Welcome to the Attic!

Working Title: Neighborhood Watch WIP

So, here is something new. I did just narrowly miss my “every two week” window, but it’s been a bit hectic. Getting old things wrapped up and new things started has kept me hopping in the real world, plus a sick day here and there to inhibit the writing process. This is a new piece I rather like, though it is very different in tone for me. Definitely taking a risk with the format of it as well.  However, I find the characters intriguing, and the format fun. I used a few textisms sprinkled in here, but I think it works alright given the email style and the character. I’m not sure on the title, but that’s why it’s a working title. Also, I tried to make the formatting as clean as possible, but if there are any critiques or suggestions regarding that, I’m all ears! Enjoy!


To: Sophia Brimm <sophia.brimm@——-.—>
From: Sophia Brimm <sophia.brimm@——-.—>
Subject: Hi Neighbor!                                                            June 4 2014                2:47am

Hello Sophia!

It’s nice to finally talk to you. And no, you did not write this email to yourself. I just needed some way to talk to you that would be inconspicuous. As a note, your tech security could probably use an upgrade; you never know who could be sniffing around for unsecure Wi-fi links. Lucky for you, I was the one to find it! I’ve tightened up the security a bit, and I can send you the deets later, in case you ever need work done on the connection. Consider it a perk of our new friendship. For ease, you can just call me Crypto. Obviously, that’s not my real name—that would be a stupid real name—but if I told you that, well, they’d have to kill me! And is Sophia ok? I’ve always loved the name Sophia. Introductions aside, I hope you don’t mind my little email intrusion. You see, I’ve found that people tend not to have the desired response when they get emails from john.doe@creepyshadoworganization.gov. It tends to get snagged by spam filters or trashed, plus it has the nasty side effect of alerting my bosses.

So, I’m REALLY not supposed to do this, but, Sophia, I just couldn’t let you get ripped limb from limb like the last one. I mean, really, you’re smart, kind, attractive, funny, and caring. You help Ms. Saunders look for her lost dog, send a hefty donation to cancer research centers, and even tip a generous 20% to delivery drivers. We need people like you in this world. So, I’m putting my neck out for you, but it’s for the greater good.

‘So, Crypto,’ I can imagine you saying, ‘is there any point to your ramblings or are you just hitting on me?’ The answer is yes. You’re a clever girl, so I’m sure you catch my drift. There’s a great coffee place you seem to really enjoy, just off Singer and Main. After this is all over, I’ll meet you there. 😉 But, for now, the point is the more important piece. You see, in my job for, well, Creepy Shadow Organization, I am tasked with observing the general living patterns of certain entities. Most of these entities are pretty nasty critters with beady eyes, long claws, sharp teeth, and gobs of fur. Trust me, my poor assistant is tasked with cleaning the enclosures, and those things shed worse than any long-haired house cats that I’ve ever known. And the smell! I’m sure you’ve got that slight whiff of rot, sweat, and feces, so you know what I’m talking about. Some of them are rather smart, however, and in that case I have to make detailed notes about stalking and hunting behaviors. Like a wildlife researcher. One who carries ample ammo, salt, holy water, and diverse religious symbols. It’s really quite a fantastic job. Which brings me here, tapping away on my/your computer behind Dr. Dan’s bushes.

As the scratching and wailing sounds may have alerted you (if the smell didn’t already!), you seem to be the chosen prey of my most recent subject. I call her Stretch McTerror. She’s pretty impressive without any modification, but her exoskeleton is uniquely designed, allowing her to grow incredibly tall at will. Admittedly, this ability also extends to her arms and their dangerous terminus of incredibly sharp claws. Her teeth aren’t so bad, but her breath will totally do you in. I mean, seriously, it’s toxic. We lost about three interns before we figured that out! Totally was missing from our research, but that’s what I love about my job. I’m always learning something new.

Right, so she’s chosen you. And, unfortunately for you, Stretch is also one of our more intelligent subjects. She very much likes to play with her food. I hope this helps clear up the screeching, claw marks on your trees and doors, and mysterious shadow figures in second floor windows. Congratulations, you’re not crazy! You’re just being stalked by a bloodthirsty monster. Who really enjoys skinning and eating prey. She’s a sadistic little critter, but you have to admire her tenacity. No, seriously, she followed her last victim across country when he finally decided his house was haunted. It took me days to clean up his place and make that look like an accident. I had to generate a lot of recent interest in woodworking through his internet history to get someone to buy an accidental table saw/sander death. Plus I had to put the tool purchases on my personal credit card, and the folks in Accounting still haven’t reimbursed me. Maybe I should convince Stretch to visit one of them! LOL!

Anyways, I wouldn’t suggest running. I also wouldn’t call the cops, because we have agreements with them. They’ll just tell you it’s some sort of prank, or maybe raccoons. They may send an officer to check the place out, but they’ll tell you they found nothing. It’s a dead end, I promise. Fortunately, you have someone even better on your side. Me. J

‘Now, Crypto,’ I hear you sigh, ‘what do you expect me to do with this terrifying information, then?’ Well, knowing is half the battle. You should totally know that one, Sophia. As for the other half…I’m working on it. I’ll be in touch once I figure something out, but please remember I’m taking a big risk even alerting you. Noninterference is like Rule 1 of my job. Just, stay safe, okay? And don’t let Stretch’s mind games get to you. Really, the weird things you’re seeing—I’m guessing from my experience blood dripping down the walls, corpses walking around with their skin flayed off, and disembodied eyes in the dark?—are not real. They’re just the first effects of slow exposure to her neurotoxins. Remember the breath thing? The current level is not meant to kill you, just mentally torture you a bit. I’d suggest opening a window, but she’d probably just crawl inside. Instead, just remember they’re not real.

Well, I’ll be in touch. Don’t worry, I know where to find you. Just write back if you have any questions!

Interferingly Yours,
Crypto

PS: Oh, and by the way, you can stop looking for Ms. Saunders’s dog. Seriously, you don’t want to find what’s left of it.

 ______________________________________

To: Sophia Brimm <sophia.brimm@——-.—>
From: Sophia Brimm <sophia.brimm@——-.—>
Subject: Re: Hi Neighbor!                                                     June 4 2014                10:19am

Is this some kind of joke? Is this Mike? If it is, we’re not getting back together. Are you the one who’s been stalking me and harassing me at home? Are you drugging me?!? Well, listen, “Crypto,” it’s not okay. And you know what? I’m calling the police now. I’ll show them your email, and then they’ll track you down. Creep.

  ______________________________________

To: Sophia Brimm <sophia.brimm@——-.—>
From: Sophia Brimm <sophia.brimm@——-.—>
Subject: Re: Hi Neighbor!                                                     June 4 2014                1:56pm

Ok, how did you do that? This email wasn’t here when the police got here, and now it’s back. I’ve even tried forwarding it to them, but it won’t send. Did you download some kind of virus onto my computer? You’re sick, dude. Get some help. By the way, I have a gun, so if you or “Stretch” tries anything, you can leave my place in a body bag.

   ______________________________________

To: Sophia Brimm <sophia.brimm@——-.—>
From: Sophia Brimm <sophia.brimm@——-.—>
Subject: Re: Hi Neighbor!                                                     June 5 2014                4:22am

Sophia,

I told you the cops would not be helpful. I admire your courage and assertiveness, but it seems a bit misplaced. I’m not Mike, and personally, I think you’re better off without that oaf.. I’m just a friend here to help, but I can definitely understand the confusion. I was livid when I met my first entity. Ripped my girlfriend clean in half in the middle of a lovely camping weekend, but after meeting Dragon following my initiation (I didn’t name this one; I’m much more creative), I realized he was just looking for dinner. He’s no more evil than, say, an alligator or bear. Oh, and regarding the gun, if you could please avoid shooting at Stretch, I’d appreciate it. She’s not ready for live fire drills yet (though with her remarkable exoskeleton—shiny, isn’t it?—I think she’s going to pass with flying colors!). That’s why we generally start these in suburbs—fewer carry permits.

Unfortunately, I don’t have much to provide in the way of solution. I’m doing my best research, but no one has ever really figured out how to slow Stretch down. I mean, without killing her, of course, and she’s too valuable to waste. We just need to find some way to throw her off your trail and onto someone else’s. Personally, I’d love to figure out how to send her off to follow Mr. Connelly down the street from you. I mean, there are weird tastes, and then there are criminal ones, if you catch my drift. For now, though, keep doing what you’re doing. Stay alert, keep your doors and windows locked, and try to avoid any demonic or supernatural paraphernalia the best you can. We do know that sage acts as an appetite stimulant for darling Stretch, so you probably should avoid that one specifically. I’ll keep you updated!

Just observin’,
Crypto

   ______________________________________

To: Sophia Brimm <sophia.brimm@——-.—>
From: Sophia Brimm <sophia.brimm@——-.—>
Subject: Re: Hi Neighbor!                                                     June 5 2014                9:05am

Were you in my house last night? I heard someone, and this morning I woke up to find some sort of…knives?…in all my pictures. And the smells gotten worse. And last night, I got up, and there was someone staring at me through my bedroom window. On the second floor! The screeching sound has gotten worse, and I keep seeing a man who walks around my house, covered in blood, while he rips off his own skin. Are you doing this? If so, please stop. I don’t know you, but please stop.

If not, can you help me?

  ______________________________________

To: Sophia Brimm <sophia.brimm@——-.—>
From: Sophia Brimm <sophia.brimm@——-.—>
Subject: Re: Hi Neighbor!                                                     June 5 2014                11:38pm

Sophia!

I’m glad you’re coming around. This will be much easier if we’re on the same page. Of course I haven’t been wandering around your house in the middle of the night. Nor am I in the habit of ripping off my skin. That’s gross. If I were in your home at any point, I would face sharp censure from my superiors for interfering in our little test. Hence my need for secrecy.

Regarding the “knives,” I do have to say, that took even me by surprise. I guess we were not as comprehensive in our pre-observations of Stretch as I had hoped. And again, it really does not appear in the literature. Then again, with a record like Stretch’s—well, her ancestor’s—there aren’t often many people left to detail her secrets. Her ability to shoot spines like there, and her precision! Truly remarkable.

I am happy to say that my research into the spines has provided some insight into a possible mechanism to dissuade Stretch. You see, Stretch and her kind were common in a rural part of Northern Italy long, long ago. It seems that locals would plant rosemary bushes around the property to protect the occupants from the eyes of the “Climbing Witches.” Being such an old text, I’m not sure if we’re talking about the same creature or if it was even effective, but it’s an interesting thought. I mean, rosemary has been associated with repelling witches in the past, so perhaps it will be helpful. It’s also historically associated with love. How long ago did you and Mike break up, if you don’t mind my asking? For research purposes, of course. It may help us identify how Stretch selects her victims.

However, I’m still not certain on the rosemary angle. It can’t hurt to pick some up from the grocery on your next trip out. And make sure to buy it fresh, not dried. It’s better for our entity purposes, as well as cooking, which is a wonderful positive of this experiment. Even if it doesn’t work, the rosemary is great with pork and chicken. I can send you some recipes later. Better yet, how about I’ll cook you up something savory after this is all said and done? To be clear, though, I wouldn’t get too hopeful, as the mortality rate in that town is still suspiciously high. I mean, not high enough to suggest wall-to-wall Stretches, but still higher than I’m comfortable with. The upside of this is that I can likely convince Corporate to send me on an investigative trip to Italy. You are, of course, invited. Assuming we can figure out how to keep Stretch from killing you.

So, start with the rosemary and I’ll keep researching.

Your Bookworm,
Crypto

   ______________________________________

To: Sophia Brimm <sophia.brimm@——-.—>
From: Sophia Brimm <sophia.brimm@——-.—>
Subject: Re: Hi Neighbor!                                                     June 6 2014                12:15pm

I bought the rosemary. Now what? I can see her, Crypto. I saw her last night at like 4am when I finally stopped trying to sleep. She was tall, but all crumpled down behind a tree in my backyard. And you’re right, she shines in the moonlight. You did not warn me about her eyes, though. Those eyes are worse than any I’ve seen in her hallucinations. All dark and knowing. I could see my soul in them, see it ripped apart. Why didn’t you warn me about her eyes?!

I don’t see her now, though. Am I safe during the day? Please let me know what to do!

Sophia

   ______________________________________

To: Sophia Brimm <sophia.brimm@——-.—>
From: Sophia Brimm <sophia.brimm@——-.—>
Subject: Re: Hi Neighbor!                                                     June 7 2014                12:34am

Lovely Sophia,

Regarding your questions, first I think Stretch is mostly nocturnal, but as you’re seen, these sort of things can be…surprising. Second, I did not know about the eyes. Professional wisdom suggests you NEVER make eye contact with one of the entities. A lot of them can be hypnotic—so lucky you! I appreciate your honesty about what you saw. It seems to me as if Stretch uses her eyes as an extension of her psychological torture routine. Quite interesting, really. I may enlist some interns to determine if there is any variability in this behavior (in a controlled environment, of course).

As for the rosemary, I think I have some answers. Now, I’m not sure how avid a chef you are, but you will need some authentic sea salt, a mortar and pestle, and Italian olive oil. Again, don’t settle for any cheap knock off stuff. This needs to be the real deal. I would pick things up for you and drop them off, but, you know, the whole secrecy deal. Sorry I can’t be more helpful. I really don’t want to lose my job, as termination tends to be rather traumatic in my line of work.

Once you have all of these things, toss the rosemary, oil, and salt into the mortar and pestle, grinding it until it’s all a consistent…goopiness? I don’t really think there’s a good term for it, but make it all mixed together real well. Then, smear it along all your window sills and door frames. Even the ones in your attic. Trust me, the real spooky stuff doesn’t live in attics, but rather your backyard. Next, put a little on yourself. Just a bit behind you ears, elbows, wrists, and knees should be enough. The smell should be enough to convince Stretch to move on. Hopefully. I’m pretty sure it’s not a sage scenario. Let me know when you’re done, and I’ll let you know where she is!

With hope and curiosity,
Crypto

   ______________________________________

To: Sophia Brimm <sophia.brimm@——-.—>
From: Sophia Brimm <sophia.brimm@——-.—>
Subject: Re: Hi Neighbor!                                                     June 7 2014                8:27am

I did it, Crypto. I got everything, just like you asked, mixed it, and smeared it everywhere. I smell like a cheap pizza parlor, but I did it. If this is some kind of sick joke, I hope you are enjoying yourself. Is she gone? I know it’s day, but can you see her?

Sophia

   ______________________________________

To: Sophia Brimm <sophia.brimm@——-.—>
From: Sophia Brimm <sophia.brimm@——-.—>
Subject: Re: Hi Neighbor!                                                     June 7 2014                9:31pm

I haven’t heard her again. Normally she’s begun scraping my windows and siding by now, if not growling. But it’s been quiet. And I haven’t seen any weird things all day, well, one or two floating eyes, but those have even gotten better. It still smells, though. I can just smell it over the rosemary and olive oil. Please let me know.

Sophia

   ______________________________________

To: Sophia Brimm <sophia.brimm@——-.—>
From: Sophia Brimm <sophia.brimm@——-.—>
Subject: Re: Hi Neighbor!                                                     June 9 2014                2:08am

My Partner in Crime,

Sorry for the radio silence, but I wanted to be sure before giving you any false hope. It seems Stretch is not a fan of the new air fresheners you’ve deployed. She’s moved on down the road and, with a little help from some strategically placed sage, has found a new favorite house on the block. My only advice would be to avoid Mr. Connelly for the next couple of days, and don’t read the subsequent newspaper story. Trust me, you’re better off not knowing.

So, how about that coffee now?

Your knight in shining armor,
Crypto


Creative Commons License
This work by Katherine C is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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