Wellington Street http://sett.com/wellingtonstreet In which we take a stroll down a very strange lane. en-us Mon, 11 Dec 2017 16:54:12 +0000 http://sett.com Sett RSS Generator Building 8 "The Chimney Sweep" http://sett.com/wellingtonstreet/building-8-the-chimney-sweep Margaret and I spent yesterday setting up the Christmas lights. Was cold today. Some snow on the ground. Got late by the time we finished up. Sat in the living room. Looking at everything. The tree. The stockings. Only set up the two of ours. Noah and Elizabeth won't be coming over for a while.

For the best.

Christmas lights around the fireplace began to flicker; first the yellow and the purple, then the blue and the green. Then they went out completely, leaving just the red bulbs. Fire was still burning, but the room was dominated by red. I went ahead and checked the bulbs of the other colors. All of them were scorched. Electrical. But the red bulbs remained alight. Struck me as odd.

When I was young there was always a tradition of testing the lights before we set them up. Often there would be one bulb that was no good, and it would become a great mystery trying to figure out which one it was that caused all the bulbs to refuse to light. Whoever found it got a treat.

This wasn't a new set of lights. It was the same one I had been using for almost five years.

The room was bathed in red.

Heard a knock.

I heard a knock coming from somewhere. Checked the front door. And then I checked the porch. But it wasn't coming from those places. It was coming from the chimney.

“It's cold out here,” something said. “May I come in?”

Picked up the fire poker from the stand. Heart was thumping. I was waiting. Kept waiting.

First there was a arm. It settled its pale hand directly onto the fire, causing the logs to shift, shooting sparks up the shaft. The other arm appeared after that. It searched, finally finding purchase by gripping the edge of the fireplace.

Then there was hair. A whole mess of hair. Stringy and black and oily.

Something impossibly long made its way out of the fireplace. Smelt of burnt hair, sour milk, and firewood.

Margaret ran to the kitchen and grabbed a knife. Thought I had gotten rid of that knife. A year ago Noah threatened me with it. Big butcher knife. Didn't need sharpening. Hadn't used it since.

Thing made its way out of the fireplace, its long arms extending past the entrance to the living room as it pulled itself out, settling itself in a squatted, sitting position. Its knees were only a few feet from the ceiling. In its hands, which were loosely arranged between its legs, was a package. It was red with a golden bow. The thing leaned forward, extending the package towards my wife and I.

“You have lost much the last few years,” it said. “All of it is tied to a single source. A single source of pain. So I offer you a gift. I offer you a chance for resolution.”

Didn't offer the gift to me. It turned its head slightly and extended its arms towards Margaret. Margaret looked at me. Looking for what to do. You don't turn a gift down. Not from that thing. I know the stories. Those who said no. So I nodded grimly. She understood.

She reached forward and removed the top from the package. Her reaction was of genuine surprise. She reached into the box, and retrieved its contents.

It was a scalpel.

A single source of pain. The Surgeon. The man who had taken so much from me and my family. There really wasn't anything else it could be. My wife put her free hand to her mouth. Tears in her eyes. She looked at me, then looked and the creature and shook her head no.

Muscles tensed. Waited for it to do something. Anything. Instead it just smiled. Too wide of a smile.

“Hold onto it for a rainy day,” it said in a cooing voice. She was silent, then placed the scalpel into the box. It put back on the lid and placed the box on the side table by the lamp. Then it headed across the room on all fours. Headed down the hall. Opened the front door.

It left.

Margaret was breathing heavily. She was shaking.

The lights flickered. They all lit up. Yellow and purple, then green and blue. The red remained as well. Like always. We just stood there a while. In silence. Listening to the crackling of the fire. Went over to Margaret. Wrapped my arms around her. Seemed uncomfortable. Went over to the side table and turned on the lamp. Tried to move the present. Couldn't. Couldn't even remove the lid. Was stuck in place. Figures. It isn't for me. Still sitting there.

Didn't know what to do with our night after that. Put out the fire and closed the flue. Made sure the door and windows were secure. Margaret went ahead and took a shower. After I spent time holding her. She wouldn't stop shaking. Gave her something to help her sleep. Felt helpless. Did what I could. She tossed and turned all night. Normally I'm the one have nightmares. Kept listening for knocking.

Felt in a daze all day today. Smoked half a pack before my shift was over. Have heard stories of the Jingle creature for a long time. Knew monsters existed here. Didn't think I would meet one. Not like the Surgeon. Something unnatural.

It is windy. Cuts into you. Little bit of snow that had accumulated was gone.

Margaret isn't very talkative. Without Loyd our house feels empty. Not just because the kids aren't around. The holidays are usually one of our favorite times of year. This year we aren't feeling it as much. Too much new trauma. Just need one good night of relaxing. Just one night.

I am looking our back at the grave Margaret dug for Loyd. She did a good job. Was deep enough. Ground is hard now. There isn't a marker. Neither of us want to put the work into it.

Need to focus on finding him. Finding the Surgeon. Don't want to think about it. Need to think about it.

Need to get our life back.

Replaced the trash can with the hole in it.

Thought I heard Loyd.

I'm tired.

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Fri, 08 Dec 2017 04:08:57 +0000 http://sett.com/wellingtonstreet/building-8-the-chimney-sweep
The River 2 "Elder on the Bridge" http://sett.com/wellingtonstreet/the-river-2-elder-on-the-bridge “Back in my hometown there was an old, steel bridge spanning a local river. The river was fed by a hydroelectric plant. As a consequence the water tended to be much colder than the season would dictate, and was much faster than the normal course of the river would allow.

It was not uncommon, on the harder days of my childhood, for me to go to the bridge and walk its length. I would do this over and over, distracting myself with the sound of the wood underfoot, noting the places where the sound was different. Those beams in between the steel struts had a particular sound. A deep, hollow tone.

On the cold days of winter the cold air would howl across the expanse. But the bridge was sturdy and took no notice. The steel turned a burnt orange with age and weathering, but the bridge remained strong. And it remained a place where I could go when I needed to feel safe or wanted to get away from everything. Away from my home.

When I became a teenager it became a place for the local boys to hang out, throwing rocks into the water and spitting off the edge. On the whole they left me alone, but often they wouldn't. One time some of the bigger kids grabbed me and held me over the edge. Never mind the fact that the water wasn't very deep at that time and the drop was significant.

They thought it was hilarious. As for me, I never got over my fear of heights, and would keep a greater distance from the edges of the bridge after that. I used to enjoy looking over the edge and watching the water flow. But after I developed a fear of heights that became impossible.

The bridge used to be a fine mix of the natural and the artificial. The sight of the water off the edge of the steel construction. But with my fear of heights two things changed. Firstly, I saw the bridge only as a artificial thing. And two, I could never recreate the feeling of security I used to have during my youth. Though God knows I tried.

Eventually, I began walking the bridge at night instead of the day. The bullies tended to go other places at night, so the bridge was mostly left to myself. Old, yellow lights would illuminate it, and many a night I would wander home just as the sun was beginning to rise.

I was walking one night when I saw an old man limping across the bridge. He had a dark, olive green suit and a pink shirt. His hair was thin and wispy, and his face was wrinkled and dusted with age spots. He held onto the railing as he went, and would cough in harsh fits every twenty feet or so.

This was a long time ago. We didn't think to be afraid of strangers. I went up to him and asked him if he needed any help. The old man chuckled a little, and as I got closer I could see his gums and lips were black.

“All I can get,” he responded. His voice was like glass on concrete.

I took his arm and began to walk him across. His skin was ice cold, and I found myself shivering despite the temperature.

“How have you been?” he asked.

I was instantly uncomfortable. He talked to me like he knew me, or at least was aware of me. But I assumed he had misspoke and was trying to be friendly, so I decided to go along with it.

“I've been alright. Yourself?”
The old man grimaced. He stopped and looked right at me. “You haven't been alight. Things at home have been getting worse. Less time with your family. More time on this bridge.”

I didn't know how to respond. How could he know these things about me.

“You let fear rule your life. You don't face it. You just crumble to it. Its why you walk at night. The fear of heights. Fear of people. I am here to help.”

He chuckled again and broke into a smile. But it wasn't a smile. Or was it? I am not sure. Sometimes I remember it one was and sometimes another. Sometimes its just a grin. Sometimes it is something worse.

I felt my head begin to ache. Worse than I had every felt before or since. I nearly passed out and fell to the ground, gripping the sides of my head.

“You are a coward John. That's okay. I'll be brave for you.”

My vision blacked out then. I could hear him. I could hear the sound of his old shoes on the old wood. The distinct hollow spots between the supported and the unsupported spots. He grabbed me. But he wasn't grabbing me. He was sinking. I was sinking into him. Him into me. I was cold. I was so very cold...

I don't remember waking up. I just was awake, walking towards the bridge...I walked along the edge. The fear was gone. I felt secure like I hadn't been in so long. I wandered the edges, stopping at last to stair into the water. To watch it move.

The were things in the water. This time of year, the water level was low. The bullies bodies. Once they were over the edge it was just a matter of gravity to take care of the rest. They simply were settled in the water, caught on the stones and the plants. The water cut around them. It took little notice. Just moved around them. They were in its way.

When I arrived on Wellington Street, I heard the stories of the Old Man. People around here are so damn scared of him. Me...I can't help but smile when I think of him. I'm still scared of heights, but sometimes I go back to my home town. I can look over the edge of the bridge and into the water. I can imagine the bodies. I can do it without fear.”

More of these damn stories. This one is interesting. First time I have ever heard of one of these “home grown” legends being talked about outside of Wellington Street. Old Man is an old legend. Heard about him as a kid.

Used to give me nightmares.

Have nightmares about other things now.

Police couldn't find any evidence on the cooler where I found my wife's face.

Thinking of the bridge.

It was unusually warm today.

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Sun, 03 Dec 2017 21:01:30 +0000 http://sett.com/wellingtonstreet/the-river-2-elder-on-the-bridge
Building 8 "Kept On Ice" http://sett.com/wellingtonstreet/building-8-kept-on-ice I dreamt last night about a bridge. An old, broken thing. Boards missing and cracked. The ropes that suspended it frayed and broken. I never crossed. Couldn't see the other side. Didn't trust it. Just watched it swaying back and forth in the wind. Impossibly tall trees framed it on either side. And from their branches strange somethings were trying to coax me across. Real friendly like.

They were my friends.

Fog kept me from seeing the other side properly. But I could see things. Large things, waiting for me to reach the other side. Kept pacing, the way a caged animal does. Animals in zoos do that all the time. They do it because they are anxious. They want to hurt us, the ones that caged them.

Margaret and I are preparing for Thanksgiving. Will just be the two of us. Maybe a few friends. The kids are going to be with my sister. Noah probably won't be out of the hospital before then. He hasn't shown any signs of improvement. Keeps insisting the cat he killed is still alive. They haven't allowed the therapy dogs to visit his room. That is all I know about how he is doing.

I went to the police. Asked them if they could give me anything on how the investigation into the Surgeon was going. With the most recent crime I figured they would know something. Figured I had a right to know. But even my friends in the precinct claimed they didn't have anything. Guy is a ghost.

Don't think that's true.

They are covering it. Just like they cover everything else.

Like they did with Andrew... and all those poor people at the Asylum.

Bastard killed me first wife. Mutilated my second. I could blame myself, but really it is his fault my boy is in the hospital now. His crimes are just a series of traumas. Doesn't even matter if it happens to you personally. Every time he hurts someone the people around here get weird. Like they are in a daze. Always hoping this is the last time. That he will run out of ways to hurt people.

Man is an artist. An artist doesn't quit willingly.

I don't care if he is willing.

I've had enough. I have lost too much to that freak. I don't care about this damn balance, this enforced silence. I was a journalist dammit. Before all this.

I am not going to let him get away with it.

I played the record he sent me. Canon in D. To focus. To think.

Have you ever experienced something that became an obsession? Not just a focus. A thing that consumes your life and the lives of those around you. Most people never experience that. Just live their lives in dull persistent repetition.

Hope he reads this. I hope he fucking reads this and gets scared. Scared as hell. He has hurt everything I care about. Every aspect of my life is tainted with him. I can't escape this anymore.

So I am starting at the beginning.

First crime. The one with stitches. A man in a bathroom sewn together so completely he feels it even after the stitches have been removed. Its been years. Didn't think a man in that condition would stay in the area.

I was right.

No forwarding address. No sign of him. Became a ghost.

So I did the next best thing. I went to the factory where it took place. Where he sewed a man together in a bathroom and where he butchered four other kids. At least they had the good sense to put a fence up around it. Suppose I should thank them for not tearing it down. Gave me a chance to look inside.

Place smells of cold concrete and dirt. Except in the rooms where the Surgeon did his work. Even after all these years they still smell like cleaner. The bathroom and the main open area where he performed “surgery.” Bathroom was as I expected. Clean save years of dust settled on the surfaces. Unused. Locked. Don't want homeless people getting inside.

Main factory floor was different. It was recently used. No dust. Cleaned floors.

And a cooler.

There was a note on top. Said “Don't hold onto the past.” Before I opened it I knew exactly what I would find.

It was my wife's face. Her original face.

The one before he replaced it with another.

They still haven't figured out who he got the skin from. The one she currently wears.

I brought it to the hospital. But there was nothing they could do. The flesh was preserved as well as could have been expected. Has been a year since it was removed. The flesh wasn't viable anymore. It was dead. It had been dead a long time...

Margaret took the news well. Seemed uncomfortable. But almost seemed happy when I said it couldn't be placed back on. Like she didn't want to talk about it. Considering how traumatic the experience had been...I understand.

I invited the neighbors over for Thanksgiving. They turned it down. Said they had their own plans. Seems the neighborhood used to be more friendly.

Visited Loyd's grave. He is still dead.

Had our first snow of the year the other week.

Didn't keep.

Last leaf on our tree dropped.

Found something outside my front door. Think it used to be a dog.

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Thu, 23 Nov 2017 03:35:07 +0000 http://sett.com/wellingtonstreet/building-8-kept-on-ice
Factory 1 "The Trick-or-Treaters" http://sett.com/wellingtonstreet/factory-1-the-trick-or-treaters Their parents wouldn't help them purchase Halloween masks. Should have reconsidered. Shouldn't have been cheap. They should have at least made their children keep their mouths shut about it. Was a cool night. Lot's of kids on the street...still took several houses before people realized the kids weren't wearing masks.

My boy Noah decided he wanted to go as a skeleton this year. Can still smell the face paint under my finger nails. That pungent, awful smell. You never forget it...When I was a kid everyone used the face paints. Masks cost money. Was cheaper to throw something together. My family didn't have a lot of money back then. On really bad years we would sometimes stay home, my sister and I. We were embarrassed. I try not to let those memories affect my kids.

Noah, Beth and I left the house around seven. Margaret was at home. Figured it was best. Her face was a little swollen that day.

We heard screaming about twenty minutes after that. It was an older woman. House full of plants. Had lost her husband the other year. Loves kids though. Hands out the big candy bars. By the time I reached them she was already on the phone with police. The kids stood there, unfazed. Didn't seem to realize that anything was wrong. The stitches were fresh. Whatever he doped them with it was enough to make sure they didn't feel any pain.

I ran across the street. Noah and Beth followed.

The boy looked right at me. Then he looked at Noah. At least I think he did. Hard to tell. The skin around his eyes was sewn almost completely shut.

The sister just kept rocking in place, clumps of hair falling from her head. She was drooling a lot. Kept trying to suck the saliva back in but otherwise didn't seem concerned. Considering the damage I would have imagined there would be more blood.

The boy...he had the surgeon's face. The same technique. The skin loosened around the mouth and eyes. The vertical stitching. The removal of the cheeks and the nose and ears...To see that bastard's face on a kid...I screamed. Couldn't help it.

Boy seemed so proud.

He had experimented on the girl. Let his technique wander to something new. I found out later he only had perhaps an hour to have done the work. Honestly I have no idea how he could have worked so fast.

Doctor's at the hospital said they have developed new techniques in studying the surgeon's crimes. Said they could fix it. But what he did to those kids...only person to ever have work done on them like that was the surgeon himself. That psycho is the only expert.

That poor girl. Just kept drooling. Couldn't hear me asking about her parents. She didn't have ears anymore. Just a line of stitches. Couldn't really lift her head fully. The stitches securing her chin to her chest shifted a little but held fast. She was chattering her teeth. Trying to...her lips were stitched to the roof of her mouth.

I didn't know what to do. Just kept telling my kids to run home but they wouldn't leave.

My kids.

My kids came over to go trick or treating. Should of just made them stay home and watch movies.

I swear to god I locked away all the knives in the house.

Noah seemed okay when we had gotten back home. The fact he wasn't crying like his sister should have tipped me off. Poor Margaret...I told her what happened. Was like watching someone die. The life drained from her eyes. She just...retreated. Retreated away from it. I suppose that is where she finds her strength. Something like that. You just can't look at it head on.

It was around eleven when I heard the yowling and the hissing. The pop of bone was what made me run...


He went to the hospital again. My sister picked him up in the morning. He was forced to stay the night under observation. Just in case.

Noah is so young. I don't know how he found the strength to hold Loyd down. There was blood all over the sink...he knew well enough to try and keep it clean. Just not keep it quiet.

By the time I reached Noah and pulled him away...the cat was just...breathing fast. Not even crying out anymore. Just breathing fast. And then he wasn't...

I almost hit him. I almost did. I had gotten that cat for Margaret. For company. With the kids gone it was like a replacement. Something to fill the space.

Is that why Noah did it?

I didn't think there was that much blood in a cat.

Noah is physically okay. A few bites and scratches.

He is caught up on his shots.

Margaret said she would bury Loyd that night. Said I should stay at the hospital with Noah...I don't think it was a good idea. It is my fault. Something in me must draw that sort of thing out of him. I could blame the incident with the trick-or-treaters but that would be wrong. It was just a trauma. Noah has been wrong for a long time. Just like his daddy.

It has been two years since I moved back. Tried to make a new start.

It was cold today too.

Sun was out.

Noah is getting new medicine.

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Tue, 07 Nov 2017 02:35:43 +0000 http://sett.com/wellingtonstreet/factory-1-the-trick-or-treaters
Cemetery 1 "Lanterns on the Graves" http://sett.com/wellingtonstreet/cemetery-1-lanterns-on-the-graves I visited Sarah today. Has been a very long time. The leafs in the cemetery are changing early. The smell is everywhere. Every time you take a step that deep smell of earthy rot hits your nose. Smell is comforting. On the graves people have begun to place lanterns. Nothing elaborate. Just solar powered things. At night it is quite beautiful. Most the graves have them now. I found a dead squirrel on top of a tombstone.

She probably would have liked it if I had brought the kids. Things being as they are I don't think that would be a great idea.

I hadn't even passed the cemetery in a while.

The large sinkhole in the middle hasn't gotten larger, but the fence around it needs repairs. Passed the sinkhole on the way to her grave. Water in it was higher than I remembered. Spotted the rope we had used to lower ourselves into it years ago. We used to sneak in a lot. Was a sort of special place for us. People said I shouldn't bury her here.

I didn't care.

The sinkhole hasn't grown in years and I always planned to keep her here. A few graves down is a grave of some drifter who died. Several crow watched me. I worked on her grave. Put new flowers. Threw away the old ones. People don't come here enough, and there isn't really a set groundskeeper anymore. It's more voluntary than anything.

People stopped volunteering.

Any given day you can find legions of flowers, strewn about and dead.

I'm tired. I hate to admit it. Something about visiting Sarah makes me feel things.

I haven't been sleeping well. Neither has Margaret. But we have both managed to get enough to keep up with things. Besides her, the only thing that seems to perk me up is my kids. Been talking to my sister. She agreed to have them go trick or treating with us. Never thought I would ever have to negotiate seeing my own kids. But I'll be happy to have em.

There is a house near the cemetery. It's filled with plants. I was inside it once when Sarah was still alive. Woman who lives there is nice enough, but seems overly obsessed with her plants. She has sunlamps all over her home and plants sit all over the place, even along the stairs. Strangely I don't think any of the plants ever flower. Suppose there are plenty of flowers at the cemetery.

I am tired.

Its hard to see her again. Her gravestone has a picture of her on it from before the Surgeon. I don't recognize her like that any more. Feel separated. You have enough nightmares about something and it can become more normal than the truth. Truth was that before the Surgeon cut off her face she had been the most beautiful woman I had known.

Margaret is the first.

Looking at her picture is like looking at someone else. It isn't her. Not really. Not like she was at the end. And no matter how hard I try I can't seem to think of her any other way. It's supposed to get dulled with time. Old memories come back. Find some peace. But I remember the color of her skull. Her eyes.

They were blue.

Today was a good day. Better than most. The weather has cooled a little. Been a little hot for my taste the last few days. Sat outside on the porch for a little while. Too many kids around here.

She hated me by the end of it. By the time she passed away. I had hoped that the infections would have put her into a coma. Afforded her some measure of peace. She was awake until she died, and in a way I hate her for that. It's hard for kids to heal when their last memory of their mother was her saying some crap in Sumerian. I have tried not to blame her. Put most of it on me. My instability has had an effect on my son Noah. But if I really think on it, things only got bad when his mom died.

We are going to lock up the knives before he arrives. Just in case.

Police were down the road today. Entire family was missing. Said they found something big in the backyard that they wouldn't elaborate on. Just know it screamed when they put it down.

Grew up here. It has always been like this. Dad always thought that maybe it was a bad influence considering my history. Mom has always liked it here. So have I. I have never been able to stay away for very long. Longest time I ever spent away was after Sarah died.

I have been having the strangest nightmare. Had it three nights in a row now. I'm at a beach. The water is cold and washing over my feet. Loyd is with me, playing with a dead fish. Something is in the water. I wade out to it. I hear a voice. Something under the water. I sit into the water and instantly I feel the cold surround me. I hear it though.

Hear the voice.

“Ubaba uza...ubaba uza.”

Then from under the water all these deep, red eyes open. First one. Then many. And suddenly the water is hot. And I am being dragged out of the water. And I see it has been raining. And something is stopping the rain from hitting me. Something large.

And then I wake up.

Margaret says she hasn't heard me scream like that in a while.

Margaret talks in her sleep. She says she loves me too.

Turns out the language in my dream is zulu or some crap like that. I don't know. Must have picked it up from Sarah.

I went to the cemetery today.

Sarah isn't buried there. She was never buried. It's just a body in the ground.

It's just a body.

I brought home some leaves from the cemetery. I can't tell the difference.

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Wed, 20 Sep 2017 03:26:17 +0000 http://sett.com/wellingtonstreet/cemetery-1-lanterns-on-the-graves
Building 4 "Clump of Rats" http://sett.com/wellingtonstreet/building-4-clump-of-rats It's late again. Can't sleep. Margaret is upstairs resting. Just came back from a walk. I keep hearing them skittering around. That will leave me in the morning. I get fixated on things. The image of all those rats. Of the empty lot. The siren covered in vermin. The smell. There is a siren near our house. For emergencies. First Tuesday of every month they run a test.

I took a walk.

If you can, when you walk at night, you develop a route. But some nights you stray a little. For a little entertainment. You remember small details. Placement of various landmarks. The names of roads matter, but the landscape matters more. When you wander.

I wandered a little. Just couldn't sleep. It is cool tonight, but a humid sort of cool. I don't sleep well on nights like these. The neighbors have their back porch light on. I think back onto the violent night months ago...All the blood...

I was walking...

I ended up by the siren. Didn't know it was there. Just took a different route. And I came upon a dark patch. A stretch between the streetlamps. Figured it was a stretch of wood. It wasn't. Just tall foliage hiding the fence keeping people out.

I noticed a gate. Tall. Reinforced. I looked in and saw the empty lot. The building affixed to the lot with the single red light. Set off to the side was the siren itself. Nondescript. You have seen one like it I am sure. But in the dark. That place between the lamps. Shadows have a way of making things stained.

Things are wrong...I could hear skittering.

I took out my phone and turned on the flashlight. Hurrying past my foot was a small rat, thin and haggard. It chittered as it moved, only stopping to scuttle its way under the gate and out of sight.

Then two more, larger then the other appeared from the dark and did the same thing.

I looked inside. Shone my light. They were heading for the siren.

I watched as they got to the bottom and began to climb. Only the thin one wasn't there. And it wasn't just the two of them. There were six or seven rats climbing the pole, clumping together and climbing over one another. They reached the top. Top of the siren. Then they crawled over the lip and disappeared inside it. Somehow they all fit.

I thought I saw something come out. Looked like a rat. Maybe it was. Couldn't tell. Siren is too tall. Heard a noise behind me.

Turned around. Across the street was a man. Staring. He looked sickly. Sunken skin. Kept spitting. I recognized him. Was my neighbor. He had a bottle. He just stood there. Not moving.

Got confused. Felt like I was being judged. Was probably just me.

Thought he would drink.

Never saw him drink. Was too dark.

Heard him spit.

Looked back inside the gate. There were a mass of rats clumped together at the base of the pole. Along the concrete covering the lot. Some were clumped by the red light. Looked like they were coated in blood.

Just a trick of the light.

I turned around and went to leave. My neighbor was gone. Nowhere in sight. Bottle was on the curb. Bastard left his trash behind. Grabbed the bottle and went home. Could hear the skittering. Will call someone in the morning. Don't want them to damage the siren. In case something goes wrong.

The neighbors porch light is on. Think he is sitting in a lawn chair. Hard to tell. The light is bright.

Margaret is sleeping. Loyd is on the counter. Watching me write this.

I need to stop staying up late. Can't help it. I don't like to sleep.

Its getting up to October. Will be two years soon since I moved back to Wellington Street. It doesn't feel like two years. Feels much shorter. So much has changed yet it feels like it hasn't. Like a loop. I'm feeling restless.

I feel the same. For Margaret everything is different. Her entire life has changed since the attack. Her work is the same, but every morning she has to take those pills to prevent the rejection of the tissues. Every day she is reminded that things aren't like they were. And in a lot of ways that is for the best.

We are closer. Hate to think of it like that. But we are. Don't want to imagine that this brought us back together but it did. And she has suffered. I see it in her eyes. And we have fought through it. The community has fought through it. To treat her like she is normal.

She is normal. She is the most sane person I know.

Her face isn't the face she had when I met her. She is the same inside.

I love her. Probably don't say that enough.

I hear the skittering again.

When she met me I was a mess. I don't sleep well. Never have. But I hadn't slept properly in weeks. I couldn't. The nightmares were too much.

She is so different from Sarah.

Neighbor is still sitting in the law chair. Hasn't moved. Wonder if he is watching me like I am watching him. Probably not. I have become a little paranoid over the years.

Loyd wants to go outside again.

Haven't tossed the bottle my neighbor left on the curve. Its weird. Father used to drink this brand of vodka. I didn't even know they still made it. Remember my dad talking about how he was upset that they had stopped selling “the good stuff.”

I dumped the vodka down the drain.

Promised Margaret the drinking was over.

I keep thinking of the rats. How many there were. Twenty? Thirty?

Going to let Loyd out and put the bottle in the recycling.

I hear skittering. It smells like sewage.

I wonder if my children are sleeping.

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Fri, 15 Sep 2017 07:39:47 +0000 http://sett.com/wellingtonstreet/building-4-clump-of-rats
Building 8 "The Dog in the Woods" http://sett.com/wellingtonstreet/building-8-the-dog-in-the-woods You can smell it in the air. The rot. The leaves are already falling. Already wilting. Fall is still a bit off. But it smells like it is already here...I went to the therapist today. He said I should talk about the dog. Wife thinks so too. Even though it is upsetting. I don't want to think about the dog. About how it yelped and shook...There isn't a cloud in the sky today. Nothing but sun and a dull haze. That day on the farm...there was no sun. Just rain. And a missing dog. A dog I didn't like. One that wouldn't leave me alone.

It was morning. It was already raining. Dog always came inside for breakfast. Never missed it. But he didn't come. And my parents began to worry. So we went out, even though I didn't want to. I don't like getting wet. Started by looking under the porch and in the barn. The hay was wet and musty. I had on rubber boots. Feet squeaked as I walked.

Because of the rubber.

We couldn't find him. Decided he may be out in the wood. There were acres and acres of green trees and pinewood. Mom stayed home. Dad went to the left. I went to the right. And we searched...Told me not to go too far.

I could smell the wet foliage. The worms wiggling their way out of the ground so they wouldn't drown. The rain fell over the lip of my poncho and onto my shirt. After a while my t-shirt was wet and sticky.

I called for him. Listened.

Kept looking. Kept calling.

I heard some yelping coming from somewhere deeper in. The woods got thicker. The branches scraped against my yellow poncho. The noise got more shrill and pitched as I got closer. It didn't take long.

I found the dog. His leg was caught in a bear trap.

He was bleeding really bad. I wasn't thinking...I should have gotten my dad. But I didn't want to get him. Wanted to be strong like he told me to be. Like I had to be when I sprained my arm. So I tried to pry open the trap but the iron was slippery. It was hard to get a grip on it. I was just a kid. Didn't have the strength to open the trap. Dog kept yelping and biting at me whenever I tried to work its leg loose. Kept making noise...kept making noise.

Didn't want to hear the noise. For a while I thought I did it because it was hurt. Because I didn't want it to suffer. Maybe I did...

But it just wouldn't be quiet.

There was a rock...wandered over and tried to grab it...Had to dig around it first. Pry it out. It was heavy. I brought it over...

Dog looked up at me. He was breathing hard. Biting at its own leg to try and get loose. But he was too old. Was mostly gums...I lifted the rock. Nearly lost my balance. Then I dropped it.

And I missed.

Felt hot on the back of my neck. Embarrassed. I grabbed the rock again. Lifted it up again.

I didn't miss this time.

It wasn't enough. It wasn't dead. Just yelped. So I grabbed the rock again and got on my hands and knees. And is made sure the next few hits didn't miss...

I don't know anymore how long it took. I just know I was tired. I had blood on my hands. And the dog wasn't breathing anymore. I made sure of that. I could feel its damp fur under my fingers. I was crying. I was crying for the damn thing. I hated that dog and I was crying. It hurt. It was my fault. I should have gotten my dad. I didn't know what I was going to tell my dad.

I just wanted it to stop hurting. To stop making noise...

Its skin was getting cold. My knees were wet. I don't know how much of that was blood and how much of that was rain.

I put my face against its chest. I never hugged that dog. Wanted to this time. It smelled like it was alive. But it was cold. It wasn't breathing. I made sure of that.

Was already dead.

Never saw anything dead before.

Picked up the rock and looked down at its head.

It was a mess. Eye loose in the socket...Teeth loosened and skull crushed...Not a week goes by where I don't hate myself for what I did next. But I was a kid. I was curious...

I removed his collar. I put it off to the side. The skin was looser than a thought it would be. Same with the tongue. Just hanging out of his mouth. Loose eye staring at me. Got the urge to toss it away but I left it where it was.

Started working on the legs. Just pulling. Just seeing how hard I would have to pull. Wasn't strong enough. So I grabbed the rock and started going at the leg. Eventually it was too damaged to hold on. And I was getting tired.

Started working on the belly. Didn't have a knife. Still had the rock. Hit something enough times and eventually things start spilling out.

Grabbed the intestines. Then the liver. I just wanted to see.

I was just curious.

I heard my dad calling my name.

I kept working.

Kept looking at what was inside. I didn't know at all what I was doing. But the smell was starting to reach me. I got sick...then my dad arrived...

I never heard my dad scream before. Not like that...

He didn't hit me. I would have hit me. He just stared at me, then he stared at the dog's body. It kept raining. He was frowning. I wasn't crying anymore. I was scared. I was angry at myself. I was confused. I didn't know what to say.

He shook his head. He came up to me and pulled me to my feet. He found a puddle and began to wash off my hands and legs.

“I'm sorry.” I said.

He didn't say anything.

We got back home, and dad told mom that it had been caught in a trap. Another animal had got to it. That he would talk to the neighbor about where he put his traps...

Dad somehow convinced my mom to take me to therapy. Eventually he told her what had happened. She was shocked, but she handled it well overall. Took a long time for me to get another pet.

It has been a long time.

I still see its face and feel the rain as if it were yesterday.

Thinking about it makes me tired. It makes me feel cold.

Even if I was just a kid I knew better. I think I knew better...I don't know.

I never saw something dead like that before.

I was curious.

Dad calls me sometimes. Wondering how I am doing. With all those specials about disturbed children on TV I understand.

I tell him everything is okay.

I can feel the dogs fur under my fingers.

It rained that day.

I Wish that was the end of it.

My dad made me bury it myself.

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Fri, 01 Sep 2017 00:56:45 +0000 http://sett.com/wellingtonstreet/building-8-the-dog-in-the-woods
"The Black Annis" http://sett.com/wellingtonstreet/the-black-annis She stands outside my window. The rain is coming down hard. And she watches. Her black hair whips around, the rain running down her skin the color one big bruise. Her eyes bulge. And the trees bend with such violence I assumed they are going to break.

She is happy. So very happy. For weeks I have been dreaming about her. Had seen her sitting in front of a fire in the woods, my parents nestled up to her thighs the way I would when I would watch TV with them late at night. They seemed contented. I never saw them like that.

Not since my brother disappeared.

Parents have a way of listening to you tell something outrageous, without giving away that they think you are making it up. They smile and nod their heads, then they reaffirm with something along the lines of “that must have been terrible,” or “it was just a dream. No need to worry.” So when I told them about the dreams. When I said she grabbed my brother and took him to the woods they just nodded and said they would go look.

It didn't take long for me to stop asking. I knew they weren't going to believe me.

So I collected some things and went to the woods myself. It was very hot. Very humid that day. The sweat made it hard for me to hold onto the cross I had grabbed from the kitchen. I honestly didn't think it would help. In all the stories I had heard about the Black Annis, I had never heard of how to hurt her. Just that she took children in the night. Just that I needed to be good.

It had been years since I had been to the place. It is a spot in the wood where a collection of trees created a small overhang of branches. It wasn't far from my house. Just across a field. It wasn't big enough for adults. But it was big enough for kids. We would bring two blankets. One would be placed on the branches above in case of rain. The other was put on the ground. And we would sit and talk. My friends and I.

One day we came back to the enclave, only to find the blankets in tatters. There was a smell there that I couldn't...that I can't explain. And for a long time I stayed away. I knew there was something wrong there, even if I couldn't understand.

But my dreams. I knew he had to be there. So I went across the field on the humid morning and went back to that spot that I had left so long ago.

My eyes stung from the sweat that was dripping down my face. Even after all those years I could tell where it was, even if the cloth had rotted and the branches had mostly fallen away. And there he was. There was my little brother. Or what was left of him. And the Black Annis was sitting behind his body. Her breath coming out in long draws as her hump rose and fell. And even in the dark of the wood I could see she was smiling.

Not in a mocking way. No.

She was glad to see me.

She didn't say much. Not much I remember. It felt like we talked for hours. And I honestly don't know why I stayed so long. My brothers body...it smelled. Eventually though I found the will to leave. But before I left she said one thing that I can't ever cease to remember.

“Be good child.”

I ran home. I ran home as fast as I could. And that night it stormed.

It has stormed every night since then. This is the third night. On the second night my dad disappeared. Tonight my mom vanished. I haven't dared come looking for her. Maybe she is just sleeping peacefully in her room. Maybe she isn't. I honestly don't know. And I don't want to.

I am going outside now. She seems to have someone with her. Part of someone with her. Her iron nails shimmer with each lightening strike. She is offering me some. I think I see my fathers wedding band.

I need to be good.

I take a bite. I goes down easier than I thought it would.

She says that I am a good girl.

I can't think. I just nod.

I can't think. I am just wondering.

What did my brother do?”

I got this story. It was from the Unknown Author. Said her mother was well. That “they don't hurt those who are like them. Not usually.” I think my life is getting to be normal again. People are inviting Margaret and myself to parties. People plan hang outs and ask for both of us to come. I went to a movie the other week. Everyone seemed so normal. Everything seemed fine.

Honestly though I don't feel fine.

For weeks, keep thinking about the dog. Keep thinking about the blood. And all that rain.

It rained today.

Maybe I'll talk about the dog.

To my therapist. To the doctor.

Cat came to the door last night with something in its mouth.

Thing was still breathing. Think it used to be a squirrel.

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Thu, 17 Aug 2017 22:15:34 +0000 http://sett.com/wellingtonstreet/the-black-annis
Building 8 "The Thing in the Rain" http://sett.com/wellingtonstreet/building-8-the-thing-in-the-rain “I see them in my dreams. Not their faces. There are no faces. Just the masks. A sign of the sickness. And I am very ill. I don't remember when it started. Maybe it never started. Maybe they were always there. Waiting just for me, to remind me that I am sick. That I must find a cure. But I haven't found one, even after years of looking. They are growing impatient with me. And I know the consequences. They work on me as they have so many others. The want to find a cure. The cure for the sickness. They have only ever found one, but they haven't given up. So it is either them or me. Either I cure them and myself or they will show me their cure. I've seen the bodies.”

It rained today. The worst rain I've seen in a long time. Last time I saw a rain like that was on the old farm. Hated that place. Made me see things. It rained today. In sheets. Was lucky. Could have been worse. Worse drivers. Worse roads. Had the wipers on full but still could barely see anything. There was something in the rain. Rain was too thick to make out. When I was younger I remember a story I heard. About a girl left at home during a storm. Story was called “Rain Thing.”

Was returning the doctor. Said he was seeing steady progress. I'm opening up. Doctor has no idea what he is talking about sometimes. We all hold back a little. Forget a little. It's for the best. Mind wants to protect us. I remember the farm. I remember the horses. Haven't thought of them in a long time. There was a old mutt on the farm. Smelled funny. Looked funny. Seemed to be happy about everything. Hated the thing. Wouldn't leave me alone. Should have left me alone.

Driver in front of me turned on his hazard lights. Slowed nearly to a stop. Deep puddle forming on the side of the road, rushing up the side of his car. Saw something in the rain. Thought about the farm again. The day it rained. It rained too much. Was back in the present. The thing in the rain walking along the side of the road, wind wiping something wet hanging off of it. Was dark. Like seaweed. Or ferns. Was seeing things. Seeing things wrong. All the therapy. Thought of the story again. Rain thing.

I thought of the dog...he was big and kind. Wanted nothing else but to be pet and rubbed. But I was a kid. And it smelled funny. It looked strange. So I didn't like it. It had one eye. Something had happened to the other one. And he always seemed to roll in something. My cousins didn't seem to mind it, but I hated it when I would leave the house and the thing would rub against me, asking to be pet. I acted nice. One time I yelled and it and my parents made me pay for it.

Looking back I miss that dog.

A lot of the time. We look back at what we did and regret. The time we didn't spend. The things that we let bother us that we probably could have let go. I have tried so hard to try and do right now. Embrace those who matter. Make sure they know. But I will never forget the dog. We never forget any of it that we did wrong. The day it died. Was torn up. Didn't understand why at the time. Now I know I was upset at how I treated it. I had ignored it. Fought. Could have been better.

Rain reminds me of Sarah...I fought with her too. Drank too much. Drank too much the night she was attacked. Had I been sober I would have been home. Maybe done something. Fought that night. Fought a few days before that. Small things. Things it wouldn't have taken much to fix. Then I found her in the entrance way. Carved up. Bone on her face exposed. She was crying. Trying to cry. Hard to do without eyelids.

The car in front of me moved again. Maybe to make some progress then stopped again. Decided to go around him. I looked in the car as I passed. Driver didn't look right. I was wrong. He looked like a tangle of plant matter, of seaweed and ferns, eyes clear and blue like pinpoints watching me as I went around. Was raining. Didn't see things the way they were.

I moved down the road slowly. Kept thinking about the dog. Kept thinking about Sarah. Rain reminds me of the rain on his fur when he died. Way it parted and gripped my fingers as I rubbed it. All he wanted was to be pet. He smelled like a wet dog. He didn't smell strange. So I pet him. Pet him till my parents took him away. He looked alright in the end. He was always alright. I hadn't seen that. Think of the mutt. Think of Sarah.

Rained when she died.

Things in the rain.

Losing something doesn't get easier. You can't lose the same thing twice, so every time it is fresh. Rained both times. Strange way that. Life repeating just for effect. To let me know I made a mistake twice. That it was going to always hurt. I was always going to feel guilty until I did it right.

The rain finally stopped. I made it home. Margaret was there. I took her to dinner. Told her what happened. We don't talk like we used to. That's okay. Things can be different. She looks strange. Her new skin smells strange. I love her. She is precious. I won't mess up.

Not again.

The dog in the rain.

The things in the rain.

I shouldn't have done what I did.

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Fri, 07 Jul 2017 03:59:31 +0000 http://sett.com/wellingtonstreet/building-8-the-thing-in-the-rain
The Beach "The Abandoned Beach House" http://sett.com/wellingtonstreet/the-beach-the-abandoned-beach-house It was warm today, warm enough to justify going to the beach with Margaret. Wanted to spend some real time with her. But more than that I wanted her to feel normal. That I wasn't ashamed going out with her. Her skin grafts have settled well. I know she is self conscious about them, but I have gotten used to her new face.

I haven't been to a beach with anyone in years. I wasn't even thinking about going to that beach in particular. Then I remembered the old author ended up there. Have the clipping from the paper. One of the “fans” had sent it to me. I looked it up and it turned out that it was a lot closer than I thought. So we packed a few things and headed out, reaching the beach by mid afternoon. Was virtually no one there, which was probably for the best.

Margaret went to the beach while I collected our things. I found a place high up from the surf, centralized so we could explore a little. She loves rocks. I enjoyed watching her collect a few that caught her eye. While she was doing that I decided to check out the large abandoned beach house set far back closer to the grass. Used to keep chairs and such. It was quite old, and apparently only saw use for a very short amount of time between 1936 and 1941.

The paint was a dull yellow and flaking off. Birds constantly fluttered back and forth from nests they had placed under the overhangs. Smelled like old stone. Could smell the lake too. Most of it was boarded up, but one door was open, leading to the men's bathroom. Was self contained, and the was in a similar state of disrepair, though it clearly had been mildly kept attended to so visitors wouldn't piss on the side of the building.

We walked along the beach. The water was freezing. I laughed when she ended up getting wet after the surf surged up at her. A large part of the beach had breakers built into it. Made of concrete from some of the old factories that had been torn down. Old rebar is everywhere, sticking out the concrete. Found the place where the old author had disappeared. There was a plaque in place. Don't know why. People go missing all the time. Plaques are usually reserved for the dead, not the missing.

I looked out into the water. Saw something thrashing around in the surf. I went to approach the black thing but by the time I got there it had gone back in the water.

I went back to the building. Heard some voices inside. Some kids must have found a way it. Considered reporting them. Decided against it. Did the same thing at that age. So long as they weren't breaking anything it didn't matter. Near one of the sides of the building was a pile of broken shingles. Must have been working on fixing the roof. Was a historical building. Special care had been taken.

Eventually Margaret and I started to get a little red, so she collected her stones and we headed home after stopping at a local dive for some food.

Decided to look up why the beach house had been abandoned. Thought it was strange that it was only open for such a short amount of time. Was hard finding anything. Stories about it are really old. Found a site. Devoted to old newspapers. Found out the reason why it was closed. Over its years of operation it had seen a fair share of disappearances. Few of them were ever solved. The last disappearance before the place closed was labeled a homicide. Seems that was enough.

Some punk kid went missing around forty one. Not particularly well liked by the adults, but in a homicide that doesn't matter much. There had been a party at the beach. Bunch of friends had gathered around a fire, drinking and groping. The one who went missing had set the thing up. His girl and him headed to the beach house. Probably to mess around. About twenty minutes later the girl came back screaming, saying the guy and her had been attacked. Some crazies had been hanging around and the kid started yelling to get them to leave. He shoved one of them and that seemed to set them off. Once the fight started she ran away. Said she didn't get a good look at them. It was dark.

At first the investigation was treated like a missing persons case. The area was scoured for any sign of the kid. There wer signs of a struggle. Found some torn fabric. Had thought it may have came from the kid. Was discovered to come from display mannequins. There was a store down the road. No charges were pressed when it was discovered the material didn't match the mannequins in the shop.

The search expanded outward. Took up the majority of the coast of the beach. Didn't take long to find the kid once they headed further down. The smell must have been awful. He was pinned to the breakers, the rebar running through him. He had been constantly doused in lake water. Seems he died of hypothermia. Police tried to see if anyone in the area saw anything, heard anything. But nothing. No one heard anything.

The beach house and the beach itself were closed down after that. Eventually the beach was opened back up but the beach house remained abandoned. No one wanted to work there. But time passed and now it is a historical site. No marker for the kid. I had to dig to find it. Like it was purposefully ignored. Buried.

I am tired. Been really busy. We needed the vacation.

I remember when I was as kid I used to have a recurring nightmare. Would be laying in my bed late at night. Something was in the room, in the dark corners. Watching me. Breathing. I can still remember the smell. The ragged way its breathing came out. I tried going to bed with the lights on. I guess I hoped that would change what I was dreaming. Bring the thing into the light. But my parents didn't have a lot of money. Couldn't afford to keep the lights on that long.

I would wake up and the room would be dark. Sweating. I was glad my dog was there until he wasn't.

My shoes still smell like sand.

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Fri, 02 Jun 2017 17:54:05 +0000 http://sett.com/wellingtonstreet/the-beach-the-abandoned-beach-house