Thursday, July 14, 2011


Around the world exist massive holes in the ground, the edges surrounded by a metal collar, and strange phenomena all about the areas they are located.

These are the Gates.

The gates have been known throughout ancient civilizations and tribes.

One man named Mel Waters has brought focus to them.

The two he has found have been dubbed "Mel's Hole(s)"

Mel asserts that, for years, locals had known about the "bottomless" nature of the hole, dumping garbage down the hole, including dead cattle, truckloads of old auto tires, and large appliances like refrigerators and TV tubes. When garbage was dumped in the hole, no sound of the object hitting the bottom was heard.

Mel claims he began a series of experiments with the hole on his property, including one where he lowered a piece of food into the hole-to detect if any water was at the bottom-at the end of progressively longer lengths of fishing line. His last attempt lowered the piece down to 80,000 feet.

At that point, in 1997, Mel sent a Fax to the Coast to Coast AM show describing the hole, and shortly thereafter appeared on the show.

Soon after the broadcasts, Mel claims that men he identified as government agents told him that there was a plane-crash nearby and that he could not approach the hole. He says that the government then offered to pay him a large monthly stipend to lease the land in perpetuity. These alleged payments are said to have continued from March 1997 through the beginning of 2000.

In December 1999, while on a bus to Olympia, Washington, Mel claims he witnessed an altercation between police officers and another passenger, after which he was taken off the bus to sign a police statement. According to Mel, the next thing he recalls is walking around San Francisco, twelve days later. He claims he had been physically beaten and his rear molars were extracted. An alleged IV scar on his arm convinced him that he had been drugged.

Mel claims that he later returned to the hole, at which time he was served with papers indicating that his ownership was now in question, due to modifications that had been made, presumably by the government tenants. Mel alleges that his assets were frozen for unstated reasons.

When he appeared on Coast to Coast, Mel Waters described the hole as being roughly nine feet across and at least 80,000 feet deep. He also claimed that it had numerous supernatural powers. According to Mel, a dead hunting dog thrown into the hole by a local was seen much later running through the woods, as if hunting with somebody else.

After his appearance on Coast to Coast in 2000, Mel claimed on a subsequent appearance that he had found a second hole. This second hole is alleged to be on public land in Nevada, under the management of the Federal Bureau of Land Management. According to Mel, the land nearby is used by Native Americans as well as "members of the Basque community" who were using the land for grazing sheep.

Mel described the second hole as being 9 feet in diameter, the same dimensions as the first hole. Mel claims that the Nevada hole has a solid metal liner, or "collar" sticking out of the ground, 2 feet high, 2 feet deep, with several notches in it.

1. Mel claimed that the alleged second hole's collar was composed of a substance with the following unusual paranormal properties.Mel claims that he dropped a box wrench on the metal collar, but that the impact did not make a noise. He says this implies that the collar absorbs the sound or energy.
2. According to Mel, the hole is "solidly lined" with this metal as far as one can see into the hole.
3. Mel claims that even in winter, the area around the metal collar is warm to the touch and will keep nearby tents warm. He says the collar is not hot to the touch, however.

According to Mel, local Basques say the hole has been there, in its current state, for their community's entire existence, dating back to the 19th century. He claims one man had personal recollection of the hole since he was young, over 70 years ago at the time of the interview (since around the 1930s). In addition to his claims regarding the Basque community and the second hole, Mel has also speculated about a Basque connection to the second hole: He claims he found a whale bone near the first hole, which he asserts could have Basque origins to a history of whaling in Basque culture.

Mel further claims that the hole occasionally emits a "black beam". He acknowledged that, "this is a contradiction, but a black beam of light, okay, comes from the hole. It lasts a very short time, but it just goes directly up to the sky... if you had a flashlight, and it was capable of throwing up a solid black..."

Mel claims that he and assorted Basque locals performed an experiment with the Nevada hole, in which they lowered in a bucket of ice they bought from the grocery store. Allegedly, one bucket of ice was lowered 1500 feet into the hole, and the other bucket of ice was kept at the surface as a control. By the time half the ice on the surface bucket had melted, the bucket in the hole was to be retrieved. According to Mel, the ice in the lowered bucket had not melted, and additionally, was no longer cold to the touch. He claims that the ice had been changed in an undefined way, and described it as having a texture like silica desiccant found in packaged food. As a further experiment, Mel claims they placed the alleged bucket of unmelted ice on a cooking fire, and instead of melting, the ice allegedly began to "burn." Mel Waters described the fire as "like that last flicker before you turn off [a gas stove]". Mel goes on to claim that this new substance could be used as a source of heat, saying that "one guy took some stuff home, he put it in his wood stove... and the thing's been keeping his place warm" for over three months (September to January). Mel claims this man also reported that steam from a nearby kettle was absorbed by the burning ice, and that the area surrounding the burning ice was always very dry. According to Mel, after a few months the stove with the burning ice crashed through the floor of the man's cabin for unknown reasons, and that the man returned weeks later to find the entire cabin collapsed into "wood dust." Mel attributed this alleged phenomenon to all of the moisture being sucked out of the wood by the burning ice.

Another experiment Mel claims to have performed on the hole involved lowering a living sheep to a depth of 1500 feet, resulting in the death of the animal and the appearance of a mysterious "seal-like" entity.

Mel claims that the sheep was led to the hole, but became agitated when it approached the hole and had to be stunned and placed in a crate. According to him, the sheep awakened as it was being placed over the hole and began trashing around in its crate and making "screaming" noises. The crate was allegedly lowered to about 700 feet, at which point Mel claims that the vibrations caused by the sheep's agitation could no longer be felt. He claims that when the cable had been lowered to its full length of 1500 feet, the metal collar around the hole began to vibrate. According to Mel, the sheep was left at this depth for thirty minutes before being winched back up the surface, where it was found to be dead. Mel claims that from an external perspective the dead sheep appeared the same as when lowered, but that inside, "the sheep looked like it had been cooked." In addition, Mel claims that he then observed a jellied blob that filled the body cavity where the internal organs normally would be, which he described as looking like a "huge tumor." According to Mel, the alleged "tumor" was removed, and the experimenters believed they saw some movement inside it. He claims that when the tumor was cut open, it released a "fetal seal," with human-looking eyes, connected to the tumor with an umbilical cord. Mel explains that the "seal" seemed to have a hold on those present, and that it and the human experimenters viewed each other for over two hours.

Mel claims that the seal seemed to him to be a being "filled with compassion," and that after nodding at the experimenters, it dove back into the hole. The tumor and sheep remains were allegedly bundled in a tarp and thrown back into the hole, thereby removing any evidence of the experiment.

Mel claims that he had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer prior to his experience with the seal, but that afterwards the cancer was entirely gone, with no evidence it had ever existed. Mel feels that he was healed by the seal-like entity from the sheep carcass.

In a later interview, Mel claimed the seal entity was now making regular visits to the Basque shepherds camping around the surface of the Nevada hole. He claimed that the seal was able to communicate with the shepherds through a portable radio. However, when recorded, Mel says that the result was only a series of unintelligible sounds, as one might hear in interference on a short-wave transmission.

Mel claims that a new species of bird has been spotted in the area of the second hole shortly after his alleged encounter with the seal. The bird was said to be bright red with a bluish beak and an estimated wing span of 14 inches. He claims that at least six individual birds have been seen in the airspace around the hole since the seal incident, but that no professional can name the species from a distance, and said bird has not been captured as of yet.

It developed into an urban legend, and gained the nickname Sun Bird. Mel claims that the so-called Sun Bird never lands, except near the rim of Mel's Hole. He speculates that the bird comes from deep within the hole and he claims that the locals believe that these birds are the cause of the sheep's death, and the tumor that produced the seal entity. Mel professes that he himself has shot at one of the birds, in an attempt to bring it down for possible analysis and perhaps dissection, but that after being hit directly twice, and tumbling twenty feet, the bird pulled out of the fall, and continued flying. According to Mel's story, no birds were seen until three days later. Mel reports finding two crushed bullets in his yard. He says it is inconclusive if they are the same two bullets shot at the bird.

Mel claims that a local Basque man volunteered to be lowered into the second hole, but that the man was convinced to reconsider by Mel and the other experimenters.

Mel expressed his wish to have his body thrown into the Nevada hole after his death.

The description of Mel's 2nd Hole in the Nevada desert bears a strong resemblance to the hole or bottomless pit believed in by The Manson Family and discussed in the various court proceedings. Manson preached that a bottomless pit with mystical powers existed in the Death Valley area. The Manson pit figured prominently in his end times predictions.


You all know that game for the Gamecube called Super Smash Bros. Melee, right? The fighting game with all of the Nintendo characters (Mario, Fox, Kirby, Ganondorf, etc.)? Well, you can find all of the scripts, models, textures, and files in the game if you can access the files using a program.

One script, called "Char.txt," contains all of the variables and move sets for the in-game characters. Each character has a TXT file that refers to their models, too, in a folder called "Char".

In order to add my texture hacks, I needed to copy all of the files to my computer. While copying, I noticed there were 26 items, but I was sure there were only 25 characters. To make sure, I explored the filenames. All of the normal files were there; there was Cfalcon, falco, Dkong...then I came across Hhidaka.

I opened the file and noticed his variable number happened to be "666". I assumed they must have randomly generated the numbers, otherwise it'd have been between 1-26. His texture file was located in "E:\SSBM\textures\Char\modeltexture\Hhidaka.

The contents of the folder were quite disturbing. What I saw was a PNG file of a Japanese girl dressed like a hooker. She had been stabbed and mutilated to the extreme, especially at her stomach; it was cut clean. It was called "Hhidaka.png" and was the main model texture.

I absolutely couldn't believe my eyes. Why the hell would that be on the disc?

I eventually remembered that I had bought this used from a flea market. It had no instruction booklet; it was replaced by what I thought might have been cheat codes or a walkthrough written on a sheet of printer paper.

I got out the case and unfolded the "cheat codes". Instead of cheats, I saw some Japanese writing. I couldn't translate it at the time, so I went back to the computer. I checked the script and saw that Hhidaka was a hidden character. To unlock him, you had to (from what I understood) KO the purple-colored Peach four times in a row without taking damage, while playing Ganondorf.

I found it odd, but I ended up doing it. After KOing Peach for the fourth time, it went to the new character screen. Instead of a battle, it showed a video of a Japanese woman who murmured things in Japanese. A knife was in her eye.

Because my parents were home, I quickly turned the volume down and waited. I did not dare to look full on, but I did peek every now and then. It went on for four minutes until the sound of a gunshot rang out and the woman's head jerked back. Then it cut to black.

It displayed two things on the screen: "Hiroki Hidaka's taste for blood shall be quenched!" and "You have gotten the HH trophy". I looked in the trophies, but found there wasn't an actual trophy displayed. The description was still there, though. It said, "FINDING THIS WAS YOUR MISTAKE."

At this point, my Gamecube restarted itself and went to the normal SSBM menu. There wasn't any music or sound, now that I think about it, but I began a match. I chose the thumbnail-less Hiroki Hidaka and pitted myself against Kirby. Corneria was the stage. Nothing happened for a moment before text popped up on the screen that said "FINDING THIS WAS YOUR MISTAKE". My finger immediately went for the power button.

I must have pressed reset instead, as the game didn't shut off. I could hear the disc spinning rapidly, as if trying to play Crysis 2 on a laptop. The TV started displaying the same Japanese woman with the knife in her eye, but instead it was a still image. There was a caption that said "Play as Hidaka and this could be you".

I later found out the Japanese text on that paper that came in the game's case translated to the exact same words and was even signed by Hidaka. It turns out he's a Japanese serial killer who was executed on December 25, 2006. That was the same Christmas I bought the game.

Pokemon: Tarnished Gold

Being someone who isn't nearly as computer savvy as someone from this generation should be, I know very little about what technology is capable of. Aside from email, IM, and the occasional download of something otherwise unobtainable for me at the moment, I have about the same amount of knowledge an eighty-year-old might possess about the electronic world.

For example, and for the sake of this tale I'm about to recount, I was totally unaware that someone is capable of hacking Pokemon games to make their own sub-story of the world - even less so that it was possible to make a physical copy of the game in a real cartridge.

However, I happened to learn about this one in one of the most disturbing ways possible.

When I was younger, Pokemon Gold was my very first game from the ever-popular franchise. I became very attached to the little creatures my character (name after myself even though the character was male) caught and often fantasized about the adventures we would go through had a preset storyline not been in place.

That isn't quite important, though.

What is important is the fact that I never truly let go of my childhood fantasies; the memories from that first game were far too cherished to set free. As such, I still have my old Gold cartridge, compleete with a total abuse of the copy glitch. I refuse to restart my game, though. I'm afraid too much of the old magic would be lost.

I wanted to play a whole new game of the version that I recall being the happiest with, but older cartridges are rather hard to find outside of the Internet nowadays; the most my local flea markets have are GBA games, with hardly any being Pokemon.

Fortunately for me, my grandmother still fully supports my long-standing love for Pokemon and often buys boxes of carts, toys, video tapes, and other items she comes across during her frequent visits to local auctions. Granted, very little of these things she gives me are in good condition; long forgotten items stowed away in a musty basement after the phase in their owner's life has passed hardly ever are. But, as gifts from a dear relative, I cherish them as if they were made of gold...pun not intended.

Most recently, she gave me a box with a brand new video tape containing episodes from early on in the first season, several hundred battered and well-used cards, and a game cartridge with no label.

The cartridge was the familiar metallic gold color of the game I had been looking for. Even though the label had been removed and a lard red X was drawin in sharpie in the place the sticker should have been, I could easily tell what it was. What other game had that color? You can imagine my excitement for finally finding another copy! I thanked her profusely and promised I would play it as soon as I got home, which I did.

Getting started was difficult - not because the game was faulty, but because I had sold my GBA to my little brother several years ago for some of his better Pokemon cards. Once something belongs to him, it's difficult to get him to lend it out to me. Such is sibling relations, I suppose.

After much bribery, I finally got my hands on my former GBA and quickly inserted the vandalized game. Chills ran through my body as the opening 'movie' for the game began to play, sending a wave of nostalgia crashing over me. It was good to see it again.

The game opened normally; the pixelated image of Ho-oh flying through the sky beneath the title presented itself before leading into the normal selection screen. The person who owned the game before me still had a game file, but I cared very little about what someone did before me. Considering the condition of their things, they must have been very young. I was bound to be met with a team full of Pikachu with ridiculous names.

I started a new game.

It was here that I realized something wasn't quite right with the game. The normal intro involving a Professor introducing you to the world of Pokemon didn't play out. Rather, it played like this:

It started out with a black screen, which was quite familiar considering that's how Gold, Silver, and Crystal begin. Instead of the normal "What time is it?" dialogue, however, I was met with something else.

Pokemon are nothing more than tools.
Use them and throw them away.

The black screen faded away, revealing an empty area at night. It looked familiar; I vguely remember it being a route in an earlier part of the game. Since I've been away from the game for so long, I couldn't place it.

In the silence of this scene, the sprite of your rival (henceforth noted as Silver) walked in from the left. He moved a little slower than normal, as if he were hesitant about something. Once he had moved to the middle of the screen, he stopped and turned back to look at where he came from, turned toward where he was going, and turned back towards where he had came once again.

For a moment, he stood there, simply staring towards the left side of the screen before a dialogue box popped up beneath him saying nothing more than "..." After that, he turned around yet again, only to continue off to walk off-screen.

The scene faded away to be replaced with Silver standing in the place where you first officially see him just outside Professor Elm's laboratory. It was clearly in a slightly later part of the game than normal as the professor and his assistants all exited the lab and went their separate ways: the assistants left the town and Elm walked further downward off screen. I assume that meant he left for his home and rmeained in town. The character of Gold was nowhere to be seen.

After that small scene, it stayed on Silver. I thought the game had frozen for a minute, but I finally realized I was able to move him. Honestly, I was a little excited. Silver was (and always has been) my favorite of the rivals. It was an interesting thing to be able to play as him.

I moved him a little further downward to see if I was able to explore, but it stopped me each time I moved one step away from the front of the lab. A dialogue box poppuped up that said, "I can't leave yet..." It backed me up a step afterward. I moved back up to the place he had originally been standing and moved into the window. It worked much like a door and it allowed me to ender Professor Elm's lab.

Aside from the regular equipment (bookshelves, computers, trash cans, tables, etc), the lab was empty. It was to be expected, since the employees had just left a moment ago. On the table was a single Pokeball. Being without one at the moment, I walked over and took it.

A dialogue box popped up and said "Obtained TOTODILE" but no 'item get' music played. Apparently, stealing wasn't condoned even by the game. After pressing A, it gave me the option of naming the Pokemon. I picked yes, as I love naming these things. As it took me to the naming screen, however, another dialogue popped up and interrupted the naming process.

"Don't name it! You'll only get attached.
Don't love it. Use it."

It was clearly the voice of the same person who spoke in the very beginning. I found it odd.

The naming screen faded away, leaving me in the empty lab. I quickly tried to leave through the front door, but was stopped by Silver saying, "Not through here..." Again, he backed up and I was forced to exit through the window I had come in from.

As if things weren't strange enough as they were, it was nearly impossible to get a random battle to start once I left New Bark Town and stepped in the grass. I go out of my way to avoid them later on in the game, but during the beginning it was something I enjoyed to get my Pokemon to level up. Being unable to find something to fight was a little frustrating.

After several minutes of walking back and forth in patches of grss, I finally encountered a Pokemon: a Sentret. It was nothing out of the ordinary, but when I sent out my Totodile and chose the only presently-useful move he had, Scratch, the Pokemon fled. I was rather confused; a wild Pokemon never ran, not so early in the game. After a few more tries, all with the same outcome, I continued on to Cherrygrove.

Just before I entered the city, I recognized the small area as the one Silver had walked through in the beginning. After entering the city, I bumped into Gold, who wordlessly challenged me to a battle.

His Pokemon, a Cyndaquil, was already a slightly higher level than mine (I was still stuck at level five, but he was already at level seven) and, even though I had the type advantage, he beat me. Before whiting out, his sprite switched out with the Cyndaquil's. He looked disappointed.

After exiting the Cherrygrove Pokemon Center (I hadn't used it prior, but it was apparently the only option I had), I walked back to the place he had challenged me only to find I was unable to battle him at this point again.

The game was getting a little annoying by now. I had no money, Pokegear, or Pokedex. I was also unable to battle wild Pokemon. Fortunately, once I entered route 30 onward, there were other Pokemon Trainers in which I could battle and easily beat, though none of them seemed eager to speak to me after I had won.

By the time I entered Violet City, my Pokemon's level was still too low to take on the gym leader. However, with the money I had won from the trainers I fought before, I was at least able to buy some potions. I felt I was set.

The lesser trainers of the gym were easy enough. I was only forced to use two of my previously purchased potions and I leveled up once. As I took on the gym leader, he proved to be too much and I lost yet again. Upon winning, he did the very same thing Gold had done: he looked disappointed as well.

When the battle ended, I didn't white out. Rather, I had to endure a lecture about treating Pokemon correctly from the leader. Once he finished speaking, I received a one-worded question: "Steal?"

I chose the only option given to me: "Yes."

Silver backed u one step and slammed into the gym leader, kicking him backwards. Another dialogue box popped up telling me that I had stolen the gym badge, TM31, and $500.

After that, I whited out.

This is how it continued on for the remainder of the game. While I was able to defeat lesser trainers on the paths to cities and in the gyms, I constantly lost to the leader and was forced to steal their badges. The steal option also worked on people who would normally give you items in the game; this is how I was able to obtain key items like the Itemfinder, the bicycle, the water pail, HMs, and more. They refused to give me anything otherwise.

Anyone I spoke to either refused to talk, greeting me only with "...", or lectured me a little on how to properly treat Pokemon. It was beginning to get that way with Nurse Joy, as well. By the time I had progressed to Goldenrod City, she would scold me any time I whited out.

Pokemon continued to avoid me, as well. If I wanted to better my team, I had to hope that the Pokeballs I used worked the first time. What was stranger about random battles is that even if I locked the Pokemon in battle with Mean Look, the Pokemon passed out. Literally. After my first attack of Mean Look (if I got the first attack, that is), the Pokemon would faint on its own before I could choose another attack.

The dialogue box proclaimed, "-POKEMON- forced itself to pass out!" and the battle ended.

The only thing that seemed to go normally for me was the battles with Team Rocket. I always won against them and they always treated me like a punk kid getting in their way.

The rest of the game, up until a certain point, isn't entirely important. Aside from win, lose, and steal, everything was more or less normal. While my Pokemon matured slowly due to frequent losses, they did grow to like me a little as I began giving them haircuts and other little things to boost our bond. The last I had checked, the person who rated their happiness (one of the very few people who spoke to me normall) said, "It's quite cute."

I know you must be thinking that this isn't disturbing at all and that I should just accept the fact that this is simply a hack made to tell Silver's side of the story... Well, I did. It was. However, I'm not quite finished yet.

Once I had finally made it to Kanto (continuing the process of win, lose, and steal), I ventured into Viridian City. The second I stepped foot into the city, the music cut off. I thought for certain that this was a glitch in the programming, that I was now to walk through a soundless game. As I stood there for a second, though, a very faint noise picked up and faded away.

I was now sure that the music had messed up, like it was trying to play but couldn't. I stepped back into the route I had just come from and the music picked up perfectly. It was only Viridian City that was silent.

I was now curious, so I stepped back into the silent town and began to explore. There wasn't a person in sight; no one was out in the open and no one was in the houses. There wasn't even anyone in the Pokemart or Pokemon Center. The city was entirely empty. All there was was the silence and the occasional soft noise, which I still hadn't identified.

As I walked towards the gym, the sound grew a little louder. I figured the noise was coming from inside, so I entered. There was no one there, either, but that was to be expected; the gym was always empty until much later.

The noise didn't play in here, but it was still dead silent.

I walked up to where the gym leader normally stood and, as I walked past the spot and into the wall (I do that sometimes. I like the noise) I was transported to another room. The wall had hidden a set of stairs.

This place was silent, as well, but the noise began to play yet again. It was much louder this time - a bunch of random high-pitched noises - but it sounded like screams.

By this time, as you could well imagine, my heart was pounding. I don't take screaming or anything that sounds like screaming very well. It's due to an unfortunate experience with a very graphic haunted house when I was three...but I digress.

Regardless of my pounding heart and my shaking hands, I explored the room. It was tinted in a muted red much like everything was in Pokemon Red. The room followed a sideways zig-zag pattern and the screams came at random. Some were short, but some were long and drawn out. It sounded as if someone was being tortured.

As I continued down the zig-zagging hallways, i came across several disturbing images: sprites of NPCs without their heads, as well as heads without bodies. Any time I tried to examine either of these, Silver would simply say, "Don't look..."

The bodies and heads became more frequent as I went on, clogging up the hallways and leaving only a small path for me to follow. The screaming was becoming more frequent, as well.

The screen began to flicker as I walked, just like it would if one of my Pokemon was poisoned. I was certain none of them were, however. Just in case, I opened my party menu to check. None of my Pokemon were afflicted with poison, but their health had started to lower. In an attempt to fix this, I picked a super potion out of my bag and tried to use it on my Feraligatr.

A dialogue box popped up and said, "It won't have any effect."

Now I was disturbed. I knew none of this was supposed to happen. Regardless, I continued on, hoping that if they all fainted from this, I'd be taken back to a Pokemon Center and things would return to normal.

It was stupid of me to assume that.

I continued along the morbid path, the screen flickering in and out. I began to notice that Silver himself was beginning to move a little slower, as well. I don't know what, but something was draining my Pokemon's energy as well as my own.

Finally, Silver stopped as the dialogue box had popped up telling me that all my Pokemon had fainted, but it didn't say what I had hoped.

It said, "ALL DEAD."

By now, I was ready to cry, but I couldn't stop myself from trying to get to the end of this disturbing experience. If I didn't do this now, I'd just be tempted to try it again some other time.

Finally, I reached the center room. The screen was tinted a deep red now. I assumed this was to simulate the fact that the room was filled with blood. However, there were only a few bodies scattered around it. In the center were a few live figures: a man, an unknown Pokemon, Gold, and another Pokemon I could only assume was his Typhlosion.

Gold's Typhlosion attacked the man's Pokemon, but it was quickly struck down. Its sprite turned red, then grey, then disappeared. The man's Pokemon had killed it.

Silver's sprite stepped forward on its own and the man finally acknowledged he was there.

GIOVANNI: "Ah, son, you've made it. Come to see your rival's demise, have you?"

This caused Gold to turn arund to look at Silver. The only thing he said was, "..."

Silver continued to move on his own. He approached the Giovanni and kicked him backwards. It obviously enraged the man.

GIOVANNI: "You're going to help him?
You've become just as weak as the others!
If he seems worth saving to you...
Perhaps I should show you that there's no sense in getting attached!
MEWTWO, take care of him!"

Mewtwo obeyed his creator's command and approached Gold. I'm still uncertain of what it actually did, but it struck Gold, causing a scream much louder than before as the prite of Silver's rival lost its head and faded to deep red and then grey.

GIOVANNI: "I told you long ago, Silver. Either manipulate or be manipulated.
Pokemon are nothing more than tools.
People are nothing more than tools.
After they've served your purpose, they're no longer useful...
Kill him!"

The Mewtwo didn't obey this time; Giovanni's words must have angered it. It turned to him and actually spoke.

MEWTWO: "...You're no longer useful..."

It struck Giovanni just as it had done Gold and Typhlosion, but the scream Giovanni produced was much longer than any other I had heard. Mewtwo was torturing him.

Finally, the scream faded away into nothingness and Giovanni's sprite did just as Gold's did, leaving only Silver and Mewtwo alive n the room. As Mewtwo turned to face me, I knew that wouldn't last for long.

MEWTWO: "...Not useful..."

It struck me, initiating a battle in which I was totally unable to participate. My sprite was in the place of any Pokemon; my health had dwindled past the halfway point, but I knew it didn't matter either way. I chose to run, but I couldn't. I chose to attack, but I had nothing to use. I jsut had to stand there as mewtwo use Psychic on Silver's defenseless image.

Even with the sound turned to a low level, the scream coming from Silver was disturbingly loud. Even as the battle screen faded away, the scream lingered until Silver's sprite turned from red to grey, which I now assume symbolizes the coldness of death. Silver, along with Gold and everyone else who had been unfortunate enough to wander into this place from Viridian, was now dead.

The screen faded to black, all except for Mewtwo's sprite, which remained in the scenter of the screen. My paranoid mind immediately made me think he was somehow going to turn on me next, but the word END simply faded in just underneath him and the screen cut to black, taking me back to the opening sequence.

I'm still unsure why this was made, why someone shoved it into a box to sell, and why I happened to find it. I can assure you I'm swearing off all randomly found games, too. Either it's new, or I'll never risk touching it again.

The game I just described has slipped out of my possession since that first playthrough. I have no idea where it is, but I hope it's rotting in a dump somewhere.



For Rent

She was on the couch when we found her.

The house had a long history of occupation by unstable women. Dorothy was the latest tenant and, from what I knew, very few of the house's former occupants turned up dead in the living room. My parents certainly hadn't found any stiffs since turning the place into a rental property.

A few days prior, one of the neighbors contacted my mother regarding strange behavior on Dorothy's part. Allegedly, she had been silently wandering between lawns every night for a week or so, so the neighbor decided to do the logical thing and call the landlords.

My mother registered the complaint out of courtesy and relayed the information to my father, who filed it away with the rest of the things he couldn't care less about. Three days later, the neighbor rang again to inform my mother that whatever she said had worked; Dorothy hadn't been seen outside since.

My parents were naturally concerned, but still not enough to actually bother investigating. Since I was home for the weekend, I was dispatched to the scene. Reminiscing briefly about my days in the neighborhood, I got out of the car and walked up to the door.

Knock knock knock.

As I waited for a response, I noticed that the house itself seemed, not dead. Dormant. I knocked again and waited before trying the doorbell and waiting again. I contemplated talking to the neighbors, but decided against it.

Finally, I took the set of keys my mother gave me and unlocked the door. I was barely inside when I noticed the smell. It was vaguely metallic, like iron, with a hint of what could have been ammonia. Undeterred, I pushed the door open and immediately realized why Dorothy didn't get up to let me in.

She was strewn out on the couch wearing a sweat suit, her head hanging off the side so that it hovered above a dry pile of vomit. Urine stained the white fabric and her forearms were posed almost unnaturally, as if she wanted to exhibit the jagged, vertical slashes on either wrist.

Dried blood was caked along her arms and dark trails of it led from the couch into the next room with a few thin, haphazard lines which made me imagine that she was swinging her arms. The coffee table had been kicked askew, knocking over an empty handle of vodka and two bottles of hydrocodone.

She couldn't have been dead for more than thirty-six hours.

As could be expected, I was a little taken aback by the grim scene. However, a morbid curiosity told me to stick around.

Opposite the mess was the television. It was on, the screen showing "No Signal". On a shelf under the TV set, she had a VCR; it was old and predated the VHS/DVD combo thing. Something compelled me to press the eject button and, with an unhealthy-sounding whir, the machine spit out a VHS tape: "Silence of the Lambs".


Following the strings of blood on the carpet, I proceeded into the next room. It was empty save for a setup for her computer. It was tremendously outdated - a bulky, khaki-colored monitor perched on a very plain wooden desk, with an equally cumbersome keyboard flecked with blood.

I noticed there was no chair in the room but, in spite of this, there were indents in the carpet. One appeared as a white square in a circle of brownish-red, suggesting that her wrist was against the chair leg as she sat.

It was clear that she died via overdose, but why she'd been walking around so much after such grievous self-injury was lost on me...and I had a good amount of experience with suicide and self-destruction.

Sparser paths of dark stains on the carpet led down the miniscule hallway into a spare bedroom. Curiously, there was a separate unpleasant stench in the room.

I pulled the top of my shirt over my nose and glanced around. Nothing. Well, nothing except for a tiny cage. It was the kind one would use to take cats or small dogs to the vet. There was some newspaper around the cage, but no sign of whatever animal it held. As I turned to leave, there was a sudden scratching from the closet. I took a moment to recover from my miniature heart attack and stepped over, tentatively sliding the closet door open.

A small dog - a dachshund - was cowering in the corner. The opposite corner contained a pile of dachshund shit. Immediately the little dog ran from the closet and into the cage. After about a minute spent trying to coax it out, I'd had about enough of that house. I strode back down the hallway to the living room, trying my hardest not to look at Dorothy, and headed out the front.

I phoned the proper authorities and told them about the grisly scene inside, the dog included.

A week later my mother contacted me at college, telling me to come home again for the weekend so that I could help her and my brother remove the blood-stained, shit-streaked carpet. During the process, I made a few off-hand remarks about the nature of the situation. I mentioned the dog in the closet, the missing chair, and Silence of the Lambs. My brother thought it was a little weird, but my mother remained stoic until the job was finished.

That following week, I returned to the house of my own accord to walk around and try to remember any specific events from when my family lived there. Unfortunately, though, even with my photographic memory, it was difficult to dredge up things that happened when I was two years old.

Certain rooms did trigger certain memories, though. I remembered being in first grade, playing with some toys as my mother showed the place to a potential tenant. I shuddered, realizing I had been in the same exact spot of Dorothy's missing chair, but another thought soon popped into my head.

I remembered who moved in after that: an absentminded French woman named Marie. Who the hell was renting before her, though, and why did they leave?

Unable to assemble a timeline in my head, I was reabsorbed into my memory. I had been playing primarily with X-Men action figures, imagining some story involving a giant spider, when Ice Man's arm broke off at the elbow.

It was upsetting.

Walking through to the kitchen, I found myself nineteen years gone, listening to my mother speak on the phone with someone: a lawyer.

My dog at the time had bitten a neighbor. It was strange, as I remembered him being very warm and affectionate. Any display of violence was out of character. As I brought myself back to the present, something troubling dawned on me: I had no memories of the dog from that time period. Every memory took place at my current residence.

Immediately, I connected the dog's behavior to his location.

Come to think of it, I had a cat then, too. He was old, possibly fifteen when I was born, but even as he got older he was a fighter. He was fearless. However, at the new house... My father once related a story of a sudden thudding noise that scared the cat out of the house for an entire three days.

I cleared my head of the Stephen King-style sentient house theories and left the kitchen. A walk down the hallway failed to summon any memories, but I nonetheless progressed toward the bedrooms.

At the threshold of the room where I found the dachshund, my mind glitched.

Any knowledge that remained of the house's floor plan had fled my mind and the layout suddenly seemed very labyrinthine. Most unsettling of all, I no longer had any memories of living there, only a hazy sense of familiarity like the fragments of some distant dream.

The space past the door frame was dizzying to the point of vertigo. I looked back down the hallway, the way I came. It had changed in the same outlandish manner as the room before me and as I gazed past opened doors leading to the kitchen, I felt as if I was looking over the side of a building, judging the distance between me and the ground.

Move. Walk. Just lift one foot and put it in front of the other. Focusing on the top of my shoe, I raised my right foot from the ground. With some effort, I took a step forward, bringing me through the threshold and into the room in front of me.

Just as startlingly as it changed, the environment shifted back to normal. I was still staring at my feet and noticed a dark stain on the wood of the floor, previously hidden by the suicide-soiled carpet. It was relatively small, but its presence was annoying. That, and it could have signified a mold problem.

My eyes were fixed on the spot for a second as I imagined my mother bitching to me about mold in the wood. Soon enough, though, I noticed another blemish on the hardwood...then another. I finally brought my head up, my vision following the stains. They formed a line with a distinctive pattern: the pattern of footsteps.

I tracked the source of the dark blots to the private bathroom, which was notably adjacent to the sliding closet where Dorothy had apparently stashed her dog. With no door-stopper, the wood ended abruptly, jarringly, into the tiled floor of the bathroom. Sure enough, there was a splotch a few inches onto the tile.

When I caught sight of it, my hand involuntarily shot to my mouth and I took a step backward.

My suspicions had been confirmed: the stains were actually footprints. An infant's footprints. Tiny soles with baby toes. The ball and heel of certain prints were inconsistent, fading inward as they proceeded. I supposed it would make sense if the child was tracking in some kind of liquid.

Disturbingly, the prints continued forward into the shower, circled around one side of the tub, then finally stopped as they led directly into the drain.

I knelt down and scraped at one of them with my fingernail, but the mark might as well have been burned into the surface. I reached toward the faucet to turn the ater on. The pipes coughed and sputtered like a dying automobile, paused for a second, and began unsystematically spitting rusty water. Predictably, the water did nothing. I turned the faucet back to the off position. This time it made a sickly gurgling noise. After another short delay, the murky spray stopped.

As I watched the liquid form into little whirlpools around the drain, I had a vision of myself in the same spot, perhaps twenty years prior when I was an infant. With so many other mysteries accumulating, I was unwilling to dismiss this as a coincidence. I pulled myself away from the tub and cleared out from the bathroom. A quick walk into the other bedroom produced nothing interesting, meaning there was only one place I hadn't revisited: the basement.

Before I had both feet back in the hallway, my determination to investigate the basement was cut short. Something was wrong. The old house didn't have a basement, did it?

This house had no answers. Only questions upon questions.

Finally, I gave in and returned to my family's current residence to see if my mother could provide any insight. As it happened, her knowledge of the house's history was rudimentary at best, but she had a mental record of every tenant since my family had moved, including the reasons they'd left.

My first thought was to ask about the woman who was renting right before Marie. The answer left me somewhat shaken. The woman's name was Mary-Anne and she lived there for about a year, up until the accidental death of her infant daughter. My mother was able to speak to Mary-Anne briefly after it happened, but Mary-Anne was almost catatonic and continually repeating "She had just taken her first steps."

According to the police, the daughter drowned in the bathtub.

My second question was in regards to Dorothy and my mother informed me that there was an update on the case. Very shortly before her estimated time of death, Dorothy had sent an email to her parents, apologizing for what she was about to do. It went on to explain that she secretly had an abortion and was wracked with guilt to the point where she was having hallucinations of a baby girl giggling and playing in one of the bedrooms.

After finally hearing this, there were only two major things that continued to bug me:

1. I still had no idea where Dorothy's chair had gone.

2. I could faintly remember taking a bath in the old house, probably about six years before Mary-Anne moved in. There were already footprints in the bathtub.

The Fear Hormone

The following is scribed directly from documents found in an abandoned German test lab by American soldiers during the aftermath of WWII, roughly translated into English.

(Audio Tape) Testing is to begin tomorrow. The team does not know what to expect. Our mission is to take new research and turn it into a weapon for the war-front. It has recently been discovered that the brain releases a (previously unknown) chemical when feeling fear. For obvious reasons, this test could be extremely dangerous. Two test subjects have been selected, and from what we were told, they were sentenced to death, but are going to be used as subjects in this experiment.. Subjects are given a table with two chairs, a cot with a mattress, a stocked bookcase, a notebook and pen, a bathroom area consisting of a toilet, a sink, and a mirror. Food and water are given through a small, seal-able opening. I have nothing more to report at this time.

(Written Document) Test Subject A and B are being given the chemical in a small dose, mixed with water. Test Subject A has consumed the water, and has no visible changes in mood or behavior. Test Subject B has refused to drink the water. He has been forcefully given the same dosage, but by direct injection. He gave some resistance, but was easily controlled and injected. Shortly afterward, he seemed nervous, almost paranoid, and jumped whenever he heard sudden noises. Subjects have been told to try and remain active, or sleep, not just idle.

(Written Document) It took time, but we have developed a gas based version of the chemical. If shown effective on subjects, this could become a valuable weapon. Dose has been increased slightly. Neither subjects were aware that the chemical was being let into the room. After a few minutes, subject A stopped reading, and began to look around the room cautiously. After an estimated hour, he began to read again. Subject B immediately responded. He opened the notebook for the first time, and wrote "What is going on? Stop whispering." onto a piece of paper, ripped it out of the notebook, and slipped it under the door. No reply was given.

(Written) We are going to observe the effects of long term, low amounts of the gas on subject A, and we are going to observe the effects of a short, high amount period of the gas. The results are shocking to say the least. Subject A progressively became more unstable. He stopped reading, would not eat, and avoided the mirror at all costs. He suddenly became very aggressive, and threw a heavy book at the mirror with surprising force, shattering it. Subject B's reaction was more.... curious.. He began staring at the second chair. But he was not looking at the chair, he was looking as if making eye contact with someone sitting in the chair. Something seems amiss, but we are definitely getting results.

(Vocal Recording) (The voice sounds distressed.)

We did not want this! What did we do to deserve god's vengeance such as this?! Subject B escaped from his cell, the chair he was staring at was thrown across the room, straight into the viewing glass, instantly shattering it. It was 5 inches thick, reinforced... He didn't even touch the chair... He has escaped out of the hole made by the impa- (very loud scream of pain, from another person) HELP ME, HES RIPPI- (Loud crunch), (Back to first person) Oh my lord... Oh, no, no NO, NO, PLEASE! (there is a loud, beastly roar, and sounds of struggle are heard. The rest of the tape is silence.)

(One final note was found. It seemed to be hastily written, and barely legible.)

They are dead. Everyone one of them. I hear him in the walls. I hear him whispering to me. Yes.. Yes.. Please come and take me away! I want no more of th

(And the note end there.)

April 23, 1944, Allied soldiers found an abandoned German laboratory, with it's only door sealed shut. Using charges, they forcefully entered the laboratory, wondering what was so important that the Germans had to lock it away. They found 13 bodies, 12 of which had matching lab coats on, mangled to pieces, and in one case, ripped straight in half. The 13th body had nondescript, brown clothing, and no head. A larger scale investigation was launched later by the Germans as to determine what had happened, but was canceled after many German soldiers absolutely refused to return to the laboratory, even if threatened with their lives. To this day, nobody knows what happened to "B", but he is presumed dead.

Memoirs of a Set Designer

It's been almost 30 years since I left for Long Island after retreating from the small UHF studio in Ashland, KY and the life I once knew. Leaving only with a small suitcase and the clothes on my back, I ran and didn't look back from a childhood paradise that slowly evolved into a traumatizing nightmare.

It was then and there; I was a young adult, down on my luck and barely making enough to pay the monthly rent for the apartment a friend and I shared. I was barely making minimum wage at my first job, where I would flip burgers for nine hours a day in the heat. The small eatery was beside a long stretch of highway my superstitious boss used to call "Ghost Road," a place where the ghostly hitchhikers would hail rides from unknown passerby.

I switched my apron in for a flourescent vest, to start pulling shopping carts into the local grocery store and mopping floors for twelve hours a day, five days a week; again, barely making minimum wage. I quit after only four weeks of working to look for a better and higher-paying job after I received a notice that I was going to be evicted.

It was while reading the morning paper three days later that I found an answer. Perhaps this would be the answer to my problem. A small article in the want ads called for pairs of helping hands to build set pieces for kid shows at the small UHF studio about thirty minutes away.

I got excited and ran for my red sedan, hoping to get there before someone else could. Something told me this would be my day. After driving for what felt like forty minutes, I pulled into the nearly-abandoned parking lot and looked for an unlocked door or, at the very least, someone to unlock a door. At last, I found a door that would open and was hit by a blast of cool air; the air conditioners were on full blast, I think.

I was about to approach the front desk to ask about the job offering but was stopped by an older gentleman in khaki pants and a blue polo, with neatly combed black-brown hair and green eyes. He asked me if I was here for the job position and smiled from ear to ear when I said yes. He gripped my hand like a python and shook it. He seemed overly excited or like he forgot to take some medication that morning, or maybe he was on a caffeine high. I wasn't sure; it could have been both, actually, but I couldn't tell you.

"The name's Bob Fields," he said, still shaking my hand. "You can call me boss. I'm so happy that someone saw the article. Times have been really tough because of the recent tax cuts and stage hands walking out. Please, follow me."

When he finally let go, my hand was red and numb. I followed him through the halls to the set, trying to shake it off. Mr. Fields was a strange person, but could you blame him? He loved his work and seemed to love the people there like a second family. Arriving onto the set, there were about a dozen people in different parts of the large room. It made me think that they shot different shows in one room at the same time.

He showed me around the room and explained the different shows they were working on. It didn't take an expert to take one look at the set pieces and realize how cheap and awful they were; it made it clear how seriously low budget they were. I knew times were tough, but not this tough.

The first show he introduced me to was called "Jumbo's Circus". It was an educational show that showed kids how to count, tell time, and identify colors and shapes and all that. It was a very basic show for the Pre-K demographic. After meeting the director and cast, I declined. It was nothing against them; it was the extreme coulrophobia that haunted me since childhood.

Fields then showed me another show. This one tried to be educational in the sense of moral lessons. Unlike Jumbo's Circus, where it was mostly live-action, this one had a cast consisting of only puppets of different shapes, sizes, textures, and colors. The show was called "Sunshine City" and it followed a group of puppet kids that would deal with real world problems that most kids never heard of or experienced.

Common morals were used, such as "stealing is wrong," "treat others the way you want to be treated," and "respect authority". However, some of the episode themes were rather serious, especially for a kid's show. One of the episodes was about one character, Lucas, who was bulled by another puppet, Peter, because his felt skin was a different color than that of all the other puppets on the show.

One of the puppeteers, who I spoke to shorly before I moved, told me about the darkest episode of the series. It was shown only once, because of the content, and resulted in the immediate cancellation of the show. In it, the sad orange puppet, Ron, was more upset than usual. He did his usual "woe is me" speech and left, not returning until the last two minutes of the episode.

In that short time, Ron can be seen sitting on a rock by the train tracks, staring at the cardboard sunset horizon. Sounds of a train can be heard, getting louder and louder with each second. Ron eventually sighs and stands. As the train speeds forward, Ron jumps out in front of it and the scene cuts to black. The very last part is a fade-in, showing Ron's dismembered puppet arm lying beside the tracks. Cotton is coming out of the limb and the train is chugging onward into the sunset. The final scene and the credits roll in silence.

The nature of the show made me feel uneasy. I again declined the offer. Fields sighed and showed me the third show they were working on. It was another puppet show, this time about pirates. The title of the show on the script said "Pirate Place," but that was  crossed out faintly in pencil. There was something written beside it, but I couldn't read it; it was mostly illegible.

Fields explained the plot of the show, which was about a girl named Janice who would go on adventures with a pirate named Percy, who wasn't a really good pirate because he was scared easily. The more he spoke about it, the more interested I became. He told me about a dream the director had about a boat that spoke with an Ed Wynn voice. He conjured up images of a smiling boat with big eyes that seemed to swallow the sea.

He explained two other characters - the villains. They were two strange puppets: Horace Horrible, who had tall teeth, a handlebar moustache, and a monocle, and the Skin taker. The Skin Taker was a skeleton on strings that had a glass eye, a cape, and a top hat.

The character of Janice reminded me of myself as a kid, dreaming about going on adventures and looking for hidden treasure on the seven seas. I signed up for the project and Fields smiled.

He introduced me to the director of my childhood dreams, Emerson Grimes. Grimes seemed like an okay guy. He was wearing hiking boots, blue jeans, a trucker hat, and a Hawaiian shirt. He took me to a rec room where the rest of the small crew was drinking Tab and playing darts.

At the time, they only had three voice actors: Todd Smith (Pirate Percy), Michael Colon (The Skin Taker), and Leonard Lloyd (The Laughingstock). They were still looking for someone who was the embodiment of Horace Horrible, as well as someone to play Janice.

A week later, they found someone to voice Horace Horrible. Grimes found comfort in Jeremy Kirby, who had recently finished working on another kids' show for the studio, "Fisherman Fred," and would have went on to do backstage work for another strange kids' show, "Peppermint Park".

Around the same time, they found someone to play Janice. She was a kindergarten student from a nearby school named Jodie Silver. She was quiet and adorable. She didn't complain much, unlike most kids who auditioned. All you needed to keep Jodie happy was a pouch of apple juice, a peanut butter and banana sandwich, and a coloring book; have that, and she was good to go.

To help get the ball rolling faster for us, I had gone to local craft stores and flea makets with crew members to get props to build the puppets and the sets. The most tedious part must have been building the Laughingstock, which took us two weeks. Production started around five weeks after I was signed on.

Production had been very rough and was becoming a challenge. Because of the intensity of the flood lights always beaming down on her, Jodie would often come down with fevers and become overheated. We became very concerned about her health and opted to find a body double so both could be switched out for each other. It was a common trick that many shows did and we were about to do the same. Unfortunately, Grimes refused and said that it would be fixed and Jodie would adjust to it.

In three weeks time, Walter Shay (one of the gaffers) was injured on the set in a freak accident, resulting in a broken leg; it left him on crutches for the show's entire run. Much of the crew and I considered abandoning the project because of Grimes' incompetence, but, like everyone else who had it tough, we just bit our tongues and hoped for the best.

After Shay was replaced, things seemed to go back to normal as we were soon on a normal schedule. Things seemed to be going up for us until episode seven was in production. One of the writers, Abbey Levi, revealed to me during a lunch break that Emerson had been destroying scripts and replacing entire stories. I didn't notice until she brought it up.

Evidence of the tampering was obvious, especially prior to episode seven. Jodie, who knew her script like the back of her hand, would often be confused by stage positions and what she was supposed to do. She would often ask Kirby (Horace Horrible) what she had to do before takes. Her parents would go over the script with her every morning and night, so the changes confused her.

Episode seven was where it became extremely clear what was going on. Originally, Percy takes a scroll from Horace Horrible that explains where to go for the next hidden treasure. It was initially replaced by something of the macabre. It started off just like any other episode, with Janice and Percy talking outside a cave, but somehow focused on the Skin Taker and the dark origins of his hat and cape.

Grimes told the cast to go along with it, despite the eyebrows they raised. Michael Colon (Skin Taker) was the most uncomfortable with the episode because of both the script and how Grimes wanted him to present the dialogue. It was chilling, but he went along with it anyway. They didn't show anything explicit or violent, for all they did was deliver some subtle lines, but they were still unsettling.

The scene that most rememebered was Janice asking why the Skin Taker's mouth moved the way it did. He didn't say it to her; he turned to the camera and said, "To grind your skin". It was this episode where I and the others started to question Grimes' sanity. I wanted to believe he was just this way because of the long hours he worked, but the others were trying to show me that wasn't the case. He was a madman and something had to be done.

That infamous episode resulted in lots of mail from viewers, most of it asking what we were doing and what was going on. It also resulted in the first warning from the studio; if we got two more, then the show would be cancelled like "Sunshine City" was later in the year.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

From the diary of Thomas Pepper

A back alley in a big city, empty but for wind-blown heaps of trash, food papers and dinted cans. In the shadow of a doorway, a pale figure in a tattered coat. The head is scabbed and flaking as if with psoriasis. A boy is before him, on his knees, probably no more than sixteen. The jacket he wears was once blue. Nights spent sleeping rough in other doorways have grimed it like a garage floor. The figure rocks the boy back and forth.

The boy, limp, offers no resistence. His name is not important. None of his friends knew what his parents had called him anyway. This is an anonymous place; only the hot meat of the body matters, not the name. On the streets, everything feeds off everything else. You do what you have to, to survive.

Strong fingers dig into the boy's neck in rhythmic spasms of pleasure. There is almost no noise, only a soft moan rising and falling with the wind. There is the sound of suction, a grunt of satisfaction. Dribbling and dripping follow, fluid pattering on old newspaper.

Move nearer and a stew of stinks is strong in the air: rot and urine, vomit and cheap vodka, the smell of humanity gone to waste. Where the figure stands, the air is rich and rank with the smell of a butcher's shop window on a hot day. Then you notice the decay, the sick, intimate, coughed-up lump of stink like a tooth gone rotten in the mouth. The man smells worse than food forgotten at the back of a fridge, sunk to brown liquid and pulp.

The boy is pale. His neck lolls loosely. HIs mouth hangs open, a thread of saliva trailing from it. Dead eyes see nothing, or something far, far away.

Scabbed paw-hands with pulsing veins grip his shoulders tightly. Claws like two-foot catheters, gray as filthy glass, have speared through the padding of his jacket and into his body cavities. A red bubbling flow races through them, sucked up by the groaning thing. It rocks back and forth, back and forth in its pleasure.

The dead boy's face becomes concave under the suction. The eyes retreat into the skull. The lips draw back from the teeth in an involuntary grimace. He shrinks and crumples like a deflating rubber toy with bones in. The thing hsakes him harder, trying to loosen more fluids from deeper within. Its sucks harder and faster.

The boy's body convulses. There is a rattling gurgle like a child finishing a milkshake.

Slowly, reluctantly, the slick claws withdraw. The body silently gives in to gravity, collapsing backwards into the alley without any fuss. It has nothing of the human about it any more. The limp white carcass is just a thing; cold veal.

The creature's car wreck of a face is happy. It closes the teabag-colored gobs that were eyes. Most of its jaw is hanging off and the lips are burst and ragged, but it smacks them anyway, as if it remembered finishing a bowl of hot soup on a winter day.

The coat it wears is sopping with mucus and blod. But for that, it is a naked, rotten bulk of muscle, livid with wriggling veins. Hot blood vessels thread under the skin like fat cables, pulsing, bursting the surface. The little veins under its skin are livid and mobile as mealworms, itching. Those in its arms are swollen massively like sausagge balloons, gross, taut and shiny, needing only a touch to burst them. The whole creature throbs. A little blood sprays from the head, like a leak in a garden hose, where there are shallow pink trenches ploughed in the skull. The boy tried to fight.

Later, no doubt, hardened forensic investigators will turn pale when they analyze the necrotic matter under the boy's nails. The skin and flesh belongs to a body that has been dead for months.