“It is hard to make friends around here. It is just the sort of place this is. People are rather open to strangers, but not to one another. No matter what the relationship that people have during the day, when the night comes the doors close tight and the shades are drawn. Outsiders are welcome, but our neighbors are not to be trusted. It can be lonely, so shortly after coming here I got a dog to keep me company.
His name is Ureal. When it comes to dogs, I prefer the larger breeds. Even a kind dog is enough to drive most people away if it is large enough. a place like this, such a thing is valuable. So when I went to make my choice, I picked Saint Bernard from a nearby pound. I do not know why he had such a strange name, but what interested me immediately was his age. He was three years old.
I know that older dogs aren't adopted as much. People want puppies, something they will grow up with. But I don't care about stuff like that. He was very friendly, and came up to me right away. He obviously had some training, but that was about all the good that could be said about the previous owner. He was missing patches of fur and seemed to have a slight limp. However, the thing that stood out most was his eye; he only had one.
I was told he had been abused, that his previous owner had been crazy. I didn't need to hear much to know what happened. I had already made up my mind. Within a couple of minutes I had filled out the paperwork, and within a week he had become part of my flat.
Months passed, and I became used to coming home to him. When night closed in, him and I would sit down on the couch while I would work on my writing. It was nice having him around, when the nights became quiet. The only thing peculiar about him, besides the missing eye, was the way he sometimes would just stare off into space, for sometimes upwards of a half an hour.
The young teen who found the bodies assumed that what he had discovered was the result of a late night of work on one of the many local independent films. It is in fact not that uncommon for amateur filmmakers to use the old factories, even without permission. However, something seemed off about the scene so he called the authorities. When the police arrived and realized that the violence was real, the boy became hysterical after realizing the skin on the table was someone's face.
Laid out in a arch were four surgical beds, a body set on each one; two females and two males in total. Separate medical trays were placed next to each, and surrounding the whole scene were a set of bright lights. Off to the side, almost out of sight, was an old record player, the record still slowly turning. Things became chaotic when it was discovered that the bodies on the tables were still alive. The victims were brought to the hospital and instantly brought into emergency surgery.
The damage to the bodies was pronounced, and was above all else uniform in execution. The skin from the faces had been removed, along with the majority of the tendons and muscles. It seems that the only bit of tissue that was kept on the face were those connected to the movement of the jaw. The strangest detail was the sharp gleam of the light on the skulls, and it was soon determined that the bone had been polished.
The bodies of the victims had been cleaned and sterilized, and it seems that a great amount of attention had been paid to sanitation. The arms were sewn against the chest, the thread that was used being of medical quality. The technique, although clearly learned, was more reminiscent of the stitching one would use in the manufacture of shoes. The damage to the bodies continued below the waist, as all the flesh and organs around the pelvis and thighs had been removed, bleeding prevented through cauterization. The links between the spine and the lower body had been severed, preventing the body from going into shock during the process. The bones in the waist had also been polished.
Three of the victims died in surgery. The toxicology results revealed two sorts of anesthetics were present in their bodies. One was ether, and was found via a mucus swab, suggesting it was used to knock them out. The other was a more modern anesthetic, which was found in the blood. Unfortunately, the results of the labs arrived too late. When anesthetic was applied, the patients OD'd and died. The remaining victim, one of the females, remained in surgery for six hours before finally being declared stable. Skin grants were planned for the face, but the treatment of the bone and other tissues made such an attempt impossible without further planning.
There was an obituary that appeared in the newspaper a few days ago. The person who died was an adult male, almost forty-five years old. The entry had his name, birth date, and the date of his death. However, all other information had been withheld.The only other piece of text that was included was a single line; “Their pain has ended.” The lack of information is especially strange considering obituaries are often written by or with the permission of the family involved. I have asked around, but few people have been willing to comment on it.
Upon speaking with the family and talking with local police I was able to get some information. The following is from the testimony of the families eldest daughter of sixteen. It is important to note that despite the strange nature of her admission, she has been deemed sane, and has not be accused of having any fault in the death of her step father.
“I was waiting at the park when the man came up to me . He sat down on the bench and asked me how I had been. He used my name, though I had never seen the man in all of my life. He was very old, and smelled heavily of cologne. His suite was olive green and his eyes were slightly pink. He had dark gums and thin, pink lips. His skin was pale, and was very wrinkly. I didn't like his voice. It was like listening to glass speak.
I asked him how he knew my name. He wouldn't answer that, and simply asked me again how I had been. I didn't know what to make of him. He was talking to me like I knew him, but I knew I had never seen his face before. I was going to leave, but David had told me not to go home for at least a hour. It had only been a half hour, and I was beginning to worry about my sister again.
I told him I was fine, but something in the way he frowned at me made it clear he knew I was lying.
“My home is fed by the river. I pour myself a glass of water and take a sip, as instantly my mouth is awash with the flavor and textures of lake water; the mild taste of the seaweed and green, brackish silt. I know this flavor well, finding it as a common experience at the beaches from my childhood. Back then I would swim after my friends, desperately trying to manage to keep my head above water, supported by my thin frame. But there was never enough fat on me to keep me afloat, and then my asthma would kick in and I would sink, that water pushing its way to the back of my throat. My nostrils would burn as the smell of fish shit and whatever the hell else was in the water would linger longer than I would like.
Just in the nick of time I would make it to shallow water, crawl my way onto the hot sand that seemed to threaten to strip my flesh, silently wondering where the phrase “In the nick of time,” came from. To this day I have never been a very good swimmer, and I still hesitate anytime I am asked to jump into water. I hate to be cold, but even worse then that I hate to not know what rests beneath my feet.
There is a story I have, one that I haven't told anyone because I knew they wouldn't believe me. I want to blame my failure as a swimmer on simply my inability to maintain a adequate weight, but as all children know the ability to float is only one of the many dangers that arise when we submerge ourselves. Not since we were in the comfort of our mothers womb has water offered us a sense of security. The moment that water draws away and we are forced along the canal towards the light, we are officially separated from the water. We are land walkers, and the sea offers little security. But no other time in our life is water as scary as when we are children.
As a child I always kept my activities to the areas closest to land. I would build sandcastles out of the foul smelling clay that lay just below the surface of the shallows. It was darker and heavier then the sand above it, creating kingdoms that failed to move when tide would rise. But eventually I had to learn to be comfortable with the water, and found myself at a summer camp around the age of twelve , jumping into frigid lake water.
It was seven in the morning, and my light, thin form struggled to keep out the cold. The others in the water seemed fine with it though and somehow I managed to struggle through it for a while. But it was clear I was being outpaced by the others, and the constant shivering caused every movement of my legs in the water to become arduous. The water was a deluded green, with plant life creating a veritable carpet of slimy sinuous things.
“At the time I was just some soldier. I didn't know I was being tested on. It was only afterwords that I was told what they had done to us. In a way it was nice they told us at all. Covering up things wasn't uncommon back then. Many things were hidden, even from the people involved. It was just the way things worked in the Soviet Union. I found out later that they wanted to see if they could effectively carry out troop movements in nuclear fallout. As it turned out, the answer was yes.
I later found out that they had done similar tests in America. Only they started off testing pigs. They placed them in suits, made of different materials, and dropped a bomb nearby. Many of them survived, though they had burns over most of their bodies. We didn't have protection though. None at all. Russia, my home. I remember all of it so well. Though I wish I could not. I cannot forget. Not of the smell of the aftermath. Not the looks of the villagers.
We were told it was a fake military exercise, though some of the nearby villages were informed that they needed to move away to a safe distance. Many of them were warned. Most of them weren't, and most weren't evacuated. I don't know why they told them and not us. Maybe because they thought we would refuse to follow orders. They were silly to doubt us. We would never defy our government. We were too scared to say no.
Three hours after the detonation we were sent in. My unit was positioned on the edges of the exercise, and before we new what was happening we were separated from the main group. I don't know how we could have gotten lost, only that we did. There were thousands of people. The sound alone should have kept us on track. We were young, very inexperienced. Without direction we simply became more and more confused. Our radios weren't working properly so we couldn't call for aid. At the time, we felt like we were in luck when we saw a village nearby.
Not wasting any time, we headed towards it, hoping to use it to get our bearings. Not a few minutes into the vicinity of the village we noticed several young kids walking around, along with a few adults.
Over six months I have spent collecting stories of this strange place, and I fear that it is taking its toll. I am exhausted, lethargic, and my body aches. Whatever the cause, I am wishing for the familiar. So when an old friend of mine arrived from out of town, insisting that they see me, I immediately made the time. I imagined that the experience would invigorate me, but all it ended up doing was make me scared. Scared of what I have been doing, and what I am starting to accept as normal.
I have known my friend for a number of years, and have come to expect a certain amount of sugar coating from them. For a short while after the death of my parents I lived with their family, and so I became rather close to them. To this day they may be the most important friend I have. I was...low at that point. Their family stepped up and made sure I wasn't alone. I became used to calling them when I wasn't feeling well, and they were willing to offer a ear to listen. They are always comforting, so when my friends arrived, the last thing I expected was an argument.
They met me at my house, and shared with them a bit of the dark history of the place. After a short while I led them to the local restaurant near the theater. Soon we were sitting, chatting like old times. They had been working recently at a dentists office. It is solid work. Good money. They noticed the pictures on the walls, and I began to share the story of the young actress who had mysteriously gone missing near this place. Without realizing it, I began to share other stories attached to the restaurant. Finally after a half hour I ran out of tales concerning the restaurant and ordered some food. When I looked at my friend, I was shocked by their expression. They looked horrified.
They managed to keep their voice down, but I could notice the concern in their tone. They said that I looked unkempt and sick, that I had lost weight and had dark circle under my eyes. I tried to tell them that I was feeling much better than before, that the headaches had subsided, that I wasn't experiencing the nightmares as frequently. I told them I no longer felt like I was being watched.
They looked uncomfortable, and for the first time in months I saw what was happening to me. I had moved here to try and escape from my symptoms. The main contributing factor had been trauma, extending from the strange experiences I have had. Yet it has been months since my fateful experience at the bus stop, and I am still not healthy. I may not suffer from crippling headaches and I may no longer have the paranoia that plagued me before, yet I am still tired, and my sleep doesn't seem to be helping as much as it should.
In the main graveyard of Wellington Street is a large sinkhole, the formation of which managed to take with it a large number of graves. It is assumed by many that this has made the graveyard unusable, but the truth is that there are still a few who choose to be buried there. There is however one grave in particular that stands out among the rest, mostly because of the fact there is no name on the tombstone, even though there is a confirmed date of death. Yet even more peculiar than even that is the fact that a large number of crows often frequent the site.
Great efforts have been made to identify the man, including investigations into medical records from across the country. However, the identity of the young man buried there has remained a mystery. This is strange as his “condition” would have required significant medical treatment in order for him to have reached the age at which he died. In the end, all that is known about the man are the events between his arrival on Wellington Street, and his death later the same day.
At around nine in the morning, police received numerous calls from local residents. They said that they had witnessed a strange looking person walking down the sidewalk. They were concerned as the man was wearing nothing save for a pair of white medical pants and seemed to be very ill. They seemed to be stumbling as they walked, and they seemed to be bleeding from several places. By the time police had arrived on the scene, several concerned citizens had collected around the him, wrapping a blanket around his reddish shoulders and giving him warm water.
All attempts to communicate failed as he seemed to be unable to speak or understand English, speaking a dialect that no one was able to discern. The bleeding was only slight, though there was severe separations in the skin. His eyes were a cool blue, and his face and tongue were swollen. His skin was hard and without flexibility, and within moments of the polices arrival he was brought to the hospital. After his arrival he was immediately placed in the ER on the verge of falling comatose.
After a litany of tests, it was determined that the young man was dehydrated and was suffering from a astonishing number of infections. He was placed on an IV along with a wide range of drugs. His kidney's and liver were failing, and a catheter was required to help flush his system. A closer examination of the skin revealed thick, diamond shaped scales. His ears were malformed, and lacked a nose. By all understanding, the mere fact he had been walking was incredible.
The local priest came to see me. He is relatively new, and not necessarily trusted. The man he replaced after all was much loved by the community. But one day, he inexplicably received a letter that he was being called away to another church. I have spoken to most of the congregation, both before the priest left and after he was replaced, yet it seems to me that there is a great amount of confusion surrounding it, and it is not surprising that many wonder what could really be the point of replacing the head priest, especially so close to the some of the most sacred holidays of Autumn. These are important times for priests, especially in Gnosticism. It is time to prepare their congregation for the coming of winter.
I have lived here for only a short while, but it seems that I have been here long enough for him to come and visit. I have his permission to speak of what we talked about, though I honestly would have documented the conversation regardless...The things he said hit me like the worst of my nightmares. He has only been a priest here for a short while, and yet he carries himself like man who has been preaching for centuries. He does not doubt his skills, and clearly dislikes detractors.
He came to me yesterday, wishing to speak to me on the matter of my attendance. In truth I have not gone to a service in many years. So I told him that I was not practicing, and that I could not in good judgment attend a service of something I didn't believe in. He insisted, and although I was tired and simply wanted to rest I let him come inside to chat. It has rarely served me well in my investigations to ignore a chance at a talk. The following is the conversation I had, to the best of my recollection.
I started off by offering him coffee. He refused, stating that his heart wasn't good with stimulants,
“Tell me son, what was it that made you lose your faith.”
I have not fallen asleep naturally since I tried to leave Wellington Street last Sunday, though drugs seem to be able to induce it for a time. The entire experience has been frightening and difficult to comprehend, especially when I woke up and realized that I was resting in a hospital. Though the events that brought me to this point seem so rapid and disjointed, I am still very much aware of what is happening to me. My friend has visited me several times, along with the Unknown Author, though she has said very little. My headaches are slowly returning, and the doctors are unsure as to when I will be leaving.
As planned, I had headed out Sunday night to join my friend at their home. I went ahead and took the train, as it was the most direct path to their house. The train arrived promptly and departed shortly thereafter, with few people aboard save for myself. There were no locals on the trains, only people passing through. I began to feel happy and relieved as the stops continued to pass. But after only a half hour had elapsed I began to feel ill.
It started off as just as a simple chill running along my spine. Then a ringing in my ears. My vision began to double up on itself, and began to blur like someone had put a filter over it. I started to sweat, cold and clammy, and it felt like I was going to fall. The figures around me seemed to distort, to shift and change. They looked like they were cloaked in black, walking in a strange manner. I tried to stand up, but it felt like I was weighed down by something pressing on me. I struggled to breathe, as my vision began to darken like entering a tunnel.
Somewhere, far away, I heard the tone of the mechanized voice listing off the stops. I heard the one I needed being called, and I knew whatever was happening, I had to get off the train. I murmured, asking for help. A few of the people, the shadows...cloaked. They helped me off the train. I could hardly walk. My friend was waiting for me, and I tried to make my way over to him. But a huge surge of fatigue hit me, and I fell to the ground.
They called the paramedics, who brought me to a hospital some distance away. I was unconscious at the time, but that does not mean that my mind was silent. For what felt like days I was caught in a dream, though as the dream progressed it became a nightmare. It started with the woods, a long wandering, stumbling over stumps and roots but unable to stop to catch my breath. I have tried to recall long details, but all I can bring about are bits and pieces. The one thing I remember most is a very old, very large building, emerging into view. It was strange in its design, though I couldn't tell you how. Only that the walls were a heavy gray.
The following comes from the a written recollections of a local police officer. The facts relate to the investigation into a rash of disappearances involving children. Information on this has been tightly controlled, and none of the locals have been willing to comment. This is not surprising, as I soon found out. The disturbing nature of the crimes, especially in the end, has made them difficult to discuss. The fact that no one was ever charged for the crimes has been a point of contention among all members of the population, and to this day it seems that this may be the way it will remain.
The investigation began several years ago, after a child went missing from the local school. It was during recess, and there were several adults supervising the children. Yet despite the amount of the people watching, no one was able to offer any information about how the child disappeared. It was at first assumed that they had simply wandered off the grounds, but as time passed it became increasingly clear that she was not merely lost. A large search was launched, including the vast majority of the local police, but no trace of the child was found.
The next disappearance occurred at a local park. A pair of twins were playing nearby one of the many benches, digging in the dirt and making tunnels with sticks. The parents were talking with another family, and claim that it was not uncommon for the twins to go off on their own. When it was time for them to leave, they called for them, but were unable to get a response. They went in search, but were unable to find anything save for a large bundle of sticks next to one of the holes.
Once again a large search was launched, but again little was found. It was determined that the sticks found at the park were young, and would have required a cutting implement to slice so cleanly. Only neither of the twins carried a knife of any sort. The only tangible piece of evidence that was found was a pair of “ribbons” tied to a tree near to the place where they disappeared. These were discovered a few days after the twins went missing. DNA evidence revealed that it came from the clothes of the boys, but nothing else was able to be drawn from it.
The most high profile of these abductions was that of the youngest member of the Wellington family. At around nine at night a call was placed to police, after it was discovered that the child was missing from his room, where he had been placed a half hour before. His window was open, though it was doubtful that the boy could have escaped through there was the eight year old resided on the second floor of the home. The piece of evidence that tied it to the others was the long strip of cloth from the boys pajamas, tied to a tree on the grounds.