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Up the Spine

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David was scared by a lot of things. Spiders, creepy masks, creepy dolls, men without faces, the usual stuff, but he also had a fascination for that feeling. That feeling of terror creeping up your spine. It was exciting, it was interesting, it was intense! So many sensations came from being scared that David was almost addicted to it. Every evening he would go online to read the latest popular scary story, or to watch some new independent horror film. Every time the ending twist or final jump scare popped up, David was always as excited as he was scared.

The worst part about this addiction was that it came back to haunt him sometimes. Many nights he couldn't sleep, all he could do was look from his pillow to the darkness that surrounded him. He would imagine various killers and creatures lurking above him, beside him, below him. It almost drove him crazy, but the next morning it was always better. The next morning he could wake up, drink his coffee, and log back onto his computer-or open a new book he had got in the mail-and get his horror fix. David always had to get his horror fix. The only time he stopped reading or watching was to either check out progress on a new movie he was looking forward to, check his Facebook to see if anything interesting had come up, or buy some food online for him to get the next day. You gotta love drone delivery.

Today, David was checking out a new story online about a creature who led his victims to believe that it was a small and frail animal before brutally murdering them. It was alright, but there was way too much senseless gore and not enough explanation as to why anyone would casually try to take care of some creature that looked like a mutated muppet. As David was reading this, he saw a notification pop up on one of his tabs. Someone had sent him a message on Facebook. David dropped the story he was reading and clicked over to his Facebook tab.

"When?". That was all the message said: "When?". There was no name, there was no send date or time, and there was no sent from. Was this an invitation to a party or something? Maybe some dumbass kid had gotten on and asked for the time when he could have just as easily looked at the clock on his computer? David decided to humor whoever hit was and just send them the time.

"Let's see," David said to himself, "it is 11 'o-" David froze. Something was acting up on the clock on his computer. No, not the computer, but his own eyes. Every time David tried to look at the clock, he couldn't focus on it, having to look away from it every time. On the third try David was starting to get a little freaked out, but he was determined to prove to himself that it was just a migraine or something. This time he looked at the clock and focused hard. He couldn't focus on the time, couldn't even see it directly no matter how hard he tried. Every time he attempted to look at the numbers David could feel his pupils dilating. As David continued to look at the clock on his computer he saw darkness creeping into the corners of his eyes, but that was the least of David's worries. The clock was constantly changing, warping. For just a moment he sat still, in a trance as he tried to focus on the clock.

David pulled the plug on his computer and knocked his seat over trying to get away from it. As he stood in his kitchen, gasping for breath like it could be his last, David wondered if he was dreaming. If he was, it was the most vivid dream he had ever had. Was he sick? A sudden rash headache or something, maybe a weird migraine? Hell, maybe even heat stroke. David decided to drink some water and take a nap, either way some sleep wouldn't hurt. When he lay down on his bed with a cold ball in his stomach, but soon enough he was asleep.

David opened his eyes to see black. Damn, he had slept through the day. He didn't mind though, it wasn't like he did anything much productive during the day anyway. In fact it felt like most days where He just got up, drank coffee and read stuff up online, and David was starting to get kind of sick of i-

David was cut off by a strange tingling next to his ear. Before he could react to it, a voice not two inches away from his ear spoke from behind him.

"Where are you...", it said.

David couldn't move. In an instant he was frozen, not being able to even process his thoughts right. He could still feel the breath and the words of a... a little girl's voice. David had never felt this kind of terror before, it was unreal. This wasn't a nice cold that went up your spine, this was a dagger being driven right into his heart and his head, keeping him from moving. For a few minutes David lay shivering in his bed.

David heard tiny footsteps walking out of his door and down the hallway before he could force himself to move, He heard giggling before he lost track of the footsteps. David shot out of his bed in a cold sweat after the sound of the footsteps had dwindled away.

"What the fuck... What the fuck..." David whispered to himself in frustration as he felt around his nightstand for his emergency flashlight. Feeling the bulb David took the flashlight from his stand and almost dropped the flashlight trying to turn it on. It clicked and the beam illuminated his room, but it only served to terrify him even more. The light shone off of his bedpost, casting half the room in shadow. The shadows seemed to conceal whatever could be hiding beneath them.

David crept toward the door, trembling. Every time he took a step he felt the wooden floorboards creek and moan, forcing him to stop and listen with every step. Even though every part of him wanted to hide in his bed until the savior ray's of the sun shone through his window, he couldn't. He had to make sure he wasn't crazy, wasn't imagining things, but at the first sign of whatever had whispered to him...

He struggled to breathe as he made his way across the room and reached for the knob on his door. Taking a deep breath, trying hard to steel himself for whatever might be out there, David opened the door and stepped into the hallway.

Nothing was out of the ordinary, just the same coffee colored hallway and the same deep brown floorboards. Walking down the hall, David didn't fear what was in front of him. It was what could have been behind him that made him shiver. It was that kind of fear that kept him walking. More than anything he just wanted to walk to his living room, turn on the TV, and fall asleep in it's light embrace. The only light David could see was the small circle of light from his flashlight, moving around the hallway, creating more shadows, more places to hide.

David finally saw his couch. He almost ran to it, but he couldn't bring himself to do it. One of the worst parts about this whole situation being that everything was completely silent, leaving the little girl's voice to echo in his head. Where are you... David shivered and almost dropped his flashlight. But it was alright, he had almost made it to his couch.

David stammered for the remote, grabbed it, and turned the TV on. Static. All he saw was static. This TV was a new Sony model, specially shipped. These TV's didn't have static channels.

"Where are you," he heard the girl whisper again. It was coming from the TV. So was something else. As David looked into the TV he saw a shape forming in the static. Slowly at first, but it was there. Soon the static formed the silhouette of what looked like a person, a little girl on the TV, from the top of her head to the bottom of her chin. Where her eyes should have been were instead X's sown across her eyelids. The X's were crudely sewn and had dried blood and pus all around the stitches. Even though she had no means of seeing him, David could feel her gaze on him. David wanted to run, more than anything he wanted to run, but he was frozen in place. Wait a minute, this wasn't just fear holding him there, something was-

"WHERE ARE YOU!" the little girl screamed at him from the TV. It was the loudest, most bloodcurdling scream he had ever heard. David collapsed to his knees and brought his hands to his ears. The scream filled every corner of his mind, going on and on. For a brief moment David almost began banging his head against the floor until his brains spilled all over the deep brown floorboards, when he woke up in a cold sweat, lying on his bed, the sun spilling through his window.

"Bad dream, just a bad dream," he whispered. He didn't believe it. The dream had been so clear. David sat up, throwing his knees over the side of the bed.

"What was it? Was it all just a dream?" he asked nothing. Nothing replied. He got over nightmares quick, but this one was going to take a few minutes.

David stood up from his bed and began to make his way to the kitchen, deciding there was nothing left to do. For a few steps he felt confidence, but as he neared his living room David found himself taking smaller and smaller steps, until he was peeking beyond the wall into his living room. Nothing. David walked into the kitchen, regaining some of his confidence. As David sipped his coffee and leaned against the counter, he looked at his computer, deciding whether or not he wanted to read his usual scary stuff online this morning. The image of the little girl with eyes sewn shut faded into his vision.

"Nope," he said, walking into his living room. As soon as he saw his large, flat screen TV sitting up against his wall, David had an equally foreboding feeling. Maybe just today he could go downstairs and find something to do down there.

David never went to his basement, except to read and to wash his clothes at the end of every week. It was kind of a shitty basement, even by basement standards. There was no floor, just concrete. No gym equipment, no board games, no spare TV's, just a floor of concrete, stock wood walls, a basic washer, and a basic dryer. Despite this, there was one saving grace: A little homemade crawl space, and at the end of the crawl space, a tiny little room, no bigger than a fridge-sized cardboard box, which he used to read in whenever he got his hands on a paperback novel. Nothing like curling up to read a book under a glow-in-the-dark Milky Way.

As David looked at the entrance to his reading room, he decided he had regained enough backbone from last night's episode to go back upstairs and turn on the TV.

Nothing good was on. Just re-runs of re-runs, which was fine with David. All he wanted to do was lose himself, and TV was perfect for just that. Flipping through the channels, David wondered what it was like to stand in front of a camera and be paid millions to basically be doing just that. Still nothing good, reruns, reruns, crap, crap...

A shopping channel? David stopped before he switched to the next station. Who even watched these?

On the shopping channel itself was a very clean shaven man standing next to a very clean shaven woman, who in turn was standing next to what looked to be a diamond studded purse. The going price was ten thousand bucks. David could only laugh as he looked at the two obvious newbies on camera for this shopping channel try to sell a purse to people who had lost their remote and could only watch this channel before they found it. In a weird way it was really funny to David. Right now the female anchor was demonstrating the bag's numerous capabilities.

"And as you can see here Richard, there is even a nifty little pocket inside the bag for you to put any extra pens or pencils in!"

"That's great Diane, definitely worth our viewers money, I can tell them that," the male news anchor, Richard, flashed a cheesey grin towards the camera. These guys weren't even subtle. They had apparent chemistry though, David could give them that.

"It sure is Ri-" The female anchor, Diane, was cut off by the sound of the purse landing on the ground. For a second David hadn't even noticed that it was gone. Both of the sales anchors stood still for just a moment, until Diane recovered and bent down to pick up the purse, saying a quippy line or something, David didn't know. All he could look at was Richard. While Diane bent down to pick up the purse, he gave her the most hurtful and angry look David had ever seen, his eyes looking at Diane with pure malice. Richard turned to the camera and gave the camera the same look. David wanted to both know laugh and shit his pants. He went with a nervous version of the former.

As soon as Diane got back up with the purse, Richard went back to his normal cheesey audience-pleasing grin. Except this time, to David, his grin looked more... forced, but it looked like Richard was holding it in alright. That is, until Diane managed to push the purse over the counter again on accident.

Everything was still. Richard's sloppy grin completely froze. Even David couldn't bring himself to move a muscle. After a few seconds Diane walked around the counter to grab the purse. Richard didn't move, didn't change his expression. Just the same, toothy, wide, cheesey TV grin.

Diane stood back upright, purse in hand, and walked back around the counter beside Richard, placing the back back on it's little sales podium. As Diane went back into her place next to Richard, she put her smile back on. It was obvious she was nervous. Richard then put his hand up and slapped Diane across the face. David could hear the sound of the slap long after it had happened. Diane's jaw dropped as she brought her hand up the her cheek where Richard had slapped her, where a red handprint was already forming. Diane looked like she was about to cry before she looked back over to Richard and saw his face, a mad twist of anger and desperation. His eyes and mouth were almost twisted in hatred. Diane's jaw started to tremble when Richard began to speak.

"Don't you dare cry Diane, I swear to God if you cry-"

"Richard, please, I can't-", tears started to stream down Diane's face.

"Didn't I tell you not to cry Diane. Did I not just tell you to not cry?" George bent closer to Diane, "You of all people should know what happens when we fuck up this bad, Diane".

Diane started to full on wail on camera.

"Did I not just tell you to shut the fuck up and stop crying!?" Richard screamed, right into Diane's face. Diane began to cry harder, her makeup streaming down her face.

"Oh fuck it, I'll do it myself," Richard muttered, reaching for Diane.

"No, Rich, plea-" was all she could get out before Richard grabbed the a fistful of Diane's hair on the back of her head and slammed her head onto the counter.

When Richard brought Diane's head off the counter, her nose was bleeding profusely. She was still bawling, her makeup streaming down her face, rolling with her tears.

"Richard," was all she managed to gurgle before Richard reared back and smashed her head into the counter again. He kept on doing it, didn't stop.

"Look what you did." SMASH, "Look what you did!" SMASH!

"WHAT DID YOU DO!?"

David managed to turn the TV off after he saw Diane's teeth fly out of her mouth. He ran to his bathroom and emptied his stomach into the toilet. After throwing up three times, David leaned against the wall opposite the toilet and began to weep.

I need to get out of here, David thought, standing up. He flushed the toilet and left the bathroom, heading for his front door. He had to go somewhere, talk to someone. Maybe he could go to his buddy Jim's house or something. As David was about to open his door, he looked over to his computer. David no longer wanted to go outside. Why go outside and run to Jim's when he could just message him online?

"No, no I can't, I need to go", he said, twisting the knob on his door. Locked, damnit. But, that didn't make sense, the indoor knob didn't lock. Checking the lock on the knob and the door, David tried again. Didn't budge. What the hell?

David walked to his back door, grabbed the handle, and pulled. Didn't budge. The door was unlocked and it was a sliding glass door, why the flying fuck wasn't it budging? David pulled with all he had. With each pull on the door, David's breathing got more and more strenuous. After the 6th pull he was on the ground, trying as hard as he could to breathe. An iron hand was gripping at his lungs, making him strain for every breath.

"Let me out... LET ME OUT!" David screamed, swinging his hands at the glass door. He punched it until his hands were discolored and hurt like bloody fucking hell. The door wasn't damaged in the slightest. David ran to the window above the sink of his kitchen, but it didn't move either, same with the windows in the living room. Anything that led to the outside world wouldn’t move. There was no way out. David wound up in the middle of his kitchen, the world around him spinning as he tried as hard as he could to process what the hell was going on. David fell to the floor.

"Help...", he whimpered, "please..." For how long David lay on the kitchen floor, he didn't know.

He didn't want to look at the clock, no, not that again. In a sense David was content with laying on the kitchen floor until the end of time. David thought he heard something, but all he did was push his head into his arms, not wanting to look at anything, wanting to shut the world out. He heard it again, and heard it better. It was a scraping sound along the floor, coming from the hallway that led to his bedroom. As David pushed his head into his forearm, he listened to the scraping get further and further down the hallway. Just as the sound was about to turn into the kitchen, David got up and ran downstairs.

There it was, his crawlspace. He dropped to his feet and crawled the few feet to his little room. David wondered if whatever making the scraping sound was still coming for him, or even if it was coming for him at all.

When David reached the room at the end of the crawlspace, he turned to look out towards the basement. Just concrete. From here all he could see were the foot of the stairs. David didn't move, kept looking, not wanting to sit in the little room with nothing to see. The concrete basement floor stretched before him. It was all he could see, but it wasn't all he could hear. After a few moments, David heard the sounds of very slow, very heavy footsteps coming down the stairs.

It was all David could do not to scream. He held his breath while he listened to the sounds of the footsteps got heavier and heavier. David counted the steps until whatever was stepping could be seen on the bottom step. There it was, a foot. But something was wrong, it didn't look right from here. It was pink, pink and fleshy...

Now it was all David could do not to simultaneously throw up and scream at the same time. Whatever was on those steps, now on the concrete walking toward him, was human, but it also wasn't. All it was, was bone and muscle. With every step and movement, David could see tendons and muscles working to move the legs toward the crawlspace. All the while it's bare muscular feet scraped across the floor, getting closer and closer to the crawlspace. It stopped at the foot of the crawlspace.

"David..." David heard the thing whisper

Oh god. David could feel himself draw his breath, not realizing he had been holding it all this time. He felt his hands start to shake, his legs start to tremble

"David..." with each pause David could hear the thing draw breath, rasping, "I was... Created... To ask you... One thing..."

A face appeared at the end of the crawlspace. It had no eyes, and no skin. The cheeks were absolutely concave, and when it spoke David could see the tendons working to move it's jaw. David screamed.

"Who... Are... You?"

David screamed and screamed.


David woke up in the crawlspace, for a moment not realizing where he was. Everything was black, but he could see moonlight coming in from one of the windows in the basement. He must have passed out. David climbed out of the crawlspace and stood at the end of the basement, waiting to hear the same shuffling footsteps coming down his stairs. He didn't hear anything, so he walked to the his stairs and up to his kitchen. David pulled out a chair and sat at his dinner table and thought about what that fucking thing had said. Why did he ask him who he was? David assumed the creature without skin didn't really care about David`s name. So the question was aimed for David, but why? David knew who he was, he was David, he liked scary stories and... And...

David ran to his computer and switched it on. As the computer booted up, he tried to think of the day before all of this shit had started. All he could remember was waking up yesterday morning.

His Facebook page, he had to look at his Facebook page. As he typed in his password, his hands began to tremble again. As he waited for the page to load he thought about who he was, trying to reach for a memory, but couldn't, no matter how hard he tried. David's screen went totally white.

"What the hell?" David said, clicking and moving his mouse. Nothing happened. He tried pushing a few keys, nothing.

"Oh for fuck's sake, not right now," he said, as he leaned down to press the power button. Nothing. But as David came back up, he noticed something on his screen. Text in the upper left hand corner.

You never stopped to think. But that's alright, we never wanted you to.

For a moment David could only stare. He thought about running, but where to? What could he really do at this point?

What was I supposed to think about, he typed.

If you haven't figured it out yet, then I pity you.

What is there to figure out?

It's okay, you'll figure it out soon enough.

No, really, whoever the fuck you are, tell me what the fuck is going on with me.

"And why would I do that, David?", he heard from behind him. David reeled and turned to face what had spoken to him, knocking his chair to the floor.

He saw... himself. Standing by the coffee maker, wearing a bathrobe and looking like he just got out of a nice shower.

The other David put the mug on the counter. "Man, that is some good shit you made".

"How... How..."

"Oh don't stammer like that, with a slack jaw nonetheless," his clone said, looking like he was about to let out a chuckle. "Still haven't figured it out?"

"N-n-no," David managed to stammer.

"You made all of this happen, David", the clone motioned towards the floor and to the ceiling, "Believe it or not, you wanted all of this."

"That's impossible, I'm not crazy... Am I?", David was starting to feel nauseous, "Why would I... Do that..."

"Well, don't worry David, I'll give you a little hint".

David's clone started to walk towards him. David tried to move, tried to look away, but he couldn't move. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't do anything but stare as his clone walked toward him. After two steps David noticed that the bathrobe was dissipating, leaving his clone to be walking towards him stark naked, though he wasn't naked for long. With every step, the clone of David shed a large part of his skin. On one step, the clone's chest and stomach melted away to reveal his heart, lungs, ribs, and everything else working and functioning to keep his clone, or whatever the fuck this was, moving. The next step, the skin on the clone's arms and legs slid off onto the floor, leaving David to watch his clone's tendons and muscles working. The next step, the last step before the clone reached David, the clone's face slid off, revealing an exterior that looked very much like the creature that David had seen outside of his crawlspace, pink, concave cheeks, and a shiny, muscled head.

The clone stopped one foot away from David and opened it's mouth. As it spoke David saw his jaw and tongue muscles working to form the word's it was speaking.

"You need... to ask yourself...", the creature paused and leaned toward David's face. David could feel the creature's labored breath.

"Ask... Yourself... WHY!?"

David screamed and screamed.


"You have to feel sorry for the guy is all I'm saying," Kraig said, playing with his white coat.

"And all I'm saying is that I don't feel sorry for this guy, it's his own goddamn fault," Richard said, not looking away from his computer.

Kraig, feeling a little disheartened by a conflicting opinion from Richard, looked at David. All Kraig could look at when he gazed at David were the wires coming from his face, head, neck, and for all Kraig knew out of his ass. David was probably one rich son of a bitch. Who in the world could afford all this shit? Kraig looked back to Richard, pining for some conversation.

"It was a nice touch you put in the programming, did you help design it?" Kraig said.

"I did the mo-cap and stuff for that character, but for the most part I was stuck with crawl space duty." Richard said, still not looking away from his monitor.

"Oh, sounds pretty shitty I guess," Kraig said, pausing to look at David again, "I was stuck programming his coffee maker," Kraig took a deep breath and looked at David for just a moment, "I just... wonder why he did it. Why he set all this up".

"Well, in the words of David," Richard said, nodding towards David but still keeping his eyes on the monitor, "I want two things, a scare and a good story."

Kraig shrugged. "Well, I hope he got it."

"Well, I hope the sick bastard enjoys this," Richard threw a couple of switches and put a hard drive into the computer.

"Initiating torture sequence. I bet if David were conscious and with us he would pray for those wires on his nerves to stop working right about now."

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