Why I’ll Never Work at Applebee’s Again

By Chef Max Shephard

//Source.

I was never one to believe in bad luck, or curses, or voodoo, but when a mysterious man showed up one night for dinner at the Applebee’s where I was a waiter, I couldn’t help but wonder.

It was a Thursday night and I had just started my evening shift. Tammy, a 40-something waitress who wore the tightest tops they sold at Walmart and smoked menthols on her breaks, was complaining about a family of four who had only left her a 10% tip.

“Those little shits dropped French fries all over the floor!” she complained. “And the Dad spilled his lemonade. Twice! I’m tellin’ ya, next time I’m …. “ Tammy’s eyes widened ever-so-slightly, and she lowered her voice to just above a whisper. “Oh my Lord Jesus, would you look at this…” Continue reading “Why I’ll Never Work at Applebee’s Again”

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Why Sarah Never Sleeps

By Chef Death by Proxy

//Source.

There were too many doors in the upstairs hall. Sarah told her parents, but they couldn’t see it. They told her not to worry. They told her there was nothing there. But there was an extra door at the end of the upstairs hall. An extra yellow door, and it didn’t belong.

It was the color of disease, jaundiced and infected, with spidery black veins across its face. One perfect, silver knob gleamed in its center, above a shadowy keyhole, and it didn’t look right. The doorknob shone with a mirror’s finish, and caught the light from any angle, begging for Sarah to look its way. Sarah did her best to ignore it, but the door knew her name, and it whispered it when she drew near.

Saraaaahh . . .” the door would rasp with a voice like dried leaves, as tiny claws scraped against the other side. Tears would well in Sarah’s eyes as she’d hurry past, her arms laden with everything she’d need to get ready for the day.

Saraaaahh . . .” it would call again before she’d shuffled out of range and closed the bathroom door, cutting off its paper-thin wails. When she’d creep from the bathroom to head downstairs, the door’s voice would follow her with a furious flurry of scraping claws and tormented howls. They lingered and gnawed in the back of her mind as she’d rush through breakfast so she could leave the house a few minutes sooner.

School became a blessing, an excuse to be someone somewhere else. At school, she could forget the door. At school, she could pretend her house was like everyone else’s, with the right number of doors and no eerie whispers. But, at the end of the day, it was still waiting for her at the end of the upstairs hall, with its mirror-ball knob and yellow face. She hated coming home and knowing it was there, but even more than that, she hated going to sleep, because in her dreams, she opened the door.

Every night, she stood before it, fighting the urge to reach out. Dread knotted her belly in anticipation of pain, when her hand rose anyway to grasp the silver knob. Some nights, it burned her like the driest ice. Other nights, it seared like a red hot coal. Very occasionally, it did neither, instead turning and turning without ever opening the door, and she couldn’t stop turning it until she woke up.

When the door did open, it revealed a swirling vortex of shadow and sound, with a thousand voices crying in the darkness. The voices curled around her, crawling through her hair like spiders. She thrashed and swatted at their skittering whispers, but the words still tingled across her skin.

She never should have listened.

He sees . . . ” they said. “He hears . . .” they moaned. “He hungers . . .” they wept, and burrowed into her mind like worms. “The Hollow Man, the Hollow Man,” they echoed in her mind and screamed to her from the gaping vortex. “The Hollow Man . . . he hunts!

Sarah shot up with a scream that night, gasping and sweating, but alone in her bed. The clock’s crimson face said midnight had passed, but not by much. Darkness enveloped her room, except where a vestigial nightlight illumined the corner by her desk; it wasn’t much, but she felt better when she saw it.

She pulled the bedsheets over her head and pushed away the echoing voices. I’m fine, she swore, hugging her knees and rocking. It’s just a dream. They’re always dreams. The dreams will go away like they always do.

She started humming a song her mother used to sing when Sarah was smaller, small enough to need the nightlight, and the panic faded little by little with every note.

Just a dream. She repeated. Just a dream. Just a —

“Sarah?” Someone whispered from the hall.

Sarah froze.

“Sarah? Are you Sarah?” It was the voice of a girl, not much younger than Sarah, and not at all like the voice she usually heard from the door at the end of the hall.

“Who . . . who are you?” Sarah whispered back from beneath the sheets.

“My name is Lizzie. Are you Sarah?”

Sarah didn’t move; she was terrified of leaving the safety of her cocoon. As the moments ticked past, however, an anxious curiosity emboldened her enough to peek out from the covers. What if it was another girl? she thought. She sounded just as scared as Sarah felt.

Sarah crawled from her bed, clutching the sweat-damp night shirt she’d worn to sleep, and waited. When nothing happened, she stood up and tip-toed towards her bedroom door; toward the waiting yellow door, with the mirror-ball knob, on the wall at the end of the upstairs hall. When she stood before it, her stomach lurched, and for a moment, she couldn’t tell if she was going to vomit, or faint.

“Please,” the door said in the young girl’s voice when Sarah got close, “Please, are you Sarah?”

Sarah opened her mouth to answer, but her voice was a tiny squeak of nothing. She pressed her palms to her cheeks and smeared away the tears before trying again.

“Yes,” she finally managed. “. . . I’m Sarah.”

“Please, let me in!” The door’s silvery knob shook violently, rattling as if locked and jostled by someone on the other side. Sarah stumbled back with a gasp, staring at the shuddering, alien knob.

“Let me in, Sarah, please! I can’t stay in here! Please help me! Let me in!”

Sarah dropped to her knees when her legs gave out, and she screamed when she looked at the door.

Level with the shadowy keyhole, below the rattling knob, she stared directly into a very human eye. Tears shimmered in the other eye, as they shimmered in Sarah’s. It darted around, wide and white with fear, as if searching through the hall. And then, without warning, the keyhole became shadow, and the silver knob stilled, and the girl on the other side of the door began to cry.

“Please, Sarah,” she pleaded, “He’s almost here.”

“The Hollow Man?” Sarah whispered, as a chill slithered up her spine. Lizzie sobbed quietly. Sarah scooted closer to the door, her fear growing colder when the girl from the other side didn’t answer. “Lizzie?”

Silence fell, as if it had always been there. She couldn’t hear Lizzie crying anymore, and even the house was too quiet behind her.

Sarah put her ear near the door, and held her breath.

She waited. Minutes passed — but it couldn’t have been minutes.

Nothing moved. Nothing whispered. Nothing cried. Nothing stirred. She couldn’t hear anything but her own racing heart. Was she gone?

“Lizzie?” She tried again, afraid the Hollow Man had taken her.

He’s here . . .” Lizzie whispered at last, almost in her ear, as though Lizzie’s lips pressed tight against the keyhole. “Please, let me in . . . .” Sarah’s head ached. The world was a little fuzzy around the edges, and it was harder to focus than before. She had to stand up. She didn’t dare touch the sickly door, but her legs felt too wobbly and weak to support her. She reached for the knob with a trembling hand.

Please, Sarah . . . .” Lizzie’s voice was getting smaller, “Please . . . .

Grasping the mirror-ball knob, she pulled herself up from the floor. It moved noiselessly beneath her hand, gliding without resistance, and opened the yellow door.

A lonely expanse of normal wall inched into view, and she felt sick. She worried at her thumb in confusion, and extended a trembling hand to touch the wall behind the door. It was solid. As solid and as normal as the wall at the end of the upstairs hall should be, but her stomach churned.

She gently closed the door, which issued a soft click as the latch sprang into place, and waited. She hardly dared to move or breathe as she listened to the night, waiting for the door to speak again.

Hours passed in oppressive silence — even though it couldn’t have been hours –, and the door had nothing to say. Sarah grew sleepy — too sleepy to keep standing. Too sleepy to remember why she was standing so still at the end of the upstairs hall. It was time to go to bed.

It’s just a dream, she remembered, turning away and rubbing at her eyes, They’re always dreams.

Shuffling to her bed was like swimming through Jell-O, and most of the way there she couldn’t keep her eyes open. Luckily, she knew the way.

The dreams will go away, like they always do.

The crimson clock was broken when she rolled herself back in bed, its face declaring 12:16 AM to a room that only vaguely felt familiar, but she couldn’t bring herself to care when her eyes and body felt so heavy.

Sarah . . . , Lizzie whispered. But it couldn’t be a whisper.

Sarah, Lizzie whispered, Sarah, don’t wake up.

Sarah groaned a little.

Don’t wake up, Lizzie said, her voice echoing in Sarah’s mind.

Sarah frowned, and rolled onto her back. She didn’t want to wake up. She wanted to stay asleep. Lizzie didn’t need to tell her not to wake, because not being awake was the whole point of being asleep.

For a long time, all was silence. Sarah’s mind drifted, and she felt herself grow lighter, as if getting ready to float up through the blackness that surrounded her. She could feel the cool sheets beneath her then, and for a moment, she thought she heard the papery-thin rustle of leaves in her room.

He’s here . . . , Lizzie whispered at last, Please, don’t wake up . . . .

Who’s here? Sarah wondered, as she steadily rose.

His hollow face, an eerie mask. With hollow voice at doors will ask. To be invited in to bask. Above his favored midnight task.

A strange tingling worked its way up Sarah’s body as Lizzie recited the haunting rhyme in a disconcerting monotone. Clarity inched its way toward her slowly, melting away the fog of sleep. Hadn’t she been dreaming? Was she still dreaming?

Something was wrong.

He’s waiting inches from your face. To be the first thing your eyes grace. But keep them shut, or else embrace. A hollow shell to take your place.

Cold dread seized Sarah’s heart with each new stanza, and she trembled with the weight of her mistake. For a moment, she swore she could feel the air stir above her, stale and strangely warm against her cheeks. Leaves rustled above her bed.

The yellow door, you always keep. He follows you to where you sleep. Into your room he then will creep. Your life and dreams for him to reap.

Lizzie’s voice became little more than a breath within Sarah’s mind, and the air cooled around her when a pressure lifted from her chest.

The leaves were in the hall.

The Hollow Man, above your bed. With hollow eyes, deep slumber fed. His hollow dreams may fill your head. But never peek, or you’ll be dead.

Everything was wrong.

Distantly, Sarah registered the sound of her parents screaming in their room, and felt tears sliding down her cheeks. No longer dream tears, she could feel the wet warmth as each one fell.

“. . . Mommy,” Sarah whispered, the sound paper-thin. “Daddy,” she rasped with a voice like dried leaves.

Lizzie? She thought, but Lizzie did not respond.

Silence fell over the house and Sarah knew nothing would ever be right again.

From the hall outside her bedroom door, Sarah heard the soft click as a latch sprang into place, and waited.

Silence filled the house again. The leaves were gone.

Sunlight peeked through the curtains, and the crimson clock said it was 7:45 AM before she felt it was safe enough to open her eyes and leave her room. The yellow door, with its mirror-ball knob, stared at her from the wall at the end of the upstairs hall, and the house was still too quiet. It was a different quiet than before, though, a different quiet than from her dream.

It was the quiet of a tomb.

Except, of course, for the occasional tapping, as if from tiny claws, from the other side of the yellow door.

Something Happened 63 Years Ago that’s Haunted me my Entire Life

By Chef Sergeant_Darwin

//Source.

//Original Title “Something happened 63 years ago that’s haunted me my entire life. I’ve never told anyone about it – until now.” Changed for brevity.

It’s official: I’m an old man.

For the last couple years, I’ve comforted myself by saying I’m in my “early 70s,” but math is simple and unforgiving. Today is my 75th birthday, and God, the years do fly. Continue reading “Something Happened 63 Years Ago that’s Haunted me my Entire Life”

Never Answer the Door After Midnight

   By Chef MrBaubas

I’ve never been a social person. If asked, I could name all of my acquaintances in a single breath and count my friends on one hand. Not to say that I hate people. I love people. It’s just that I get really bad anxiety when it comes to talking. If any aspect of a conversation catches me off guard, if I haven’t mentally prepared myself, then I shut down. I can’t think no matter what I do. It feels like my head is weighted and I’m drowning in burning sand.

I’ve tried fixing this problem before. Believe me I’ve tried. I’ve given it a shot at everything from self-help books and meditation to exposure therapy and the ever present advice, “Stop being a pussy.” Nothing works. As you can imagine I’ve messed up more than my fair share of job interviews because of this. In fact the only job I managed to get was a night janitor’s position at my old high school. It made sense really, I knew the building so the learning curve was easy and since I was there at night I didn’t have to worry about running into anyone. It was a perfect fit.

Due to my work schedule however, I usually found myself awake at night even when I wasn’t working. My whole circadian rhythm was messed up.

So there I sat, alone in my one room ground floor apartment at 3 am on a Friday. I finished work early and had the whole weekend to myself. So I settled in with a movie and was winding down when there was a knock at the door.

I quickly muted the movie and turned. It was a faint knocking that I almost didn’t hear. I had to sit in silence just to make sure that I actually heard something. It knocked again. Someone was definitely there. I briefly questioned whether I should answer. The low intensity of the knock made me uneasy. The only reason I could figure someone would knock on a door at 3 in the morning that softly would be to see if there were any dogs inside.

Burglars.

Freaked by this thought I turned the television off. I didn’t want even that slight ringing sound a muted television makes to escape.

My eyes slowly adjusted to the sudden dark. The white of the front door stuck out from the shadows casting a ghastly glow while I sat. The knocking continued. It wouldn’t cease. The gloom around me shifted with imagined horrors as the hairs on the back of my neck stood up.

Though the door was closed I couldn’t help but feel watched. Either someone knew that I was home, or they were insane. I didn’t want to know but the knocking was incessant. I had to check it out.

I crept through the dark careful to avoid making the floorboards cry out. Once I’d made it to the door I carefully placed my hands on either side of the wall and leaned forward. I had to avoid putting pressure on the door or I’d give myself away. As I leaned toward the peephole the knocking came right by my head. As close as I was it sounded like thunder in my ears. It took everything I had to keep from shouting out. Slowly I lifted the brass latch over the peephole inching it with glacial speed so it wouldn’t squeak. When it was secure I allowed myself a deep breath. I had darkness to my back and uncertainty before me, I looked.

There on the other side of the door, in the dead of winter, stood a man who had managed to avoid making any footprints in the snow behind him.

Even in the dark I could make out the details on him. He was dressed in all white. Short sleeves and a hat with a black band on it. It took me a few seconds to realize what he was.

A milkman, but not quite.

His appearance was haggard. His clothes were filthy, stained with sweat and somehow streaked with dirt. The right leg of his pants was ripped to the knee and his belt was hastily fastened leaving it dangling about his waist. He looked like a 50s era milkman who was in a rush to get dressed.

The color was drained from his face and his yellowed eyes were gaunt as if sick. They were sunken in his skull with dark sagging bags. Yet in the middle of his forehead sat a perfect circle, dark in contrast to his pale skin.

He stood silently for a moment before taking his hat off. He ran a scraggy hand through greasy brittle locks then worriedly looked behind him. As he turned I saw the back of his head and instantly knew what the circle was. A large portion of it had been blown out, the entry in his forehead reciprocated in a grisly display of ripped flesh and shattered bone. Skin hung in tatters around the cavity and chunks of pink and red dripped out in gooey clumps. This was no burglar.

A gasp escaped my lips and he quickly turned. He knocked again, this time louder.

“Is someone there?” He asked nervously. “Can I come in?”

I pulled myself away from the door incredulous. This couldn’t be happening. I was just sleep deprived or something. This wasn’t possible. At least, this is what I tried telling myself. The growing lump in my throat however didn’t buy it.

“You’re home early,” his tone was different, confused. It was as if he was suddenly talking to someone else. “Why are you home so early?”

My breathing started to pick up and I slowly backed away from the door. I tiptoed away staring at the nocturnal blue glow coming from the still open peephole. A phone, I needed a phone.

He kept talking as his knocking grew louder. “Come on open the door already.”

I fumbled through the dark like a blind man until I reached the couch. I reached down and on the middle cushion my phone sat. I grabbed it and hit the screen unlock. Nothing. The phone wouldn’t come on.

“Why were you home so early? You shouldn’t be here.”

I pulled the battery pack out and put it back in, still nothing. Maybe I was hitting the wrong button because I couldn’t see? I flicked on a small lamp expecting the room to be illuminated. The lamp wouldn’t come on either. I tried another and was met with the same result, in fact nothing powered on.

“This isn’t what you think, just open up.” He jiggled the handle.

I sat in the dark watching the door shake. What was I supposed to do? I couldn’t call for help and there was only one way out. His voice was pained and he sounded impatient. I still get chills thinking about it. Why was he so nervous?

“Why are you doing this to me?” he asked angry. “Fine. I see how it is…” The knocking stopped.

Seconds stretched into agonizing minutes of silence. It seemed like time crawled on broken fingers as I sat there. Had he really gone? Nothing turned back on yet I couldn’t hear anything from outside.

When ten minutes had passed I got up to check the peephole.

I put my eye to the aperture and was met with a sight I dreaded. On the other side of the door the specter stood staring straight at me with a look of pure hatred. He slammed his fists on the door and started screaming as I fell back. The entryway shuddered under his assault and dust rained from the ceiling.

“I knew it!” he screamed in a shrill voice “You were hiding from me! Now open the door!”

The handle violently exploded into movement as he pushed and pulled. Furiously he beat on the door and it seemed the whole apartment came alive with noise.

“Open up! Open this fucking door damn it! I swear to god I’ll kill you!”

I scuttled away as fast as I could eventually backing into the side of the couch. I stared wide eyed as he bombarded the door like a raving beast. He was angry, beyond furious but he kept diverging, his voice switching from demonic to frightened.

“Why? Oh Christ why are you home so early!?” he nearly sobbed.

I could hear wood groan as the door started to give.

“Open this door! Open it! Open it! Open it!” each shout was followed by pounding.

I curled up in a ball quickly losing my mind. Nobody was hearing this. I was alone without a chance at help. He grabbed the handle with both hands again and pulled back and forth letting out a howl. The latch to the peephole flew up and down as it clattered against the wood noisily.

There was a final crash against the door and he began crying in frustration.

“Please!” I heard him say. “It’s not what you think!”

My eyes were shut tightly as he cried out. His voice was now pure fear. It sounded as if he was being murdered. “Don’t do this to me, I’m begging you please!” he was breaking down almost completely incoherent. Then a noise resonated that immediately caught my attention. It was a gun cocking.

Oh god.

A gun shot ripped through the air with the sound of bottled thunder. I could feel the pressure wave as if I was right next to the barrel. My head began throbbing violently and felt like I could throw up. There was a ringing in my ears as the smell of gun smoke wafted through the apartment.

Then silence.

There was no more banging. No more screaming or crying. The smell lingered for a moment before dissipating. I lifted my head and stared at the open peephole. The opaque light of dusk hung in the air as ceiling dust visibly filtered through it. It speared through the black of my home resting at my feet. My heart had long since leapt into my throat, but when that light was suddenly blocked out I swear I could taste the blood.

A malicious silence flitted through the air with the sound of heavy breathing. Then a voice cut through. It was a different voice this time, a cold voice. One that could have belonged to Hannibal Lector.

“Thanks for not letting him in.” It rasped.

The shaft of light returned and I heard the telltale crunching of snow as someone walked away. This time I did not get up to see who it was. Even when my lights cut back on and the migraine died away I stayed put. I don’t know what all of that was about but that second voice scared me deep in my bones. I don’t how I knew, but I could tell that as that voice was speaking its owner was smiling.