her eyes.
The last time we had time to chat, I asked "What's the most scared you've ever been?"
I expected a story about a weird dream or her first playthrough of Bioshock or Amnesia: The Dark Descent. What I got, after some hesitation on her part and prying on mine, was the story about the Bible Man.
One winter, she was at home with her family when the doorbell rang. Standing on the front step was a tall, blond, middle-aged man in an old fashioned black peacoat, holding a battered old bible.
Now, she's pretty patient with the religious door-to-door types, so she waited for the obligatory "do you have a moment for Jesus" spiel to be over so she could politely decline. It never came.
She doesn't remember what he said, only that it was creepy- something about creating paradise on earth. But there was something about this man that terrified her to the core. It might have been his eyes: they were the color of ice, and devoid of anything human-- it was like looking into the eyes of a corpse, she said.
After what felt like an eternity, he left. Away from his hypnotizing gaze, she said she had a minor freak out. Ever since, she's been afraid to answer the door.
The story creeped me out, but after a while, I forgot. I moved on with redecoration and work, and soon winter came.
One bitterly cold morning, the doorbell rang. My wife asked me to answer it, as she was up to her elbows in paint and wallpaper paste. I obliged, and when I did, my heart just about stopped.
It was the Bible Man.
My mind seemed to withdraw, as if trying to get as far away as possible. I don't remember a word he said, or a word I said even though my wife says we had a pleasant enough conversation. All I could see were those goddamn eyes, just as empty and cold as Sara had described. It felt like something was forcing its way into my mind, a sort of literal mind rape that made my head spin.
When he left, I started shaking violently. I felt sick, scared, and utterly isolated. My wife stared at me, asking what was wrong. I slid down the wall into a sitting position, shaking and swearing. It's hard to find a way to put it into words, but the only way to understand the fear is to experience it.
Ever since then, I can't sleep. I cover the windows, day or night, afraid that he'll be on the other side. Those eyes haunt me, and wherever I go, I fear I'll see him standing and smiling at me. I've started pacing, the same straight lines Sara paces. I-- there's no way to say this without sounding batshit insane-- I can feel him there, inside my head.
Sorry. I didn't mean to freak out, but it's hard to talk about without reliving it. Just remember this: if you ever open your door to see that blond, middle-aged man in a long black coat, don't be polite. Don't listen to him, don't look him in the eye. Slam the door shut and lock it.
Pray that he never gets his paradise on earth.