By Chef lunakinesis


When I was a kid, I was obsessed with milk.

We all had that phase, right? Where there was a food or drink we just couldn’t get enough of and wanted it morning, noon and night. That was me with milk. I could drink it by the gallon. My parents didn’t mind, they would rather I wanted something healthy like that to quench my thirst than be constantly after soda or one of those concentrate drinks full of sugar that you had to add water to.

I could make myself sick sometimes, drinking too much, too fast. But didn’t every kid? Hell, even adults can have too much of a good thing and make themselves ill for it. It was never enough to put me off though, no amount of aching bellies could separate me from my beloved milk. Nothing could.

Or so I thought.

See, our kitchen was pretty small or at least it was too small to fit in the gigantic fridge (and freezer) my parents had. So it was kept in the basement instead.

One summer when I was around sixteen, my parents decided I was old enough to stay at home alone whilst they took off on a second honeymoon or something. I didn’t mind, at that age I would rather have stayed at home with my friends than been the third wheel to my parents as they tried to rekindle the romance. Besides, if I needed another my grandparents lived right across the street. Yeah, my family was the kind who didn’t stray far from their roots.

It was uneventful as you might expect: I had friends over and we played video games, pigged out on takeout and that was about it beyond my taking care of the house duties.

Until the third week.

The house was old so creaks and groans and other ‘unexplained’ noises were something I was used to and easily brushed aside. This one night, however, I had just come back up from the basement – the door to which lay in our kitchen – with a glass of milk, ready to crawl up the stairs and settle into bed for the night when an unusual banging came from the room I’d just left.

I tried to brush it off as just the ancient stairs airing their complaints after I’d trampled up them, but there was something so off about it. In my sixteen years of living in that house, I’d never heard anything like it. I figured it might’ve been a wild animal, maybe a raccoon or opossum that had somehow got in during the day. Being a typical teen, that was not something I wanted to deal with late at night, so I simply locked the basement door to prevent it getting up into the main house and went to bed.

Morning came and I tentatively went down into the basement to check for any signs of a wild animal, and beyond the few cobwebs to be expected even in a furnished basement like our own, there was nothing, so I decided it really had just been one of the many noises of our old house, got my usual glass of milk and headed back up the stairs.

That night, the noise returned. This time I was sure it wasn’t simply random creaking, because it started up at the exact same time right before I headed up to my room for the night. The only difference was I hadn’t been down to the basement yet so it definitely was not the result of me stepping on some well-worn floorboards.

Being the not particularly brave teen I was, I bolted out of the house and across to my grandparents. Fortunately they were still awake and my grandfather was a bull of a man not to be messed with. He marched over with his shotgun to investigate, only to come back a half hour later claiming he couldn’t find anything or anyone. He reasoned, like me, that it was maybe a raccoon and was hiding in a nook or cranny somewhere down there, and had locked the place up to stop it getting out much as I had done the previous night.

I stayed at my grandparents from that point on, going back into the house during the day to take care of any chores and play on my Nintendo for a couple of hours. I didn’t go back down into the basement, opting to eat and drink at my grandparents’ home too.

About a week before my parents got back there was a summer storm that caused a power outage. It lasted a couple of days but gave me all the more reason to spend the remaining time my parents were away at my grandparents.

When I returned one morning to open up the curtains I noticed a foul smell spreading throughout the house. Knowing the power had been out I assumed the heavy, pungent odour was coming from the food in the fridge and freezer that had begun to go bad. The thought of dealing with it was unpleasant but it wasn’t something I wanted my parents to come home to. I didn’t want to deal with the cleanup and my grandparents would be out of town for the night visiting my great-uncle and I didn’t much fancy having to clear out rotting food alone.

So I did what any bone-idle teenager would do and left it. Sprayed some air freshener and dealt with it for the day, choosing to eat dry cereal and drink water rather than going down to the basement and be overwhelmed by the stretch seeping out of it.

That night was particularly hot – even for summer – and so I ended up turning the AC on. The cool air spreading through the house was a relief as I went to sleep, but it was soon a decision I was regretting.

I woke up at around four in the morning to find the air of the house thick and muggy, it was worse than when I had gone to bed. Worse still, was the stench so strong I could taste it in my mouth. It was sweet and sour all at the same time, mixed with the sulphuric smell of rotting eggs and something my adolescent brain could only describe as someone having missed the toilet.

I thought about a time when I was younger, when my dad had accidentally unplugged the fridge and none of us had noticed until the milk had gone off. I could remember that smell as I gagged and hurried into the upstairs bathroom, kneeling before the toilet as my stomach threatened to empty itself. It was sweet and bitter like this smell, with something acidic I’ve never known how to explain, and I could remember the thick, chunky sludge the milk had become, none of this helped me as the scent that filled the house seemed to flood into every pore of my body. I could smell it on my clothes, it was so strong my eyes watered and with one final, heavy flip, my stomach heaved and I vomited.

How could the smell have gotten so bad in just a few hours?

It was only when I was cleaning myself up at the sink that I noticed the air vents weren’t pushing out any soothing, cool air. Knowing that I obviously hadn’t turned it off as I had been sleeping, I assumed the system was still messed up after the power outage. I couldn’t stay in that house with that heat and that smell and so, dressed only in my underwear, I hurried over to my grandparents and, once again, spent the night there.

When they arrived in the morning I explained the situation to them. Neither were pleased I hadn’t taken care of the rotting food the day before, but agreed to help before it could get any worse.

‘Worse’ would be an understatement for the odour that smacked us in the face. My grandmother couldn’t even make it into the house, she was an ashen white and bent over the table on the porch, gagging. Even my grandfather lost his hardened composure upon setting foot into the house, having brought a tissue out of his pocket to cover his nose and mouth.

“Stay here,” he told me, a clear command even if his words had been a little muffled. I, of course, didn’t listen to him – because it made no sense to me for him to make me stay out and have him clean up all the mess – and once I heard the basement door open I cut through the house to the kitchen.

I can only describe walking into that kitchen as having your face millimetres from an oven door when it’s opened and the wave of heat knocks you off your feet. It was that, but only the smell. I could hear my grandfather retching and coughing as he descended the stairs, and I myself was soon doing the same as I made my way to the basement door with tears forming in my eyes.

Now my grandfather was a hard man, but I had never heard him swear until that moment. And it was as if he was making up for a lifetime of never saying a bad word with the string of curses leaving him. This urged me on through the heated murk of stench that made traversing the stairs a grinding task.

I wish I had listened to my grandfather when he told me to stay with my grandma.

He tried to urge me back up before I saw anything but it was much too late for that.

The noises I’d heard from the basement weren’t from the house settling, nor were they from an animal.

They were from a human.

A human now rotting in the summer heat and half-hanging out of an air vent. Now I knew why they’d stopped working, and how the smell had permeated the whole house so quickly. It also explained why neither my grandfather nor I had found anything upon investigating the basement- they’d been in the vents. The fact a person had somehow gotten into my home was chilling enough, to see them as the first dead body in my life was worse. Death is a part of nature, but a disgusting part when the usual human ways of dealing with it aren’t in practice.

A body rots quickly in heat, and their corpse was hanging in such a way I’m sure that if it had been left another day or two the body would’ve snapped in half. Fluids leaked down the walls: congealed blood, dirty brown liquid I didn’t want to think about, and the worst of it- something thick, white and pus-like that reminded me of that sour milk.

The smell of death clings to everything, and even after the body was removed, all furniture from down there tossed out and the basement professionally fumigated, it still lingered. I threw out the clothes I’d been wearing that day, no matter how many times they were washed it was still there. I couldn’t go down to the basement, it still hit me like a truck each time I so much as passed the door. Even my parents who were fortunate enough to still be gone during the worst of it couldn’t deal with it. They moved to the street over and from what my grandparents have told us, whenever someone new moves in they always complain about the smell.

We never did figure out how they got in, the police believed there must have been some open window I missed one day and I’m inclined to agree. They were homeless, looking for food and shelter, something I can’t hold against them. I almost feel guilty in a way. The noises they made sneaking around the basement at night drove me away to my grandparents. Maybe if I’d stayed I would’ve heard them call or help – if they had called for it at all – when they’d got stuck in the vent. Maybe they’d still be alive. I don’t know.

What I do know is from that day on, I couldn’t drink milk. The smell of even fresh milk would bring the reek of death back to me, like it had just been trapped and waiting somewhere at the back of my nose. The sight of it reminded me of those fluids seeping down our basement walls.

When I was a kid I loved milk, now I hate it.

Make Damn Sure you Avoid the Backwoods of Eastern Kentucky

By Chef darthvarda


Driving through the backwoods of eastern Kentucky easternkentuckyin the dead of night is the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done. Anyone who’s ever been in the area knows exactly what I’m talking about. All the light from the moon and the stars is blocked by thick vegetation and hills, so it’s pitch black. There’s history in those hills, a lot of history, and this energy fills the place with this crazy bad vibe. It’s like the very land is pissed at you, like it wants you dead.

The roads aren’t well-traveled, and you’ll be hard-pressed to see a single car driving down them at night. Cell service out there is—at least for me—spotty at best, non-existent at worst, and you pray to whatever you believe in that your car doesn’t break down, knowing full well the folks who live smattered across the hills are isolated, private people; knowing that they wouldn’t be very happy seeing you wandering onto their property in the dead of night. None too happy at all.

It’s what my mom calls “badcountry”, one word. She always told me to avoid the area if I could, saying that I’d likely be murdered or worse out there. And I’ve heard the stories too. Stories about people getting out of their car to help a stranded motorist, only to be ambushed, robbed, kidnapped, and/or murdered. Stories about strange lights and ghost killers and vanishing hitchhikers and crazy inbred hillbilly families. There are said to be hundreds of unreported deaths out there, people just vanishing off the face of the earth, never to be seen again.

I’ve always avoided driving through those hills, but one night I found myself driving straight down KY-52 S instead of I-75 S, straight into those hills, straight into their darkness.

Around midnight, I got a message from my mom that my dad had been taken to the hospital and that his condition was serious. I immediately jumped out of bed and into my car despite my mom telling me to wait until morning to drive down. I lived up in Richmond at the time, while my parents were down in Hazard. It’s a little under a two-hour drive via I-75 S and a little over two via KY-52 S. That night, though, I-75 S was closed due to an overnight bridge reconstruction project, so I had to take KY-52 Southbound, and it goes through some pretty gnarly “badcountry”.

I figured nothing would happen, that it’d be a smooth, yet anxiety ridden, two-hourish trip, but there was this dread I couldn’t shake boiling up in my gut, urging me to wait until morning. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. I had to see my dad.
I got from Richmond to Irvine just fine, driving the winding road and hilly terrain with ease, going faster than the speed limit. It was from Irvine to Jackson that things took a turn for the worst.

First off, it was dark. Really fucking dark and even with my brights on, they still only barely lit up the surrounding area. The constantly curving roads didn’t help either. I found myself slowing down, having to navigate through the dark, around the switchbacks and turns, inclines and depressions, hoping to God I didn’t run off the road or hit an oncoming vehicle.

And the dread was at the forefront of everything now. Sure, it could’ve been exacerbated by worry for my dad, but there’s something about those hills, something evil, and I was really fucking afraid. The radio was dipping in and out, so I put in a CD (Dio) and tried to drown out the fear with music, but after the first song, I turned off the stereo completely and drove in silence, all my senses on high alert.

It felt wrong.

It felt like I was being watched. Every so often, I would see a light flash in the woods, like a campfire, but brighter. And I swear at one point between Crystal and Beattyville there was this pale and hairless and huge humanoid running after my car next to the road. Swear I saw it in the rearview mirror. It disappeared into the darkness and the trees when I braked and spun around in my seat.

Thirty minutes out of Beattyville I saw a kid. He was wearing a yellow shirt, blue shorts, and a red jacket (hood up)—colors that reminded me of Superman. He wasn’t wearing shoes. That bothered me. I flicked my brights down to their normal strength and slowed to a crawl wondering what the hell this kid, who looked to be under ten, was doing out in the middle of bumfuck nowhere.

I made sure my doors were locked, cracked my window, and asked him if he was okay as I rolled toward him. He didn’t respond. I glanced down at my phone. No Service. Shit. I asked him if he was okay again and he looked up at me quickly, making his hood fall down. He was crying.

I slowed to a stop and he immediately ran over, sticking dirty fingers into the crack of my window, pounding on the door. He was screaming something about how “they” were “hunting” him, and that “they” were going to “let the monster eat” him and “they” were watching us now, waiting, just beyond the darkness.

At this point, I was seriously freaking out and I might’ve been screaming too. I tried to roll my window up while trying to not hurt the kid, but he wouldn’t release his grip on my window. I think he was trying to break it. A bright light flashed onto us and the kid screamed even louder, let go of my car, and began running down the road, back towards Beattyville.

And, I’m ashamed to say, I took off. I was afraid I was going to die and become another statistic of these hills.

In my rearview mirror, I watched as what looked like three men in hooded robes ran out onto the road. The spotlight one of them was holding was trained onto my car and hit the mirror at an angle that blinded me, but it looked like the other two were going after the kid. I blinked and looked back towards the road, speeding like a bat out of hell.

I pulled off in Jackson and drove straight to the police station. Two detectives and an FBI agent who happened to be in town working with a liaison listened to me with grave faces. When I was finished, the FBI agent thanked me, then told me that a kid had gone missing the day before, from a Bible Camp near the Kentucky River, he said that’s why he was in town in the first place. Apparently, the kid and his friends were out playing hide and seek in the woods in broad daylight when he just disappeared. He was wearing yellow, blue, and red, like Superman. The strange thing is, his footsteps just stopped, and his shoes were still there. It was like he was lifted off the ground by air. It was weird.

Half a dozen cop cars with twice as many cops, the agent, and a search and rescue team were dispatched to the area within minutes after me reporting what I’d seen. I drove to a local diner and ended up staying in Jackson until morning, making the fortyish minute drive down to Hazard after the sun rose. After hearing why it took me so long to get down there, my mom was beside herself with panic, but was also glad I was okay, telling me I did what I had to do to survive, that I was brave, and wasn’t a coward. My dad ended up making a full recovery.

If you’re wondering if I do feel like a fucking coward, if I regret not letting that kid into my car, the answer is a resounding yes, I do, I am. It haunts me to this day. But I don’t know what would’ve happened if I stayed there any longer, and I don’t know if either of us would’ve made it out alive.

No trace of the kid was ever found.

On Russian Ice Roads, You Always Help Your Fellow Travelers

By Chef TheCityOfS


When people hear my wife’s Russian, they imagine a tall blonde girl with a funny accent who wears heels for every grocery run. Reality couldn’t be farther from the stereotype: Lana is dark-haired, speaks better English than I do, and is completely obsessed with sneakers. She does meet ONE stereotype, though: she never gets cold, seeing how she lived in Russia until she was eighteen.

Not in Moscow, of course. Did you know that Moscow’s actually pretty warm? There are entire states in America where winters are far colder than anything Moscovites ever have to deal with. No, my wife comes from a tiny town far up Russian north, on the tundra. A dark, gloomy, and a very cold place inside the Arctic Circle, with extremely harsh winters and even harsher people. A place that meets the stereotypes.

I’ve met my in-laws all of two times including our wedding, both times as they traveled to the States. Frankly, I never had any intention of visiting my Lana’s hometown, until she got that fateful call nine days ago. My mother in law had had a stroke. While her condition was stable for the time being, the local doctor expected the worst could happen at any minute. Transporting her to a better hospital was out of the question as she was in no state for the kind of a journey that you’ll see described below.

My wife made travel arrangements immediately. I had a valid Russian visa from a business trip to Moscow a few weeks prior so I decided to go with her. Now, getting to my wife’s hometown isn’t easy. You’re in for a flight to Moscow, then a connecting flight to Norilsk, one of the biggest cities in the Russian tundra. From there, it’s an hour-long trip down the Yenisei river, by barge in summer and on cars over ice in the winter.

Urgently getting to Moscow wasn’t that hard. There, however, we faced additional difficulties. First of all, apparently I couldn’t actually fly to Norilsk with Lana as the city was closed to foreigners. Before we could even process that, we were told that Norilsk airport was closed for all aircraft due to poor weather conditions and the weather wasn’t expected to improve that week. I tried to console Lana as best as I could, but news of her mom getting worse drove her crazy. Soon, Lana suggested an “alternative”: it was possible to fly to a city a fair bit south of Norilsk which was safe from the storms. For a modest fee, a family friend living there was willing to take a day’s journey up the ice road to Lana’s hometown. Well, more like a night’s journey since according to him, it was better to travel at night by car’s lights than by what passed as daylight.

I told my wife she was insane. She, however, was adamant about her plan, saying she’s done zimnik (how Russians call their ice roads) many times with her dad and it was perfectly safe. She wouldn’t budge no matter how I pleaded and told me I was welcome to stay in Moscow. Obviously, that was not an option, and in the end, I gave up.

We flew to our next destination, and the cold hit me as soon as I stepped out of the plane. It was a different kind of cold, invasive and ruthless, and it didn’t care about layers of sweaters and socks I had on. I shivered imagining how much colder it was going to get.

We met with the trucker who was to take us up North. He called himself Kolya, and my wife “Sveta”, the Russian version of her name. Me, he didn’t call at all, instead referring to me derisively as “Mister Amerikashka” whenever he spoke to my wife. Lana told me with a chuckle she didn’t tell Kolya I could understand Russian, although I don’t think he would’ve cared.

Kolya was supposed to be a few years younger than my wife but looked much older, his skin and posture worn down by the harsh conditions of his homeland. He laughed at our American shoes and coats and said he would pack extra jackets, woolen socks and valenki for us “just in case.” His brother helped load his truck, which looked like it had seen the fall of the Soviet Union, and then Kolya sat down to enjoy a shot of vodka. One for the road.

My wife saw me blanch at that.

“This isn’t New York, or even Moscow,” she said quietly. “People here are a bit behind in terms of DUI. Don’t worry, he won’t drink enough to get impaired, he’s seen that kill people on the road.”


Indeed, the first shot was the last and Kolya hopped into the truck. He offered my wife the shotgun seat which, as far as I understood Russian macho culture, was basically equivalent to throwing a glove in my face. Whatever. As long as he got us there.

The road was a dark stretch of ice and packed snow powdered by the fresh snow that had fallen that morning. Snowdrifts bordered both sides of the roads and leaked onto its surface a fair bit. Otherwise, it was the same barren flat surface for miles. In the first couple of hours, we saw a few cars going the opposite way to us. Then a car going in the same direction as us overtook us and disappeared into the darkness ahead at surprising speeds. It was a freaking tiny, rusted-through Subaru. I gave up on understanding Russians then and there.

Shortly after the Subaru guy, it started snowing. Just a bit at first, then more and more. Kolya didn’t seem bothered and I tried to stay calm as well, which I managed mostly successfully until the wind joined in. Unlike the snow, it started hard from the get-go.

Have you ever heard the wind howling and become unsettled by the sound? Now imagine the same, but in the depths of a black night lit only by your car’s headlights. Except for your own vehicle, the world around is silent and devoid of life, frozen until the spring. Not that you can see much through the thick snow that is now the wind’s plaything, flurrying around the car, blanketing the windows.

Our pace slowed to a crawl as Kolya swore colorfully in Russian. “Maybe stop and wait it out?” I suggested nervously.

“We can’t,” Lana said without bothering to ask our driver. “If we stop there’s a good chance the car won’t start up again, and we are stuck here waiting for someone to pick us up. And it’s been… empty today.”

The realization we were at a very real risk of freezing to death hit me like a ton of bricks. I leaned back into my seat and closed my eyes, wordlessly praying for the best. The only response was the wind howling – and it sounded so strange. It would start low and quiet and then get louder and louder until a yowling crescendo, then cut off abruptly. Then start again. And the sound came from different directions, each starting at a different time, like a pack of wolves howling.

I opened my eyes to obvious tension in the car. Lana and Kolya were both hunched forward, peering intently through the glass for all the good it did them. Kolya glanced back at me.

“Don’t worry, be happy!” Kolya proclaimed with a horrible Russian accent. “It is all OK! Don’t worry, America!”

He was lying. I might have been useless on the ice road, but I was a criminal defense lawyer, and a good one at that. And Kolya was a bad liar. There was sweat beading on his face and neck, and his voice was forced. He was very much scared – and that made me scared, too.

Kolya murmured something to my wife, too quick and quiet for my distracted mind to decipher. She nodded.

“What was that?”

“There’s a village maybe half an hour up the road, if we keep this pace. We get there and settle down until the morning.”

“I see. Sorry about the delay.” In reality, I was extremely happy to hear that. “Bad wind, huh?”

Lana grabbed my hand, quick and sudden as a snake. “Don’t. Mention. The Wind.”

Another sound came through the storm. A long, tinny wail that sent shivers down my spine. It took me a few moments to recognize the familiar sound of the wind whistling through walls and chimney. And then another moment to realize there were no fucking walls around for the wind to whistle.

I opened my mouth to comment, and my wife’s grip tightened on my arm. In that moment, I knew to keep it quiet.

We drove in tension-filled silence as a cacophony of sounds erupted through the storm. Wails and shrieks, howls and cries – no way no fucking wind was producing all of that.

The sounds grew closer, grew louder. I grabbed my wife’s hands as we both stared desperately ahead. Through the flurry, we barely made out something – a large, dark shape reflecting our lights, or maybe piercing the darkness with lights of its own…

Kolya swore and swerved to the side. We were passing another car stuck in the snow. Its blinkers flashed.

“Stop.” Lana said, sudden and harsh.

“What?” Kolya asked, in Russian. “You insane?”

“Stop.” My wife repeated. “On the ice road, you help. That’s the rule, remember?”

Kolya gave her a long, hard look that I didn’t like at all. “That’s the rule on the road.” He echoed, and hit the brakes, slowing the car without actually stopping. I opened the door and peered outside. The driver of the stuck vehicle was already running towards us. I recognized the car itself as the Subaru that passed us earlier.

“Thank God you people were…” the driver began. “Get in, idiot!” Kolya shouted, and the guy shut up and jumped in. He was just a kid, no older than twenty, with dark red hair and a patchy little beard. He looked cold and terrified.

“Thank god!” He repeated, in a hushed whisper. “I was sure they’d get me.”

“They?” I asked, confused. Kolya and Lana turned to look at the kid in unison, and their looks could kill.

“They, yeah, I mean the wind and snow,” the kid corrected quickly. I had a sudden abrupt feeling that it was too late for that… even as I still had no clue what was going on. We drove on, and the interplay of howls and shrieks outside the car became unbearable in the silence.

“What’s your name, dude?” I asked him in my best Russian. He blinked.

“Sergei. Sergei Molchanov. My parents are… anyway, it doesn’t matter. I shouldn’t have been driving, but I wanted to make it to my girlfriend’s birthday, and…”

“Both of you shut up.” My wife barked, and we did. Immediately I noticed the change in surrounding sounds – they were much louder now. The highest pitch shrieks rang in my ears. The low, insistent howling seemed to surround the car. And every now and then, something that sounded like an actual roar cut through the night.

The car picked up the pace. I looked at Kolya and realized he was absolutely flooring the gas pedal, poor visibility be damned. His truck was lurching along as fast as it could manage in the conditions, and yet the encroaching racket made it obvious we were nowhere near fast enough.

Then the car hit something. We were all jerked forward as the truck came to a staggering halt. I hit my temple hard on the back of my wife’s seat.

“What… was that?” I groaned.

“Must have hit a chunk of ice or something,” Lana’s voice sounded strangely muffled. I remember focusing on her lips, and how pale and thin they looked. The dull resounding pain in my head exploded into something hot and overwhelming, and I collapsed into the backseat.

“He’s passed out!” Sergei called out. I wanted to correct him, but my voice wouldn’t obey me. My lids seemed to weigh a ton each – I could barely open my eyes enough to see the trio of Russians huddled together, the car’s flickering light illuminating their pale faces.

“What now?” Sergei asked nervously.

“Well, let’s see,” I don’t think I would’ve been able to understand complex Russian in that state, if it wasn’t my Lana speaking, her voice so familiar down to every inflection. “Why don’t you go out and check what we hit and if we can clear it out somehow?”


“We helped you, didn’t we?” In the car’s light, Lana’s green eyes seemed very blue. “So why don’t you help us back. After all, on the ice road, you help each other. That’s the rule.”

Kolya grumbled in agreement. Then he reached over and pulled out a rifle, and aimed it at the boy.

Sergei whimpered. “You know they’re out there!”

“Well,” Lana’s voice was impeccably calm. Cold. “I guess you’d better not speak about them out loud, then. Better not even think about them, really. ”

My eyes closed against my will. I heard a door swing open, and a rush of cold air. Finally, I passed out for real, and in my unconsciousness, I dreamed of horrified screaming and a single terrible roar that filled the night.

I came to during the day, on a couch of some local family that agreed to house us for a bit of cash. My wife fussed over me. Once she was sure I was conscious and lucid, she rushed me into the car saying we could do the rest of the drive by day, and an actual doctor could look at me in her hometown.

I settled in the backseat of the car. Vague memories haunted me.

“Where’s the kid? Sergei?”

“What kid, darling?” Lana asked, in sincere surprise.

“There was no kid, we traveled alone,” Kolya added, in Russian. And I wondered how he knew what I was asking about, or that I’d understand his answer. But aloud, I could only say: “This young redheaded guy…”

“Sweetie, I’m getting really worried. You must’ve hit your head harder than I thought. We gotta get you checked out as soon as we get back to the States. Maybe even a good checkup in Moscow…”

I didn’t really know what to say after that.

We made it the rest of the way uneventfully. Unfortunately, my mother in law had slipped into unconsciousness before we even set out for our drive, and she passed away several hours after our arrival. Lana didn’t even get to say a proper goodbye. She is absolutely devastated right now, so I’m trying my best to focus on comforting her. We’re staying here until the funeral, and I can’t stay I’m looking forward to the ride back.

My father in law graciously gifted me a proper Russian winter coat, so I went ahead and packed my American camel coat that proved terribly insufficient for the weather. As I was folding it, I noticed a few curly red hairs stuck to the light beige fabric.

And I felt so cold.

I Tried to Ignore the Man Standing in the Corner

By Chef reptargomosh


He’s been standing there for a few weeks. There’s always something comforting about him standing there.

I noticed him one day when I came home from work. I tossed my keys into the old ashtray that held some useless coins and a ring I had no need for. I took my shoes off. I grabbed a bottle from the fridge and headed towards the couch. He didn’t startle me. He didn’t wave to me. He just stood there.

What are you doing here?


Who are you?


I went to bed.

The following morning there was a dirty spot where the man stood. I searched the house for some cleaning supplies, because I wasn’t giving my landlord a reason to not give me back my security deposit.

Two minutes of scrubbing turned into twenty. Then forty-five. Then the sun set. It was time for a drink. I was hungry.

With food on its way, and a beer in my hand, I found myself back on the couch. I found him standing where he stood the night before.

Why are you here?


Are you ever going to answer me?

The doorbell rang.

I never was a big fan of Chinese food. I’d gotten sick as a young boy when my grandmother took me to a Chinese buffet and let me eat an unhealthy amount of food, topped off with an ice cream float. I asked the man in the corner if he wanted to join me. They had sent an extra set of chopsticks. I hadn’t ordered for two in about six months.

The man in the corner just stared.

This went on for another week. Every night he was there. Every morning, another dirty spot on the carpet where he stood.

I started Googling everything I could think about to try and find answers. Every website had an answer for me, just not the answer that I was looking for. If the man that stood in the corner showed up tonight, I would confront him. It was obvious he didn’t want to answer my questions. But tonight, he needed to tell me something.

I was almost asleep when his figure captured my eye. It wasn’t even ten seconds before I was standing face to face with him.

Who are you?” I asked. I felt my voice deepening. I felt the urgency of the phrase hit its mark.


I need to know why you are here!!


I raised my hand up. If this figure wasn’t going to respond to the tone of my voice he was going to answer to the harsh sting of my hand across his cheek. I started to swing.

He caught my hand in his.

I felt his hot breath on my ear. He smelled of sulfur.

She told me to never let you fall asleep alone.

I haven’t acknowledged the man in the corner for a few days now. It’s comforting to see him there. I have a lot of questions for him. But I’m not sure I need to know the answers.

Something Knocks on my Door Every Night at 12:16am

By Chef A10A10A10


It first happened last week, Thursday, March the 22nd. It was just after midnight and I was lying awake in bed when I first heard it.

knock knock knock

My first reaction was to look at my phone to see if someone tried calling or texting me. But there were no messages. I live alone in a quiet suburban neighborhood. I couldn’t think of any good reason why someone would be knocking at that time and I decided to ignore it.

But then it happened again the next night at around the same time. I went downstairs this time, took a deep breath, and looked through the peephole.

Nothing was there.

I was getting a little weirded out at this point and decided again not to open the door. But if it happened again tomorrow, I’d be more willing to investigate.

And it did happen again the next night. This time I made note of the specific time. 12:16 am. I was at the door in less than 10 seconds and promptly opened it. It was dark out there and it took a moment for my eyes to adjust. Was something moving in the shadows near the bushes?


There was nobody there. Nothing. I looked down the street in both directions but saw no movement. It was remarkably quiet out there but I didn’t hear any footsteps. I was confused. Who was knocking on my door every night? And for the first time, I didn’t think who, but what.

I thought back then to the day when the knocking first began and wondered if was related. March 22nd. I was at a funeral that day and I think I need to write a little about it here.

It was for my friend Pete. My best friend growing up. From about 8-15 we were inseparable. We started to lose touch 15-20. The last time I’d heard from him at all was 12 years ago when we were both 22. The strangest thing about his funeral was this… nobody else was there. Just me and a Priest. He was reading an incoherent bible verse when I interrupted him and asked him where everybody else was. He paused for a moment, looked at me, then went back to reading. It felt uncomfortable. I decided to leave.

So is that significant? Did I bring some spirit back with me from the funeral home? Or was I just losing my mind?

I decided I’d try and be quicker the next night. I’d wait near the door and have it opened in seconds. I wouldn’t allow any time for whatever it was to get away. But even this plan failed. It must have been a mere seconds after the knocking stopped before I opened the door. What would stand before me? Was it a neighborhood kid playing a prank? A mischievous spirit? A warning to me from the supernatural? All three options seemed equally unlikely.

But again, it was just empty space. Silence.

I had one more plan for the next night. I slipped outside at midnight and hid behind a neighbor’s car across the street. I had a very clear view of my front door and I’d be able to see whatever is knocking. I remember ducking behind the rear bumper of his car thinking what would my neighbors think if they see me? I looked at my phone. 12:15. It would happen any second now. I looked up and down the street for movement. I couldn’t see anybody. I held my phone in front of me. I watched it turn to 12:16, and still nothing was there. I was actually slightly disappointed for a fraction of a second…. But then I heard it.

knock knock knock

But I’m 100% certain as I write this… nobody was there. I was looking right at my door. But what I did see, for just a moment (and I can’t be certain) was saw a shadowy figure move away from my house. Not human. Not even something real or tangible. It was as though a shadow was moving down the sidewalk. But even I acknowledge… maybe it was just my mind playing tricks on me. I have no idea.

I have tried some other things the past few nights. I stood by my front door one night and recorded the knocks, and then played the recording to my coworkers the next day. I started thinking the knocking was just in my head. But they could hear it. They were confused as to why I was making them listen to it… but they could most certainly hear it.

And then two nights ago I decided to beat the knocking to the punch. I stood with my phone in front of me and opened the door at precisely 12:16, just to see what would happen.

But again, there was nothing there. In fact, the knocking didn’t even happen this time. So if I stood with the door open at 12:16, the knocking would be prevented. What could that mean? And here’s the stranger thing… the knocking did wake me up that morning at 7:07 am. Why 7:07 am this time? Why wouldn’t the knocking happen if I stood with the door open? I have no idea. I’m lost. I’m really really lost.

I’m left very confused because I can’t help but think that maybe there’s some sort of secret code I’m supposed to work out. There’s the date, March 22nd. But also, what about the number of knocks on the door? It’s always three. Does that mean anything? The times the knocking occurs is always 12:16 and 7:07. Do those times represent something?

If anyone thinks of anything, please comment below. I’ll be reading and am open to advice. Maybe I can even try some of your ideas out tonight.

At 12:16 am.

It’s been two nights since I last posted.

On the first of those nights, I simply ignored the knocking again. I was still reading through the comments on my nosleep submission and trying to figure out what to do next.

Some Redditors suggested that, given that the knocking didn’t happen when the door was opened, that I just permanently leave my front door open. But that just seems ridiculous as far as I’m concerned. This is the front door to my house. Anybody could just walk in, let alone rats, raccoons, insects, etc. No, that wasn’t a strong long-term solution.

Others suggested ideas like setting up infrared cameras, leaving a fresh coat of paint on the door to see if prints are left, and even contacting a priest. I thought about maybe eventually resorting to those options.

But a post by u/houseofpwncakes set me on a different path. He suggested I look at Bible passages that match up to the time the knocking occurred. 12:16 and 7:07. Specifically, revelations 12:16 from the bible was recommended. While I was unable to find relevance in that passage, it got me looking into other biblical passages.

Acts 12:16 “But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.”

I mean, that couldn’t possibly just be a coincidence, could it? I had been at my friend Pete’s funeral the first day the knocking began. And the passage directly references the knocking.

The second time the knocking occurred was 7:07. After a little digging, I was able to find this passage.

Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

The part I focused on was “knock, and it will be opened to you.” Does that mean I should knock back (as some Redditors suggested) and something will happen? If I put it all together… it appears that it really is the spirit of my former friend Pete who was knocking on the door. If I knock back and then open the door, what I see will be “astonishing.”

I decided to give it a try last night.

I was standing by my door at 12:15, waiting…

I was looking at the clock when it clicked over to 12:16, and then I heard it same as usual.

knock knock knock

I raised my hand and knocked back immediately. Three times.

Then I opened the door.

And I was astonished.

What stood before me I could barely see. Light refracted off of it in a strange manner and made it difficult to focus on. It was mostly a shadow and somewhat transparent. It looked both somewhat familiar while at the same time alien from this world. It had a humanoid form but looked tormented, abominable, and odious.

In my state of repulsion and fear, it took me a moment to recognize that somewhere deep down inside this monstrosity was what remained of my friend Pete. It was him. No question.

He didn’t speak to me. Instead, we could sort of see each other’s thoughts. That’s the best way I could explain it.

And I saw all the evil that Pete had done. The reason that nobody other than myself showed up to his funeral. He had been a monster in his adult life. The worst that humanity had to offer. Rape, violence, torture, murder. I saw it all. Most of it he had never even been caught for. But it was a murder that eventually got him put in jail. He was killed there, by another inmate. I saw myself at his funeral, alone, as the Priest read aloud Genesis 3:22, describing when mankind first became aware of the difference between good and evil.

And what happened next was an even worse experience. Both Pete and I were looking at the things that I had done wrong in life. I’m not going to own up to them here. They may pale in comparison to what Pete had done… but I saw how extreme my flaws had become. How badly I’d been corrupted.

The shadowy figure of what used to be my friend Pete held up a hand to wave. I saw the anguish and agony in his eyes… and then he vanished into thin air.

I stood looking into the dark empty yard of my house for at least a minute before quietly shutting the door.

So what did all of this mean? Was it a warning? If I don’t clean up my ways, I’ll also one day become the torturous form that stood before me? How do I start? Should I yell from my window asking a kid to buy the biggest goose in town and deliver it to the Cratchit family?

I’ve been thinking back to my childhood with Pete. Were there any signs of what he’d become? Why hadn’t I ever heard about his crimes? How did I even hear about his funeral? I don’t use any social media. I didn’t receive a letter or a phone call. I just somehow showed up there.

And why did he choose to come and warn me? Because we were friends? Because I was the only person to show up to his funeral?

I wasn’t sure. There wouldn’t be answers. And then I figured out that there was only one thing I could do.

Try and be better.

I did receive another knock yesterday. And I’m certain it will be the last time he ever knocks on my door. One final message. It occurred at 5:17.

It took a bit of digging, but it translates to 17:17 on the 24-hour clock.

I looked at the passage I’m certain he was showing me and smiled. And I think I can make sense of it. I think it all makes sense now.

Proverbs 17:17: A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.

Has Anyone Seen This Strange Infomercial?

By Chef Crystakat


February 11th

Let me tell you the secret of the century: being a single parent is hard. Yeah, of course it’s worth it and all, but I’m not sure how anyone does this for eighteen years. Shift at the hospital, hurry home and check on Tommy, four hours of shut-eye tops, then another eight hours working retail, rinse and repeat. It’s awesome.

With a schedule that tight, you think I’d froth at the mouth for the chance to get some extra sleep, but lately my insomnia’s getting real bad. The circles under my eyes are starting to look like a permanent fixture. When Tommy’s crying is ringing in my ears and I feel like I’m about to shatter into little pieces, there’s only one outlet: late-night TV. Infomercials, to be exact. More infomercials than you can count.  Continue reading “Has Anyone Seen This Strange Infomercial?”

The Mug

By Chef Unxmaal


“Whose mug is this?” Becky asked.

“No idea,” I replied. “What are you talking about?”

“This mug right here,” she said. I leaned back in my chair and craned my neck to see.

“I’m trying to watch this show,” I said. “What’s the big deal about a mug?”

“I’ve never seen it before,” Becky said, getting that tone in her voice like I was about to be in trouble.

“So what? You collect cups and mugs like most people … er, don’t,” I said. If I was going to be in trouble, I might as well go for broke.

“Well, look at it. It’s weird. And I’ve never seen it before.”  Continue reading “The Mug”

Some People in Gas Masks have been Standing Outside of a Building in a Dead Cornfield

By Chef Mr_Outlaw_


We’d been driving around Texas for a while. Clayton, Tom and I had recently graduated, so we had no destination. We were just there to dick around and create some memories until we had to snap back to real life.

At one point, Tom had gotten into a heated bar-fight at some dingy joint in Bexar County. The police were called. Although he hadn’t gotten any charges, the cops pretty much warned us that we weren’t welcome back in the area. Fair enough. We decided to tone it down a bit. That’s when we started planning some shit that wouldn’t get us potentially stabbed and/or arrested. We all settled on the paranormal. That stuff was just so interesting, you know? I guess it really preys on that esoteric fear of the unknown that the human psyche implicitly holds, stimulating some kind of fucked-up rush to the brain. Anyways, we were in the market for some spooky shit.  Continue reading “Some People in Gas Masks have been Standing Outside of a Building in a Dead Cornfield”

A Shattered Life

By Chef M95Gar/Matt Dymerski


//Some of this Chef’s dishes are available as books, including this one. You can find them on Amazon.

I don’t know when you’re going to read this, but I can tell you when it started: I was out for a walk alone in the woods when the entity came for me. It was beyond a blur. It was, for lack of a better term, absence of meaning. Where it hid, there were no trees; where it crept closer, there was no grass; through the arc it leapt at me, there was no breeze of motion. There was no air at all.

As it struck, I felt the distinct sensation of claws puncturing me somewhere unseen; somewhere I’d never felt before. My hands and arms and legs and torso seemed fine and I wasn’t bleeding, but I knew I’d been injured somehow. As I fearfully ran back home, I could tell that I was less. I was vaguely tired, and it was hard to focus at times.  Continue reading “A Shattered Life”

15 years ago my daughter was kidnapped and murdered. Today, she called me.



//Story contains themes of sexual violence.

She used to be the sweetest girl. Our little Abbie. When my wife got pregnant I did the chauvinistic thing and bragged to my friends I was having a son. He was going to be a pro football player, or baseball. No, he was going to be an astronaut or a cowboy or a space cowboy! Unfortunately Maurice was never born, instead we got Abigail. Our sweet little girl. At that moment all my chauvinism went away, and I wanted nothing more than to spoil my little angel. I didn’t care about anything else but her happiness. Whether she was famous or rich, it didn’t matter. She was my little girl and I was going to take care of her.

As you can imagine, Abbie grew up spoiled. Anything she wanted, she got. For the first ten years of her life she was the happiest little girl in the world. I quit my job and became a stay at home dad. I got to spend all day with her, it was everything I could ever want. We did everything together. We had breakfast together, bathed together and did errands together. There wasn’t a moment in our day we weren’t together. My wife didn’t mind, she had made her success as a lawyer years ago. Sometimes I think she was more excited about the idea than I was. Her firm needed her and she was able to be there without feeling guilty. By the end of it, she was sure it was her idea to begin with! I didn’t mind her taking the credit though, it made it easier to get what I wanted when she thought she was in charge, and if things went bad she’d be the one feeling guilty.  Continue reading “15 years ago my daughter was kidnapped and murdered. Today, she called me.”