July 16, 1938


Soft, gentle laughter accompanied the scream, the two sounds twisting and rolling down the hall together.

The hallway was long and barren of decoration, doors, or windows. A few bulbs hung from bare sockets above me, and the walls looked more like polished bone than painted plaster.

I’d been in the hallway for at least four hours, the air chill and stale. The old floorboards beneath my boots groaned and sighed with every step, but there was no way to avoid it.

The laughter and the scream grew louder with each step, the pitch of one or the other changing every few minutes. Only once did the scream rise to the level of a shriek. Only once did the laughter take on a maniacal tone.

Another hour of walking brought me to a tall, narrow door. From the lock, a skeleton key protruded, and I reached out and let myself into the room.

I was unsurprised to find the room occupied.

A woman stood by a table, a large, polished crystal in front of her. There were a great many drawers behind her, the kind a library might keep for documents and maps.

The laughter came from the woman, whose pretty face twisted with malignant humor as she pressed upon the crystal, eliciting a scream from it.

“It’s a pity,” she murmured, dropping her hands but keeping her attention focused on the object in front of her. “I wish we could make them scream like that when they’re alive.”

A flicker of movement in the polished facets revealed my own face.

There were younger versions of myself and older ones, too. Some were scarred, others stamped with the fixed gaze of the insane.

All screamed each time she placed her hand upon the crystal.

“Have you come for a reason?” she asked, and for the first time, she looked up.

It took her a heartbeat to register who I was.

What I was.

But in that time, I crossed the floor, grabbed her by the back of the neck and slammed her face into the crystal.

Once more, the spirits within screamed. Mingled with their pain, though, was a fierce, triumphant shout.

Without any pause, I smashed her head against the crystal until her scalp came free in my hand, and her teeth clattered on the floor.

I’d had about enough.

#horror #fear #paranormal

Published by

Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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