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Ritual

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Journalist Looking for Answers
Submitted at 00:04 6/01/2016 by CuriousJournalist

Hi there to all of you reading this on the No Sleep section of Reddit. I suppose I should give a bit of a brief introduction. I’m 18, I just moved to college in the middle of Toronto which is a huge culture shock as I’m a country girl who lived in a town of less than 100 people with my Dad only a few months ago. I’m studying journalism and have been really intrigued by the whole creepy pasta stories. I saw the unfortunate case of Waukesha, Wisconsin where the two 12 year old girls stabbed their friend for the Slender Man and I wanted to do a bit of research into what they believed in and why people enjoy reading stories like this.

I want to dedicate my last 2 semesters to researching and hopefully writing a paper on this so I’d be really interested in anything that anyone may have to say to me. So please tell me why you spend your time here and why you like reading these things?

I’d appreciate it if someone could tell me how to get involved too? I’ve been reading of some people who have been doing rituals and they sound pretty interesting. Has anyone ever done them? I’d love to try one out to write it up in my journalism paper, even though I know it won’t work as they’re fictional but it would still be pretty cool to try out right? So if anyone can send me something then that’d be super cool. I know that ‘Bloody Mary’ is a ritual I tried as a kid but that’s as far as I know. Thinking back though it was pretty weird but I was a kid and was probably just imagining things like we all do as children. But in case anyone wants to know, I was a really nervous child; I slept with my light on and cuddled up to my stuffed animals until the age of 13 and had been told by a school friend when I was 8 that she’d done the ‘Bloody Mary’ ritual and that I had to do it or I’d be called chicken. I have always been a bit of an outsider so of course I did it even though I was terrified! I got a candle from my parent’s bedroom whilst they were asleep, lit it and then said ‘Bloody Mary’ 3 times over whilst staring into my reflection in the mirror of the bathroom. Nothing happened and I went back to my bed and tried to fall asleep but I just felt like something was watching me. It had become really cold so I opened my eyes and there was a woman standing in the doorway and it wasn’t my mother. It was definitely a woman but it was a dark figure so I couldn’t make out any facial features even with the lights on. I don’t know how but I just closed my eyes and hoped that she hadn’t seen me staring at her and forced myself to sleep. The next morning when I woke, the woman was gone and I walked into the bathroom to go and put the candle back in my parent’s room. When I looked into the mirror I saw I had a small cut by the side of my mouth that hadn’t been there the day before but assumed I might have done it in my sleep. I had breakfast and as I was getting myself dressed for the day I had what looked like 2 puncture wounds in my right arm and I had scratches all over my abdomen. I was petrified but I look back and realise that I’d be playing in the bushes the night before with friends so I probably got all the scratches from that and imagined the woman. I mean ‘Bloody Mary’ isn’t real. Anyway, that’s a brief introduction as to what I’ve done and I’m willing to listen to your story and what you have or haven’t done all in the name of creepy pasta.

I’m kind of looking forwards to speaking with some people who may be able to help me out as I think that would be pretty sweet you know? Who else gets to talk about random things like the Slender Man or the Boogie Monster over the internet?

Also if someone recommends a ritual I should do, I’ve seen it’s popular to write up your experiences after so once I’ve done it then I’ll write up what happened and even add a bit to it to make it seem spookier for you to have a good read!

Thanks once again for reading this and I’m super excited for people to respond! Looking forward to chatting with you soon.

CuriousJournalist

 

 

So that was it. Laura had posted her story up online without realising what she’d gotten herself in for.

 

 

6/01/16

Dear Diary,

It’s me again. So last night I wrote that I didn’t have a clue where to go with this new assignment that Professor Cochrane has given us. Like how are you supposed to find something to write about for 2 whole semesters without being able to do some actual journalism work? It’s not like I can just go out to a war zone and investigate! I don’t know if this whole creepy pasta thing is going to work but I suppose it’s worth a shot right? At least I’m doing something. You know what Professor Cochrane said to me today? She said, ‘You are going to have a lot of trouble passing this year if you don’t start doing your assignments!’ I could have strangled her then and there because she’s just so annoying! But anyway, I suppose I shouldn’t be writing anything inflammatory against the members of staff here, the Dean could exclude me if she read this diary and I wouldn’t put it past her to do something like that.

Anyway, my search for friends is still going well and if by well you mean that it’s going drastically wrong and everyone laughs at you then yeah, it’s going well. I just wish that someone could actually like me for a change. Is that so hard? I live in Canada, aren’t we Canadians supposed to be the nicest people on the Earth? Or at least don’t we have a reputation for it? I just wish that there was someone who understood me that was here or would at least spend some time with me. I’ve tried to bond with my roommate but she’s more concerned about going to parties after class and I never get invited so it would be rude to show up right?

Let’s just hope that I get some form of decent response over the weekend from the Reddit page. I don’t have Journalism class until Monday so I can only pray that I can begin to get somewhere with it! If I can get Professor Cochrane off my back then maybe I’ll be able to find some friends?

You know what? Friday night, I’m going to go to whatever party my roommate goes to. I don’t care if I don’t have an invite because I’m going! Maybe then I can meet someone who actually wants to be around me for more than getting the answers to their overdue Lit paper. I suppose I can only hope right? I mean it’s saying something when my best friend is my Diary.

Thanks Diary, as always you’re a great help when I need you to comfort me, speak later.

Laura

 

 

7th of January 2016

Life sucks. Maman has been unbelievably annoying and is wanting me to ‘grow up’ all of a sudden because being fresh out of college and unable to find a job in philosophy is a drain on her precious resources. She wants me to be like Mattie but I don’t care much for my older sister’s flashy job as the head of a University board. Like who the fuck wants to do that? And of course Willy boy can do no wrong by being the perfect little student. It sucks being the middle child. Besides what do I have going for me? Mattie looks like an African Queen. You could imagine her being like Cleopatra. William is just a boy, a teenage boy who flirts with everything with a pulse. Everyone loves them. But me? Shabby black hair with an emo goth look; no one is interested in me because they all think I’m a freak. Not that I’ve cared much for friends but I’m pretty lonely. Looks like I’ll be trying to find someone who can actually stand talking to me for the next few weeks until I get my life sorted out. Hopefully.

But first I suppose I need to try and find a Goddamn job before Maman decides to kick me out on the streets. It wouldn’t be the first time so I know she’s being deathly serious with her threats.

CK

Chapter Text

10/01/16

Dear Diary,

I seriously regret going out on Friday night as I spent all of yesterday lying in bed recovering from a massive hangover. I didn’t even get up to eat and you know that I wouldn’t say no to any type of food that I can smell but I had to decline Thai takeaway from my roommate, Betty, last night as I felt so awful.

But did it go well? Nope. Definitely didn’t. The reason I drank so much was because it was awful. I rocked up with Betty who had told me which party she was going to that night and said she’d let me be her plus one as I’d be wanting to get an invite for so long. As soon as we enter she’s gone, literally vanished and I couldn’t look over the top of everyone to see where she’d gone because of my dwarf-like height. I later found out that she’d been intending on going with a bunch of boys but had instead out of the kindness of her heart decided to ditch them to take me out. Honestly Diary, I’m so sarcastic but I’ve no idea how sarcasm comes out on a page.

So anyway, I was alone and had no idea what to do as this is the first party I’ve ever been to! I literally froze in place and was so unbelievably lost. Thankfully (Well I say thankfully) a bunch of guys from the biggest fraternity on campus start to come up to me and try to talk to me and kind of became my guide for the night. I’ve been trying to rack my brain as to what happened but all I remember is them convincing me to keep drinking. Betty says that I was dancing with them, taking shots with them and even sitting in one of their laps but I’m so going to say that all of that is not true because why would I do any of that? Especially item number 3! We both know that I have no interest in men and never ever will. I am very much batting for the other team as some would say. And also, the fact that I didn’t wake up in one of their beds or them waking up in mine kind of shows a lot right? At least I didn’t do anything stupid… Or at least not THAT kind of stupid.

It’s now 3:41pm on Sunday and I’m finally starting to recover, I’ve drank plenty of water, had some food and tried to sleep it off as best I could but I’m unable to put my journalism paper off any longer. Today I’m going to log back onto my Reddit page and check out my post on No Sleep and see if anyone has replied to me. I thought I’d write now just in case I fall asleep at my computer which wouldn’t be the first time!

So I’ll catch you later Diary and hopefully no one remembers my little debacle except for you because I can guarantee that I earned no friends by getting wasted at the party on Friday - Back to square one on that little road trip.

Laura

 

 

Laura turned her computer on. It was a dark and gloomy day outside which didn’t help the fact that Laura just wanted to sleep. It was as though the dull weather had control of her eyelids as they began to slowly droop lower and lower until Laura would start awake with a panicked fluster. How would she ever cope with University when most students would do at least one all nighter in their time at Uni? It would be a true test of dedication but Laura despised failing her classes. She’d once failed a mock exam at high school and cried when she got home despite it not meaning much of anything considering she passed her real one but still, Laura hated failing anything.

The computer booted up slowly which didn’t help Laura’s drowsiness. She felt like she could fall asleep on the keyboard right then and there, after all, the keyboard did look comfy. To make matters worse, connecting to the internet took even longer. She was sure it was the connection and not the computer itself as most had issues accessing it. It’s why a lot of people used the library but it was only open during certain hours of the day and Laura realised she’d never get down there in time to be able to connect to the moderately quicker computers before she’d have to leave again at 5pm.

Finally when she logged onto her Reddit account, she saw the thread she had created on No Sleep and underneath a little notice saying ‘13 comments’.

‘13 comments. How strange. Maybe 13 will be lucky for me?’ she mumbled.

She scrolled down to the first comment.

 

Has been moved to r/nosleepOOC as this isn’t a story but rather a discussion.

 

Of course, Laura hadn’t read the rules properly. You’re not supposed to say things are fake on No Sleep! It’s like a character in a movie turning to the camera and saying ‘This isn’t real’ which doesn’t have the desired effect at all. However that didn’t deter anyone off from commenting.

 

Don’t do these rituals. You might think they’re fake but they’re real.

 

Ok?

 

You’ll let the devil in if you try to do one.

 

Well someone is very passionate. Of course Laura didn’t believe in them. Everything has to happen for a reason as there was always a logical explanation behind any unusual occurrence. Rather than taking them as warnings, Laura was even more determined to continue with her research and in doing a ritual of her own.

 

That bloody Mary experience sounds freaky! You deffo let something in doing that so you should be fine doing another ritual as you’re already marked by the paranormal.

 

Marked by the paranormal? What were these people going on about?

 

This would be pretty cool for you to do. Not many people are really aware of No Sleep so I would be up for talking with you if you sent me a message.

 

Finally an actual sane person!

Laura looked down the rest of the comments. One recommended she tried ‘One-Man Hide and Seek’ and another told her to play ‘Let’s Play a Game’ so Laura decided to check them both out after she’d finished reading the rest of the comments.

 

I once tried one man hide and seek like the commenter before me suggested and it was really scary. You should do it.

 

Laura was pretty intrigued now.

 

Man, you’re definitely someone who throws themselves into a story not worrying about the consequences aren’t you?

 

Laura didn’t know whether that was a compliment or an insult but decided to believe it was the former. Surely throwing herself into a story was a good thing right? It meant she was dedicated. But she wouldn’t just jump onto a plane to Syria right now because she had common sense. This was nothing like that. What harm could a bunch of fictional stories do to her?

Two of the other comments said that they were happy to talk with Laura and the other two explained some experiences with No Sleep that they had and had both sent her links to read the entries.

Laura began to read them and they were pretty good. She couldn’t help but smile at how realistic yet unbelievable the stories were. One person had tried the ‘Staircase Ritual’ and had been attacked at the end by a mysterious shadow force and have never recovered from it mentally and basically urged people to not do any form of Creepypasta ritual and to learn from her mistakes.

The other one was pretty different as they themselves hadn’t done the ritual but rather had watched a friend of theirs do it instead called ‘Unholy Hour’ and what Laura read completely chilled her and for a moment she believed it to be real. The man had watched his friend get torn into pieces in a violent and agonising death because he failed to answer the riddles correctly. Laura felt herself blache and began to feel queasy and worried that she’d throw up.

‘It’s just a story. None of it is real. Calm down,’ she whispered to herself as she began to breathe in and out slowly.

She was thankful it wasn’t real, nothing like that should ever be real. Never. Whilst Laura wanted to do reports that would change the world like reporting in war zones and on dangerous material, she knew she could never see what the story described. If someone had honestly seen that then she’d have been incredibly upset and worried for them. But it was only fictional. Right?

Laura began to send a message to the individuals who said that they’d be happy to answer any of her questions. She’d already written a list of questions she wanted answering and she continually looked over at it to make sure she was writing the right things down in her PM’s in a true journalism style.

 

Hey there, it’s CuriousJournalist,

You commented on my post that you’d be happy to help if I had any questions and I do. My main question is, why? Why do you enjoy reading Creepypasta? Is it for the fear factor, the literature or something else? Do you like being scared or do you read because you believe that nothing can scare you? Have you ever read something that has made you too afraid to do something that you used to before like sleeping with the lights on or refusing to look in a mirror? What Creepypastas can you recommend? And are there any other rituals you can think of that you think I should do?

Thanks in advance for any reply I may receive,

CuriousJournalist

 

Once they’d been sent, Laura decided to have a look at the 3 rituals that had been recommended to her. Technically she had been told of 4 but she wouldn’t dare do ‘Unholy Hour’ not after that story, especially when it seemed almost impossible to complete.

She did a quick Google search for ‘One-Man Hide and Seek’ and clicked on the first search entry. The website informed Laura that it was a ritual to summon the dead by offering a stuffed toy to the spirits that wander on the Earth. Laura instantly decided that she would not do it. Laura was too much of a softie. When she was younger, she used to believe her stuffed animals were real and sit them down after school so she could teach them what she’d learned that day. She still cuddled up with a cuddly toy before she went to sleep at night so could never imagine cutting up one of her own stuffed toys or buying a toy just so she could burn it. That was a step too far! Even if it was for the good of journalism, she wouldn’t sacrifice a cuddly toy to be hurt by a ghost!

She quickly (Or at least as quick as the University internet would let her) searched for ‘Let’s Play A Game’ and clicked on the third search result because a kids TV show dominated the first 2.

‘How funny,’ Laura muttered to herself, ‘I’ll never look at a kids TV show in the same way if this ritual is pretty freaky.’

Laura read through it. It seemed to be similar to ‘One-Man Hide and Seek’ but without the doll and if you lost then you died a horrible and painful death. It seemed like a really difficult ritual to do and she’d need more than just herself to do it and she wasn’t going to bring anyone in to help her with her assignment. Real or not, Laura knew she might face some nightmares after this and she wasn’t willing to harm anyone else. Plus Laura had no one she could ask. The only person she regarded as more than just a total stranger or classmate was Betty, and she’d never say yes to a night in the woods running from spirits if it meant turning down a party.

Laura then searched for the ‘Staircase Ritual’ and upon reading that it would take 13 hours of standing still on a flight of stairs in her dorm, she quickly declined.

‘Ain’t nobody got time for that,’ she rolled her eyes.

Laura was back to the beginning and not sure of what to do. She logged back onto her Reddit account to see that she had a message in her inbox from the first person she had sent her PM to.

 

From JeffChicagoMan sent 19 minutes ago

Hey CuriousJournalist,

That’s a lot of questions but I’m happy to answer them all. The simple answer to it though is because I don’t want to live life in comfort. I like feeling negative emotions. That’s not because there’s something wrong with me but to know when you’re happy you must have felt sad and deliberately feeling fear allows me to enjoy the times that I’m not afraid even more. Maybe there is an element of facing your fears to it but I’d never face my fears of Jeff the Killer without meeting him first. No matter how many stories I read of him, I’ll still never get over my fear of him until I meet him on multiple occasions. I’ve had nightmares before but I’ve never been scared to the point of it affecting my life as that’s not the point of me reading. If I read to enjoy the times I’m not afraid then I wouldn’t deliberately try to make myself scared all the time as it defeats the objective.

In terms of rituals you could try, I read this one Creepypasta which freaked me out that is a ritual and it’s called ‘11 Miles’ it’s a good read even if you decide not to go through with doing it but it seems like a pretty cool one to do. Also there’s very little preparation to it so it seems simple enough if you wanted to give it a shot.

JeffChicagoMan

 

Laura instantly Googled ‘11 Miles’ and on the first result she had a feeling. It’s a feeling that cannot be explained but one that felt right. A comforting feeling which Laura thought was unusual considering this was recommended to be a creepy Creepypasta and a ritual that someone wanted her to do.

She began to read and it seemed that the ‘11 Miles’ ritual was one you should do if you wanted something. If you wanted something bad and Laura knew exactly what she wanted, what she needed the most in life. Friendship.

 

 

12th of January 2016

My job hunt is going shit. I’ve taken a CV into every local store and nobody has the time of day. Either there are no jobs or those that are hiring want people with experience. How am I supposed to get experience if you don’t fucking give me a chance? There’s only one place that actually offered me a job but it’s what I’d like to call a ‘Fuck you’ job. One where they only call you in when it’s really busy and then they don’t bother with you for the rest of the week. That’s just not a job. I want to earn a living and break free from Maman and her whining. Not be someone’s first call when they’re struggling who only pays any notice to me when they’re in need of help. Humans! They’re all a load of fucked up twats. Thankfully Maman agreed that the ‘job’ would be a waste of time and hasn’t threatened to kick me out just yet. Instead she’s given me access to her laptop to look online for jobs. It’s very unusual as Maman has never let me use a laptop or have this much freedom but I think she has realised how limited my options are if I’m stuck to trying to find a job locally. I need to look around and see if there’s any jobs in the city or at least in the whole damn country that would actually be willing to take me on! It’s bullshit.

Here’s to another week of soul destroying. Unfortunately I’m destroying my own soul, if I even have one.

CK

Chapter Text

14th of January 2016

I know it’s only been two days but my internet job hunt hasn’t been very successful. I’ve been attempting to write a CV and I have no idea how to do one of those. I read an article that proposed you ‘sell’ yourself and I had to ask Maman why I had to offer sexual services to potential bosses. Maman had a good old laugh at my expense for my lack of knowledge on 21st century slang but I’ve never been allowed a computer unless it was at University. Even then I was never allowed to use social networking sites so I don’t know how she expects me to understand something I’ve never experienced; especially when she stopped me from experiencing it. I really wish things were simple. You asked someone for a job and they gave it you and if you did well after a trial then they hired you on a permanent basis. That would be much better than making you write down what you can do and then asking you for an interview where you may not even get it! It sounds like so much unnecessary work. And a waste of time on both sides.

Anyway, enough ranting. I wasn’t able to sleep last night because of how worried I’ve been over getting a job so I decided to do some late night job searching which was as fruitful as a dead apple tree. But whilst Maman was asleep I decided I would look up those social media websites that I never got to look at to see what they were about. It amazes me how you can speak to anyone from around the world at the click of a button. It’s a fabulous piece of invention. You can even watch films on it! There are photographs too! It fascinates me. There’s also electronic maps that can find your location. I had a look and found where we live. It found us exactly! Even in the correct little dip of the mountain in Austria! And to make things even better it could show me a photograph of my house from the sky. How they trained a bird to do that is a marvel.

I also found that you can delete history. Or at least delete history on the computer. It seems no one has invented a machine to delete real history yet. So I deleted everything and Maman will never know that I have been using her laptop for anything other than job hunting.

CK

On an additional note. I tried to find ways to help me sleep on a website called ‘Google’ which lead me to a site called ‘Reddit’. I was under the impression that it was a helpful guide where you could share your stories of how to get to sleep due to the page being titled ‘No Sleep’. However on further inspection it seems to be a forum for individuals to share creepy stories with one another! How incredible! You can read on the Internet. And you can read books which aren’t published! I’m looking forwards to reading some late night horror stories tonight when Maman falls asleep.

 

Laura walked into class brushing off the snow on her coat. She couldn’t believe that tonight was the night she was planning on doing the ritual but if she postponed it then it could take up to 2 weeks for there to be no snow left on the roads. Laura had reasoned with herself that it was better to try and drive on fresh snow than on ice once the snow started to thaw so knew it was tonight or never.

‘Miss Hollis, how nice of you to join us,’ Professor Cochrane announced as Laura took her seat at the front of the class.

Professor Cochrane was a woman in her late 40’s. She had flat blonde hair that reached her shoulders and hadn’t aged well. No one messed with her because whenever someone got into trouble and she had to resort to telling them off, she always smiled as though she had some sort of sadistic pleasure from watching students squirm under her gaze. Her eyes were incredibly dark that in the correct lighting it was impossible to tell the difference between her pupils and her irises.

‘I’m sorry I’m late Professor, won’t happen again,’ Laura said. She felt as though she needed to defend herself, to say she’d never driven in snow before so took it easy coming into class but refused to give Professor Cochrane any fuel to her fire. She’d sent an email around to everyone in her class the previous night insisting that everyone attend a 9 o’clock meeting this morning to discuss their assignments. She didn’t say why but Laura knew it couldn’t be good.

‘I’m incredibly disappointed with you all,’ she began, ‘You’ve had this assignment for 2 weeks now and I’ve yet to see a piece of paper from any of you. Do you have any idea how long it takes to write an assignment?’

Laura began to curse under her breath. The assignment was to last 2 semesters, not 2 weeks. Did she expect them to have already written a paper and handed it in? Ready to do nothing until the next academic year?

‘I see,’ Professor Cochrane spoke after a short silence, ‘Miss Hollis. How far are you into your assignment?’

Oh crap.

‘I have conducted interviews with numerous people and have also gained insight from more. I have conducted some research into secondary sources and will be doing an observation later tonight to see what I can discover about the topic I am studying,’ Laura said appropriately.

‘And how much of this have you written down?’

‘Everything I have done has been written down,’ Laura whispered.

‘So where is your draft?’

‘I have written notes so far, I don’t want to begin writing up a draft until I have conducted more research as I need to see which is the best way to construct my final paper.’

‘What do you mean by that?’ Professor Cochrane asked and Laura dared look up at her. The woman was staring at her with her dark eyes and Laura felt a stabbing pain go through her stomach as though the look was sending daggers to greet her.

‘I don’t want to create a piece of bad journalism that is hard to decipher, therefore I would like to have all my research conducted before I start to put it together.’

‘Understood.’

She walked away from Laura who let out a breath that she didn’t realise she’d been holding.

‘I think you should all take notes out of Miss Hollis’s book and get a move on with your assignments,’ she said, raising her voice fractionally but not enough so that she was shouting, ‘Class dismissed.’

Most students practically ran out on the doors, all too afraid of the Professor to want to stay. She reminded Laura of the female version of Professor Snape. R.I.P. Alan Rickman.

Laura grabbed her bag and made out towards the winter breeze. The slight nip in the air was enough to keep her awake and she debated what she would do for the rest of the day. She had no more classes, she just had the ritual to do that night.

‘Laura!’ A voice called, bringing Laura out of her thoughts.

She spun around on the spot to see a large group of girls leaving the lecture building.

‘Hi,’ Laura squeaked. Was she going to make friends? Maybe if she made some friends right now she wouldn’t need to go out and do the ritual tonight because that’s all she wanted right? She just wanted a friend.

‘You are such a suck-up,’ the girl said. Laura’s face dropped. The girl was one of the college popular kids who was in her class.

‘Hi Sarah-Jane. Have I done something to upset you?’ Laura asked tediously.

‘You just got us all in trouble because you’re too good for the rest of us,’ Sarah-Jane replied.

‘That wasn’t what I was trying to do, I just…’ Laura began.

‘You just what? Thought that you could leave the punishment to the rest of the class if you showed that you were a teacher’s pet? That you could get extra marks for doing more than the rest of us? I heard that at the party last week you declined to give head to one of the hottest guys on campus because you’re a dyke,’ she spat, ‘What? Are you going to go and offer to eat Professor Cochrane out to get a better grade than the rest of us you fucking lesbo?’

Laura could feel the tears forming in her eyes. She’d kept her sexuality secret from everyone at Uni because she was afraid of people’s reactions. Canada was one of the most gay-friendly countries Laura knew of but she still felt like coming out to people was petrifying especially when it was still not considered a part of ‘the norm’ yet. However in one night of drunkenness to try and make friends, she’d revealed her darkest secret and now the whole campus knew. No wonder she’d felt like people had been giving her strange looks for the past week.

‘I’m sorry,’ Laura mustered. She realised she shouldn’t have to apologise for her actions but it was all she could think of. Surrender to survive.

‘Get out of here tiny,’ she snarled.

And Laura did just that. She hurried along, refused to run but walking as quickly as she could to her car and drove off whilst trying to wipe away the tears coming from her eyes. She wanted to talk to someone about how she felt but she had no one. Laura was truly alone in the world and decided to head back to her dorm whilst trying to focus on her driving and how different it was to drive in the snow from how it was to drive on normal asphalt.

As she sped down the highway she remembered just how much she needed to do the ritual. If she’d done the ritual last night then she’d have someone to talk to right now about what had happened. If she hadn’t have received that stupid message from Professor Cochrane she’d have done it but knowing that she’d had to be up for a 9am meeting made her decline going out. She didn’t know how long she’d be out for so refused to run the risk of missing a meeting and having her grade slip.

But it wouldn’t work. Of course it wouldn’t. This was fictional remember? Creepypasta rituals aren’t real but it was still a nice idea to try something because she needed a friend right now. She was that desperate that she was willing to risk her life to get one friend.

She pulled up to her dorm and speed walked to her room, worried that her tears would freeze if she stayed outside for too long. The warmth bellowing out of her dorm block made her feel at ease. It gave Laura a slight comfort, one that she couldn’t explain but made her smile as though she had found something she’d missed, even if it was only the safety and comfort of her shared dorm.

Her room was small but with Betty gone to class for most of the day and going to a party later that night, Laura knew she would have the space to herself. She collapsed on her bed and decided to think about her ideal friend. She didn’t do it to make herself upset but the ritual had said that she needed to be in the right mindframe before she began and if she wasn’t then she would never find the road and never get what she truly desired. And she needed a friend more than ever.

She went through it in her head before saying out loud with conviction to reassure herself that she needed this.

‘They’ll be honest even in situations they probably shouldn’t be, they’ll be kind and caring, they’ll be loyal, funny and someone who I can tell my secrets to but won’t share them. But most importantly someone that I have chemistry with who doesn’t mind that I’m gay.’

She was sure that was all she wanted. She didn’t care what gender they were or what they looked like, she just wanted - No. Needed, a friend.

There wasn’t much to prepare for that night so Laura decided to get some work done for her English Lit class before sitting down and re-reading the ‘11 Miles’ ritual in preparation of what was about to happen that night.

*

‘Laura, what do you think of this?’ Betty asked as she held a dress out in front of her body. It was asymmetrical with a gold fabric that stretched to fit around every curve she had. Laura knew she looked stunning in it but now was not the time for Laura to be thinking of dresses, as soon as Betty left she’d be going out and finding herself a friend.

‘Yeah it looks great,’ Laura said unconvincingly.

Betty put the dress back in her wardrobe and Laura realised she had to sound really positive or else Betty wouldn’t leave and Laura wouldn’t be getting to find her friend. It was dark out and the 11 mile road was waiting for her.

‘What about this?’ Betty held out a V neck, knee length, sunshine yellow coloured dress that had pleats below the thighs.

‘That looks awesome Betts,’ Laura replied as enthusiastically as possible, ‘You could wear your silver high heels with that too, I’m sure it would go. And wear your hair down, your blonde hair will match.’ Laura had no clue about fashion. She thought it was perfectly fashionable to wear a brown and white spotted shirt and a pencil skirt as ‘everyday’ wear but she had to make it sound convincing or Betty would never go away.

‘You’re so right! Are you sure you don’t want to come out with me?’

‘I’m sure,’ Laura replied, ‘I’ve got stuff to do.’

‘Suit yourself,’ Betty replied as she went into the bathroom to get ready whilst Laura continually looked at the clock and re-going over in her head what she had to do that night.

An hour later Betty was ready and leaving. Laura almost jumped in glee when Betty had left and she quickly grabbed her car keys and bag and ran downstairs into the chill of the evening. Thankfully it had stopped snowing but Laura was even more weary as to how the night would pan out.

She pulled into the gas station and filled her tank up full. The ritual had told her to make sure she had plenty of gas in her car as she’d die a horrible and painful death should she not be able to complete the 11 miles. Whilst paying for her gas she realised that she hadn’t had any food since breakfast so grabbed an egg mayo sandwich that she could munch on quickly before she left the gas station.

She looked on her sat nav to find where the closest area where trees lined the roads were whilst eating dinner. She had to do this right and decided to turn the radio on to keep herself focussed. She located a junction off the highway that would lead her to an area that she believed would be in the middle of nowhere. It was some distance away because she lived in the centre of Toronto but she had to do it, she had no choice if she wanted a friend.

She pulled out of the station and decided to play some songs out of her phone that were progressive electro. Laura had recently discovered that this was the only way to drive. Electro kept you pumped for anything you may face and kept you awake. It was the perfect genre to drive to especially late at night on the highway when most people were now heading home for a night in or heading into town for a night out. Laura knew it would take a while to find the road she was after so had planned accordingly, she would arrive at around 8pm and hopefully would find it before 10pm so she could be back home for midnight. But she knew it was worth the wait. If she got a friend out of this then she wouldn’t mind how long she waited. She’d waited her entire life. What was a couple more hours going to do?

Of course Laura had to try and remain calm about the whole situation. There was no saying that this actually worked. Her want and need for the ritual to work overclouded her rational thinking. These were fictional stories, like believing that Harry Potter exists or believing in vampires! But Laura bit back her worries because she would believe anything if there was the prospect of having someone who understood her become a part of her life.

Her blue Toyota Tercel sped along the highway. It was over 20 years old but it had been the most reliable car she’d ever known until it broke 3 years ago just before her 16th birthday. Her Dad brought a new car and she thought that the car had gone until her Dad surprised her on the day she passed her test with a rebuilt engine in her childhood car. Laura thought it was the best present her father could ever have given her and she loved it. She had called him ‘The Bat’ because the last 3 digits of the license plate were ‘6AT’ and the top of the 6 curved around so much that it almost joined to look like a ‘B’ and Laura loved him.

She arrived in her destination around an hour later and began to drive on the roads aimlessly. Trees lines either side of the road and Laura knew that if she was going to find the road then it would be here. She hoped. She continually looked at her Sat Nav to make sure she was still travelling on roads that wouldn’t lead her to populated areas. Canada didn’t have many roads out of the city so most roads she ended up on would lead to a populous area rather than just be lined with beautiful scenery you could take a stroll on.

It became darker as though there was a cloud that had engulfed her and Laura had to slow down to see in front of her. She questioned what it was and realised it was probably a snow cloud that was incredibly low to the ground. It felt like a veil had been thrown over her car so she was experiencing lack of vision and struggled to move forwards like it was pushing her back. Laura’s mind whirled.

‘It’s probably just the ice underneath me,’ she whispered to calm herself, ‘And this is a cloud.’

She drove for another half an hour and felt like she was about to give up. It was all fake, of course it was, everything was fictional and Laura looked to her sat nav to figure out how to get back to the highway to head back home until she realised that she felt incredibly warm. It reminded her of that feeling of entering the warmth of her dorm block earlier. The feeling of something returning to you that you’d desperately missed and it wrapped you up in warmth because you felt so happy to have it back.

Then Laura saw a turning to her right and she stopped in the middle of the road. The cloud was beginning to clear and Laura couldn’t see anything for miles other than the trees that lined both sides of the road. She looked down at her sat nav and saw that the turning to her right didn’t exist.

Laura was shocked. Was this it? She couldn’t get her hopes up.

‘It’s probably a local road that sat navs aren’t aware of. It’s probably nothing special,’ Laura said but she couldn’t convince herself. That feeling she got told her this was it. This was the right place to be.

Laura looked at her phone to see that it was struggling to connect to any service and she debated sending her Dad a text just in case she never came back but upon seeing that the time was 10:30 exactly, she remembered that her Dad would be asleep and she shouldn’t wake him. After all this was fake wasn’t it?

She turned her radio off like the ritual had told her, turned her phone off and placed it on the backseat so that it wouldn’t distract her as well as ensuring that all her windows were up to the top and there was no way that anything could get in if it wanted to.

Laura couldn’t believe what she was about to do but she knew that she wanted it. She needed it. She needed friendship so without any other thought, she turned onto the road she hoped would give her what she desired.

There was nothing unusual about the road and Laura tried to maintain a cooled head. This was probably a long driveway to someone’s house and that means there isn’t a road label on the map. Or maybe a house used to be here but it’s been demolished yet the path still remains? All of them were likely explanations until Laura’s sat nav displayed that it was out of range. She turned it off quickly to avoid any distractions later in the drive as she knew that if this was the 11 mile road then she didn’t want to take her eyes off it past this first mile.

She drove along the road at 30 miles an hour. The ritual had specifically stated that you shouldn’t go any faster than that unless you truly need to. It was a pretty ordinary road. Asphalt, slightly worn but not too bad as there were no potholes and was rather large or at least there would be enough space for 2 vehicles to pass without too much worry.

Woods lined each side on the road and the trees bowed outwards as though clearing a path to welcome those in who dared to venture this journey. They were tall and green and Laura thought they looked like incredibly tall and thin Christmas trees which made her feel momentarily happy. Maybe next Christmas she’d have someone who she could spend it with other than her Dad?

Laura noticed her legs started to feel a bit cold. Of course she’d come in a skirt which was probably the worst idea she could ever have so she decided to turn on the heater in her car. It blasted out warm air that soothed her legs briefly and she looked upwards to the line of the trees. The cloudy skies that had appeared moments before Laura had turned down the road had been replaced with a clear sky and as she looked up, she realised that there were thousands of stars. There were more stars than Laura had ever thought possible, it was as though she could see the galaxy from where she sat and marvelled at the sight. It’s a shame that it wouldn’t be like this for much longer.

The bite of the cold began to nip at Laura’s legs once more but the heater had been put on full blast. Laura couldn’t tell if it was because her body had adjusted to the newly found heat or because it had gotten colder but either way the heater proved to be ineffective now so Laura decided to speed up by 5 miles per hour. At least this way she’d keep her mind off of the cold and maybe her body wouldn’t feel it if she wasn’t thinking about it. This must mean that she was on her second mile and now there was no turning back. Laura had to do this and at the end of it she would get what she craved. She would find a friend.

Laura came to her first few turns and she had to concentrate as she realised that the sides of the roads were beginning to wear fractionally and the asphalt was breaking up with a couple of potholes here and there. She was thankful she wasn’t driving any faster because otherwise she doubted she’d have been able to handle the car quickly enough. The turns weren’t sharp but they were hard to see, even with full beams on, Laura found herself squinting in the darkness not wanting to end up in a wreck.

She turned a corner.

‘Holy crapsticks! What are those?’ Laura yelled as she saw 2 silhouettes of human figures standing in the lining of the trees.

She hit a pothole hard and worried that she’d damaged her tyre as the car sank slightly and she focussed her whole attention back onto the road in front of her. The ritual had said not to focus on the figures in the trees as they would reveal themselves soon. This was actually real, this was actually happening. None of this was fake unless she was in the woods and there were some late night hunters or runners or something that would make any of this make sense.

Laura looked down at the road and noticed that in front the asphalt was cracking up and changing to a rubble as the dirt eroded away the previous substance. Laura slowed down slightly and pretended to not notice the increasing number of silhouettes in the lining of the trees. She knew that if she kept travelling at 35mph that she would have little grip if she needed to turn quickly and would end up in a wreck which she didn’t want.

The road began to get smaller and smaller, so much so that the road was only just big enough to hold her car with a little breathing space either side. This didn’t worry her too much until she saw that the woods were getting closer to her car and the silhouettes were now much closer than before. They were taller than humans but she tried to not think about them but rather started talking to herself.

‘It’s ok. It’s nothing. They can’t hurt me. I’m in a car. My safe and little car that has never let me down. Maybe if I’m very still and don’t make eye contact with them then maybe they won’t even notice me, like a dinosaur.’

She kept noticing flickers from the corner of her eye, almost as if new silhouettes were appearing out of thin air as she passed. But the cold kept her distracted. Earlier she’d been wishing she’d worn something more suitable but she was thankful of something that made sense. Her legs were cold because it was getting cooler. She was still alive and at least some form of physics existed.

Then she noticed that there were no more figures and she let out a sigh of relief. They’d all left her alone. Maybe the dinosaur trick had worked? She might be ok after all. But that was when she heard it. Heard them. A faint whisper that echoed in the back of her head began to speak. She couldn’t figure out what it was saying but she didn’t know if that was because they were speaking with too much of a muffled voice or if she was concentrating so deeply on the road ahead of her that now felt less haunting with the silhouettes having vanished.

Then there was silence. Just for a brief moment as then it started. Laura thought it reminded her of Parseltongue and tried to focus on Harry Potter to distract herself from the unintelligible voice inside of her head. But when that seemed to make them shout louder as though they were coming closer she attempted to tune them out completely. She thought of her friend and what she would do with them. They would go to the movies together and go and eat in a fast food restaurant, not just buy take out but eat in. Laura had never done either of these things before because she had no one to go with but when her friend arrived she would. She’d call them pet names and do other random things with them and before Laura knew it she could no longer hear the voices as loudly or as clearly as she had before.

Laura began to wonder what her friend would say about her keen fashion sense when she was taken aback by the woods on her left hand side disappearing completely, replaced by a wonderfully bright and large full moon. Laura snapped her eyes back to the road just in time to see a turning and carefully maneuvered herself around it. She remembered that she shouldn’t stare up at the big moon as it would distract her into crashing into the lake. Wait? The lake?

Laura glanced out of the corner of her eye whilst keeping her main focus on the road ahead. She saw the glistening of the close moon and the reflection it gave off that was just as bright. She couldn’t believe how close it was to her. The moon has always been so far away, it had always been rather comforting as there was nothing to that light but now it seemed so close and overbearing that she felt slightly afraid. It was there to distract her, to pull her off of that road and into the lake. To claim her as a victim. She knew she’d never look at the moon in the same light again.

The one positive thing the moon gave her was the solitude. She could no longer hear the voices and even better she could no longer see any silhouettes, it was as though the bright light of the moon had scared them away and she felt like she could have turned her headlights off as they were useless. Laura enjoyed the solitude now but never usually enjoyed it. She wanted friendship. She needed friendship and she wasn’t going to let some creepy people stop her from getting what she wanted. Laura didn’t understand the meaning of the word ‘No’ and she probably never would. The one thing the moon didn’t scare away however was the cold. Now that she was over water, the cold nipped at her more and she could feel that her legs were wanting to start shaking but knew that she was nearly at the end. She was on mile 5. There were only 6 miles left. She could cope with the cold for a bit longer right?

In the distance she could see the trees start to reappear on her left soon and she knew this would mark the beginning of the 6th mile. As the trees started to surround her once more the light of the moon previously vanished and Laura struggled to adapt to the darkness that now only had her headlights piercing through it. They were not of much use however as they weren’t very bright to begin with due to it being a car that was over 20 years old. But Laura knew that she had to keep going. She looked up to see if she could find the light of the multitude of stars she had seen before but they had vanished. The sky had become a black abyss and Laura missed the stars as she was reminded that she was alone. But she wouldn’t be for much longer.

‘I’ve got my trusty car,’ she muttered to herself, ‘The Bat won’t let me down.’

Then as if on command, the headlights flickered and Laura almost jumped at the prospect of being left alone in the dark. She had to remember back to the ritual that had said her car would do this no matter how brand new it was or the working condition. All lights would start to flicker. Laura wondered if the flickering lights allowed the shadows to creep up on her and look in to see her. Maybe they did everytime she blinked? They could see her but she couldn’t see them. Like Weeping Angels in the dark. Laura pushed the thought to the back of her head. No. She couldn’t think like this. She had to focus on the positives. A friend. She was going to get a friend.

‘Or are you?’ Laura heard a mysterious voice say.

‘Who’s there?’ Laura whispered petrified.

‘Are you going to get a friend now Laura?’ Laura realised it was coming from the radio. The calm voice sounded almost understanding and caring yet cold and malicious at the same time. She had to try and block it out. It would do no good to her if she kept listening.

There was a sharp turn that Laura managed to expertly handle because she had been focussed on the road and she knew it had to stay that way.

‘You could be alone forever Laura. Just because I may give you a friend right now doesn’t mean that you won’t mess it up. You know that don’t you Laura? You can mess up and lose that friend? It’s as simple as that. One misunderstanding and they’re gone. Laura. Laura Hollis.’

Laura heard the voice but tried not to make sense of the words. She was beginning to imagine it. She had her arms wrapped around a brunette who was slightly taller than she was and had whispered ‘I love you’ and the girl pushed her away angrily. It was a misunderstanding but she’d ruined the friendship she’d craved.

‘HOLY SHIT!’ Laura nearly wrecked her car as she slammed on the brakes suddenly to avoid running into a tree as the road had a slight bend in it but with Laura imagining what was happening she hadn’t noticed and had continued straight. She had been brought out of her imagination by clipping the grass verge and having her car shake violently. She turned her steering wheel to the left drastically and managed to avoid hitting the tree and kept going. She focussed on the road in front of her. She wouldn’t allow it to kill her.

‘You will lose her. You know you will. I don’t need to convince you.’

The road was still curving slightly. It was trying to catch her out again but Laura wouldn’t let it.

‘Are you listening Laura? Listen to me.’

But she refused. Instead she sped up, the quicker she could get the voice to vanish, the better. She reached quickly for her radio dial. She already knew it was switched off and clicked to the left but she thought she may as well try anything to get the voice to stop prematurely.

‘Laura? Laura?’

She blocked it out as much as she could, focussing on the road ahead.

The voice stopped only to be replaced with a high pitch wail from outside. A distant scream and Laura knew she was on the 7th mile. Keep going Laura. She knew what was going to happen and she knew she had to prepared. She could get frightened quite quickly and the last thing she wanted was to jump and veer off the road in fear. Any second now.

The screaming came louder, longer and sounded more torturous every second as though something gruesome was happening to them. But Laura had to remain calm. The closer they got the closer she was to the finish. They were just trying to trick her and she couldn’t fall for it. She wouldn’t fall for it.

And that’s when she noticed it. The pulling of her seat as though long fingers had clasped around to pull themselves up to her ear. The cold chill beside her head and she refused to turn around or to look in her back mirror. One of them was in the back seat.

It spoke. Once again it sounded like Parseltongue and Laura refused to listen to it. She pretended that it didn’t exist and that she wasn’t able to hear it. She prayed it would get bored of her and leave her alone. It was becoming unnerving and Laura realised that the only way to get it out of her car was to speed up. She gently increased her speed and made sure her eyes were focussed on the road in front. She knew that after this mile it became the hardest on the conditions and she didn’t want to go in there at a speed of 40mph when it was said that even 30 was too fast.

The presence didn’t fade as quickly as she hoped it would and Laura began to feel herself sweating despite the cold. She was nervous and shaking all the way through to her core, whether it was from the cold or from the fear she couldn’t tell because all she wanted was for the hands on the back of her seat to vanish.

And if like that it was gone and Laura instantly slowed down to 20mph in anticipation of the sharp bends that she was nervous for. She knew she could get through this. This was just a test of her driving ability and Laura was from the country. Sharp bends were natural for her. Have you ever been on country lanes before? This should be a walk in the park.

Laura began to feel like an F1 racer. The bends were creating a mini circuit for her. A series of chicanes were displayed on the narrowing dirt track and Laura expertly handled them. She didn’t realise how much fun this section would be. Her Dad was a huge fan of motor sport and she’d always dreamed of doing something like that one day. Maybe her new friend would enjoy watching the motor racing too? Maybe they could watch it together?

She briefly looked down to her gear box to figure out what gear she was in as she felt like she needed better traction and saw the bottle of water she carried in the compartment behind it had frozen solid. Laura hadn’t realised that it was that cold but now the reality had set in that her legs were shaking violently. The acceleration started to judder as Laura tried to compose herself. She was cold, yes, but she was nearly there. She had to keep going. She was on the 8th mile. Only 3 miles left. She could do it.

Then her headlights shut off and Laura braked suddenly before they came back on a few seconds later. She looked up to see that she was glad she’d braked as she barely made the next tight turn. The flickering continued and sometimes the headlights shut off momentarily but would return soon after. Laura prayed that they would stay on as it was tough to navigate when she was put into pitch black but knew she had to remain calm. If she didn’t then she’d die and she’d come here for friendship, not to die. When she turned the next corner she could see a herd of black silhouettes coming to meet her on the grass verges. They were out of the trees now and she could hear their screams. The wailing and the howling pierced her ears that she became slightly frightened.

Then something smacked her back window. She refused to turn around. Then came more. Every window of her car was being hit and she could see them out of the corner of her eye. Their faces were horrendous that Laura felt dizzy seeing them for a brief second. They were twisted and butchered as though they had been involved in a high speed car crash and had walked away after death. It was a horrible sight and Laura knew she definitely didn’t want to become like one of them. Their screams turned into laughter. A mocking, manic laughter that Laura associated with evil clowns. Oh they freaked her out. She was being followed by clowns. Nope, she wouldn’t let that scare her.

Laura jolted forwards in her seat. The car had stalled. Why had the car stalled? She was going 20 miles an hour, she hadn’t even put her clutch down.

Something banged her windshield and the voices began again pleading with her to join them like a creepy zombie film Laura had watched as a kid. The lights had gone out in the confusion and Laura remembered this was all part of the 9th mile. She had to get going before they touched her and turned her into one of them. She closed her eyes. Handbrake on. Gear into neutral. Turn off ignition key. Turn it on. Clutch down. 1st gear. Accelerate. Release handbrake. And Laura sped off as quickly as she could. Opening her eyes when she felt she would no longer see them. Her headlights were back on and she saw that her front windshield now had a large crack right down the centre of it with a big dent at the top left as though someone had tried to smash it with something blunt. Like one of their hands. They’d been that close to getting Laura that she began to shudder.

They were following her now. She didn’t look but she could feel it. The sensation of having a crowd watching your every move. That’s what they were doing. Watching, waiting, wanting Laura to make a mistake so they could have a new friend themselves. But Laura was determined to make new friends whilst she was still alive, not new friends as a dead being.

Their voices continued but now they were nowhere near as clear as the zombie voices she had heard before. She felt a slight bit of relief as she knew that meant that she’d opened up a gap between her and the spirits. Laura focussed. She was out of the hard bit now. She just had to keep driving and then face the 11th mile as the 10th mile was easy according to the ritual she had read. She waited for the voices to stop as then she knew she’d be in the 10th mile. But they continued. Still the sounds of hysterical laughing could be heard yet Laura tried to block them out. They were no longer a threat to her. They could do nothing to her now.

The voices died down along with the screams and laughter. Nothing was obstructing her path. It was just a dirt road but it was unnaturally smooth. Less like the dirt road she was struggling to find grip on earlier. There were no loose pebbles or stones to try and make her skid, it was easy and calm. There were no figures that she could see, she knew they were all behind her watching her, but she dared not look back even though her mind was telling her to. She knew if she looked back then she’d lose everything as they’d make her crash.

Laura marvelled at the road. Her car was functioning perfectly for the first time in a few miles. Her headlights were as bright as normal and Laura felt calm. Calmer than she should have felt. She knew the real test was about to come. It was the calm before the storm and Laura was ready for it. She slowed the car down as she felt like she was beginning to approach the final test. She began to think about her friend. She knew she had to. The final test would read her thoughts and know exactly what she wanted. Laura knew it had to be at the forefront of her mind. Her worst fear would be coming out being too afraid for the final test to know what she wanted. She needed friendship.

Suddenly a few more figures appeared on the side of the road and Laura almost jumped. Had she done it wrong? She thought they weren’t supposed to be here anymore. But they made no advancement towards her. It was as though the path was reminding her to not get too excited yet. It was trying to make her afraid. Was it trying to make her forget what she wanted so that she would fail?

‘Friendship, friendship, friendship,’ Laura muttered to herself as though it were a sacred mantra that she needed to hear to get herself through the rest of the journey. She kept her eyes focussed on the road ahead of her and her hands clasped firmly around the steering wheel, ready to make any sharp turns she had to. Maybe the original ritual had missed this out? Maybe this was supposed to happen but the original writer had forgotten it? There was a lot to remember and Laura struggled to remember what had happened to her in the 2nd mile. Was that when they started appearing? No, that was the 3rd. Maybe there were perfectly reasonable explanations for all of this. But Laura realised that was a stretch as she was currently driving on a supernatural road. There was no such thing as reasonable explanations for any of this.

Then Laura’s car stopped and plunged her back into darkness. It didn’t stall, it just stopped. But she was still moving, moving at the same speed as before the car had shut off, she could feel it. Laura tried to move the steering wheel but had no luck, as though something else was controlling the car. Like she was being lifted up in a cloud.

Laura began to see a glowing red light in the distance. It was alluring and Laura wanted to keep staring at it. There was something beautiful to it even though it began to sting her eyes. Laura looked away and covered her eyes with her hands. The ritual had told her not to look at it. This was like the sun. You should never look at it or you’ll become blind.

She could see the light through her hands. Still glowing, brighter than the moon she had seen earlier and Laura knew this was the end. She began to hear a low noise and knew she had to try and muffle her ears at the same time. She squeezed her biceps close to her ears to try to drown out the outside noise as she knew what was coming.

The sounds grew louder and louder and Laura couldn’t even begin to explain them. It was as though the sound of someone vomiting their intestines out on the ground was being mixed with the sound of a baby crying. A disgusting and a high pitched groan and whine combined into 2. Nothing could explain the sloshing sound and screams of a newborn. A visceral image popped into Laura’s head of a baby being beaten and a large thumping noise accustomed it. Laura realised exactly what the sound was and it was too gruesome to imagine. It was the sound of murder. The sound of metal on metal screeching joined into Laura’s head even though her biceps were tightly clenched around her ears and the high pitched sound of screeching like a bad violinist started to seep through also.

The cold disappeared immediately and Laura felt as though she was in a sauna. A low rumbling and voices yelling inconceivable words at one another began to approach Laura as a high pitched clicking started to drive her mad. The heat began to sear at her skin, and Laura felt as though she was about to burn. She entered deeper into the red light and she shielded her eyes further as the light attempted to peek through her fingers that were keeping her eyelids shut at all cost.

The noises got worse as they began to get more high pitched. It was worse than the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard and worse than the high pitch noise of a dentist drill. The noises scared Laura the most and she desperately wanted to stop them.

That was until Laura too started screaming. Her skin felt like it was being burnt off. Layers of skin melting in the heat. She felt like she was in hell and wondered if that would be a nicer holiday destination. But she was doing this for friendship, for happiness, for love.

The noises ripped through her skull and she could hear the screams of thousands of tortured souls, those who she could only imagine had fallen at the very point she was on. But she wouldn’t fail. Laura could never fail anything, she was too brave.

Suddenly there was silence and darkness.

Had Laura returned?

She dared to open her eyes to find herself in the pitch black and the eerie silence. She panicked. What if the silhouettes were back. She turned the car on immediately so the headlights came on but there was nothing there. Nothing at all. It was as if everything had vanished.

Laura took a deep breathe and let it out slowly and steadily before beginning to move off again. She knew that she wanted to get back to her dorm. That night had been the scariest thing she’d ever done but she knew it wasn’t the end. She was back on asphalt now and she had to question what was happening. She continued to drive forward focussing on her friendship. There was nothing around her but empty fields and Laura had no idea where she was going.

It didn’t take her long to realise that the road ahead of her was coming to an end and Laura began to slow down steadily and stopped at the end of the road.

She began to think of her friendship. This was the point where the ritual would be completed. She closed her eyes and thought. Kindness, loyalty, someone who was honest. Laura thought of running her hands down their back and holding them tight to her. She would love them with the purest type of love she could find. She knew they were accepting of her and loved her in just the same way. Laura wanted to feel loved. She wanted that friendship. She needed that friendship.

She opened her eyes slowly. She’d visualised it so clearly that she couldn’t wipe the smile off her face and she knew that she would probably meet her friend tomorrow. That was what the ritual had said.

She looked around her surroundings and noticed that she was no longer at a dead end but was rather instead facing the road she had come from. This was the beginning of the first mile again. Behind her was the road. In front of her was her way home if she turned left. There was nothing obvious to make this clear but Laura relied on her gut and on the ritual. That was what it had said. She would appear at the start of the road and that it may confuse her but know that she was done. The ritual was complete. She would get her wish.

Laura turned left and pulled up on the side of the road before turning her sat nav on to direct her back to her dorm. She needed her bed. She needed her space. She needed to be away from this place.

She could still feel the burning and the cold at the same time. She could see the faces of the shadow figures every time she blinked. Could hear the screams and the noises she heard in the red light.

The sat nav once again showed that there was no road behind her and to the left. She hadn’t imagined it. It really had existed.

She dared to look back towards it half expecting to see the silhouettes following her but instead she saw nothing but mist. She couldn’t even see the road. It was as though the mist had engulfed it from her sight and no longer existed.

Laura questioned if she’d imagined it as she grabbed her phone from the backseat and quickly turned it on, urging for it to load faster that it was.

Her phone finally flashed to life and Laura looked at the time.

10:37

Only 7 minutes had passed since Laura had turned off her phone. Yes. It would have taken her 7 minutes if time had stopped as soon as she started travelling down that road.

Laura knew that was impossible but she also knew what she had seen. She hadn’t fallen asleep. There hadn’t been time, what had happened was real and defied every rule of nature that Laura was aware of. Laura had experienced the supernatural and it had scared her so much that she just wanted to get home and feel safe and be prepared to meet her new friend in the morning.

Laura turned her radio on and headed home hoping that her friend would be just as awesome as she’d planned.

But it would never be that simple now would it?

Chapter Text

11 Miles
Submitted at 00:50 21/01/2016 by CuriousJournalist

Hey guys. So I wrote a post a while ago asking if anyone could recommend any rituals to me and someone suggested I tried ‘11 Miles’ but I didn’t think it would work.

I was proven wrong.

I’ve just gotten back from the automobile shop who has fixed my windscreen for me because my car became that damaged whilst I was driving, it was horrible.

I can barely remember anything now about what happened because all I can remember was the feeling of my flesh being burnt off, the bright light and the deathly sounds that deafened me. I just want it to all go away. I feel like everytime I think of it that I’m caught in the shock wave of a nuclear blast.

The red light. The blinding red light that made me so tempted to keep staring at it but I knew I had to look away. I had to be strong. I didn’t want to fall victim to it. It’s said to only last 31 seconds but it felt like torture, as though I had spent half of my life in there. I never realised until then just how much pain can prolong time until I experienced that. It felt like a sheet of fire all around me, and I was moving closer to it without controlling where I was going. It was closing in on me and I knew I was going to get burned.

The fear I felt was intense. I was trapped, enveloped in the light, and could feel my skin starting to burn. It was excruciating, I will never understand why people think that burning is a good way to die because I’ve never been in so much pain. But the thing was that I knew I wasn’t burning, in the back of my mind, I was trying to make sense of this all. I would come out alive providing I was strong and I wouldn’t be burned at all. The pain was temporary.

Only it wasn’t. I still can feel the burning, see the light, hear the screams. I’d do anything to give that back.

You may ask though ‘Wasn’t it worth it? You got what you craved right?’

But I haven’t, it was supposed to be here the morning after as it’s not material. I suffered through all that pain for no reason at all.

So never do this ritual. It’s not worth the pain you go through, especially when you get nothing in return.

CuriousJournalist

*

‘Hey,’ the voice of a young woman came from behind Laura in the lecture hall.

‘Hey,’ Laura replied calmly. She noted how she didn’t feel strange or nervous whilst talking to a girl she’d never spoken to before. Maybe the ritual had worked? Maybe this was the girl?

‘I’ve seen you in class a couple of times but never really had the guts to come up and say anything,’ she replied.

‘Oh, well I’m not someone you should be nervous about meeting,’ Laura smiled. She wanted so desperately to look up and see the young woman but something in the back of her head was telling her not to. She was still nervous that she’d ruin everything like the voice on the radio had said.

‘But I am,’ the girl said sincerely. Almost sweetly but there was a tone in her voice that Laura recognised that made her blink in fear. If this woman screamed, Laura was sure she’d sound like the voices she’d been hearing every now and then since that night.

‘Aww, well don’t,’ Laura chuckled, ‘I’m as friendly as they can get. I don’t bite.’

‘But what if I did?’

‘I’m sorry?’ Laura asked confused.

‘What if I bite?’

‘I very much doubt that,’ Laura laughed.

‘Look at me Laura?’

The voice in the back of her head was telling her not to look. But she was so tempted to look up at her new friend. How could she resist what she craved most? How could she resist looking up at the only person on campus who seemed to genuinely take an interest in her?

She began to hear the screams of all the dead souls. The wretched sound of a beating and the baby crying. All the sounds flooded back to her and Laura forced herself to look upwards, praying that seeing her friend’s face would make all the pain go away.

Instead she looked up and saw the most horrendous face she could have ever imagined. The face from that night.

Laura screamed and the red light surrounded her but she couldn’t close her eyes. It was her punishment for giving in to temptation. Her flesh burned and began to peel off before her very eyes and she was engulfed in the overwhelming sensation of fear. She was going to die.

‘Laura. Can you hear me?’ the woman asked.

The high pitched whine almost burst her eardrums and Laura screamed louder and harder than she ever had before but that only allowed for the red light to flow through her mouth and begin to burn her internal organs one by one. It was excruciating.

‘Laura?’

She could no longer scream. The light had taken her vocal chords. She was dead. She had become one of them. She was…

‘Laura?’

Laura sat up.

The room was dark. Had she been blinded by the red light? No, she could define shadows. There was light outside. The stars. She wasn’t blind.

‘Laura! What the hell was that?’ Betty yelled half in annoyance and relief.

‘I… I don’t know,’ Laura stuttered as she tested out her vocal chords.

‘You’ve been having these nightmares for days now. You need to get yourself checked out because you keep waking the whole dorm up!’

Laura looked over to Betty who was standing beside her bed, towering over her and making her feel small and insecure like everyone else on campus did.

‘Yeah. Sorry I woke you,’ Laura whispered.

Betty sulked over to her bed and climbed back in before drifting off to sleep quickly.

Laura lay down but everytime she closed her eyes she could see the bright red light drawing near her. She was haunted by something she’d done that gave her nothing in return. She’d been tricked but more fool her for trusting anyone but herself.

*

Laura sat in class and was sure she wasn’t dreaming this time around. She’d pinched herself too many times that she’d developed a large red mark on her left bicep. She was definitely awake.

‘Oh, if it isn’t the screamer,’ she heard a voice from the back of the lecture hall.

For once in Laura’s life she prayed that Professor Cochrane would hurry up and arrive soon.

‘What’s wrong, Hollis? Cat got your tongue? Or should I be asking if a pussy got your tongue? Like old Cochrane?’ Sarah-Jane laughed hard. Laura prayed that no one else found it funny, but as if on cue, the chorus of laughters came from all around her.

‘QUIET DOWN!’ Professor Cochrane yelled as she entered the lecture hall. Laura could feel herself welling up and was thankful that she’d not be subjected to anymore abuse for the next few minutes.

She copied every note that the Professor wrote up on the board but didn’t pay any attention. She could feel hot tears streaming down her face but she refused to let it show, she wouldn’t give anyone the satisfaction to see her like this. She just had to ignore it even though it was an impossible task.

Laura lost herself in her thoughts whilst mindlessly jotting down anything her lecturer wrote on the projection screen for her to read after class once she was calmer. She wasn’t needed back into her Journalism class until next Monday and it was Wednesday now. She’d have the weekend to look over her lecture notes before then. It’s not like she had anything better to do especially when the kids on campus made sure to constantly remind her that she had no friends.

Before she knew it those around her were packing up their belongings and Laura realised it was the end of class. She began to pack her things away also and was still packing when the last student left the room.

‘Miss Hollis,’ Professor Cochrane announced and Laura panicked. Crap, had she noticed Laura not being very present in the lecture?

‘Yes, Professor?’ Laura asked politely.

‘I see you’ve been crying. Is there anything I can do to help?’

Laura was taken aback by the unusual sign of humanity that Professor Cochrane had shown.

‘I’m fine thank you Professor. Just having to deal with some personal things,’ she replied before adding quickly, ‘I promise it won’t affect my assignments though!’

‘Just make sure you deal with them quickly. Not because I want you to rush but because not many things are worth stressing over. Put up a barrier between your work and your personal life and live separate lives. Do you really think I’m as strict as I am in here to my own children?’

‘I think you’re just strict in here because people won’t try and take you for a fool. No one messes with you. People fear you and don’t take advantage of you. I’d love to take your advise, Professor, but when the personal thing is a part of my school life it’s really hard to use the barrier,’ Laura blurted out.

‘I’ve noticed some of the girls giggling at the back of class, Miss Lalama seems to be the ring leader. Are they bullying you Miss Hollis?’

‘Sarah-Jane is…’ Laura stopped in her tracks. If she told the Professor right now she’d only make her life harder. She couldn’t tell her, ‘No. It’s nothing. I should get back to my dorm. I want to get some work done for my assignment. See you Monday, Professor.’

Laura ran out of the door. She would love to tell someone but they were already saying that she was a teacher’s pet. If they got punished for bullying her then it would just get even worse. She shouldn’t provoke them, and that was provoking.

She got into her car and drove to the dorm whilst blasting the radio on full to try and distract herself. She didn’t recognise any of the songs as she didn’t usually listen to modern music but she welcomed whatever would get herself out of her head. The slow relaxing hip-hop groove of what the radio announcer said was a remix version of ‘Street Sweeper’ by JMSN and Freddie Gibbs calmed her down and made the tears evaporate from her eyes.

Laura pulled up outside her dorm and decided she should work on her journalism project. She’d avoided it for over a week because it kept bringing back bad memories but she couldn’t change her topic a month into the semester. Besides, she didn’t know what to write about and she would have way too much to catch up on after doing a whole month of research into Creepypastas.

Betty wasn’t home but that wasn’t much of a surprise at it was 8:30pm and she’d probably be at a party at this time of night or at least out somewhere drinking with her friends. Laura was thankful that she’d have the room to herself so she could focus on her project. She went over to Betty’s full length mirror and saw how her mascara had streamed down her face. Her tears had somehow managed to fall onto both her blue blouse and high waisted grey jeans. She ran to the bathroom and washed her face before walking over to the fridge and making herself a banana sandwich. She couldn’t be bothered to cook but wanted some form of food that would at least keep her going and she’d read somewhere that bananas were a good brain food right? Journalists never forget.

She booted her computer up so she could look on her Reddit profile and found she’d had a variety of comments on her last post about 11 Miles.

I’m so sorry that happened to you!

‘Thanks, I guess,’ Laura mumbled through a mouthful of banana sandwich.

You shouldn’t be messing with these things in the first place. No wonder it went wrong.

Laura looked down at the comments, and most of them were like that. 7 comments of basically telling her that she should have been expecting it because it was a ritual. Of course, they all thought this was a story, no one understood how this was real. No one would believe her. Of course they all ‘believed’ in the ritual because you had to. But if they realised that she’d actually had this happen to her they wouldn’t have just replied with a ‘what do you expect?’ attitude.

She marked all the messages relating to the comments as read and then decided to scroll through the Reddit pages to see if she could find anymore research that would help her with her project. She began to read a post about a person who received a letter that made no sense in the middle of the night that asked for the individual to await further instruction. Once reading it she noticed she had a little message icon informing her of a new comment on her post.

TheRogueVamp 5 points 1 minute ago

Damn cupcake. Sorry this happened to you. Hope that you’re ok and get what you want. Maybe it will come in time? What did you ask for?

This was the first genuine nice comment she had and whilst she believed that the individual was under the impression that she was just telling a story, it felt nice for her to share it and decided to reply.

Thanks for your kind words. It would be nice to hope but I don’t have any hope left to give. I asked for friendship, for someone to love me just the way I am. I have no friends in Uni and I just wanted someone. But I’ll never get anyone by the looks of things.

Laura received a reply almost instantly.

TheRogueVamp 5 points 1 minute ago

Well love doesn’t always mean the same thing to everyone.

Laura thought about it. That was such a heartfelt quote that surely only someone who actually knew how it felt to have been hurt could know. She decided to leave it the way it was. There was nothing she could reply to that so began her search for more info before noticing that she had another message in her inbox and wanted to ignore it but was too curious to.

When she opened it up it was from the same user but not a comment, rather a personal message.

From TheRogueVamp sent 1 minute ago

Hey there,

So I know it’s only a story (I know I’m breaking rules but hear me out) but you’re either really good at writing or you’re in that place where you have no one and I don’t know if it means much because I’m just a stranger on the internet but I have no friends either. Maybe we could talk about how we don’t have friends with each other? That’s if you want to though.

TheRogueVamp

Laura read the message over and over. Was someone actually wanting to talk to her? To make friends? She replied back right away.

Hey TheRogueVamp,

Honestly none of it was a story. I didn’t believe in rituals. I wanted to know what they were for my journalism project and decided to participate in one and this all legitimately happened. I still have nightmares about it and it’s not at all pretty. All I wanted was a friend. But thanks for the offer. You sound pretty down yourself? That was a rather sad and philosophical phrase you wrote in your last comment. I had no idea how to reply.

CuriousJournalist

Before Laura knew it, she received a reply back.

TheRogueVamp sent 1 minute ago

Well I just thought it was fictional. But it was real? You’re not just saying that. What happened to you was genuine? I’ve just passed my philosophy degree so that’s not a surprise to me that it’s fairly sad. I’ve lived a kind of sheltered life. I live in the mountains in Austria so there aren’t many people around and my mother is fairly controlling. I never used a computer for the internet like this until a couple of weeks ago. She’s sleeping right now and believes I’m job hunting everytime I’m on the laptop. I would love a friend too.

Laura couldn’t believe this.

Yes. Everything happened. I wouldn’t lie about that when I’m not trying to sell it to you or anyone else. I know the sheltered life routine. I grew up with only my father in a small village in Canada. I’ve moved to Toronto to do my degree and everything is so different but I don’t have friends. That unfortunately has remained the same.

Laura began to feel herself welling up. Hold it together Hollis!

TheRogueVamp sent 1 minute ago

Well you seem really nice right now so I don’t see how anyone could not want to be your friend. I mean I’ll gladly be your friend!

Laura thought she was going to cry, but this time with happiness.

Really? Yes please! I’d love that! That’s if you really want to though?

Laura knew she was smiling ear to ear. Maybe this person was right. Maybe her friendship would come. Maybe this person was supposed to be her friend even though she knew nothing about them.

TheRogueVamp sent 1 minute ago

Of course! So I suppose we should get to know each other a little bit. I don’t really know what to ask though so I’ll let you choose the questions. Considering that you’re a journalist you probably know more about getting to know people than I do. Tell me a little bit about yourself cupcake? What do you do in your spare time? Favourite things?

Laura let out a soft laugh. She liked this person already.

I love watching TV shows. I’m a big fan of Doctor Who, Buffy and Veronica Mars. I kind of like history too, I’m female so I love reading about strong and empowering women in the past. I love sugar, in fact I’m obsessed with cookies, they’re the way to my heart. I’ve taken Krav Maga since age 8 and love anything that’s defense orientated like weapons and such. I own a samurai sword and as a kid I used to pretend I was a Samurai but when I wanted to stab my clothes on a shop dummy I’d found in the trash, my Dad grew concerned and took it away from me. But I’m definitely a journalist. I just love knowledge and sharing it with people. What about you? And what do you plan to do now that you’ve graduated from University?

Laura hoped that wouldn’t scare whoever she was talking to off. The Japanese Samurai was probably a bad idea. And the cookies bit. What if this person was actually a 60 year old man and now knew that she liked cookies? But at least he knew she was trained in self-defense so maybe he wouldn’t try anything.

TheRogueVamp sent 1 minute ago

I couldn’t comment on the TV shows. I didn’t know that they existed until I found the internet. I might have to try and watch them one day if my Mother is out on business as I’d probably wake her up if I started to watch them now. What one should I watch first?

I too am female and adore strong and powerful women, did you know in WWII the Soviet Union only allowed women to be snipers because they were calmer under pressure and more precise? There’s this one sniper called Lady Death who killed over 300 soldiers in the war. It’s incredible.

If you love cookies and sugar then I suppose you won’t take offense to me calling you cupcake like I did in a previous message? And remind me not to mess with you when I’m angry ;)

I’m a big reader. It’s what brought me to this forum in the first place. I couldn’t sleep one night and thought this was a self help forum for tips on making you sleep but when I found you could read books that aren’t even books I’ve stayed up every night and read until I could fall asleep. I’m pretty lazy to be fair and don’t like to do a lot, my Mother compares me to a feline quite often because of my laid-back attitude. I also like star-gazing, I’ve read many books on it but other than that I don’t really like a lot of things. I’ve just always been into philosophy, history, astronomy and books.

Now that I’ve left University, I’m trying to find a job so I can earn enough money to leave. As much as I’m grateful for what Mother has given me. She’s fairly intense and I just want a life of my own. I want to explore. Being such an avid book lover, I hear of beautiful places like Paris and New York and I crave to go there but know that whilst I’m here I cannot. But living in somewhere so small, jobs are few and far between and no one wants to accept someone with no experience around here.

I’m assuming you want to get into journalism after your degree then?

Laura couldn’t believe it. She was actually making friends. This was the best Wednesday night ever!

Watch Doctor Who first. It’s amazing and if you love the idea of exploring then you’ll love it. It’s all about a time traveler who can go anywhere across space and time.

I never knew that fact about the Soviet Union. Russia is on a dangerous path with the west right now but I have to admit that it was a smart move to allow women to do at least some form of the front line work! And I definitely do not object to you called me anything sugary! I think it’s rather cute :P

I love books too. I take English Literature as a side subject and am currently studying Kipling. But you’re right, how can you not fall for books when you live in a small village and don’t see much of the world? Books are the perfect escape. If you love books have you thought about the library or a bookstore and see if they’ll help you out? Even ask if you can do work experience and volunteer, at least you’ll have some experience to write on your CV when you hand it out to potential employers in future? I guess finding a job in philosophy is pretty hard huh?

I’d love to be a journalist yeah! I’ve got a thing for web journalism. I might start my own blog or something but it definitely is something I’d love to do after my degree. I never thought I could find such a passion for anything.

You said your Mother compares you to a feline. Do you have any pets?

Laura loved this. She’d been speaking with the girl for over an hour now and had never realised just how much she’d love it. She felt so comfortable in telling this girl everything. Even the voice in the back of her head telling her that she’d mess everything up was beginning to fade as though TheRogueVamp had scared the memories away.

That does sound like a show I should watch. I’m not big on sci-fi but if it’s got a lot of fantasy in it then I’ll definitely give it a shot, Creampuff.

Kipling is good, Bagheera will forever be my favourite. I’d like to think that I’m a lot like him, like a giant black cat.

Unfortunately I’ve been to the bookstore but they simply don’t need any extra help, even help that’s free! Then the nearest library is out of town but Mother refuses to take me in on her journey to work and I have no money so am unable to get the bus. I’ve got to do something here or at least find something in walking distance.

I have a black cat, her name is Natasha. We own an array of birds as well but I don’t have a lot to do with them, they’re mainly animals that my sister and Mother adore. What about you?

Anyway buttercup. I have loved chatting to you but it’s 4 in the morning here and I should really try and sleep. Reply back to me though and I’ll message you tomorrow when I get the laptop back.

Oh and my name is Carmilla.

Carmilla. How majestic. Laura couldn’t believe how beautiful the name sounded and how it rolled off her tongue. It was like honey or maybe maple syrup would be more fitting considering that Laura was Canadian?

Doctor Who definitely has a lot of fantasy in it so you should love it. Plus there are some really hot characters in it so I think you’ll enjoy it.

If you’re going to call me sweet and sugary nicknames I may just call you some feline names then to try and match.

How far is the library from your house? I’m assuming it’s not in walking distance? Maybe you could look for a job in sales or as a waitress and then start looking at volunteering in the library after work or something? It sounds like a tricky situation and I don’t really know how I can help :(

I have no pets. My Dad was always a bit too worried that I would get hurt as a kid. He was super overprotective, so I’ve never experienced the love of a pet. Woe me.

I can’t believe you’re up that late! It’s only 10 at night here. Sleep well, Bagheera.

And it’s nice to meet you Carmilla. I’m Laura.

Chapter Text

01/02/16

Dear Diary,

Sorry I haven’t spoken to you in a while. I’ve been so busy with my journalism project that I’ve been collapsing almost every night from exhaustion and simple don’t have the energy to write.

Things have been pretty much the same these last few weeks. I wake up, have breakfast, attend classes, come back to the dorm, have dinner, speak with Carmilla and then go crazy on my assignments.

Who’s Carmilla? I heard you ask. Well I’m glad that you did ask.

Carm is indescribable. She’s already my best friend which is weird because if I knew her in real life we probably wouldn’t get along but we’ve bonded over our share of books. She’s 21, Caucasian, Austrian, and apparently lives a few miles away from Stadl an der Mur in Styria which is a small village that she calls a ‘town’ - Boy would she have a shock if she came to Toronto! She says that it’s a very common tourist attraction in Austria as it’s got a skiing resort nearby at Kreischberg and she says that they’re close to another pretty famous one too called the Turracher Hohe. She said that right now there’s a lot of snow which she doesn’t like and prefers the summer when the grass is green and she can go on long summer walks to get to the best place to view the stars at night.

Carmilla is also pretty calm and cool-headed. Apparently ‘life is too short’ to get wound up but can be pretty arrogant at times but I kind of like that about her. She’s the opposite of me, I don’t think highly of myself at all yet she thinks she’s better than others and I wish I could take a part of that away with me. I don’t want to be arrogant but at least comfortable and realise that I belong just as much as everyone else does. But with her arrogance comes a slice of charisma. I know that seems like a contradiction but she seems to only be arrogant when she doesn’t know the person but has a winning charm when talking to those she cares about. I opened up to her about Sarah-Jane and the bullies last week and she spoke incredibly highly of me as though she were being arrogant for me. We clearly balance each other out but are similar enough that our differences don’t clash.

She’s not incredible modern but her older sister, Matska, takes her and her younger brother, William, out into town a couple of times a month and Carm was telling me how she brought a little black dress with short sleeves, a super fashionable slim black leather belt and also a beautiful necklace that’s shaped like an anchor when she went out last. She said that she was preparing for summer and would wear it with knee high black socks and black laced shoes. She may have lead a sheltered life and not know much about the modern world but wow does she sound like she has a sense of fashion which makes me feel all the more worse sitting in an over sized grey t-shirt and jeans whilst writing this. She falls into a modest chic category; fashionably simple.

She’s given me a brief description as to what she looks like but we haven’t exchanged pictures or anything yet. I’m a bit too nervous that my Dad would find out and take away all my internet access if I did. She says she has naturally straight brunette hair that sometimes looks black depending on the weather. For example, she said that right now because it’s winter she looks like she has very dark hair but in the summer she looks like she is a lighter brunette. She says she stands to around 5’4’ which apparently is small over there. When I told her that was average height in Canada and that I was 5’2’ she apparently laughed and I’m now called ‘shortie’ yet she insists into a shortened version for ‘shortbread’. Yep, I would have more belief in her if she said she could turn into a giant black cat than if that’s true. She’s pretty curvy too. Apparently she’s pretty petite on top but has huge hips that is apparently a genetic trait being from Eastern Europe. She says that they can be a pain but she loves them because otherwise she would look like a straight line. She’s apparently slim but enjoys eating a lot so isn’t too focused on her weight providing she stays healthy - And when she says she loves eating she really means it. She’s a bit too much like me when it comes down to sugary foods!

But on top of all this she seems so clever. She constantly reels off a load of history to me and I really wish I was doing a journalism report on history now because of everything she knows from the top of her head. The other day she randomly began to mention how Coco Chanel has revolutionised women’s fashion and that the only reason we could wear pants was because of her, or at least partly because of her. Now I already knew this but then she said that Chanel actually regretted it. She didn’t like the fact that most women dressed up in pants to evening dinners and never intended for trousers to become a popular fashion for women but just because of her publicity, it did. She’s just so smart! She’s pretty care-free too and I have so much respect for her. She’s trying to find a job and earns nothing right now but she’s so laid back. It’s not that she isn’t trying, she’s just not stressed by it and says it’s not an emotion you should feel and that we should rather enjoy our journey through life than stress about every next step we’re going to take. What will happen happens and providing you’re doing all you can to make sure it’s a positive result then you shouldn’t stress over it as it will do no good. Yet there’s this element of mystery to her and I’m completely drawn to it because of my journalism like nature. I want to unravel her and know everything there is to her. I know it’s early to say but there’s definitely something between us. I don’t know what but I’m determined to find out.

Laura

*

Nothing got Laura down. The bullying she received, none of it was relevant anymore because she had a friend and when someone said something, she just imagined what Carmilla would say to them and it made her smile. She was fairly confident that the kids in school thought she was some sort of freak because she would burst into a huge grin or laughter when someone would insult her, but at least it kept them away from her and quiet for now.

It was Saturday and Laura had spent all day in the library working on her English Lit paper. Carmilla was going around the city today to look for jobs so Laura had nothing better to do than to sit and analyse the chief characteristics of Victorian period English Literature. She currently had a whole library table to herself that was full of history books focussed on Victorian England when she heard a cough from beside her. The type of cough to try and get your attention. Laura looked up.

‘Hey,’ said the redhead standing near her.

‘Hey,’ Laura replied almost speechlessly.

‘I’m Danny, I’ve seen you in my class and thought I’d come and say hi,’ she said. She was like a giant and Laura had to strain her neck to look up at the gorgeous young woman standing next to her.

‘Hey, I’m Laura. I’m sorry, I don’t really pay too much attention other than to my lecturer. Which class do we share?’ Laura said trying to keep calm.

‘I’m one of your English Lit TA’s,’ Danny replied.

Crap. How had Laura forgotten?

‘Oh crap! Yes, I do know you. I remember you from my first class. We were reading ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ and you helped me figure out how to write my essay on how satire is used in it!’ Laura said, trying to figure out why Danny looked different than how she remembered.

‘You remember that?’ Danny asked almost shocked.

‘Yeah! You were my hero for that half term. I’m so sorry I didn’t recognise you. I’m not used to you not wearing your hair in a bun,’ Laura said, realising what looked oddly different about Danny than what she was used to.

‘It’s fine. I almost didn’t recognise you to be fair. I’m not really used to seeing you in a jeans and a jumper,’ Danny chuckled.

‘How about you join me?’ Laura asked.

‘Sure!’ Danny smiled enthusiastically as she took a seat next to Laura and looked over what books lay in front of her, ‘And you’re doing English Lit too! It’s like fate!’

 

7th of February 2016

JOB HUNTING SUCKS! So I finally had an interview on Monday at a gym in town as a receptionist but they basically told me that I have no people skills! I have no idea what those pricks are talking about! Of course I have people skills! I wouldn’t have survived University if I didn’t have people skills.

The only other place that I’ve had anything positive from was an online philosophy newspaper which Laura was thrilled over but when I realised I would only get paid for published articles and Laura told me how hard it was to get articles published, I would probably only be earning maybe a few Euros a week which isn’t worth it. I don’t know how Laura can actually think that getting into web journalism is a good idea! I have an interview on Thursday at a travel shop selling goods like first aid kits and all that fantastic stuff that tourists buy when they go abroad. Hopefully I don’t need to have ‘people skills’ for that sort of shit but the fact that I speak a variety of languages holds me in good stead according to Laura.

Laura’s been great through this all. She’s been like a rock to me and I’ve never appreciated someone as much as I appreciate her right now and I really am starting to like her. Of course she’s a friend but there’s something that is attracting me to her which is strange as we’ve never met or heard one another speak or seen a picture of each other. We’re just words on a computer screen but I already trust her like family. Maman would kill me if she ever found out but I’m craving to find a job - Not just so I can move out but so that I can save up money to visit Toronto and see Laura. I feel like I could see a future with her and would do anything right now to meet her. I think she could be a big part of my life and I hope she feels the same way too.

CK

 

11 Miles - UPDATE!
Submitted at 21:51 09/02/2016 by CuriousJournalist

So it happened! I finally got what I asked for!

For those who haven’t read my previous updates you can find them on my profile if you want to read them in full. But in short I did the 11 miles and succeeded but never received my ‘reward’ and said that no one should do this ritual because it left you with a life of horror with nothing in return. But I finally found what I was after.

I’ve met this incredible girl! She’s so amazing and I know that things are going to go well with her. It’s the friendship I’ve always wanted and I can feel that things are going to be more than just best friends because I already feel like she’s my sister and she’s just so perfect! She knows so much about me that I thought I’d never share with anyone and she just doesn’t care whether it’s embarrassing or not because it wouldn’t affect the way she feels for me. She’s just incredible.

So yes, you’re probably wondering how I found her right? Well I found her out of complete luck. I found her whilst doing some work on a school project and she just appeared. Appeared out of nowhere and we just clicked as soon as we started talking. Like I said, it was like fate. She just randomly appeared and we hit it off.

I was in the library revising over the Victorian Period for my English Lit essay and who walks up other than the TA and she starts talking and we share some laughs over stereotypical Queen Victoria jokes by saying something funny and the other randomly blurting out ‘We are not amused’ and I’m so shocked we weren’t kicked out of the library because we were so loud!

So the library is about to close and she offers to walk me to my dorm so we do and she’s so tall that I felt like a dwarf but she found my height amazing and not because she wanted to pick on me for it but more because she thought that being small was better than being tall. Yeah, you couldn’t reach things as easily but at least there were things like ladders to help you get them, whereas if she was in a building where the ceiling is low, we don’t have inventions to make you smaller. She said she’d swap heights with me which was pretty sweet.

So we get to my dorm and she asks me if I want to go out to the Distillery District with her this weekend. I could have screamed! So now I’m super excited to be going out for a day with her and experience more of this beautiful city in the process! What more could I ask for?

CuriousJournalist

*

Carmilla sat in her room and began to read the update that Laura had just posted. It was about her, she just knew it. They’d shared so much and it just made Carmilla love the small bundle of hyperness even more. What else could she realistically want than for her new best friend to say how they’d found one another and to spread it on the Internet? Carmilla still didn’t understand a lot about the Internet but she knew it was huge. It spanned most countries and declaring your friendship with someone could be seen worldwide. It would be like sending letters to everyone across the world but instantly and without a terrible postage bill. Everyone could see it!

Well I found her out of complete luck.’ It was definitely lucky! Carmilla had only been using the computer for a while when she read Laura’s post and out of all the new posts on Reddit, how was she able to find that one post and then befriend her? It was complete and utter luck. Carmilla smiled at ridiculous o’clock as she read how much Laura valued their friendship.

She just randomly appeared and we hit it off.’ Yep. They’d definitely hit it off that night they’d first spoken. Carmilla and Laura were instantly friends from those first few messages. It was thrilling.

Carmilla continued to read, ‘who walks up other than the TA and she starts talking’ and Carmilla’s face dropped. The TA? That’s not what she was expecting. Wait. What? This isn’t a post about her but about Laura’s TA? Did she not even think that Carmilla was the person she’d found? The person she’d asked the 11 Miles for?

What more could I ask for?

Carmilla held back the tears. She wasn’t going to cry over this. That was ridiculous. She barely knew the woman so no wonder she’d choose her TA over her. Maman had always told her she’d never find friends or love because she wasn’t good enough for others. Her mother had trained her to have a heart of stone - Incapable of love and for all her life she’d believed it to be true until she met Laura. She thought she was feeling her cold heart warm but she was wrong. She wasn’t good enough for Laura. No! Laura wasn’t good enough for her. After everything Carmilla had given up for her. The hours of looking for jobs on the Internet, nearly risking her whole relationship with her Maman because she’d been messaging Laura at night and she’d messed up her sleep pattern. She’d sacrificed so much and Laura had not even considered that she was the one she’d asked for and instead replaced her with a stupid English Lit TA who was nothing special other than that she could actually see Laura.

Maybe that was it? Maybe Laura didn’t want a long distance friendship? She wanted someone who could actually be there for her. To stick up for her when she got bullied. Carmilla couldn’t give her that. She had nothing she could give the person she’d found. Her person. But now she wouldn’t be.

She was beginning to feel the tears prick her eyes and she refused to cry and wanted to turn her tears into anger. She quickly sent Laura a message.

Thanks Laura. Thanks a hell of a lot. I thought we were friends yet now I’m being replaced with a TA? After everything I’ve done and have said I will do for you, after telling you my whole life and you telling me yours and this is what you say? I’m not the person you asked for? What? Am I not good enough for you because I can’t actually be there to punch the idiots who say shit to you in the face? I shouldn’t have bothered talking to you. Maman said I shouldn’t try and talk to anyone because they’d only end up hurting me and she was right. I should have just stayed looking for jobs than talking to a selfish bitch like you. I’m done.

P.S. QUEEN VICTORIA NEVER FUCKING SAID ‘WE ARE NOT AMUSED’ GET YOUR FUCKING FACTS STRAIGHT IF YOU’RE GOING TO USE THAT IN YOUR ESSAY.

Carmilla hit send and for a moment felt overwhelmingly happy. That was what she needed. She needed to stop being friends with Laura. She was too hurt.

Then the tears came flooding down her face so she cleared her history and shut the laptop down before crawling into bed and crying herself to sleep.

*

Laura saw she had a message in her inbox and prayed it was Carmilla. A smile appeared on her face thinking about how she was going to spend the rest of her night talking to Carm and instantly felt wide awake even though she was tired from a hard week of classes and essay writing until the early hours of the morning.

Her beam grew larger as she saw that TheRogueVamp had messaged her and quickly opened it up almost missing the link to do so out of hurried excitement.

She began to read and could feel her heart breaking with every harsh word. Every bitter full stop. Every poisonous capital letter.

Carm hated her for no reason at all. Surely she should be happy that she’d made a friend. She’d found the real person who she’d asked for in the 11 Miles ritual. And then she realised that for a while she thought Carm was the one she’d asked for and maybe Carm had thought the same. Maybe Danny wasn’t the person she was meant to find but she’d convinced herself that it was because they were physically with one another. The ritual had said specifically that she would ‘find’ the person. Surely you can only ‘find’ a person in a physical manner. But maybe she was wrong? Maybe the ritual wasn’t right. She didn’t get her person the day after the ritual after all. Maybe it was Carmilla?

Laura needed answers but didn’t know what to do. It’s not like she could just ask the 11 Miles for help. No one would know the answer would they? No one… Except.

Laura did a quick Google search for the ritual she remembered reading. It was incredibly popular and was said that it would be able to answer whatever question she wanted and needed to know. Was Danny or Carmilla her person?

She read the list of things she needed and instantly ran around her dorm room to find what was on the list. She needn’t worry about Betty rushing in half way through or appearing before the end of the night as she’d informed Laura that she was going to be spending the night with her new boyfriend. This was perfect. Laura could perform the ritual without having to worry about Betty getting harmed either.

5 candles. Laura had 5 pillar candles that her Dad had brought her. He was worried that the electricity would go out so gave her a flashlight but was worried that the flashlight might break or run out of batteries so he gave her 1 pillar candle. It somehow then became 5 because he was worried that the other 4 would run out in a year. Yes, he was overprotective but right now she could kiss him for his over-protectiveness if she could find out who was meant to be hers.

Salt. Salt was in the kitchen and she made sure to use her salt and not Betty’s as she didn’t like it if Betty stole something of hers. That was the worst thing living in a dorm, when people stole your salt. And it was just salt specifically. It was a common occurrence through the rest of the halls and Laura refused to become a salt thief.

Laura then needed either a knife or a needle. She had plenty of knives in the kitchen but wasn’t sure if they were sharp enough so got a needle out of her Dad’s ‘Clothing Survival Kit’ that had a variety of different spare buttons, threads, pins and needles in it just in case Laura had a wardrobe malfunction. She picked the biggest and sharpest needle and hoped it was clean.

An item of protection such as a talisman. Laura had to think about this one. She wasn’t religious so had no items that would be like a talisman and she knew Betty didn’t have a religious belief either so there was nothing she could think of. Laura decided to rummage through her dorm and see if she could find anything, even a t-shirt with a cross on might work. She rummaged through her wardrobe until she found something that made her breath catch in the back of her throat.

In front of her was a stuffed toy pig. She’d forgotten that she’d brought Piglet with her to University. When her Mother gave birth to her it was 1995 and the Chinese year of the Pig. Her Mother was allowed to leave hospital the same day with Laura and had gone into the gift shop to buy some food when she saw the stuffed toy pig sitting on a shelf and brought it on impulse. She went to Chinatown with Laura soon after and brought Piglet a necklace with a pig on it to symbolise the year of the Pig. This would be her safety talisman.

Laura felt a shiver as she knew how people described the creature she was summoning and was already afraid. A man with abnormally long arms that were actually wings. Completely black with white eyes. The being already scared Laura and she hadn’t even summoned him yet.

She closed the curtains to the side of her wardrobe leaving the only light source to be the street lights shining in from the other side of the room. It was a dark and cloudy night so there was no additional light from the moon and stars which crept Laura out even more. She knew she would be in total darkness when she closed the curtains but knew she had to do this if she wanted to keep the friend she thought might be her person. Laura lined up her candles on the floor in a line by her wardrobe before walking to the other end of the room to close the other curtains. She couldn’t see anything, not even her hand in front of her face. She was in total darkness and felt around the room to find her way back to the candles and sat in between the 2 beds in the room which were right in front of her wardrobe.

She then put a salt circle around her and Piglet before taking deep breaths to calm herself. This was going to scare her if it was real and she refused to show it that she was afraid. If you showed fear to a demon then surely it could manipulate you? She knew all about how smart this creature was and how he would do anything he could to trick you into giving him your soul.

Laura was now ready to call upon the Raven Man.

She struck a match, ‘On this dark night,’ she began as she lit the first candle, ‘I call on the Raven Man,’ as she lit the next candle, ‘Appear before me here and now,’ and lit the third candle, ‘And do my will.’ Laura lit the 4th candle before picking up the needle and pricked her finger. It hurt. It really hurt but Laura knew she needed to girl the hell up. Her new best friend was worth it.

She lit the 5th candle and squeezed a drop of her blood onto the candle, ‘The flame is my beacon. The blood is my sacrifice. The flame is my beacon. The blood is my sacrifice. The flame is my beacon. The blood is my sacrifice. The flame is my beacon. The blood is my sacrifice. The flame is my beacon. The blood is my sacrifice. The flame is my beacon. The blood is my sacrifice.’

She sat still and looked at the flickering candles. She was waiting to either see him or feel his presence all the time whilst shivering with fear. What would he be like? What would he sound like? Would he stand close to her? What if he looked like one of the plague doctors? Holy crap. Laura would completely shit herself if she saw that in front of her. She’d seen a video mentioned on the Reddit pages that was titled 01101101 01110101 01100101 01110010 01110100 01100101 which when translated from binary spelled ‘Muerte’ which was ‘Death’ in Spanish. And she’d sat through the whole video thinking she could include it in her assignment but couldn’t sleep that night as it scared her so much.

Suddenly the 5th candle flickered. The one Laura had put her blood on and she felt another chill spread over her body. It reminded her of the feeling of someone watching you from a distance and she realised that the Raven Man was there. She’d successfully called him. She closed her eyes afraid of looking up at what he looked like but went ahead and asked her question.

‘Was Carmilla or Danny the person that the 11 Miles ritual gave me as the thing I wanted?’

There was no response so Laura opened her eyes and saw the unnaturally dark space in front of her. She looked upwards to where she imagined the eyes of the creature should be and even though all she could see was a black shadow standing in front of her, she dared to ask again whilst looking at it. Maybe it refused to answer the question to someone who was evidently afraid of it.

‘Did the 11 Miles give me Danny or Carmilla?’

There was still no answer but Laura knew not to become angry at the creature so instead decided to release him.

‘Thanks for coming. I release you Raven Man,’ Laura said before snuffing out the candles with her fingers.

She got up and climbed over her bed to turn on her owl lamp. There was nothing there where she’d been sitting. Maybe the dark shadow she could see was the wardrobe and she hadn’t actually done the ritual right? She had to rationalise right now or she knew she’d drive herself insane thinking about what she’d seen that didn’t respond to her.

She opened the cupboard under the sink and got out a dustpan and brush to sweep up the salt circle. The ritual said she had to put the salt on all the entrances to her house and technically that meant she had to go around the whole of her college dorm and put a salt line at every entrance and fire escape.

Laura grabbed Piglet and put the salt on all 4 entrances and fire exits in her building. There was just enough to put on them and she was thankful that no late night students walked in whilst she was putting salt lines on the floor. That would be slightly hard to explain wouldn’t it? Why is a freshmen stood putting salt at doors in her pajamas whilst holding a stuffed toy pig? Even as a journalist Laura couldn’t figure out a perfectly reasonable explanation for that.

She returned to her room and went to bed whilst trying to figure out what no answer meant to her. Were neither of them her reward? Were they both her reward? Or had she just not performed it correctly?

She fell into a deep sleep where she would have to answer her question the morning after.

Chapter Text

Laura woke up in a start as her alarm went off. It was Wednesday - She had class.

The memories of last night flooded back to her. How she had hurt someone she quite possibly loved and how the Raven Man refused to answer her question. She had hoped it was a dream but in the washroom she saw the dried spot of blood on her finger where she had pricked herself. Last night was definitely and unfortunately real.

She looked over to the space she’d performed the ritual and shivered. Even though nothing happened, she felt more afraid and intimidated right now than she had the night after the 11 Miles ritual. She wondered if it was because she couldn’t escape the place where she’d performed it and would never be able to find the place she performed the 11 Miles ritual unless she was specifically looking for it. She gave it very little thought before heading to the bathroom for her morning routine.

Laura hurried into a pair of clothes for the day - Namely a black and blue polka dotted long sleeved dress with black tights as she evidently forgot that it was still winter in Toronto right now. She wouldn’t be late if she took her time but was in a need to hurry out of fear that slowing down would allow her time to remember the pain of last night. Even though she hurt Carmilla, Carmilla hurt her too and she’d also hurt herself and that type of pain isn’t something that a lot of people want to feel all over again a lot of the time.

She felt something behind her and turned around half expecting to see Betty but nothing stood anywhere in the room. She could feel it, like you could with any presence but there was nothing there. Laura took in a deep breath, she was simply just too paranoid right now. Last night had done something funny to her and maybe this was her mind’s way of dealing with the pain of last night by trying to distract her with something else.

She rushed downstairs and just before she walked out the front door she saw the huge break in the salt line. She looked down at her watch. No student other than her would be out this early for class. The salt line had been broken. What did this mean? Would it even matter?

Laura hurried out the door and headed out to class to experience a morning of lectures and come home to hell. But when Laura walked out her dorm that morning, she had no idea how literal that would be.

*

The Raven Man
Submitted at 14:40 10/02/2016 by CuriousJournalist

So after last night’s post I received a message from someone I care about and needed the answer to a question. I decided to do the Raven Man.

Now, I promise I did it perfectly. I did everything that was asked but nothing happened. Or I say nothing anyway. I could see a black shadow in front of me but I’m sure it was my wardrobe as it didn’t reply to my question and it has to right? So did he just refuse to answer my question or was he not there? I don’t know the answers but either way I am still looking for the way to find out my answer.

But back on to the topic of the ritual - I closed it right, I put the salt on the entrances to the building and did everything asked of me but I can feel something behind me right now that is watching me. It’s making me nervous and sick and I feel scared. But everytime I look behind me, I don’t see anything it’s like it’s invisible and I don’t know if I’m just paranoid or if I did something wrong and this is my punishment.

CuriousJournalist

*

Laura and Danny were meeting in the library that afternoon so Laura grabbed her bag and keys and headed downstairs to get there 15 minutes early. Her Dad had always said that if you aren’t early then you’re late and she didn’t want to be late for a date with Danny.

When walking out of her dorm she almost ran into Perry, the floor don. She was busy with some type of burning plant in her hand and muttering something under her breath that Laura couldn’t understand clearly.

She cleared her throat.

‘Perry? What is going on?’

‘SHHHHHHHH!’ Perry shushed whilst frantically waving her hands around.

‘Sorry,’ Laura whispered.

‘There’s a spirit here. It’s a dark spirit and it needs to be banished!’ Perry semi-whispered and semi-shouted.

‘A dark spirit?’ Laura asked.

‘Yes, I lead it to this area of this floor. It’s seeming to be attached to this specific area from what I can gather. I must get rid of it,’ Perry added.

Laura felt a chill come over her.

‘How did a dark spirit get in?’ Laura asked, unsure of whether she wanted to know the answer.

‘Someone must have let it in not realising how dangerous it is. I must banish it.’

Laura panicked slightly, ‘Does that person need to be found or can you banish it without needing to know who it was?’

‘I should be able to banish it providing that it is only bound to this area and not the person but even if it goes away wouldn’t you want to know which of our dorm residents is summoning demons in their spare time?’ Perry asked angrily.

‘Not really. I’m a bit too afraid of that sort of stuff,’ Laura whispered realising that providing Perry wasn’t insane then Laura was the one who had let a dark spirit in. That would mean that she wasn’t being paranoid when she kept feeling like something was watching her.

‘Well I will find out and tell them to stop. It isn’t a game to summon dark entities especially when you put others at risk.’

‘Of course,’ Laura whispered feeling like a told off school child.

‘Anyway. I am going to get back to saving our dorm. See you later Laura,’ she smiled oblivious that Laura had been the one who had summoned it.

‘See you,’ Laura mouthed before heading to the library to see Danny.

*

The Raven Man - UPDATE
Submitted at 18:18 10/02/2016 by CuriousJournalist

Earlier on today I posted that I’d done the Raven Man ritual and had nothing happen during it but felt like I was being watched. I had put it down to paranoia as any sane person would do but on my way out of my dorm earlier to go out for a date I ran into our Floor Don. Our Floor Don isn’t the most ‘normal’ person to ever exist and is rather obsessed with Wicca and believes she can do magic. Running into her doing something unusual isn’t strange, in fact it happens quite frequently but when I asked what she was doing, she said that there was a dark spirit in the halls and someone had summoned something the previous night and she was trying to banish it.

Now. Do I believe her? Is this another weird thing she’s made up that just happens to coincide with my ritual? Or did I really invite a dark and malevolent spirit into our halls? It would be a pretty big coincidence if this wasn’t related to the Raven Man and I’m a journalism student so you know what that means? One of the first lessons in journalism - Nothing is a coincidence.

I believe I did it wrong and am risking other people. I’m going to take a break from the rituals until I find something that I can do safely without worrying about hurting innocent people. I will however try and find one as I’m still doing my report so if anyone can find a ritual that is relatively ‘safe’ for other people then let me know.

CuriousJournalist

Laura was truly doubting herself. What if something else went wrong and she hurt everyone? She had an urge to talk to someone but other than Danny she had no one. It’s not that she didn’t trust Danny but she didn’t want to drop that on her and ruin their relationship. The next thing Laura knew, she had sent a message and didn’t remember writing or sending it. Her subconscious had taken over whilst she was thinking about what to do and she read over what she’d sent.

CuriousJournalist sent a few seconds ago

Hi Carm.

I know you’re furious. I know that what I did really hurt you and maybe it’s unforgivable and that you probably hate me for it. And I know that you probably don’t want to listen to anything I have to say but I really am truly sorry. I care about you. I get on with you so well and I never thought I could find someone who gets me for who I am and even though we’ve only spoken for a while, you hate me and it’s killing me. And the only person I want to talk to about it is you.

I’ve messed up. I’ve really messed up. I’ve done this ritual and I’ve ended up risking other people’s lives. But that’s not the only thing I messed up, because I messed us up too. I am to blame because I didn’t tell you how much I appreciate you. I hope that maybe you’ll read this and can forgive me.

I could really do with having you here right now. Please send me a message back.

Laura

Oh crap. What had Laura done?

She’d honestly written this to the girl who despised her right now. But she couldn’t turn back the clock and had to forget about it. She forced herself to.

She was just about to close her window down and go to lunch when she noticed she had a message in her inbox. Praying that it was Carmilla, she opened it up quickly and was saddened to see that it was just a comment to her post.

Careful. Don’t become the next Elisa Lam

Elisa Lam? Who was Elisa Lam?

Laura did a Google search and clicked on the Wikipedia page entitled ‘Death of Elisa Lam’ and began to read. As she got more and more interested in reading what happened to the unfortunate girl, she realised she’d read the whole page and had multiple unanswered questions swimming around her head like any good journalist would.

Elisa Lam was a Canadian student who was studying in Vancouver. She’d died by drowning in a water tank on top of the Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles and it had taken 3 weeks to find her body after she’d been reported missing. There were many conspiracy theories about her death due to the last footage found of her. She was pictured in an elevator displaying unusual behaviour but the elevator also seemed to be malfunctioning. Laura couldn’t help but sit and watch the video.

Laura found the video strange but not creepy. It was definitely unsettling. The girl seemed to be hiding and then talking to someone that didn’t appear on the footage. Was she taking drugs or was there someone there? Or was there someone that wasn’t there? Laura wondered if she’d been followed by a dark force and that was why someone had told Laura to not become the next her?

Laura kept searching to find out more on the case. For some strange reason it intrigued her. She watched Youtube videos discussing conspiracies and how it might have happened, to doctors explaining how her bipolar disorder led to her acting out her fantasies and accidentally drowning with scientific evidence to back it up. But no matter how much searching Laura did there was never one theory that made any sense. Even the scientific reports made no sense. The lid to the water tank was heavy and it took authorities 4 people to lift it. How could 1 petite young woman move the lid herself and then place it back on? Even bipolar didn’t give you superhuman strength.

Laura looked over to the clock and saw that it was 2:30 in the afternoon and she had class at 3. She decided to look at 1 more article and searched for ‘Elisa Lam Creepypasta’. Laura knew that if this case was mentioned anywhere on Creepypasta then she could use it for her report.

There came a video entitled ‘Creepypasta - Elevator To Another World, & Elisa Lam Theory’ and Laura clicked on it, only to discover that it was in a different language so she decided to search for ‘Elisa Lam elevator to another world’ and that’s when she realised why the individual had told her to not become the next Elisa Lam. There was a theory that Elisa Lam was doing a ritual. The Elevator Ritual.

*

That night Laura couldn’t help herself. She left her dorm at 11:30pm and headed to the flats a few blocks away. Surprisingly for a Thursday night, the roads were fairly quiet so Laura made good time in arriving there in 15 minutes and headed towards the entrance where she knew the lifts could be found.

Laura wanted to do this ritual to see what happened. Maybe she could get the answers that Elisa Lam deserved. After all that’s why Laura was interested in becoming a journalist, because she wanted to help people get their stories across. Elisa Lam was dead and there was no way she could say what really happened to her so it was Laura’s job to find out if she had been killed due to the Elevator Ritual.

Laura stared at the pair of elevators in front of her and pressed the button for the one on her left as it was on the 6th floor, whereas the other was on the 7th and she wanted to do the ritual as quickly as possible. The wait for it to make it down was agonising for Laura. She went over the sequence she had to do to try and keep herself focussed on nothing else. 4, 2, 6, 2, 10, 5, 1.

As soon as Laura heard the ping of the door, she stepped in and pressed for the 4th floor. The anticipation built inside of her and she began to feel nervous.

When the doors opened at the 4th floor, she pressed for the 2nd. The nerves continued to rise.

She pressed for the 6th when the doors opened on the 2nd floor. Laura knew she was nearly there. She was nearly able to help Elisa Lam.

The doors opened and Laura pressed for the 2nd floor again. Laura took a deep breath. Would it work?

As the doors opened to the 2nd floor, she pressed for the 10th and knew that the next time she pressed a button, it would be the floor where it would be most dangerous.

When they opened, Laura released a shaky breath. The nerves were amounting higher and higher but she had to do this. She just had to. She pressed the button to take her to the 5th floor.

She stared at the red LED display to tell her which floor she was going to and as soon as it changed to the 5th floor, Laura squeezed her eyes shut so that she wouldn’t see if someone entered the elevator with her. The doors opened and Laura felt sick as her heart thudded hard in her chest.

The wait for the doors to close was an eternity and Laura hadn’t felt a presence enter the elevator and released the breath she hadn’t realised that she’d been holding. She opened her eyes and the blood in her veins froze as she could see out of the corner of her eye that a woman was standing right next to her.

Laura was frozen on the spot. The woman stood next to her was pale, almost a pure white with dark rings around her eyes. Her hair was matted like she hadn’t taken care of herself which showed in her tattered off-white dress. Laura couldn’t help but compare her to the girl from ‘The Ring’ as they looked incredibly similar. Even though that film had scared her the most out of any other film she’d ever watched, the fact that the woman standing next to her looked like Samara Morgan wasn’t the thing that frightened her the most. It was the fact that Laura couldn’t sense her presence. Laura could see the woman standing right by her out of her peripheral vision. She was standing close enough that Laura knew she should be able to feel the woman standing next to her. Instead she felt alone.

Laura felt sick. She was sure she was going to throw up but knew she couldn’t do anything right now except finish the ritual. Was this the creature that killed Elisa Lam? She shivered before reaching out to press for the 1st floor.

She watched as the elevator began to rise rather than go down like she had requested.

She arrived on the 10th floor and noticed that the woman got out but Laura couldn’t move. She was still frozen like an ice sculpture and refused to move out of fear.

What was out there? Could it harm her? Did it hurt Elisa Lam?

Eventually, Laura’s curiosity got the better of her and she looked out. Everything looked normal. Or at least as normal as Laura could have imagined that it would as she’d never been up there before. Laura wanted to think that she wasn’t in the ‘otherworld’ but rather this was just a normal 10th floor. But in the back of her mind, she knew she wasn’t. The row of apartments on both sides felt empty and unlived in, the light fixtures that lined the side of the walls were off and the only light Laura had was from the white light coming from inside the elevator and a red hue that Laura believed to be the emergency lighting. Or at least that’s what she was going to convince herself to think.

Laura stepped out and turned left to walk down the hallway. Within a few steps, Laura began to feel faint so she grabbed onto the wall to steady herself. She knew that she didn’t want to faint whilst here and decided to make her way back towards the elevator.

When turning around, her heart dropped as she looked out the window and saw the cause for the dark red hue she was engulfed in. What had previously been a black night sky was now a red sky with a large black cross suspended in the distance. She couldn’t see the ground or anything else surrounding them. Laura’s vision became twisted and suddenly she had no idea which way was up and based it off the cross that she could see, but it suddenly changed and was now upside down. Was Laura upside down? Or was the cross?

Laura didn’t want to find out anymore answers and instead stammered to the lifts, remembering to take the one furthest from her as that was the one she’d taken up. She pressed the call button and saw a shadow standing next to her. Laura squealed thinking that it was the woman from earlier that was going to kill her like she had with Elisa Lam.

It was then that Laura knew she was going to die and cowered into a tiny ball before she vomited violently, not even holding her hair back because she was frozen with fear externally. She expected the shadow to touch her but it stayed where it was as if surveying her. Just watching. Waiting.

Laura found all the strength within her to raise her arm to the call button a second time and crawl into it when the doors opened. She pressed the close button and the doors closed whilst Laura frantically tried to remember what numbers she had to press to get back home. It took all of her strength to be able to press the button for the 4th floor and it took her until the doors had flung open in front of her to be able to find the strength to press for the 2nd.

She finally reached the 5th floor and pressed for the 1st floor when it started to go up again. Laura panicked, forgetting that this would happen and could barely react to it. She wasn’t strong enough. She was going to end up on the 10th floor and the woman would slaughter her.

Floor 7, Laura began to move, floor 8, Laura was nearly there, floor 9 and Laura just pressed the 2nd floor button. She prayed that she was in time and she waited for what felt like a millennium before the elevator began to go back down. Laura felt like she could collapse out of exhaustion then and there as she lay on the floor of the elevator.

She managed to punch in the button for the 1st floor to let her go back home.

As the doors opened, Laura realised it was her world. She could see the lights lining the hallway with the staircase next to it. Nothing felt off and suddenly Laura felt fine. She managed to stand up and didn’t feel faint and assumed that maybe things were ok. Maybe she had just had a bad reaction with going to a different world?

She stepped out of the elevator and looked towards it to make sure that there was nothing that seemed to be out of ‘The Matrix’ happening. Nothing out of place, everything where she left it. But that’s when she saw the elevator to her right at level 10. Laura panicked remembering that it was on level 7 when she got into the one to her left. Maybe someone had gotten into it whilst she was using the other one?

The elevator began to rapidly descend and Laura felt an overwhelming sense of fear flood over her. She ran towards the exit and pushed the swinging door open only in time to hear the ping of the elevator reaching the first floor behind her.

She ran in the direction of her car, knowing that the shadow could have been following her, maybe the woman was going to attack her? Laura didn’t want to think too long.

She opened the car in a frantic hurry and began to drive off. She knew her way home and was going to head off that way but wanted to make sure she wasn’t being followed. Her Dad had shown her how as a little girl but before she got the chance to, she threw up again. But this time with dire consequences as she passed out behind the wheel.

*

Carmilla opened up her Reddit account. She knew she had to be quick because her mother would wake any second now. Carmilla never woke up early but she couldn’t help but have the urge to check her account and had managed to wake up at this ungodly hour because of it.

Carmilla felt slightly bad at what she’d said to Laura. And by slightly bad, she meant she felt awful but she’d never say anything because it was the truth and the truth hurts. But Carmilla knew she wasn’t woken up because she felt bad. She felt as though she needed to be awake and to check for a message as though something was tying her to Laura in that very second.

Carmilla saw the unopened message and read it. Her eyes began to sting. Laura needed her? Carmilla couldn’t help herself.

Laura. Everything is going to be ok, I promise. Nothing bad is going to happen to you because I won’t let it. I wish I was there with you right now too but I am here for you. I care about you more than you know. Stay safe. Carm.

Chapter Text

Seeping into the room was the bright light that Laura attempted to open her eyes to but was pushed back like a vampire would to a cross. It was so bright that it reminded Laura of the 10 Miles ritual.

Ritual.

Laura had been doing a ritual.

What had happened?

Laura had been doing the Elevator Ritual. She’d left. She’d got into her car. She’d passed out behind the wheel.

Laura couldn’t believe it. Was she in hospital?

Laura slowly moved, nervous that she might pull wires out of her body if she was in hospital but there was nothing. There were no tugs or pains to suggest she was hurt.

As she opened her eyes again and became more determined than ever to adapt to the light she realised that she wasn’t in hospital. Instead she was in her dorm, facing the window which didn’t have the curtains drawn which explained why it was so bright.

This made no sense. You didn’t just wake up in your dorm after passing out behind the wheel. You ended up in hospital.

Or dead. Laura began to panic. Was she dead? Was she in another world? She jumped out of bed all too quickly that she felt dizzy and had to grab onto the headboard for support.

She stumbled over to her phone that was left on the desk and saw that she had signal. Surely you couldn’t get Earth signal if you were in another world right? Laura wasn’t sure. But where else could she be? She couldn’t seriously be alive. It wouldn’t make any sense.

She turned on her computer thinking that might help somehow as she began to examine herself for anything that was out of place. She couldn’t see anything that would show that she was in a crash. There were no cuts, no bruises or even a nail that was broken. If she was alive then surely the only other thing could be that she’d dreamed the whole night.

As she loaded up her browser she saw the tab open on the instructions on how to do the Elevator Ritual and in front of her was the critical piece of information which she’d forgotten about. It was entirely possible for people to pass out in the ritual and most of them woke up in their own homes but it must be examined to make sure it is actually home and not another world.

How had Laura forgotten that? It hadn’t mattered that she was driving home, she would still wake up in her dorm. She had no idea how that was possible but this is the paranormal. You’d be lucky if something made sense when it comes down to that.

She checked out her Reddit page and her heart fluttered when she read the message from Carmilla lying in her mail. Laura could read the desperation to be there, hear the caring tone it would be said in and see the girl who would want to hold her to tell her that she was safe. It was beautiful and Laura had no idea how to respond to it but tried her hardest.

I’m ok. I’m safe. I think. I did the Elevator Ritual but I fainted. I woke up in my dorm and I’m sure it’s my dorm and not another world. Nothing seems out of place but I’ll be vigilant. Obviously you’ll know if I’m in my world but I can’t trust you because you might not be you. But I am thinking of you and you’re going to get me through my day of classes. I hope I can speak to you tonight. Laura.

She closed her computer and headed out to class, hoping, praying that she was safe and in her world.

*

The Elevator Ritual
Submitted at 15:49 11/02/2016 by CuriousJournalist

I’m not having much luck No Sleep.

I decided to take a break from doing rituals yesterday. But I did one last night. I did the Elevator Ritual.

I know I said I wasn’t going to but a commenter told me to not become the next Elisa Lam. Well, that just intrigued me and when I found out that some people thought she’d done the Elevator Ritual and that was the cause of her death, I was compelled to try it for myself. I am a Journalism student for a reason and yes, maybe I am slightly addicted but can you honestly blame me?

I went to the other world. It was exactly as it was described. Red sky, cross hanging from nowhere etc. But I had a really bad experience with it. I think I was just there for too long but I got incredibly dizzy and faint. I started to throw up but was fine when I got back to this world, and so in a moment of idiocy I decided to drive back home but I fainted behind the wheel.

Now, like any normal person you’d think I’d have woken up in hospital this morning right? But I woke up in my bed like the ritual had stated. I have no idea how this works but it’s so confusing.

I’ve decided I am actually going to have a complete break from this for a good while because last night truly scared me. I’m going to tell my girlfriend what I’ve been doing too because if I promise her that I won’t do another one for a while then I simply can’t break that promise.

I’ll still be around as I have my assignment to do though so if you want to talk, share your stories or suggest a ritual with very minimal risk then just send me a message and I’ll get back to you :)

CuriousJournalist

*

It was Saturday. 13th of February. The day before Valentine’s Day. Also known as Laura and Danny’s date night.

Laura had driven to the Distillery District like they’d arrange over text and she was waiting for Danny to arrive. It was 4:30pm and it was freezing. It had been snowing the day before and Laura wanted to be in her car to keep warm but then Danny might not see her and that was the last thing she wanted.

The snow reminded her of the cold but it also reminded her of how beautiful Canada was at this time of year. It was the perfect addition to a winter Valentine’s date right?

‘Laura!’ Danny hollered.

‘Hey!’ Laura said as she gave a little wave.

‘You must be freezing! Let’s get inside!’ Danny beckoned as she grabbed a hold of Laura’s arm and began to walk in the direction of the Art Gallery. Whilst it was normal walking for Danny, Laura was almost jogging to keep up and was petrified that she would slip over.

Laura didn’t know exactly what they were doing for their date but was quite surprised when she entered the art gallery to see a variety of different stalls and entertainment to offer. It was a Valentine’s Day event but Laura didn’t feel like it was too overwhelmingly sappy. It was just perfect.

‘There’s so much variety,’ Laura said aloud.

‘That’s why I wanted to bring you here. There’s tons of arts and crafts and with us both majoring in something creative, I thought you’d enjoy it here!’ Danny smiled.

Laura and Danny found an artist who created art on wooden canvases. Danny marveled at the oil painting of D.B. McNeaney on the piece of birch. The way that the snow came to life on the wood was beautiful and reminded the girls of outside whilst snuggled up in the warmth of the indoors.

Whilst Laura was admiring the stalls and the music that was playing courtesy of a local girl and her guitar, Danny brought over a cupcake to her that she’d brought from one of the stalls. It was plain but Laura loved it surprisingly and before she knew it, the cupcake that had been in front of her had vanished into thin air. Or more scientifically correct, into her digestive system.

They came across a lady selling bath salts and Laura thought to pick some up to try and help her relax. She was no longer going to be doing rituals and needed something to calm herself over the next few weeks and a long bath with salts in would do just the trick.

After a bit of browsing, Laura and Danny were bonding over the work of an artist named Helen Utsal. If Laura had a few thousand dollars spare then she’d have brought a piece of her work. It was beautiful and Danny agreed.

Laura felt so at home and completely herself around Danny. It was nerve racking but Laura wouldn’t have expected any less right? Surely if she wasn’t nervous then she’d be worried. But she had to sit Danny down and discuss what was going on so they ended up going to a restaurant to eat. It was slightly hard to find one near that wasn’t full but the girls were resourceful and managed to get a table for 2 at a restaurant just down the road.

As soon as Danny sat down and looked at the menu she spoke exactly what Laura was thinking.

‘Holy crap, this place is posh. I don’t understand half the stuff that’s on here.’

‘I’ll give you a helping hand,’ Laura smiled.

She began to feel uncomfortable now. Of course this hadn’t been the plan. Laura would have prefered to have not been out getting a posh meal from a restaurant if she could help it but she didn’t have much of a choice. Laura felt incredibly underdressed in her short orange dress and green suede blazer for warmth as everyone surrounding her wore designer clothes but Laura couldn’t let that stop her.

They ordered drinks whilst discussing what to get for food. Laura craved a latte whilst Danny had cranberry juice. She was entirely too healthy for Laura but as long as Danny was ok with Laura eating incredibly unhealthy then she didn’t care.

After a quick look over the menu and explaining things to Danny she settled for something she understood and they ordered. Both ordered tomato and basil soup for starters and Danny ordered a Stilton and Onion Beef Burger whilst Laura ordered a Seafood pizza for their mains. Whilst it was expensive, Laura reminded herself that you don’t go for your first ever date more than once in your life.

They made light conversation about how cold the weather was and some of the artists they’d seen that day when their starters arrived.

Laura tasted it and it wasn’t the nicest soup she’d ever had, especially for the price but what did she expect? At least the portion size wasn’t too small like most posh restaurants.

‘What do you think of the soup?’ Danny asked.

‘I’d prefer it to have a bit more tomato taste to it but it’s not too bad, I’d probably have it again,’ Laura answered, ‘You?’

‘I’m the opposite. It’s too sweet for me, I’d prefer it to be a little bit more watered down.’

Laura didn’t know how to respond. So their tastes weren’t at all the same. Maybe eating out was a bad idea.

‘But it’s ok. I have a certain taste.’

‘Yeah, I’m a sweet tooth,’ Laura smiled.

After a few minutes of eating soup, Laura realised she needed to say something as it was feeling awkward otherwise.

‘So, do you drive?’ Laura asked.

‘No, I prefer to run if I can. I like to save mother nature if possible. That’s one of the big things to being a Summer. We worship the Greek Goddesses so try to maintain the way the Earth is for them because it’s their creation.’

Laura was dumbstruck. How could she say that she drove around a pretty non-environmentally friendly car but loved it so wasn’t going to change without causing offense to someone who seemed to be an eco warrior?

‘Oh. I like to cycle but during the winter it can be pretty hard so I prefer to drive.’

It settled back into the uncomfortable silence and by now, both girls had finished the starters so they had nothing else to do to pretend to be busy.

‘So what do you parents do?’ Danny asked.

‘Oh,’ Laura wasn’t expecting that, ‘My Dad’s a cop.’

‘Cool. All about protecting the community then?’

‘Yeah,’ Laura smiled as she thought about how much she missed her Dad.

‘What about your Mum?’

‘She’s not around anymore,’ Laura whispered.

‘Shit. I’m so sorry, that was insensitive of me,’ Danny backpedalled.

‘No, it’s fine. You weren’t to know. What about you?’

‘My Dad is a judge and my Mum is a teacher at high school. She was also a Summer.’

‘That’s pretty cool,’ Laura said.

‘Yeah. Except they’re pushy. You’ll know all about that though if you’re Dad is a cop. Parents who earn lots seem to be the pushiest.’

‘Not really. My Dad is protective but that’s just because he’s a cop.’

‘Yeah I can imagine,’ Danny chuckled.

They spoke over what they were planning on doing with their degrees. Laura going to areas in need of journalists and Danny wanting to teach high school students like her Mother.

The mains weren’t very long surprisingly. Laura loved her pizza whilst Danny found the Stilton a little bit too strong but still edible and seemed to prefer it over the soup.

After their mains they both eyed over the dessert menu and Laura struggled to pick, having a constant discussion with Danny over the options because she wanted them all.

‘How about we get another drink whilst you decide?’ Danny asked.

‘Sure, I’ll just have a soda water please,’ Laura smiled as Danny called the waiter over and got herself a double espresso whilst they waited.

‘Any luck?’ Danny asked a minute later.

‘I’m torn between the Sticky Toffee Pudding or the Tiramisu,’ Laura said.

‘Well, you ordered coffee earlier so maybe you should have the Sticky Toffee Pudding?’

‘But I’m craving coffee.’

‘Then get the Tiramisu,’ Danny said.

‘But I want toffee.’

‘My God, Laura,’ Danny said letting the frustration seep out in her voice slightly.

Laura realised she needed to make her mind up.

‘I’ll have the Tiramisu.’

Danny smiled happily and ordered the desserts.

Laura understood why Danny would be mad. Laura wasn’t very decisive and she had to learn to be. It was just food. It wouldn’t be the end of the world if she wanted a different dessert would it?

They sat in an awkward silence whilst they waited for their desserts. Laura was tempted to go on her phone but knew that would be rude especially as Danny wasn’t.

‘I’m sorry for sounding snappy. I didn’t mean for it to come off that way,’ Danny apologised.

‘It’s fine. I’m a sweet tooth so dessert is a hard decision for me.’

‘Yeah, you did say.’

The desserts arrived quite quickly which was something that Laura was incredibly happy of and she dug in whilst Danny ate her Blood Orange Sorbet.

‘So what assignments are you up to?’ Danny asked.

‘The only one still outstanding is my Journalism one but it’s not up until the end of this academic year,’ Laura replied.

‘What is it on?’ Danny asked.

Laura wondered whether she should tell Danny or not and decided that it might have been a good idea to do so as she was going to tell her eventually. And plus, Laura wasn’t doing the rituals any more so there shouldn’t be any issues with it right?

‘It’s on Creepypasta Rituals. So I’ve been trying to figure out the psychology of it and been taking part in a few of them myself to see what the big deal is. Why do people like them and why are they attracted to them. What does the horror do to people? All that sort of stuff,’ Laura said as she took another bite of her dessert.

She looked up at Danny who was staring at her with wide eyes.

‘You’re doing the rituals?’

‘Yeah, for research purposes,’ Laura said.

‘Don’t you know how dangerous that is?’

‘Well, I’m not doing any now. I’m having a break as I have enough to write about for now. It’s really quite fun when you-’

‘Fun?’ Danny exclaimed, ‘How is any of that fun?’

Laura looked around as she saw eyes darting towards them both. Laura felt herself flush as they were causing a scene in a very posh restaurant.

‘Because understanding others is why I want to be a journalist,’ Laura whispered.

‘I can’t handle this.’

Danny stood up and left without another word.

Surprisingly, Laura didn’t feel sad or like she was going to cry. In fact she was happy that the date was over. But saw that Danny hadn’t finished eating her dessert so Laura pulled Danny’s dessert over and ate it so that it didn’t go to waste. Surprisingly Blood Orange Sorbet and Tiramisu taste very good together.

*

I have no idea what to do Carm. And being on here is just not helping matters either. I just keep wanting to do another ritual. I’m not addicted or anything but they’re so much fun. It reminds me of a rollercoaster. You know the adrenaline? Laura.

Laura and Carmilla had been speaking most of the night. Carmilla had been incredibly supportive and was providing the best advice she could, given the circumstances.

TheRogueVamp sent 1 minute ago

Hmm. It does sound like you need a break and to get away. If you really think that Danny was who you were sent from the 11 Miles ritual then she’s supposed to be there through thick and thin right? Surely she’s just worried. Maybe you need to talk to her. Let her say everything and then address her worries.

Don’t do any rituals for a while. Just focus on your relationship. Focus on school and maybe stop using this site if it’s tempting you to cave in and do more rituals.

Carm

P.S. I’ve never been on a rollercoaster before.

Carm was right. Danny had to stick with her through everything because that was what she’d asked her friend to be. She’d asked them to be loyal and to not care about who she was but to just be there and love her for herself. Surely Danny had to just be showing that she cared and was worried about her. Carm always knew what to say.

Thanks Carm. You’re right. I will talk with her. Hopefully we can figure out our differences.

You know I’m so lucky to have you. But that’s why I can’t leave this site. I’d then be leaving you and I know you’d probably still be here but I don’t want to not have you to talk to. You always know what to say, like you know me on a spiritual level. I don’t want to lose you.

Laura

P.S. You need to go on a rollercoaster.

Laura noticed the big smile on her face. She felt like she knew this woman inside and out and whilst there was, admittedly, still so much she didn’t know, she believed she could trust Carmilla with everything she had. Carmilla was special and Laura felt amazing every time she spoke with her, but she’d never admit to Carm that the only reason she could cope right now was because of her.

TheRogueVamp sent 1 minute ago

You don’t have to remind me of how amazing I am. My ego is already as big as this room. No wonder I keep failing interviews. I am just too good for the job.

As much as I want you around too Laura, if you have to choose between Danny and I then you know where your heart lies so if you need to stop messaging me on this site so you’re not tempted then I understand. We can figure something else out like e-mailing each other or something. You know. Only if you want to.

And I don’t know if I’d want to go on a rollercoaster alone. Plus I don’t know where the closest one is to me!

Carm

Laura laughed as she read Carm’s response. She was sassy and Laura loved it. She could always laugh at one of Carm’s cracks and knew she wouldn’t be able to go a few days without reading something from the Austrian.

I might have to come and pop your ego and show it who’s boss!

Surely the job situation isn’t that bad! Have you got any more interviews lined up?

And I want you in my life, Carm, and I’d be more than happy to email with you if this site gets too much but that’s only if and when.

You’re missing out if you don’t go on a rollercoaster! It’s a shame you don’t live in Toronto, I’d take you to Canada’s Wonderland, it has a huge rollercoaster. Hopefully you’re not afraid of heights!

Laura

Laura now turned her thoughts to fixing it with Danny. She didn’t know how to work it but she would. Carm believed in her so nothing would stop her right?

TheRogueVamp sent 1 minute ago

My email is cmmk1990@mybtinternet.com so stop using this site and say goodbye to the rituals for now! Or at least until you and Danny sort things out!

If I ever come to Canada then you’ll have to take me to the rollercoaster. I’m not at all afraid of heights. I don’t fear anything so bring your A game ;)

I did do well in the interview at the travel shop and they gave me the job but I declined out of principle. The boss treated me like an ass when I went it and that’s not a good impression to give to potential employees so I’m not doing it. I just told Maman that I didn’t get the job.

I do have a few more interviews lined up though so it’s not too bad. Hopefully I can impress them without my ego getting in the way ;)

I have an interview at a golf course a few towns over as a receptionist on Wednesday at 4:30, a gas station attendant on Thursday at 12 and then at a hotel as a cleaner on Friday at 10 but none of them appeal to me. If I had to choose I’d maybe prefer the receptionist one especially as it’s full time and the other 2 are just part-time and I’m not sure I want to be a gas station attendant or a cleaner. At the end of the day, I suppose I need to do the shitty jobs right now to be able to get my reward at the end of it all. I just need to escape Maman!

But they’re later on in the week. Right now you’re going to send me an e-mail, Laura. I await your response :)

Carm

And the rest of the night they e-mailed until both fell asleep in sync with one another despite the time difference. It was the first night in a while that Laura and Carm had felt like they could be themselves and neither would have given that feeling up for anything.

Chapter Text

23/03/16

Danny is really annoying me. Ever since I admitted that I’d been doing rituals she’s been so overprotective. Like come on! I told you’d I’d stopped like a month and a half ago! I just don’t get her problem.

Is this what love is? Where you hate someone so much but just don’t want to leave them? If it is then do I really want to be in love? Surely there has to be more to it than this?

On the positive side of things however, Carmilla said that the only reason Danny is so overprotective is because she really cares about me. But whilst it’s cute, it’s just too much and I’m going to have to find a way to tell her to stop. I don’t need a Dad. I’ve already got that one covered.

Laura

*

Laura opened up her computer to do some work on her Journalism assignment. With the help of Carmilla who had been finding articles for Laura so that she didn’t have to be anywhere near the rituals, Laura had a whole stack of sources to go through in order for her to complete it. She didn’t need to do anymore rituals because she simply had way too much information at her disposal right now!

Just as she was halfway through writing up an interview she had done with a writer of Creepypasta’s named ‘Wolvix’ her cheap and crappy flip phone began to ring.

Laura picked it up without bothering to see who was calling.

‘Hello,’ she spoke to the person down the phone.

‘Hey,’ the voice of Danny replied.

‘You ok?’ Laura asked.

‘Yeah, just wondered what you were doing.’

‘Just writing my Journalism project up,’ Laura replied taking a bit of a huff as she realised how much work she had to do.

‘The ritual one?’ Danny asked quickly as though her ears had pricked up.

‘Yep,’ Laura said, feeling like she knew where this was going, after all, it’s how this conversation always ended up going.

‘You’re not doing one are you?’

There it was.

‘No,’ Laura replied for the millionth time on different occasions. She’d given up fighting. There was no point. Danny never believed her and would threaten to come around and make sure she was safe and then would just sit on her dorm bed whilst Laura wrote her assignment feeling watched by Danny’s eagle eyes. Laura couldn’t escape it.

‘You really aren’t?’

‘No.’

‘Right, well I’m going to come by anyway. You can continue to do your assignment. I’ll just stick around,’ Danny said.

‘Danny, no, don’t bother.’

‘No, Laura, I am.’

‘No, Danny,’ Laura couldn’t handle it, ‘I’m going out tonight.’

‘What?’

Laura had to think fast. ‘Errm… I’m going out tonight. With Betty. It’s to a party. Wednesday night out. I won’t be out late or anything but there’s no point in coming over as its a freshman thing. You won’t know anyone there so it will be really boring and I wouldn’t mind just spending some time with my classmates. You know so I can mingle and network.’

‘Oh I see. Yeah ok, I’ll leave you to get ready for it then. Have a good night,’ Danny said before hanging up.

Laura was so annoyed. All she wanted to do was message Carmilla. It was just around the time that her Maman would be going to sleep but Laura then remembered that it was Wednesday night and Carmilla would be at work until late so there was no point in messaging her when she needed someone to vent to right that second.

She tried to focus back on the assignment but Danny kept slipping into the forefront of her mind, preventing her from being able to string out the words she needed to write.

Laura had been trying to write the same sentence for the past 5 minutes and just couldn’t word it. It was ridiculous so she gave in. Surely she could do something better with her time like watch a film or something on Netflix.

She couldn’t believe that Danny still couldn’t trust her. She’d gone a whole month and she still felt interrogated at every chance. Laura thought that maybe she should do a ritual just to spite Danny, then at least all the untrust would be worth it. What was the point in behaving if no one expected you to or appreciated that you were. Surely you should just do what they expect so that you’re not going to disappoint them. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy but right now, Laura didn’t care.

She began to search through her notes for a list of rituals but was desperate for some luck, so did a brief search on her computer for luck rituals.

Laura considered herself lucky as she found one, just one, one that would bring her as much luck as she dared bring upon herself. The Dark Reflection Ritual.

*

23rd of March 2016

I begin this diary entry with a lie. It is past midnight so it is technically the 24th but who gives a shit about technicalities right now because I just got fired.

So as you know I had to take on both the job at the hotel and at the gas station because the cost of travel wouldn’t be worth it if I was to just take on one part time job. So whilst I was at the gas station last week, I got given my rota and had to work a night I was already supposed to work at the hotel but it was unable to change as there were only 2 of us available for that night. I specifically went to my boss at the hotel to ask if I could change it and he said he would. Well today was my first day back there and as I’m halfway through cleaning a room, my boss pulls me into his office and asks why I hadn’t turned up to the shift that he’d told me he was going to take me off of so I could attend my other work! I explained it to him and then he fired me on the spot saying that he couldn’t deal with someone who wasn’t dedicated to his business. Can you fucking believe it? And to make things worse, I have no rights because I’ve only been working there for a month. Now I’m back to a 16 hour job as a gas station attendant but I will find another job. I have to. I have plans. Plans with Laura. For Laura.

CK

*

Laura sat alone in her dorm staring at the mirror in her hands. It was a small handheld mirror that she’d gotten from her Dad to watch out for Basilisks whilst at Uni, just in case.

The lighter and candle sat on the wooden headboard of her dorm bed, tempting her into doing what she knew she would regret. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to prove something to Danny because she did, but she’d promised that she wouldn’t do it. Laura had never broken a promise before and she didn’t know if she could do that to herself. Danny deserved the broken promise but Laura didn’t know if she could live with herself or if another promise would mean anything if she was so comfortable about breaking this one? Isn’t her word then not enough of a reason to do something or for someone to trust her?

But this ritual was for Danny. It was to try and fix things between the two of them. To bring them both luck. Laura had to save them, that was her job. Maybe Danny’s was to protect her but Laura’s was to save people and this would put her in a lot of risk but she would be helping Danny and that was worth the risk of losing her life is she really loved her wasn’t it? You’re supposed to be willing to die for the ones you love. Right?

Laura looked over at the clock above her computer and saw that it was 9:15pm. The ritual required her to stay awake until dawn and she needed a plan to stay awake that long. She had to keep moving so she couldn’t just talk to Carmilla, especially as she was probably asleep right now anyway. Laura picked up her phone and drafted what she was going to say.

Hey. Not feeling in a party mood. Want to go out until dawn?

Laura took a deep breath and pressed send. It felt like an eternity for her phone to notify her of a reply.

Dawn? I have classes in the morning. Why do you want to be up so late?

Crap. Laura didn’t want to be interrogated.

I’ve not done it since coming to Uni. It’s a rite of passage!

That was a good lie right? Danny was all about rites of passage being that she was a member of the Summer Society.

Alright. I won’t be able to stay up until dawn but I can stay up until 2 with you.

Laura smiled. That would do. She’d just have to figure out how to stay awake for 5 hours and 14 minutes after. Surely that’s easy.

Good! How about we go out to the Shisha bar near my halls? I know they’re open until the early hours of the morning? I haven’t eaten so I could do with grabbing a bite to eat.

Laura looked under her bed and found the baseball bat that was there, ready for what would happen next.

Sure. See you there in 15 minutes.

Laura breathed on the mirror and watched her reflection disappear in the foggy appearance of the reflective glass. She took the lighter and lit the candle before burning her reflection, taking pleasure in the browning that was now occurring. As it began to seep with black, Laura placed it on the ground and smashed it with the baseball bat, watching the shards fly into a million pieces in the room.

‘Ladies and Gentlemen, let the 74th Hunger Games begin- and may the odds be ever in your favor.’

No Laura… Now is not an appropriate time to quote ‘The Hunger Games’.

She left her dorm and headed out to the street in the direction of the Shisha bar. Before crossing the road she made very sure that there was nothing coming either way. If she could do that all night then she’d be safe wouldn’t she? There was nothing bad that could happen if she was overly cautious.

She entered the bar and went over to one of the far tables that was directly underneath the light and sat down in the seat furthest away from the light above, just in case it fell and hit her. She looked over her surroundings and began to risk assess her environment, hoping that it was a safe building. She was far enough away from the windows and was in the light so that Danny would be able to see behind her if there were any risks. Danny was a summer. She was practically a ninja, anything dangerous heading anywhere near Laura would be stopped by Danny.

A few minutes later, Danny walked in and headed over. They were quite fortunate that the place was unusually empty except for a couple near the window, 3 students mid-way into the bar and 2 old men sitting at the very back that Laura couldn’t see because the Shisha vapours were incredibly heavy.

‘Hey,’ Danny smiled.

‘Hey,’ Laura replied back.

‘So you want to try and be a little rebel do you?’ Danny grinned.

‘I am a rebel,’ Laura smiled.

‘Sure are. Pick your poison,’ Danny beamed.

Laura’s mouth dropped. What if she got poisoned? Shisha was a type of tobacco, you can get tobacco poisoning couldn’t you? What if it went into her food? Into her drink? What if she died?

‘Hello?’ Danny called, waving her hands in front of Laura’s face.

‘Oh, errm, sorry. You mean drink?’ Laura asked.

‘Yeah, what else would I mean?’

‘Oh, nothing. Just me being silly,’ Laura replied as she looked over the drinks menu. She refused to have anything that was hot in case it burned her and didn’t want ice in case she choked.

‘Can I have the mint lemonade but without any ice please?’ Laura asked.

‘Sure,’ Danny smiled as she went away and ordered.

Laura began to think of all the bad things that could happen. What hadn’t she thought of that could kill her?

Before she knew it, Danny was walking back with 2 mint lemonades both without ice in.

‘Here you go,’ Danny said as she placed it down in front of Laura.

Carefully Laura picked it up and realised she should have a straw. She could spill it all down her! She left her seat to go and get a small black straw and examined it to make sure that it wasn’t damaged. Danny watched the exchange with a small smile.

‘What are you doing, Hollis?’

‘Just, being careful, you know?’ Laura said as she began to walk back.

Laura didn’t know what happened next but felt her feet give way.

‘Ooomph,’ Laura said as she landed on the floor. What was that?

Danny sat laughing at what had happened.

‘Trust you to be talking about being careful and then manage to trip over someone’s random shoe that is laying on the floor, with a sock in it. That’s strange,’ Danny laughed in between sips of her drink.

‘Yep. That’s so something I would do,’ Laura said as she picked herself up off the floor and dusted herself off. Who would leave a shoe in the middle of a walkway?

‘Come on, let’s look at the menu,’ Danny smiled as she picked a menu up.

After half an hour of discussion they finally settled on ordering food. Danny was starting to feel hungry and Laura knew she’d need some energy to keep her going through the night.

‘I can’t get over how bad the English is in this menu,’ Danny whispered.

‘I know, it’s pretty shocking, look at how they’ve spelt espresso and cappuccino,’ Laura whispered back.

‘Look at potato! It’s spelt differently twice! Who doesn’t know how to spell potato? My cousin suffers from dyslexia really bad and even he knows how to spell it and he’s 7,’ Danny giggled.

Their mains arrived around 11pm which wasn’t bad as they’d surprisingly had a lot to talk about.

‘Mexican chicken?’

‘That’s mine,’ Danny smiled to the male waiter.

‘And the vegetable rice salad,’ the waiter said as he put the dish in front of Laura.

‘Thank you,’ Laura smiled.

She touched her plate to try and move it and jerked her fingers away in response to the searing heat from the plate.

‘Careful, it’s hot,’ the man said.

‘Noted,’ Laura squealed as she clutched her fingers as the man walked away.

‘You ok?’ Danny asked, reaching over to Laura.

‘I’ll be fine.’

‘You’re not having much luck are you?’

‘Hopefully that’s all going to change soon,’ Laura replied.

They began to tuck into their mains, Laura making sure that it wasn’t hot before putting it into her mouth and ensuring she chewed sufficiently.

The night began to go on smoothly and Laura almost forgot that she was going to be unlucky all night as Danny kept her thoroughly entertained. They spoke about nearly anything and everything and even played a game to get to know each other better.

It hit 1am and Danny announced that she wanted a dessert and another drink before leaving. To Laura’s surprise she was parched and agreed. She picked up the menu and somehow managed to get a papercut in the quick of her thumbnail that hurt like crazy. She began to suck her thumb, hoping that it would take the pain away but it wouldn’t. She tried to focus on dessert, she loved sugar and had to eat something, surely nothing could go wrong when it came to dessert.

‘What you having?’ Danny asked.

‘I have no idea. What are you having?’ Laura asked. The last time they’d ordered dessert, she’d annoyed Danny by taking too much time.

‘I’m just going to order some lemonade and probably have some chocolate cake,’ Danny said.

‘Lemonade and chocolate cake? No offense Danny but that sounds revolting.’

‘It’s actually really good,’ Danny smiled before she added a quick, ‘Take your time.’

Laura looked up and gave Danny the most genuine smile she had.

‘I think I’ll have a hot chocolate and mango ice cream,’ Laura said.

‘Now that sounds disgusting,’ Danny said before hopping up and ordering.

As 2am approached, Laura walked Danny back to her student apartment that she shared with some of the other 3rd year Summer’s. The night was nice and calm but Laura had to remind herself that bad things would happen. She knew that as the night went on, things would become life threatening and had to stay on guard just in case.

She kissed Danny goodnight on the cheek and turned to head back the way they had just been.

‘Laura,’ Danny called after her, ‘Stay safe.’

Laura smiled and gave her a small wave before heading back in the direction of her hall.

There was a brisk chill in the air that reminded Laura that is was still winter despite being the end of March. It bit and nipped at her hands, that they had to seek refuge in her coat pockets. Her face suffered the same fate but had nowhere to hide. Instead it had to brave the conditions. It wasn’t awful, of course it wasn’t, but her lips were stained with the chapped breeze hitting them with force.

Laura tried to keep alert. She had 5 hours to stay awake and keep herself busy. She decided to take the long route back to her dorm to keep her mind as occupied as possible. The ritual didn’t say anything about not going to sleep but if you’re put into life threatening situations then Laura knew she’d rather be awake to be able to react than be asleep and die.

She walked on the pavement that was paved with large squares. She decided to not tempt fate and didn’t dare tread on any of the cracks, even though her mother was gone, she still didn’t want to break her back. The sound of her footsteps and the distant city echoed in the backstreet she walked on. They were much clearer at night than they were in the day. Maybe there was some sort of science behind it but Laura didn’t know what it was or if it was at all to do with science.

The dim lights made Laura realise how alone she was in that moment and she couldn’t help but wish she was spending it with someone. Yes, she’d just left Danny but there was something about their relationship that she just couldn’t be completely herself with. Tonight was amazing but there was still something. At the back of her mind, she knew she’d broken her promise to Danny and maybe that was her barrier, but Laura couldn’t think of a way to fix that.

She didn’t know how long she’d been walking when she began to feel it. The same feeling she’d had over a month ago whilst doing The Elevator Ritual. She could taste it in the back of her mouth, the taste of vomit and instantly smelled it which didn’t help her try to feel better. Laura felt like she was on a roller coaster. The buildings around her started to move. She was upside down, she was on her side, she was on the floor, she was heading towards the sky, she was spinning. The pain in her stomach became so extreme that she grabbed onto the building next to her and coiled over in pain and in expectant wait for the feeling to go away.

But it didn’t. It didn’t go away. Laura stood there for what felt like minutes, waiting and almost begging for herself to throw up. Did she have food poisoning? Maybe she did? She’d be poisoned by the Shisha!

Laura began to panic as she tried to stumble down the street. She grabbed onto whatever buildings she could and began to walk to try and clear the air but nothing worked.

She followed the flashing lights of what she assumed to be the city centre and stayed close to the buildings so that she wouldn’t be in much of a dangerous position. Her whole body shaked and she remembered the feeling as being similar to being drunk but she hadn’t had alcohol. Unless her drink had been spiked? Had Laura been drugged? What was happening?

After what had felt like hours of feeling like that, Laura sat down in the spot for a very long time whilst begging her body to feel better. A little while after, everything stopped spinning and she devoured the vomit threatening to climb up her throat. Laura looked at her watch to see that it was 5:30am and realised she’d spent 3 hours in that state. How had she coped? Laura was so confused and didn’t know what to do.

She looked around and horror hit her. She could feel the colour in her face disappear and felt the nausea come back as she didn’t recognise her surroundings. She was surrounded by high buildings and felt tiny in comparison. As she looked up, she felt horrible and the long awaited and needed vomit climbed up the back of her throat and landed on the pavement next to her.

Laura knew she had to get home but had no idea where she’d come from. Everything was unknown and Laura didn’t know if she would ever know where she was. It was too late, no one was up yet so she couldn’t ask anyone and didn’t know where the nearest Police station was.

She turned down a road and hoped to recognise something but nothing struck her as familiar, not even the street names. Every step Laura took made her more afraid. Was she walking to or away from home? Every step, every breath, every movement seemed to be in slow motion and repeated in her brain like an echo. What would she do? What could she do? She was truly lost.

She looked up at the night sky and was shocked. She could see the stars. She was in the middle of the city but she could see the stars. How was that at all possible?

She recognised Ursa Major, also known as the ‘Big Dipper’ and instantly remembered a conversation she’d had with Carmilla. She’d told her that Vikings used to navigate by using the North Star which could be found if you could see Ursa Major. Laura took the steps to find the star that Carmilla had explained to her and surprisingly Laura had no problem remembering it as she remembered everything Carmilla said, whether big or small. She imagined drawing a line to the star that was just north east and found it directly in front of her meaning that she was facing north but knew she wanted to head south. If she headed south and hit the coastline then she’d be able to walk along there until she recognised where she was. Laura gave a silent prayer thanking Carmilla for being amazing and telling her the most useless things that ended up saving her life.

Laura walked down the streets confident on where she was going because she had a pure trust in Carmilla and knew that she was safe if she kept that woman in her mind and heart. She could get through anything because Carmilla would too. She inspired Laura to keep going when things got hard because she was always there for Laura and expected nothing in return. Laura loved her unconditionally and knew she would get home because of her.

Laura hit the coast in no time and could see the CNN Tower and knew exactly where to head. She skipped happily as she thought about Carmilla and how much she was going to thank her. Could she do a big surprise or something? Send her a thank you card or a cake? Or maybe send her some chocolate and sweets in the post? Real best friends do that.

‘What’s the time?’

Laura looked around, completely caught off guard as a male voice called out from behind her.

She looked at her watch and turned around to get a better look from the street light behind her. She was just about to answer when something stopped her in her tracks. The glint of metal in the street light that Laura could see nearing her. She tried to convince herself that it wasn’t happening but she knew it was. She’d been waiting for this moment all night. The time where she would nearly die. Now she had to figure her way out of it. And preferably figure out a way alive.

‘Give me your money, phone and jewellery. Do it now,’ the man growled and Laura froze momentarily. Her Dad had always told her to hand her items over if asked but she was too scared to move.

‘I said now!’

On cue Laura took her bag off her shoulder and watch off her wrist and held it out to him.

‘Jewellery,’ he demanded.

‘I’m not wearing any! Just my watch!’ Laura pleaded, hoping that what she held out in front of him would be enough and would make him leave.

He neared her and Laura thought she was going to die. Her heart thudded in her chest and she hoped it would be quick. She held her breath as her body shut down, unable to respond. She braved herself for death as he got close to her but before he could grab her bag, a flash of bright lights appeared from behind her and the man ran off as Laura saw a car fly past them.

It was over. In a flash. She couldn’t remember what happened. Just the glittering knife in the street lights.

She had to react.

She pulled her bag back over her shoulders and rammed her watch into her pocket as she began to run back towards her dorm. The stitch in her side seared but she didn’t stop. She couldn’t stop. She needed to be safe. She needed 7:14am to hurry up.

She kept an eye out for any dangers. Cars, people, airplanes, UFO’s, an asteroid, Saturn but was in such a rush that she didn’t care what had happened, she didn’t care that she’d been mugged, she just wanted to get home. Get to her bed. Be somewhere safe. For dawn to have already happened.

She rounded the corner and saw her halls and ran inside and up to her dorm to see it was 7:15am meaning that the bad luck would have gone.

Laura quickly grabbed a dustpan and brush and cleaned the mirror up before crawling under her covers and falling asleep, knowing she was safe and warm in her own bed. Or at least, she hoped she was safe.

Chapter Text

Dark Reflection Ritual
Submitted at 21:51 29/03/2016 by CuriousJournalist

So yes, I said I was taking a break from rituals. And I did! For a month and a half.

My girlfriend has been so overprotective of me since I told her I was doing rituals last month and I promised to stop but she still doesn’t trust me! Every night she’d come by just to sit and watch me type my assignment up because she wants to make sure I’m safe all the time. Whilst it’s sweet, it’s annoying and I just lost it a few nights ago and decided I was going to get back at her by doing a ritual.

I decided I needed luck in my love life so searched for any luck rituals and lo and behold I found the Dark Reflection Ritual.

I honestly expected it to be scarier and full of more danger. I’m not saying that I wasn’t shaken after it but I was definitely expecting more. I can’t help but think that maybe because I didn’t have a mirror that I’d used a lot that the danger wasn’t as bad. But either way it did work!

The results were great too! I’ve had really good luck with my girlfriend recently, over the past few days we’ve had great chemistry and I’ve felt really good being around her. And I got through a load of my assignment! I’m excited to see how long this good luck lasts and I’m hoping to maybe pass on some good luck to a friend of mine who’s been having a hard time recently.

CuriousJournalist

*

From: Carmilla Karnstein
Subject: Oh no you didn’t!

Laura! What are you doing? I just read your post on Reddit saying you’d just done a ritual after you’d said that you wouldn’t. Dear God, no. Tell me you didn’t.

The ping Laura received on her computer as the email came through almost instantly partially scared Laura. It was just after 6pm which meant that Carm must have only just logged on.

To: Carmilla Karnstein
Subject: Re:Oh no you didn’t!

Sorry to be the one to disappoint but I did. I just really wanted to do something for myself! And it wasn’t just for me, it was to bring me luck in my love life so surely Danny will benefit too! I did this for her and to prove that she doesn’t need to try and protect me all the time! I did it for our relationship.

Carmilla saw the email arrive into her inbox and clicked on it instantly. It was late at night and she was tired from a hectic day of work at the gas station and had rushed to a small photography shop that was hiring just before it closed. She’d managed to get herself an interview later on in the week and was excited to have it. She wasn’t a photographer but had managed to fight her case explaining her passion for the art that photographs could capture and genuinely wanted the job.

To: Laura Hollis (Cupcake)
Subject: Re:Re:Oh no you didn’t!

Oh Laura. Well it’s not like I can stop you but just be careful. And I don’t mean careful in the rituals as you can handle yourself but I mean in your relationship. You’re a great girl and I don’t want to see you get hurt. What I mean is that if Danny doesn’t appreciate what you’ve done then things could go south very quickly. Relationships are based on your willingness to sacrifice as well as your capacity to love. Remember that it takes 2 to make a relationship work. I just don’t want you getting hurt.

Laura waited with anticipation for Carm’s response. She was usually very quick at typing so Laura knew she was writing something long or figuring out what to say. The option that Carmilla wouldn’t reply didn’t even cross her mind because she knew Carm that well. But no amount of knowing could have prepared her for that kind of response from Carm. Carmilla was a softie inside but tried to come across as all cool and disaffected. Laura knew that deep down, Carmilla really cared for her and that’s what made her the best friend she could ever wish for.

To: Carmilla Karnstein
Subject: Re:Re:Re:Oh no you didn’t!

Carm you really are a big softie! Don’t worry, I’ll be careful but I really am enjoying the rituals. I really want to do another one already! How is work going? Anything interesting happened?

Carmilla couldn’t believe her eyes. Laura wanted to do another ritual already? She had a small battle in her head over whether she should send her next message but decided to. If Laura really wanted to do another ritual then she couldn’t stop her and maybe Laura would be too obsessed with what Carm had said that she wouldn’t try it herself. Or would it push her to do another ritual even more?

To: Laura Hollis (Cupcake)
Subject: Re:Re:Re:Re:Oh no you didn’t!

I have bones like you, Hollis. I therefore am unable to be ‘a softie’, any radiographer will tell you that.

Work is going ok, it’s hectic but boring. I’m constantly on the go but I just really am not enjoying the work. The people are interesting though. I never realised that you would become life support, a marriage counsellor and a babysitter whilst working behind a counter as everyone always tells you what their problems are. But the good news is that I got an interview with the photograph shop I saw down the road. I managed to go after my shift finished and I have that on Friday so I really hope I can get it.

Interesting things. Well. I have done a ritual myself. I wanted to see what you liked about them and I couldn’t help myself. Curiosity killed the cat I know but I was really drawn to a ritual from Japan. It’s called Daruma-San and I have never been so scared. I swear that she literally looked like the same as the girl you described during your Elevator Ritual. But this was definitely different because this one only had 1 eye! Laura, if you want to try one out, do that one. I know what you mean by just loving them. I really want to do another one too!

Laura couldn’t believe Carmilla, she was participating in rituals and she loved them just as much as Laura did. Laura instantly searched up the ritual and read it as quick as she could before messaging Carmilla back.

To: Carmilla Karnstein
Subject: Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Oh no you didn’t!

Oh my God, that looks so awesome! Trust me. I’m going to do it when I get a chance!

*

It was the 7th of April, a Thursday and Laura had just headed home, not to the dorm but her actual home for the weekend. Her Friday classes were cancelled so she decided that now would be the perfect time to go and see her Dad as she hadn’t seen him since Christmas. She knew she was barely going to see him until late afternoon on Friday but craved the comfort of her own bed and the company of her overprotective Dad. Danny just wasn’t the same. Her Dad would have just left for his night shift by the time she got in and whilst he was at work, she would sleep and when she woke up, he would be asleep, but she had another motive for going back home. It had a bath.

Laura was going to wait another week to do it, after all, she broke up from term for 2 weeks but instead craved the want to do it right now and the fact that she would have the house to herself for nearly 24 hours intrigued her even more. She could do the ritual without her overprotective Dad stepping in and stopping her. Or at least trying to stop her.

She placed her keys on the key rack and dumped her bags in her room before yanking out her towel and shampoo to go and have a long bath.

Despite being home alone and having no need to sneak through her Dad’s bedroom to get to the bathtub, she did so anyway and trod on her tiptoes to make the littlest sound possible. The bathroom door creaked slightly as she opened it and she tried to muffle the sound by opening it slowly which just prolonged the noise. The house wasn’t very old but had the style and feel of an old Georgian home that Laura loved so much and the only problem with the house was there was no actual bath in the bathroom and her Dad had only been able to put one in his en-suite.

She walked past the shower which stood over her to her right and went to the wall radiator just around the corner to place the bath mat down so that she didn’t slip when climbing out of the tub. The bath was a beautiful white corner tub that stood on metal feet. Laura had memories of bathing in it as a child and her Dad panicking when she would make waves and the water went over the top of the rim and underneath the bath. She smiled at the memory as she began to take off her green tank top and pink tartan pyjama bottoms and filled up the bath with warm water.

The bath took forever to fill. That was the downside to corner baths and Laura knew that if she hadn’t already performed a ritual, the wait for this one would be enough to make her chicken out. But she knew what to expect, and she wasn’t a chicken and wouldn’t let any chicken demon worries stop her!

Laura lifted herself up, holding onto the sink and testing the water with her big toe. Her movements were dramatic and over done but could Laura honestly ever do anything that wasn’t over the top? To the outsider she was funny and goofy but that was just Laura and the indescribable dork that she was.

Once confirming the water wasn’t too hot, she scuttled over to the lights and turned them off. The room was plunged into darkness. It was a new moon from what Carmilla had told her so she didn’t have the familiar comfort of the natural light flooding in through the window or the street lights she was used to in the city. She was accustomed to city living now and knew that the only place you could experience true darkness was the countryside and she began to realise how much the dark scared her. Once you live in the city, the country will never be the same and possesses a fear to it that is elusive by those who are used to it, a fear that Laura thought she would never have.

She felt for everything she could to help guide her to the tub and slowly and carefully lowered herself into it. The warm water provided a minor comfort but that was only temporary as she realised what she was about to do and how blind she would be. The ritual had stated to face opposite the taps but that was impossible in a corner bath so she pressed herself up against the edge of the bath out of fear but she tried to convince herself that it was out of respect for the spirit that she would be calling. Her heart pounded in her chest and she was almost certain that she could feel the thudding through her hands that were resting on the side of the plastic she held onto for dear life.

She closed her eyes tightly.

‘Daruma-san fell down. Daruma-san fell down,’ she repeated.

The shampoo she began to lather on her hands provided little comfort or distraction to what she was doing. The words became a mantra that Laura could not stop saying no matter how long it took. She massaged her scalp to try and comfort herself and take away the fear and tried to focus on the smell of roses coming from her shampoo, but neither trick helped as she continued to repeat those words.

‘Daruma-san fell down. Daruma-san fell down.’

She could no longer comfort herself in the shampoo as her hair was fully lathered up that she knew that if she were to open her eyes and look in a mirror, her brunette hair would be replaced with white foam from her roots to her tips so began to wash it off whilst repeating the same words.

Just as she was beginning to wash out her hair with the warm water, she felt something. Something lightly touching her leg and moving in the water, in the water that had become very cold all of a sudden.

She looked up without opening her eyes and she could see it. In her mind's eye, Laura could see her standing in the tub exactly like how Carmilla had described her. A Japanese woman, with long black and matted hair in a white dress stood before her. Laura squeezed her eyes tighter, tight enough that the pain was so intense she could feel the water attempting to escape her eyes to comfort the sore feeling she was creating in them. The woman tripped over Laura’s legs and landed on the tap, gauging her eye out and Laura could feel a thick liquid enter the bath and Laura knew she would be washing her hair with the blood of Daruma-san. The woman stood up and Laura could see that she only had one eye whilst the other remained as a mushy goo on the cold tap.

Laura continued to wash her hair whilst repeating the same phrase. The water at this point was ice cold and Laura had to remind herself to not open her eyes even though her whole body was being shocked as she rinsed out the lather she had put in her hair only minutes before. Laura could feel the woman staring at her as if she was trying to look inside Laura’s soul and devour it like Laura did with cookies and Laura pushed herself to hurry up with washing her hair.

She was almost done when she could feel more movement. The woman was getting closer to her and Laura panicked. She squeaked and threw the cup of water all over her head, praying that she had gotten the last of the soap suds because she could no longer afford to waste anymore time. The woman was her predator and desperately after her prey and Laura was giving her more of a chance. She had to finish the ritual.

‘Why did you fall in the bathtub?’ Laura stammered.

She let the question linger in the air for what felt like eternity but was only a few seconds in reality before getting out of the tub as quickly and as carefully as she could to ensure she didn’t suffer the same fate as Daruma-san. Laura felt for her towel and night clothes before leaving the bathroom and closing the door behind her.

She opened her eyes but could still feel the gaze of the woman inside, it was as though she were going to shoot lasers through the door and Laura carefully felt her way around her house and into her room. She threw her hair up in a towel and quickly dried her body before pulling on her night clothes and falling to sleep, waiting for the sun to wake her up so she could begin the game at dawn.

*

The powerful rays of light coming in through her windows woke Laura up with a start. At her dorm, she owned blackout blinds but not at home. Her eyes adjusted to the pain as she remembered what had happened that night. Daruma-san was scary and Laura knew she’d performed it correctly so now she just had to make sure that she didn’t get too close. Laura remembered all the cheating tricks her Dad had taught her when they played Red Light, Green Light at school as this was exactly the same. She would not be able to see how close Daruma-san was to her unless she looked out of the corner of her eye. But to make matters worse, she wouldn’t always make her appearance known.

Laura climbed out of bed and gave a yawn and a stretch, feeling all the muscles in her body move and pull to be ready for a day of doing practically nothing but knowing deep inside that there would be someone constantly watching her but not knowing where they were.

She glanced at the clock to see that it was 7am and went to see if her Dad had gotten home yet. Laura walked to her Dad’s bedroom and slowly opened the door and looked towards the bed but to her surprise, her Dad was nowhere to be seen. It wasn’t like Laura wasn’t used to it though, since she’d moved out, her Dad was taking on more overtime to help be a financial rock for her whilst she attended college.

She decided to go and clean up in the bathroom so her Dad would come home none the wiser to the dangerous game his little girl was playing. As soon as she touched the door handle, a shiver went through her body, like a small electric shock. All the hairs on the back of her neck stood up and she almost bailed and just left it in the state from the previous night. But she found the courage and opened the door to an empty room that was left exactly how she would have imagined it would have looked.

The tub was full and had the suds of shampoo floating on the top, the smell of damp lingered in the air as Laura hadn’t opened the window after the bath and the air felt moist and cold. She entered the room and glimpsed an image of her reflection from the mirror which caused her to involuntarily squeal before coming to her senses and realising that nothing was there. The walk to the bath tub felt long and tiring even though it was 10 steps away at most for Laura’s tiny legs.

She pulled the plug out with force as the rubber had become stiff now that it wasn’t warm from the hot water. Laura watched as the water got sucked down the drain, making little whirlpool patterns on the surface and she found it comforting to see the physical memory of what had happened the night before vanish before her eyes but she couldn’t shake the feeling in the pit of her stomach. It was the niggling feeling in the back of her mind that she was unable to shake.

She turned around to try and give her mind the comfort it needed but no one stood near her. She was alone in the house but she could still feel it. That feeling of someone standing behind you, watching, staring.

Laura turned her attention back to the bath tub and watched as it took it’s last gulp of the water, making a gurgling sound that would make her laugh as a child. She knew she wouldn’t be able to get rid of the feeling that she was being watched but had to distract herself. As long as she kept the woman at bay, she would be safe and Carmilla survived so why wouldn’t she?

Laura knew she had to go about her day as normal which included getting food for her starving belly. She hadn’t eaten since lunchtime the day before and Laura didn’t understand why she hadn’t wasted away into nothing as food was her life.

She rushed downstairs, hoping that she would only feel the sickening feeling in the bathroom and praying she would escape it by going into the kitchen. But whilst making herself a big bowl of granola and yoghurt she could still feel it. Laura went into the fridge and felt like she couldn’t take a step back to close the door because it was right behind her.

Laura decided the safest place for her would be sitting on a couch that was against a wall. Even though it wouldn’t stop Daruma-San, at least it may help the feeling that Laura had ease slightly.

She sat on the sofa and turned the TV on to the news. She wasn’t used to having a TV at Uni so didn’t know what else to watch. Laura also felt that if she could delve herself into some journalism then she would distract herself from Daruma-san.

Just as she was watching an article on a Liberal Party fundraiser she heard the front door unlock and the familiar sound of her Dad coming in from work. He never changed his routine. Open the door. Cough. Close the door and lock it. Check that it’s locked - twice. Put keys on the hanger. Unzip coat and hang it on the same hook as the keys. Cough. Undo boots and store them away. Check the door is locked one last time. The familiarity brought a smile to her face as she watched the man she unconditionally loved walk into the kitchen and grab a tub of leftovers from the fridge before plopping himself on the sofa next to her.

‘How’s my little girl?’ He asked.

Laura’s worries instantly faded as she was safe around him. This was her Dad. The cop who had never gotten hurt and had always taught Laura well. He gave her the confidence to not care that she was doing rituals because she knew she’d come out on top.

‘Better now that you’re here,’ she grinned and he grinned back as he settled down and watched the news with her.

*

When her Dad went to bed, Laura felt alone and frightened. She could instantly feel her security blanket vanishing from her and wondered how Carm had felt during this. She wished she could ask but knew that Carm wouldn’t even respond until later in the day. Plus she knew Laura would be away for a few days so it was unlikely that she’d spend time on the computer, especially now that she had another job and with it being her first week at having both the job at the photo shop and at the gas station, Carmilla would probably just fall asleep when she got home. Or sit and drink some chocolate milk before bed because that’s what Carmilla did.

Laura got changed, fixed her hair and decided to try and focus on a part of her Journalism assignment. She wasn’t sure if it was the best move but it was the only thing she felt she could do right at that second. She couldn’t revise for her English Literature exams or her Journalism ones as she’d failed to bring her revision material with her. Laura read through what she’d written so far and tried to find the inspiration to continue. Where was her essay writing bug? This was why Laura liked web journalism because she could never write essays properly.

After a while, Laura gave up and grabbed a box of cookies for lunch and put the radio on to relax a little bit before going to use the washroom.

As Laura washed her hands, the hairs on the back of her neck stood to attention and she could feel it, almost like the breath of Daruma-san was blowing over her skin but it was ghostly cold rather than humanly hot. Without wanting to, Laura’s head shot up and she saw her in the mirror. Her long black matted waist-length hair like what she’d ‘seen’ the night before with only 1 eye. Laura stared at the hole where the other eye should be to see a black hole with blood oozing out from the corners and it looked like she was crying blood. It was scarily beautiful in a sickening and stomach-wrenching way.

She couldn’t look away. She was rooted in that spot with no control over her vocal chords which were dying to scream to wake her Dad up who would come and make everything better but they wouldn’t respond. Instead she had to face the monster by herself.

She stared for what felt like eternity but was only a mere couple of seconds before her muscles began to respond. Her eyelids shut and flung back open to wetten the dryness of her eyes but then she was nowhere to be seen. Laura had lost her. Where had she gone?

Panicked, Laura went back into the living room and read her favourite novel, ‘Dracula’. She read it annually and even though the genre was probably in poor taste considering what was happening, at least it was something of the norm for Laura. She needed to take her mind off of Daruma-san and indulged herself into the writing.

*

‘Remember my friend, that knowledge is stronger than memory, and we should not trust the weaker.’

Laura had been reading for a while now and had shaken off the feeling of being watched. She knew it was still there but had evolved to be used to it momentarily. She knew there was nothing to see even though she knew it was there.

A strand of hair slipped from behind her ear and landed across her eye. As she turned her head to place the escaping hair back where it had come from, the feeling of being watched was overbearing and Laura was instantly reminded of the ritual by what she witnessed.

Daruma-san stood inches from her with her arms outstretched and Laura knew this was bad. She racked her brain to remember what she must say if the woman was too close for comfort but couldn’t remember how to end it. What would she do? What could she do?

‘Tomare!’ Laura screamed just as she remembered. But then realised that wasn’t how to end it, that was just to stop her from getting closer. And Laura knew she had to run.

She dropped her book and ran out of the house as quickly as possible and ran down the street to get away from her. She had to remember the words to finish the ritual as her life depended on it.

She ran until the searing pain in her side and burning of her muscles stopped her from running any further. She’d ran without a destination in mind and found herself a number of streets away but thankfully knew exactly where she was as she’d explored all of the streets when she was a kid. She knew exactly how far she was away from school, from the police station and from home. And when she said exactly, she meant exactly. She was 1.2km away from home, 0.1km away from school and 2.1km away from the police station. The overprotectiveness of her Dad was sometimes a blessing.

Laura began to walk. She’d put enough distance between her and Daruma-san or at least she prayed that she had but knew that was nowhere near what she wanted. She needed to end the ritual but couldn’t remember how to get rid of it. This thing had to go and she was relying on having her laptop open at the instruction page before she even thought about ending it. Everything had happened much quicker than she was anticipating and felt like she was being followed by Weeping Angels and that Daruma-san was going to just appear in front of her and if she blinked then she’d be taken.

Laura walked past her old school, she had so many memories of being there, both good and bad. When she came out as gay she was bullied but she thankfully had the most supportive form tutor who wanted Laura to succeed even though she was Catholic and being gay was frowned upon. Laura smiled at the memory and loved those who were accepting of her sexuality despite it being against their religion. She loved them more than atheists or accepting religions because it must take a lot for someone to be constantly reminded of something that is a sin but refuses to see it that way. It must take a lot of courage and Laura had forever admired her form tutor for that.

She was reminded of a young Japanese girl she used to go to school with that Laura had a small crush on. Her name was Mika and they bonded over the protectiveness of their parents. Laura’s Dad had just gotten her learning Krav Maga and Mika’s had been teaching her how to use a katana, a sword that the Japanese Samurai used. It was said that a katana could cut you in half if used right.

Then Laura remembered the word. It was ‘Kitta’ that she had to say to end it and then had to make a slicing motion with her hands like how a Samurai would. Laura silently prayed a thank you to whatever made her walk past school and remember Mika.

Laura glanced over her right shoulder to end the ritual as she knew she had to see her, but Daruma-san was nowhere to be seen. Had Laura put that much distance behind her? Was Laura going to have to spend the rest of the day waiting for Daruma-san to appear?

A lump in the back of her throat made Laura turn back around and head back towards home. Hoping and praying that Daruma-san would catch up with her so that she would be able to end the ritual sooner rather than later.

But Laura didn’t get her wish. As she arrived home, Daruma-san was nowhere to be found. It was as if she knew that she was trying to end the ritual and wanted to do everything she could to stop it so that she could jump on Laura when she wasn’t expecting it. The idea scared Laura but she was home now and she would be brave and strong just like she had been every other time she’d performed a ritual. Carm had survived and so would Laura.

Laura cleaned up the mess she’d made from earlier and went onto her computer. She browsed the net and put on one of her favourite playlists called ‘Badass in Black Leather’ and as Joan Jett’s ‘Bad Reputation’ began to play quietly so she didn’t wake her Dad up, she caught up on some news.

She read articles whilst keeping an eye out for Daruma-san. It had to end but how long did she have? It was 5pm, her Dad would be waking up any time soon and what if Daruma-san made her appearance during dinner? It’s not like she could scream something in Japanese whilst her Dad sat next to her, there would be too many questions and Laura was the journalist, not the other way around.

She could hear her Dad moving around in his bedroom and knew he was having a quick shower before coming downstairs to make food. Laura wondered if by pretending to be distracted by cooking, Daruma-san may make her appearance known and Laura could end the ritual before her Dad finished in the shower.

Laura grabbed some potatoes and began to wash them, all whilst keeping an eye out behind her. She could not let Daruma-San win. She was making a potato salad, she had no idea what they would eat it with but that was the only food that was somehow complicated that she could make without having to pay attention. She would fool the spirit into believing she was concentrating when she was doing anything but.

Laura stood and washed the potatoes as best as she could and began to dry them off. As she began to make the dressing she could feel her. She could feel it in her stomach as it began to spin out of control. She was anxious and realised her palms had started to get clammy and the nerves made the adrenaline rush through her.

Laura knew she needed to look over her shoulder but she was too scared to capture the woman in her gaze. She took a deep breath to calm herself before she slowly turned her head over her right shoulder.

Stood behind her was the one-eyed woman who Laura felt no ounce of sympathy for. She would never forget the haunting face, the greasy and knotted hair or the hole where her missing eye should have been.

Laura raised her hand, still with the knife in it.

‘KITTA!’ she yelled whilst swiping her hand down in a cutting motion.

The woman vanished in the blink of an eye.

Was that it? Was she gone? No, it was too simple, too easy, right?

But that was when Laura was alerted to the hot and streaming pain in her left arm. She looked down to see the blade stained with droplets of blood as it seeped through her skin like red ink.

‘FUCK!’

Laura screamed as she saw the gash she had created on her skin with the knife. Why was she so stupid enough to actually have a knife in her hand when she got rid of the spirit? What in hell or Hogwarts made her think that was a good idea?

Laura instantly regretted it as she cradled her hand and panicked over what to do.

‘What’s going on?’ Laura’s Dad bellowed from upstairs.

Fuck.

‘It’s fine, Dad. I’m ok,’ Laura yelled. Please don’t let him come down. He would sign her up to cooking classes to just make sure she didn’t cut herself with a knife whilst cooking again. Plus it would be impossible to explain what she had done without mentioning the ritual and she wasn’t a glutton for punishment.

‘It didn’t sound it!’

Laura could hear him bounding down the stairs.

‘I’m fine, just nipped my finger whilst making dinner for you. Don’t worry. I’m washing it and putting a band-aid on.’

‘Oh no, Laura. You ought to be more careful. You know you could seriously hurt yourself. What if you’d have sliced your wrist instead? Do you know how dangerous that would be?’

Laura rolled her eyes. Here we go again.

Chapter Text

Daruma-san
Submitted at 15:32 09/04/2016 by CuriousJournalist

After a friend of mine told me about this ritual I knew I had to try it. It took ages for me to find a chance to do it because I’m a student and everyone knows that students don’t have baths but showers in their accommodation. So because of this I had to wait until I got home to do the ritual. The week after this is actually my study period where I’m going to be off and can go home but I was so desperate to try it that I came home this weekend instead.

I have honestly never been so afraid. The feeling of being watched but not always knowing where she is, is one of the scariest feelings you can have. Even though I was home, in a place that I have always felt safe in - I’m from a really small settlement where everyone knows everyone and I know my way around - I felt as unsafe as I do in the city alone at night.

Of course nothing physical happens to you during this ritual but the mental fear that you get is more overwhelming than any of the other rituals I’ve done. I’m so thankful for being shown this ritual by my friend but will definitely be looking for something that is not as mentally petrifying as this ritual was in the future.

CuriousJournalist

*

To: Laura Hollis (Cupcake)
Subject: How was it?

I only just saw your post on Reddit. How was the ritual?

Laura read the e-mail after she’d returned back to her dorm after Sunday lunch with her Dad. Carm had taken 24 hours to message her in response to the ritual and Laura was excited when she saw the notification pop up on her computer. The little butterflies in her stomach fluttered with happiness.

To: Carmilla Karnstein
Subject: Re:How was it?

It was petrifying! I’ll have to tell you all about it but first I want to know what happened with you when you did it? Are you alright? Had a busy night last night?

Carmilla was in her bedroom eating a cupcake as she relaxed. Today had been her first day off in a while and she had spent all day sleeping and reading before being able to sneak onto the computer and speak with Laura.

To: Laura Hollis (Cupcake)
Subject: Re:Re:How was it?

I was jumping in and out of work. I was at the photo shop from lunch to close and then I did a 4 hour shift at the gas station and in between my shifts I had enough time to head home, have food and get changed before heading back out again. I have never felt so busy. It was good though, the photo shop is always great fun and I’m learning so much plus the gas station wasn’t too busy so I got a chance to have a bit of a relax near the end of my shift.

My ritual experience was pretty alright. I did it and just kept an eye out all day. When she finally appeared I let her go but yeah I know what you mean by the feeling of being followed. It was constantly in my mind when I did it. I was on a day off so I just sat at home and did nothing at all but I could feel her watching me at all times. Then again I’m used to that feeling. Usually Maman is watching over me at all times so I’ve grown accustomed to the feeling of being watched and being able to shut it out.

Anyway. Your turn now. What happened?

Laura took in a deep breath as she drafted out exactly what she was going to write to Carmilla, trying to remember every little detail there was to it. She knew she would be in for a long night.

*

To: Laura Hollis (Cupcake)
Subject: Tomorrow

Good luck for tomorrow cupcake. You’ll do really well in your exam just stay calm and remember what an amazing reporter you are.

Sending all my love.

Laura was frantically revising for her exam the next day on Non-Fiction when the email from Carm appeared in her inbox.

To: Carmilla Karnstein
Subject: Re:Tomorrow

Thank God you messaged me. I’m currently writing about a piece of scientific and legal discourse on media platforms that I don’t understand anything about and my head feels like it’s going to explode! I’m not going to do well tomorrow.

Laura hit her head on the desk as she gave up with the revision. Revising just wasn’t fun. She knew everything but when it came to exam conditions, Laura couldn’t recall anything.

To: Laura Hollis (Cupcake)
Subject: Re:Re: Tomorrow

Relax creampuff! You have done way too much revision right now! Just calm down and relax.

Carmilla knew exactly how Laura was feeling. No matter how much revision you do for an exam, you never feel prepared and Carmilla knew how hard Laura had been working. They’d barely had any time to talk and Carm was missing it but understood just how important this time was for Laura and refused to be selfish when this was Laura’s future they were discussing.

To:Carmilla Karnstein
Subject: Re:Re:Re: Tomorrow

But there’s still so much I need to do. I have less than 24 hours left!

Carmilla had no idea how to calm Laura down but had a small idea of something that could help. Carmilla was alone in the house at 10pm and had the weekend off. She was taking it as a brief holiday as she was so tired from work and her Mamam, Matska and William were out on holiday in the mountains until Monday so Carmilla had planned to have time off whilst they were away. She had the house and the computer all to herself and maybe her idea would work out well?

To: Laura Hollis
Subject: Re:Re:Re:Re: Tomorrow

Cupcake. Do you have Skype? If so, add me. I don’t have a webcam but it’s easier for us to talk and it’s free to call someone abroad on Skype. Let’s see if I can help you revise? My Skype name is The_Rogue_Vamp

Laura didn’t even hesitate. She opened up her Skype and sent the contact request to Carm. Whether Carm could help her didn’t even cross her mind as the butterflies in her stomach went wild. She waited for a response from Carmilla.

Carmilla Karnstein: Hey :)

Carm had accepted her request and this was happening. It was actually happening. Laura and Carm were going to speak for the first time. Then Laura remembered that Carmilla’s first language was German. What if Laura couldn’t understand her?

Laura Hollis: Hey back :)

Carmilla was nervous. She’d been trying to find the courage to ask Laura to Skype with her for a long time but never knew what to say and when to say it. Now they were going to speak. This was Carmilla’s first real friend. What if she messed it up?

Carmilla Karnstein: Are you ready?

Laura took in a long deep breath.

Laura Hollis: Ready as I’ll ever be.

The Skype call sound came from her computer as she nervously pressed the blue button to accept the call.

It took a few short seconds to connect and Laura felt her mouth go dry and didn’t think she could speak.

‘Hello,’ from the other side was Carmilla’s voice. With just that one word all of Laura’s worries faded away. Carmilla’s voice was low and evidently German but was easily understandable and relaxing.

‘Hi!’ Laura chirped all a bit too excitable and high-pitched for her own liking.

They sat in a comfortable silence for a few seconds as they figured out what to say.

‘So let’s see what I can do to help you with your revision,’ Carmilla spoke and Laura knew she was smiling.

*

6 hours later.

‘Oh my God, Carm! That’s hilarious! That’s almost as bad as me having a shower earlier and shitting myself because I was rinsing the shampoo out and opened my eyes to a fucking silhouette. My roommate’s dressing gown was on the back of the door and I was honestly about to throw Tresemme at the ghost and whack them with the shower head,’ Laura burst out laughing.

‘Hahaha! Oh Laura. What are these rituals doing to us?’ Carm chuckled softly.

‘Making us paranoid over everything? But I don’t want to stop.’

‘Neither do I,’ Carm whispered before taking a small silence. ‘You know, I’m really glad I came across you.’

‘Me too. You’re my best friend.’

‘And you are mine.’

‘And thanks for helping me revise and calm down. I feel so much better now and feel really prepared for my exam tomorrow.’

‘Hey, I did nothing. It was all you. What time did you want to head to bed?’

‘Well my exam isn’t until the afternoon,’ Laura said as she looked at the time to see that it was after 10pm and realised what time it was in Austria. ‘Oh Carm! Look at the time! I’ve kept you up all night.’

‘It’s ok cutie. I don’t mind you keeping me up all night,’ Carm chuckled softly as Laura was oblivious to the joke, ‘I’m a creature of the night anyway and am only awake during the day because of work.’

‘But don’t you have work tomorrow?’

‘Nope. I have the whole weekend off so I can do whatever I like.’

‘Well, I’d best let you go so you can sleep and do the things you want to do tomorrow.’

‘I know what I want to do,’ Carm muttered, ‘I wanted to talk to you.’

‘Really?’

‘Yes. Although I didn’t know if I’d get much chance this weekend with all of your exams,’ Carmilla replied.

‘Yeah,’ Laura frowned, ‘The timing of your weekend off kind of sucks.’

‘It does indeed cutie.’

‘I may as well go to sleep right now anyway. Then I can go over any bits I wasn’t too sure of when I wake up tomorrow before my exam.’

‘Ok, make sure you have a good breakfast and lunch. Don’t be going into your exam on a sugar high. I know what you’re like, Hollis,’ Carmilla laughed.

‘But I will just want to revise tomorrow, not cook,’ Laura grumbled.

‘Too bad I’m not there. I’d cook for you,’ Carmilla stated nonchalantly.

‘You would?’

‘Yeah. And…’ Carmilla paused, ‘Maybe someday I will.’

‘You want to?’ Laura blubbered out.

‘I think I’d like that very much,’ Carmilla replied softly, her low tone making Laura’s spine shiver.

‘S..s...So would I,’ Laura tried to get the words out as she thought of meeting Carmilla and wanted it badly but was too afraid to say it.

‘And who knows? Maybe we can perform a little ritual whilst I’m there. After all, that is how we met,’ Carmilla added.

‘Yes! That sounds awesome! I’d love that! Definitely! Let’s do it! If you want to of course!’ Laura squealed excitedly.

‘I would, cupcake.’

‘You should come over in the summer. It’s really nice weather here then and plus I won’t be in Uni and will be living back at home and I could see if my Dad would let you stay with us whilst you’re here instead of booking a hotel because that can be expensive. But you know, only if you want to stay with me. You don’t have to or anything. It’s just a suggestion,’ Laura rambled.

‘Of course I would want to stay! Plus, if I don’t have to pay for expensive hotels then it means I can come and see you sooner,’ Carmilla added, hoping and praying that Laura would be ok with that.

‘Yes! Totally!’

Laura was ecstatic and knew that no matter how bad her exam went tomorrow she had something to smile over and would get through the day just fine.

‘Anyway, I will let you sleep. I don’t want you to burn out from sleep deprivation,’ Carmilla said cooly.

‘Ok. That’s fine by me. Thank you,’ Laura beamed, ‘Night!’

‘Night.’

The call ended and both sides were left with beaming smiles on their faces as they headed to bed.

*

It was Sunday evening and for the first time since that night, Laura felt like she could truly relax. It was the day before her last exam but Danny was with her and Laura felt calm being in her presence.

‘It’s nearly the end of your first year. After tomorrow all you have left is to hand your assignment in. How does it feel?’ Danny asked whilst kicking her feet off of Laura’s bed.

‘It feels surprisingly good. I never knew how stressful it would be so I’m glad it’s over but I know it’s just going to get even more stressful as it continues,’ Laura admitted.

‘Yeah. But it’s worth it. And who knows, you could be doing exactly what I’m doing when you’re in your 3rd year and helping other 1st years.’

‘But I don’t want to be going on dates with other 1st years. I kind of hope I’m with you still,’ Laura smiled sheepishly. It was true. She did like Danny and wanted to see where things were going between them. After all, the 11 Miles ritual had brought them together right?

‘Laura,’ Danny beamed as she leaned in for a kiss.

Laura didn’t know why but she titled her head so that Danny only kissed her cheek. She was ready for that commitment and had no idea why her body wasn’t.

‘Sorry,’ Danny whispered, ‘I thought that was what you wanted.’

‘I did,’ Laura stumbled, ‘I mean, I do. I just don’t know why my body did that.’

‘Ok,’ Danny said looking to the floor.

‘I mean it. I do want it. You’re just going to be my first kiss. I suppose I want it to be perfect and romantic,’ Laura thought.

It was true. Laura had always dreamed that her first kiss would be slow and long in the pouring rain like every girl’s dream, or a passionate kiss on a romantic date, or during a candlelit dinner. Not randomly on Laura’s dorm bed.

‘Ok,’ Danny repeated, seeming to find a very interesting part of the floor to stare at.

Laura had to think of something to change the conversation. She didn’t want a relaxing night to turn into a stressful one, especially on the night before her last exam.

‘So my assignment is nearly done,’ Laura said.

‘Good. Sooner that’s out the way the better,’ Danny said, trying to hide the relief in her tone.

‘Look, I know you don’t like the subject it’s on but relax will you? It’s ok,’ Laura rolled her eyes.

‘I just worry.’

‘I know, but there is no need to,’ Laura replied, ‘Besides, some good things have come out of it,’ Laura added.

‘What do you mean?’

‘Well, I met a friend through it,’ Laura smiled.

‘You did?’

‘Yeah. She’s from Austria. She’s really cool. I think you’d get along with her,’ Laura beamed.

‘How much do you know about her?’ Danny asked warily.

‘Quite a bit. And don’t worry, before you wonder if she’s someone looking for money from me, we’ve already Skyped so I know she’s real and not a serial killer. I know, that’s what most people think of when someone says they found a friend on the Internet. But she actually is a decent person and gives me advice when I need it,’ Laura said, attempting to make Danny relax.

‘As long as you’re careful,’ Danny said.

‘Of course I’m careful. We’re really close, you know she wants to come over here one day and I really hope she can in the summer. I told her that I’d show her where things are and we even said we’d do a ritual together!’ Laura exclaimed excitedly.

‘Wait,’ Danny halted, ‘What?’

‘We’re going to do a… Oh… Errm,’ Laura stuttered.

‘A ritual? You’re still doing them?’ Danny’s voice started to rise.

‘Yeah, but it’s not a big deal, like…’ Laura was interrupted.

‘Not a big deal?’ Danny yelled, ‘Of course it’s a big deal! You promised me that you’d never do another one of those stupid run ins with death!’

‘Danny, they’re not like that.’

‘And that’s supposed to make me feel better is it?’

‘Danny. Urgh! What do you want me to say?’ Laura gave in. She wasn’t going to win and didn’t have the energy to fight. Tomorrow was an exam and she needed to preserve herself for that.

‘Nothing. We’re over,’ Danny snapped as she stood up with so much force that Laura thought she’d hit her head on the ceiling.

‘Danny! Please, can we just sit down and talk this through?’

‘There’s nothing to talk through. You broke your promise to me and you lied to me. For 2 months you’ve been lying to me! I will never be able to look past that,’ Danny said as she grabbed her coat and her bag.

‘I’m sorry. Please don’t go,’ Laura pleaded as she weakly stood to try and stop Danny from leaving but her legs were like jelly and her head felt so light that she thought she was floating. It was an out of body experience and she couldn’t control herself. She wanted to reach up and grab Danny’s arm but her mind wouldn’t compute and wouldn’t do what she wanted it to as she felt the tears cascade down her cheeks.

‘Goodbye, Laura. Don’t contact me again,’ Danny said as she walked out of the door.

Laura tried to chase after her, sobbing as she went but Danny walked so much faster with her longer legs and confident stride that Laura ended up collapsing in a huge heap as she watched the woman she cared about walk out of her life.

Chapter Text

29/04/16

Dear Diary,

I’ve not been able to contact her. It’s been nearly 2 weeks and still no text or phone call. I’ve left numerous voicemails but she’s just not responding. I am completely heartbroken. Why am I such an idiot?

I hate Carmilla for all of this. It’s all her fault. But she’s the only person who still cares about me and I’m so afraid of being alone. I know she didn’t mean for this to happen but it is because of her but she cares and I don’t know what I’d do without her. I know how messed up that sounds and how it makes no sense because it shouldn’t make sense. How can you hate someone but not want them to leave your life because you love them? It’s not supposed to be possible. I just don’t understand. But she’s doing her hardest to cheer me up. She sent me a video of ninja cats thinking they might do some good but they didn’t. I just hate how I feel.

What am I going to do? What should I do? I just wish I had the answers.

Laura

*

2nd of May 2016

It’s been over a month since I’ve been working at the photography shop and my boss, Nigel, decided to show me his favourite camera and told me I could take some photos with it by the mountains and he was incredibly impressed with my work.

At first he said that the lighting was perfect in most of my photographs but obviously I downplayed it and said that the light was natural and just good timing; really I waited to take my photographs where the light hit best on the mountains. He said that the mood was created predominantly by the light and added a certain depth and texture by creating a mix of highlights and shadows.

All in all, I’ve been really enjoying working with him and I’m loving the learning that I am doing. I am definitely a Ravenclaw!

CK

*

03/04/16

Dear Diary,

I hate her! I hate her so much! After all she’s put me through, how can I possibly not hate her?

Ok. That’s a lie. I couldn’t hate her. I still care for her even after everything and I have no idea how to get over her. Oh Diary, I wish you could tell me what to do and give me some advice because I need to know what I can do.

I’ve barely spoken to Carm and I haven’t been able to think straight for the past few weeks that I’m falling behind in my studies. Thankfully my exams are over though so it’s not the worst position to be in.

I need to do something. I need to prove her wrong. I can protect myself. I am Laura Hollis, a Hufflepuff and I don’t need a Gryffindor saving me because I can save myself! I’m going to do something dangerous just to smite her. I read this one ritual and it’s called the Hooded Man and it seems petrifying and the risks are huge so I’m going to do it in the next few days to give a big middle finger up at her.

Fuck you Danny. Fuck you.

Laura

*

8th of May 2016

Thursday was Staatsfeiertag and Nigel took me to photograph some of the celebrations that were going on and we were there all day. I don’t know how many photographs I took but I found it really easy to take some as I adapted to my camera really quickly. It’s a Fujifilm X-T10. And the best thing about it? It’s black.

Friday we headed to the skiing resort that is fairly local as Nigel said he wanted to push me and asked to see how I coped with fast moving objects. It took a while for me to figure out the best way to capture a photo when the timing was crucial but I managed to get some interesting shots before being able to find the perfect spot for lighting and letting the action come to me rather than trying to chase it. Nigel was really impressed.

Yesterday we were in the studio taking photos of families and Nigel let me help him with the shoot and taught me all about colour and what colour can do to a photo. He showed me how this one girl who had a bold pattern on showed up differently in the lense of a camera than it did to the human eye and how to try and adapt around it. He then took me to see some of his portfolio and how colour can change the atmosphere and emotions you want the viewer to feel. I was truly taken aback by how beautiful some of the images were and we began to look through the photos we’d taken over the past couple of days and he chose some of my photos to send to the original clients which made me smile all day. Or it at least made me smile until I got to the gas station for my shift. I get along with my colleagues, yeah we’re not best friends but I can at least hold a conversation with them to an extent that I can be decent and they don’t bore me to death (It’s very hard for me to find people like that). Last night though was an absolute piss take. My colleagues are all male except for another female but she works part time too so I rarely see her and I’m used to the ‘guy humour’ but I hate men who think that talking ill of other women is acceptable. They frequently say they’d fuck a woman who walks into the store and of course I’m guilty of thinking that someone is sexy but I never say it out loud. The guys try and have a laugh with me, suggesting that when it’s quiet and I want them to do a favour and help me with something that I should suck them off in return for helping them. It’s crude and I know they mean it as a joke but last night I was asked if I found one of my co-workers attractive, I don’t but I’m not going to say that as I have a good working relationship with him so I said that he was good looking but I wasn’t attracted to him. The co-worker who asked me then started laughing and said that women who say that really mean that they’d fuck the guy but wouldn’t date them and called me a slut. Every single time he wanted my attention he shouted ‘Slut, get here, I need you’ and would wink before pointing towards his crotch. I don’t think they realise how much that shit is fucked up. Normally I’d laugh but calling someone a slut is fucking out of line. The whole principle of the word is bullshit. If a girl enjoys having sex then she’s frowned upon but if a boy does then he’s just normal. It’s 2016 so why do we still have double standards based on gender? This is why I hate humans.

But today changed everything. I got a phone call from Nigel and I wasn’t really in the mood to talk but decided to pick it up anyway. He told me how the clients had particularly loved a few of the photos he had sent over and there was a couple of them that were mine. I was really happy and thanked Nigel for the opportunity. But he continued! He told me that because of how I seem to be a natural for photography, that he was willing to offer me an apprenticeship with his business. Whilst it means I’ll take a reduction in pay, I’ll have more hours and be working towards a qualification so overall it’s a huge benefit and I’ll earn a lot more money and have a stable future for my next 2 years. Plus he said that he can send me away from home for a weeks while I do some photography as he hopes to put me in for a distance based apprenticeship so all my qualification would be done online. I told Maman about it and she’s told me that I can have her old computer so that I can do it and for the first time in my life, I think she’s proud of me.

CK

*

‘Enjoy your night!’ Betty yelled as she left the dorm room at 9:30pm. She was going to a Monday night party and Laura had no idea why they were a thing. Who partied on a Monday night? Evidently a lot of people did as Betty had asked Laura if she’d wanted to tag along with her but tonight was the night Laura was going to do the Hooded Man Ritual and needed the place to herself.

Laura helped herself to a cookie. She needed to calm her racing pulse and even though she knew fair well that it wouldn’t help, she did so anyway whilst drafting out the text to the one person who was unknowingly going to help her with the ritual. Whilst Laura felt bad about it, she was too obsessed with proving something to Danny that she didn’t care too much.

Hey. Betty’s gone. You can come over.

5 minutes later, Laura responded to the knock on the door.

‘Evening, Laura.’

‘Hey, Perr. Thanks for doing this,’ Laura smiled as she looked down at the unusual equipment Perry had in her hands.

Perry noticed this. ‘It’s white sage and lavender, I hope you don’t mind?’

‘Whatever works best, as long as it’s good at cleansing.’

‘It is, which is why I’m surprised you want me to come back tomorrow and do the same thing.’

‘I just want to be safe. After what you said earlier about people letting spirits in, I feel it’s only appropriate for me to be really careful,’ Laura lied.

Perry walked over to the kitchen, placed the bowl and smudge stick down and ran the water to be caught in a cup she had brought with her.

‘Would you open the window?’ Perry asked.

Laura quickly obliged and was met with a cool chill in the air that tried to quickly flood the apartment and suck the hot air out.

Perry lit the stick and blew it out when it began to burn. Laura watched as the strange smelling smoke wisped upwards in a pattern that mesmerised her and watched how it formed different magical shapes like clouds in the sky.

‘I cleanse this room of impurities and negativity that may reside here,’ Perry chanted.

Laura watched as Perry went to every inch of the room and ensured that it was blessed, she even crawled under both Betty and Laura’s bed! Then she started doing what Laura could only describe as washing herself in the smoke. Perry caught the smoke in her hand and rubbed it into her skin before moving it around her. Just when Laura thought it couldn’t get any weirder, Perry came over to her and started doing the same thing, but to Laura!

Laura spluttered as she inhaled the smoke and wondered what the hell Perry was doing and if this was even necessary for Laura to do the ritual. Why did she even need to cleanse where she was when the ritual itself didn’t even take place in her home? It was ridiculous but Laura didn’t want to break the rules - Who knows what can happen when you break the rules of a ritual? Laura couldn’t be sure, but she knew that it would result in something serious and probably life-threatening.

Perry extinguished the stick in the cup of water and cleaned up after herself; she even cleaned up some of the mess that Betty had left on her side of the room despite Laura’s protests. Betty would be pissed but Laura had bigger things to think about in that moment, like the ritual. She’d be able to deal with Betty’s complaints in the morning, after the ritual was done.

Laura suddenly remembered another protection cleansing.

‘Perry, am I able to keep the ash from the sage stick?’

‘Why?’

‘Isn’t it supposed to help ward off negative beings?’

Perry’s face lit up. ‘You know that? Then of course you can! I’ll put it down for you before I leave!’

Laura gave a small smile as she watched a beaming Perry skip out the door and close it to spread the ash outside the door to her dorm.

Laura breathed a sigh of relief as she closed her window and pulled down the blinds. She walked over to the phone in the dorm. There wasn’t normally a phone in dorms but Laura’s Dad had insisted on buying her a normal corded phone just in case her mobile died and she couldn’t contact him. Laura got the 2 black cords and matches out of her pocket and placed them by it and strapped the watch onto her wrist.

Laura felt a flutter in her stomach as she walked over to turn the light and her mobile phone off.

She sat at the phone and calmed herself before counting to 13 in her head. Whilst the phone was still on the hook, she dialed 20496888.

She took one black cord and tied it to the handset which proved to be much more difficult than Laura had expected with her shaking hands. She had to be calm and breathe but there was just something with the idea of this ritual. This was incredibly dangerous, more dangerous than any of the others she’d tried, even more dangerous than 11 Miles or the Elevator Ritual.

Once it was secure, Laura picked the phone up by the black cord and dialed 25515823.

She counted to 13 and set the handset down on the side before speaking into the receiver.

‘Hello? I need a cab.’

She quickly placed the phone back on the hook and tried to untie the black cord she had placed on it. It took her a while as she had never been so nervous and her fingers were beginning to feel numb. She tied the other black cord in the same place where the previous one had been.

Now Laura had to burn the first one. She took out a match and tried to light it but she kept stumbling due to the shakiness of her hands. Laura kept trying but couldn’t get it to light.

She felt something. The indescribable feeling of the pit in your stomach getting deeper because you know something is going to happen. Laura stood up and peered through the blinds to see the black cab a few stories below.

She grabbed a cookie to try and calm herself but she still couldn’t light the match to burn the cord and figured she’d do it when she got back. The ritual did allow for burning it after the event took place but Laura had ideally wanted to get it done and out of the way as quickly as possible.

She exited her dorm and could feel her heart thump around her body. She locked her door and began to walk down the corridor to get downstairs and knew she needed to calm down.

Laura tried to think logically. What if another student had called a cab? The cab might not be for her? But Laura knew by now that these Creepypasta rituals were real. She’d not come across a fake one yet, so why would this be any different? Besides the cab looked like the ones used in London and she’d never seen a black cab like that in Toronto, or at least anywhere outside of the UK.

Laura reached the main door to the dorm building and felt scared but knew she wasn’t going to back out now. This was Danny’s doing. She was going to prove Danny wrong.

The cab looked normal. Nothing ‘other-worldly’ about it. She opened the back door and clambered in. The seats were fabric and nothing special, no goo or blood. It smelt clean, like every taxi she’d ever been in.

She locked the cab door and lay on the black seat to try and fall asleep despite her body not wanting her to. Her heart pounded and the adrenaline that coursed through her veins prevented her from falling asleep as quickly as she wanted to but after a few minutes, Laura eventually fell asleep.

*

Laura woke with a start. She’d forgotten where she was.

She looked out of the window to see that she was still at the dorm building but was in the cab. Why was she in a… Oh yes, the ritual.

Laura realised she had to check the time.

3:31

Laura knew she had to stop the ritual. Unless her watch said it was 3:30 then she had to stop.

But surely she’d looked around for a minute? She’d forgotten where she was right? It’s not like the first thing you do when you wake up is check your watch.

But isn’t it better to be safe than sorry?

What’s the likelihood of the watch being a minute fast? It’s not like she wore watches?

Laura looked down at the time to see it was 3:32. It was probable that it was 3:30 when she had awoke.

Laura decided to risk it and lay her head back down to sleep. Only time would tell if she’d made the wrong choice.

*

She awoke some time later to the purr of the engine, the soft and comforting sound that Laura used to wake to after a long car ride when she was young.

Laura rubbed her eyes and stretched before looking in front of her to see the hooded man behind the wheel. In the orange light bathing them from the outside, she saw that he wasn’t as tall as she’d expected. She’d half been prepared to witness a Dementor behind the wheel - 6 foot of cloak and ominous fear, but instead the man sat with his hood level with the back of the head rest. The only thing that was the same as she’d been expecting was the black hood that covered the face of the man who drove her down the highway.

It suddenly got darker inside the car so she looked out of the window. They were engulfed in towering grey buildings that were so high that the only light came from directly above them. The orange light fled from the car whilst leaving dark shadows in the scariest of places inside.

Laura had the urge to say something but remembered that she could not speak to the man who drove. She didn’t know why but she didn’t want to find out.

As she watched on, the buildings got worse and worse, as if she’d been in a nuclear explosion. The buildings decayed, the road got bumpy and people started to appear. Some were screaming, others crying with pain and anguish etched on their faces. The sky began to redden and Laura realised that she recognised the place. She was in the world that she had seen when doing the Elevator Ritual and the people reminded her of the screaming individuals in 11 Miles.

Laura looked away from the window and faced directly ahead of her. She froze and stared at the back of the hood of the man behind the wheel. She didn’t want to think of where she was but couldn’t find it within her to do anything to stop it in that second. This was why it was so dangerous. She’d been told to never go back to that world and here she was.

Suddenly the car stopped and Laura had to swallow the heart that was in her mouth. The cab couldn’t stop. Laura had read that you couldn’t let it stop. She jumped forwards and leaned to the front seats to tell the hooded man that she’d reached her destination when she heard the door next to her open.

What would she do? What could she do? She knew she couldn’t look at them or speak to anyone who entered the cab with her so when she felt the seat next to her lower to indicate someone had sat down, Laura sat back, facing the way to the window to not risk looking or talking to them.

She slowly turned her head so she could see the individual in her peripheral vision.

A tall thin man sat next to her in a suit. It reminded her of the Silence. Long hands and a pure white face… No… It couldn’t be. But it was. It was Slender Man.

Laura felt sick. The thing that attracted her to Creepypasta had been the stabbings in Waukesha where the girls had committed the stabbings for this man, this being that sat next to her. It was horrific and Laura could feel the taste of bile on her tongue.

It looked at her and the car started moving. This was too much for her. Way too much. She needed to leave. She leaned forwards and could feel the eyes of Slender Man follow her and his stare burned holes in the back of her head.

‘I have reached my destination,’ she whispered in the hooded man’s ear before immediately falling asleep.

*

Laura woke up.

She felt around her as the place where she lay was so dark. Her skin was chilled from the coolness of the floor and sore from its hardness. The texture was smooth but had dimples every few inches that it reminded her of wooden flooring, like the stuff they had in her dorm.

Was she in her dorm?

Laura reached outwards to try and find anything to help her get up and managed to grasp onto a wooden pole which Laura’s hand climbed to find fabric which she prayed were the bedsheets on either her’s or Betty’s bed.

After a while, Laura managed to feel the headboards and walked in front of her to find the wardrobe, the place where she had done the Raven Man Ritual.

She quickly hurried to turn on the light, remembering what had happened that night and didn’t want to be in the dark for any longer.

The light flickered on and threw light rays out in every direction, making the shadows flee for cover under the beds. The soft buzz the lightbulb made had Laura comforted as she realised that she was in her dorm and everything was in the right place so she knew there was no glitch in the Matrix.

Laura took in a slow breathe and that’s when she first began to feel the throbbing pain in her head. The same feeling she had after the Elevator Ritual and Laura knew she had to act fast and needed to burn the first cord and finish the ritual.

She walked over to her desk, feeling worse and worse with every step and sat down on her swivel chair. Laura took the match and burned the first cord.

The flames lapped it up, burning it to ash and Laura unintentionally inhaled the smoke. It made her feel even more light-headed and Laura knew it would happen just like before.

As she watched the last bit of the cord burn. Laura’s eyes rolled to the back of her head and she slumped onto her desk, unconscious.

*

Laura awoke to find Betty lying in her bed, passed out from a drunken night out. She would be impossible to wake so Laura knew that she would be able to finish the ritual without worrying over Betty.

Laura dialed 200082, picked up the phone by the black cord and placed it on the desk.

‘Thank you for the ride,’ Laura spoke into the receiver, before lifting it back up and hanging up.

She untied the black cord that was on the phone and burned it like she had with the other one and got the dustpan and brush to sweep them up and placed them in a small plastic bag.

Laura checked the clock to see that Perry would be over in an hour so Laura, armed with salt, quickly headed off to bury the ashes in the grounds outside.

Chapter Text

The Hooded Man Ritual and Slender Man?
Submitted at 21:34 11/05/2016 by CuriousJournalist

After my ex dumped me because I continued to do rituals without her blessing, I decided to do the most dangerous one I’ve come across just to prove to her that I don’t need her to protect me and am perfectly capable of looking after myself! There had been a lot of people writing experiences of the Hooded Man ritual so I decided to give it a go! It was dangerous, exciting, and I had no idea why.

I’m just putting out a warning right now. Don’t do this ritual. Don’t ever do it. I regret it so badly right now and wish I could turn back the clock and never do it. It’s not because I needed someone to protect me but because I went in and did this ritual wanting to prove I was a grown woman. But because I had so much to prove, I lost sight of something very important. The rules for a ritual.

2 days ago I sat at the phone in my dorm and followed the ritual. My roommate was out at a party and I knew I was alone all night. I’d even had our floor don cleanse my room before like the ritual had stated.

It was late at night and the darkness just added to the fear I felt. I relied on my cookies to calm me down as I took deep breaths and ensured I didn’t breathe in cookie crumbs. The black cord was securely tied to the handset and I was ready to begin the ritual. All I could think of was not backing out so I could show how much I didn’t need my ex. I dialled the number and asked for a cab. I’d followed the steps religiously up until now so knew it was only a matter of time. I tried to burn the other cord but the adrenaline pumping through my veins made it impossible for me to light a match to burn it. I kept trying but I just couldn’t stop shaking. Then I had the sinking feeling in the bottom of my stomach and looked outside. Below me was a black cab.

I do live in student accomodation but I knew the cab was mine. It looked like the cabs you see on British TV and I’ve never seen them anywhere else in the world. I knew it had to be for me. I knew that all the previous rituals I had done, had worked. Why would this one be any different? I went downstairs and crawled into the cab that looked completely from this world. There was no ectoplasm or strange looking metals, it was just a plain and boring cab. I remember sitting down on the seat and it was quite comfy. I could see why people in London took cabs all the time if they were sitting in comfy seats like these. They were more comfy than my own car, which is seriously saying something.

I lay down and tried to focus on falling asleep. Thankfully the comfy seat was a welcoming mattress, even though I had to calm my racing heart. I don’t remember falling asleep, or at least I didn’t realise I had fallen asleep until I awoke. I was still at the dorms. The cab hadn’t moved but I didn’t know where I was. I looked down at my watch as the ritual instructed to and read it was 3:31. But I figured I’d be ok as I’d done some looking around prior and continued even though the instructions say it must read 3:30 and I fell back to sleep.

When I woke back up, the car was moving. My eyes opened to find the car illuminated with orange light that was fairly comforting at first. I sat up and had a bit of a stretch before I saw the driver. He didn’t look like a Dementor like I’d been expecting but rather like a hooded monk. He looked human, yet I still had no desire to talk to him.

The light began to disappear within the car so I looked out of the window to see my surroundings. Grey buildings that reached up to the sky towered over the car, and as we continued down the road, they started to crumble around me and became derelict. The sky turned red and people came out to see me, screaming with pain on their faces. I instantly realised why it was so dangerous, the red sky was the one I had seen in the Elevator Ritual and the people had the same screams from 11 Miles.

But this is the creepy part. As I went to tell the Hooded Man that I was finished, the car stopped and I froze. Someone got in the car! I knew I couldn’t talk or look at them so I looked out the window and tried to catch them in my peripheral vision.

I saw a man I thought I’d never see and there was no mistaking that it was him. I know it was Slender Man. He looked exactly like The Gentlemen from the Buffy series. A tall, white man in a suit that turned to face me and I could feel his eyes burning in the back of my head. I had to end it.

I leaned forwards and told the Hooded Man I’d reached my destination and I woke up in my dorm. I didn’t realise where I was at first but I was thankful to be anywhere but there. As soon as I turned my light on however, I knew I was going to faint. I had the same experience as when I’d done the Elevator Ritual. I burned the first cord before I passed out at my desk.

Anyway, when I came to, I did everything you’re supposed to do, call him and thank him for the ride, burn the cord, bury it and then I had the floor don come back and cleanse the place once more. That should be the end of it, right? Wrong.

I spent the rest of the day trying to write some of my journalism project and I read the news because I’m too much of a serious student. I pretty much did nothing all day until my roommate woke up and we had a small argument over why her things had been moved (Our floor don had cleaned up after cleansing our room - She cleaned everything, even the breakfast bowl I’d just eaten from as I hadn’t gotten time to wash it yet.)

I was pretty tired all day and still recovering from the nauseous events of the previous night so I decided to go to sleep early and I woke up with the worst nightmare I’d ever had. I saw him again, it’s like he was stalking me in my sleep because it felt so real. He’d reached out to touch me with the long tentacles he possessed in my sleep and I could almost feel the burning sensation on my arm in real life.

I got up to go and get a drink and decided to log onto my computer to message a friend who I hadn’t spoken to very much to tell her of my dream as I knew I wouldn’t get back to sleep. But as I walked over, I saw something on the grounds below. On the grassy green, there he stood. Looking at me. Staring up at me with its blank face. Why me? What had I done? Then I realised I’d done the ritual wrong. It didn’t read 3:30 exactly. I counted to 10 and tried to check if I was really still in a dream but when I opened my eyes, I knew I wasn’t and it was all real. He was there.

I freaked out, closed the blinds and called my Dad and told him that I just wanted to hear his voice. We called until I felt like I would fall asleep and I managed to sleep peacefully.

But tonight my Dad is on shift and Slender Man is outside again, blurred in with the trees and I don’t know why no one else can see him. But I don’t know what I’d done? Surely wouldn’t someone else get mad at me for not doing the ritual right? Not Slender Man?

I just need someone to help me right now. I know he stalks but why me?

*

RitualGoddess 20 points 10 hours ago

He definitely followed you. I’ve never known how to get rid of Slender Man. I don’t think anyone ever has. I think once you’re marked then that’s the end for you. The only thing I can suggest to try is put salt everywhere. You said your floor don knows all about protection, get them to help you out.

Laura shook with fear. She knew he was still outside. Watching her. Waiting for her. Wanting her.

Dark_Gamer 10 points 10 hours ago

You should do the cleansing before you slept and should have followed the ritual perfectly. Now you’ve messed up. Cleanse your house again and call on the elements to make it stronger. Maybe get a priest.

It was too late at night for her to leave. She wanted to be around her Dad but if she called him again, he would know something was wrong and then she’d have no choice but to tell the truth.

The sound of a Skype message awoke her from her paralysed state.

Carmilla Karnstein: What the fuck happened? Oh my God, are you ok?

Laura felt like she could breathe for the first time since speaking with her Dad.

Laura Hollis: I don’t know what happened. He’s following me. I don’t know what to do.

The shaking continued but Laura was at least aware of her surroundings.

Carmilla Karnstein: We are calling right now, Hollis and we’re going to figure out exactly what to do.

As soon as Laura had read the message, the pop-up box for Skype opened to say she had an incoming call. Laura clicked on the phone icon to accept an audio call with Carmilla.

‘I am going to find out how to help you,’ Carmilla stated. It was matter of factly and Laura instantly felt reassured..

*

‘Ok, so I might have found something,’ Carmilla announced loudly, waking all the sleep out of Laura as much as possible.

‘Yeah?’ Laura yawned.

‘Oh come on. This is your ass I’m trying to save, you could at least try and stay awake,’ Carmilla chuckled.

‘Sorry, I never realised how having a psycho stalking you can tire you out,’ Laura mumbled as she stretched herself out.

‘Have you been researching into Slender Man?’ Carmilla asked.

‘No, I researched the stabbings but didn’t do any research on him,’ Laura thought, ‘At least not that I can remember.’

‘Check your research material,’ Carmilla said.

‘Why?’ Laura asked as she walked across her room to find her Creepypasta notebook..

‘Well I found a site that tells you that Slender Man stalks someone because they have an interest in him. So have you been researching into him?’

‘No,’ Laura said, ‘I told you I don’t remember researching…’

Laura trailed off as she saw the first page of her notebook.

Slender Man

  • One of the most well-known and terrifying mythical creatures out there.
  • Tall, thin mythical creature who wears a black suit.
  • Blank face - No features (Eyes, nose, hair, ears etc.)
  • Arms can stretch.
  • Has tentacles in his back.
  • Blends into background of trees.
  • Stalks victims before kidnapping them.
  • Psychologically tortures victims who escape.
  • Shown in cave paintings in Brazil in 9,000 BC.
  • Wood carvings by German woodcutter, Hans Freckenberg.
  • Something Awful website with 2 photos of Slender Man behind a group of children who were abducted.

‘Laura?’ Carmilla’s voice spoke but rather than replying, Laura flicked over the page.

Henderson Horse Farm Incident 1953

  • Polk County, NC
  • Horses torn apart.
  • Ted Henderson barricaded in bedroom with dead wife next to him.
  • Ted admitted to asylum.
  • 3rd anniversary of death he said ‘Skinny fella, suit, looking at me.’ - Claimed he took his child and his wife begged him to shoot her.
  • Soon killed himself.
  • Slender Man shown on photo taken 1 week prior to the incident.

‘Are you still there?’

Laura turned another page.

Stirling City Disappearances

  • 1986 Stirling City Library fire - Photos taken with Slender Man.
  • June 1st - A photo taken the day 14 children disappeared with a photo of Slender Man behind them - 2 weeks later the photographer, Mary Thomas vanished.
  • 5 months later, 1 child’s body was found miles from where last seen and was in early signs of decay (Was alive 4 months after being kidnapped) and was in a state of contortion and could not give a cause of death.

‘Laura!’ Carmilla shouted which woke her out of the zombie like trance she was in.

‘How do I not remember?’ Laura muttered.

‘What?’ Carmilla asked.

Laura flipped through the rest of the pages. Nearly every page she came across was related to the being and she couldn’t figure out how she couldn’t remember writing any of it.

‘I’ve written a whole notebook on him and I don’t remember writing it.’

‘Have you felt sick recently or had the flu?’

‘I had the flu a month ago,’ Laura answered. ‘Why?’

‘The report I’m reading says that Slender Man can induce forgetfulness and can make you ill, have you had anything else happen? Like coughing up blood?’

‘Well yeah, but I thought it was the flu,’ Laura squeaked in panic.

‘You’re suffering from Slender Sickness. Laura, we have to get rid of it,’ Carmilla urged.

‘How?’

‘You need to get him to stop following you which seems like an impossible task but we’re going to try it together ok?’

‘Yeah,’ Laura’s voice cracked, ‘How did this happen?’

‘He stalks those who develop an obsession with him. He then makes you afraid of him and psychologically tortures you. The less you know, the less likely you are to be stalked. Now the hardest thing? Ignore him. Try to not show your fear because he feeds off it. Hopefully he will get bored and leave you alone. Are you ready for that fight?’

‘Yes.’

*

23rd of October 2016

My apprenticeship is going incredible. I’m learning all about patience and capturing moments and Nigel keeps making jokes about how patient I am. He says it’s like I could wait 300 years for that one photograph and he’s not lying. We were asked to take some photos for the town website and Nigel took me to some of the local businesses and I just couldn’t find the right shot. I took some shots I wasn’t happy with but compared to Nigel, I maybe took one every few minutes to his one every few seconds. Then I could see action developing and snapped a nice shot of 3 workers joking with one another and I snapped one with them all laughing. Nigel said it was the shot of the day and it’s now on the website.

He’s so confident with me that he wants me to get more experience and has told me that he wants to bring my travel forward so that I can experience different settings before my apprenticeship starts in September. He says there’s only so much that I’ll get to experience considering how we only live in a small tourist village that is only known for skiing. He wants me to look at going to a busy city so I can see how I fair there. I’ve been thinking long and hard and I told him that the ideal place for me to go would be Toronto. I didn’t tell him about Laura but I listed a bunch of reasons why, it’s friendly, a completely different culture, they speak English and French (2 languages I can speak well) and is 50% tourist and 50% residential so I’d be able to get a combination of different scenes. I told him that he could send me wherever though as Toronto is a huge ask considering it’s abroad and probably quite costly.

I haven’t told Laura this though and I probably won’t. It’s been a few weeks since Laura and I find out that she’s being stalked by Slender Man. She’s not taken it very well but is trying her hardest to not be affected or think of him. That’s impossible considering that she’s writing a huge piece on Creepypasta and it’s impossible to talk about them without mentioning him. I’ve tried my hardest to distract her and keep her from finding out all the wonderful things happening to me as it would feel like I’m rubbing it in. Like, ‘Hey, Laura! I know you’re having a shit time right now but I just thought I’d tell you that I have a fucking amazing job and my boss thinks I’m a natural and wants to send me away for a while so I can get some experience before I start an apprenticeship with him in September. How fucking awesome is that?’ Just no.

CK

P.S. I have finally brought a webcam. I might be able to cheer Laura up by having a Skype session with her though when we speak next.

*

Laura Hollis: Hey.

Carmilla Karnstein: Hey back, you ok?

Laura Hollis: I’m fine.

Laura wasn’t fine but she knew if she told Carmilla what she was thinking about that she’d be in trouble, just like how Danny and her father would tell her off for doing something wrong. She didn’t want to go through that with Carm. She loved her Dad but had wanted to go to University in the city to get away from his overprotectiveness and Danny’s overgrowing concern for her safety was the reason they had split up. Carm was the only person she had in her life that didn’t treat her that way and she didn’t want that change.

The Skype call sound came through and Laura accepted it. They hadn’t arranged a call. In fact, it was the middle of the day for Carm and Laura wasn’t even expecting her to be online.

‘Aren’t you supposed to be in work?’ Laura asked.

‘Nope. I’m on back shift all week,’ Carmilla replied, ‘Besides. When my best friend says the words ‘I’m fine’ then I don’t care what I’m doing but I’m dropping it and going to be there for her because she evidently is not fine.’

Laura smiled. ‘It’s nothing, if I tell you, you’re going to get mad.’

‘Cupcake,’ Carmilla sighed, she knew what it would be about but refused to say it, just on the off chance that it wasn’t and refused to be the one to bring it up. ‘I won’t get mad, I promise.’

Laura considered what Carmilla had just said and the words she wanted to say tumbled out of her mouth.

‘I’m still seeing him, I’m still thinking of him, he’s everywhere and the more I tell myself to not think of him, the more I think of him and it just defeats my objective of not thinking about him. And knowing what he can do is making me paranoid so I’m creating more fear even though I know I shouldn’t as that just makes him more kidnap-ery,’ Laura rambled.

‘Kidnap-ery?’ Carmilla chuckled.

‘It’s not a joke,’ Laura snapped and instantly regretted it, ‘Sorry.’

‘Buttercup, it’s ok. You’re tense, nervous and scared and that’s all acceptable. Why would I be mad? I’ve not been through what you’ve been through so I’m going to suck at giving you advice but if you’re not able to stop thinking about him, let’s change the topic and try and focus on something else,’ Carmilla suggested.

‘Like what?’ Laura asked.

‘Anything, you take your pick,’ Carmilla answered.

‘When do you need to head off to work?’

Carmilla winced as she looked up to the clock. Laura was worth her skipping work but not only would Laura not let her do that, but she was desperate to go to work, she was even going in early so that she could get more time to look at some of the photos she’d taken the previous night on her way home from work.

‘I’ve got around 45 minutes until I have to leave. I can stay longer though if you like?’ Carmilla asked.

‘It’s ok, I have class at 9 anyway so I could do with 30 minutes to get changed and head to class.’

Carmilla let out a sigh of relief, ‘How long are you in class for today?

‘Until 3, I’ve got a Journalism lecture at 9 which last for 2 hours, then I have a library break and lunch and then I have English Lit at 1:30. The best news? Danny will be there and we haven’t seen each other since the break up,’ Laura mumbled.

‘Hasn’t she graduated or something?’

‘She wanted to be a teacher so is staying to get some experience before moving away to get all the other qualifications.’

‘How do you know this?’ Carmilla asked.

‘Oh… Errm…’ Laura had to think what to say, because she couldn’t tell her the truth.

‘No point in lying to me creampuff,’ Carmilla chuckled.

‘I totally did not find out because I was stalking her Facebook page,’ Laura blabbed.

‘Really?’

Laura knew that if she could see Carmilla, she’d be raising one of her eyebrows up and looking at her with a smug little grin.

‘You’re totally raising an eyebrow up at me and grinning aren’t you?’ Laura asked.

‘It depends on what your answer is,’ Carmilla laughed.

‘Ok, I stalked her Facebook page,’ Laura revealed, ‘But it was purely for scientific research!’

‘Yeah right sweetie pie, yeah right,’ Carmilla giggled.

There was a moment of completely comfortable silence where both girls realised how lucky they were to have a friend like each other.

‘You know, I have a webcam now, so if you want to ever see that expression on my face, you’re more than welcome to,’ Carmilla added.

Laura beamed, ‘Really? I want to video call you later, when you get home from work, ok?’

‘Fine by me,’ Carmilla said, ‘Well I finish work at 9 so I’ll be back at 9:30 which I believe is 3:30 for you.’

‘Yeah, I might need it after an hour and a half with Danny.’

‘Well, I’m here for you, no matter what, ok?’

‘Good, I’m glad you’re here.’

‘And I will be,’ Carmilla reassured.

‘I know I shouldn’t think about this too much but do you think I did 11 Miles wrong?’ Laura asked.

‘What do you mean?’

‘Well, I asked for a friend I could fall in love with and who understood me. I thought it was Danny but clearly if she was my wish then she couldn’t just leave right?’ Laura asked.

Carmilla frowned as she realised that Laura didn’t think it was her. She knew she needed to comfort Laura but if comforting Laura meant that she hurt herself then was it worth it?

She thought for a second.

Hell yes she was.

‘Maybe Danny wasn’t the person who you found? Maybe the wish brought someone else into your life and that you just assumed it was Danny. Maybe someone else approached you after you’d done the ritual,’ Carmilla tried to lay the hints down.

‘But no one did,’ Laura responded which flared a spark of rage in Carmilla. Had Laura just forgotten about her?

‘What do you mean?’ Carmilla asked trying to calm down the flame.

‘Well, we knew each other before then didn’t we? I’m sure we did. Then again it feels like I’ve known you forever that I don’t remember when we met. Gosh, that seems so silly of me,’ Laura whispered.

Carmilla’s hurt vanished. The fact that Laura couldn’t remember how long they’d been friends should have hurt her, especially when they’d befriended straight after Laura had done the 11 Miles ritual but Laura had been cute and thought they’d known each other longer. It wasn’t like Carmilla wasn’t close to Laura and they were already best friends so she decided to give it a rest. If things were meant to be, Laura would realise the day they became friends and would come to her realising that maybe Carmilla was the wish she’d been granted.

‘You cutie,’ Carmilla smiled.

‘Thanks,’ Laura smiled back.

They couldn’t see one another but both knew that each other had goofy grins on their faces. They could read each other so well that no one would think there was 7000 km separating them rather than a few walls.

Carmilla looked up at the clock on her bedroom wall and saw she had to leave in 5 minutes.

‘Shit, sorry cupcake, I need to leave in 5. I promise though, tonight we will video call! I’m super excited,’ Carmilla smiled.

‘Same! Can you message me on your break? It will probably be when I’m in the library anyway,’ Laura suggested.

‘Of course! Catch you later, cutie.’

‘Later!’

*

Laura read over the work she’d written so far to see if she’d missed anything out. She was still 500 words under the minimum limit for her assignment and prayed she had enough research to make the rest up.

She double checked, triple checked, but there was nothing she could do. She’d used everything. That meant she had to find some more research but how could she if she couldn’t think of him?

Laura slumped back in her chair and listened to PVRIS.

‘You give me something to think about, that’s not the shit in my head.’

Laura thought about Carm. She hadn’t realised how much she would miss a friend now that she had one. But at least she hadn’t just disappeared like Danny had. Laura wondered if it was true, that it was better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.

‘You are a miracle, a miracle.’

Laura got a pop-up on the computer to inform her that she had a new email and opened it up immediately when she saw who it was from.

To: Laura Hollis (Cupcake)
Subject: Hey ;)

Hey there Cupcake ;)

Carmilla sat in the staff room and stared at her computer screen. Her day of work was making her feel tired so was thankful for the break. Nigel was giving her a lesson in composition as he wanted them to go and take some more photographs for the town website after her break. He wanted her to take some photos with more depth to them to engage the viewer so he’d taught her how it was important to get something in the foreground, middleground and background. Carmilla was excited to try it out and was hoping she could convince Nigel to let them take photos of the river as she knew of some places that would make perfect compositional shots. She’d spent a lot of time in her youth down by the river. She despised water but enjoyed the peace that could come from watching the water flow to the next town.

To: Carmilla Karnstein
Subject: Re: Hey ;)

Hey, how’s work going? I’m currently sat in the library and I’ve realised I don’t have enough research to finish my assignment which means I need to do some more! I don’t know how I can though when I’m not supposed to think of him!

Laura took in a deep breath. She hadn’t seen him yet today but knew he would still be around as that’s what he did. Thankfully Carmilla was good at distracting her and was thankful for her being there right that second.

To: Laura Hollis (Cupcake)
Subject: Re:Re:Hey ;)

Shit. How much more do you need and when is it in for? Work is going great, still learning but I’m enjoying it.

Laura began to write out the email to Carm whilst focussing on the lyrics of the music she was listening to.

‘You drink the wise blood, you’re gonna hear about it.’

To: Carmilla Karnstein
Subject: Re:Re:Re: Hey ;)

I need another 500 words! It needs to be handed in on Friday! I thought I had enough but I don’t. I’m just trying to figure out what’s safer, do another ritual or do more research? Surely doing a ritual that won’t allow me to come across him should be better right? Because I could accidentally find a piece of research on him? I’m glad you’re enjoying work.

Laura started to wrack her head. What rituals were tame ones? Ones that she wouldn’t have any risk of summoning the Slender Man with?

To: Laura Hollis (Cupcake)
Subject: Re:Re:Re:Re: Hey ;)

You are doing neither! I will do one and write my experience for you so you can write that up. I know you don’t want someone protecting you but doing another ritual is a bit too much.

Laura smiled. For once, she was grateful of the help.

*

‘I’ll be ready soon!’ Carmilla shouted in Will’s room before quickly moving into her own.

‘I’ll be ready soon!’ Carmilla shouted again.

She was alone in the house. Or was she? Carmilla was performing a ritual, one that meant she was holding a party for the supernatural. It was tame and could be done quickly whilst Maman and Will were getting a takeaway.

Carmilla stumbled around her house in the dark, using her sense of touch to help her find the way around. She’d lived here all her life but it was like being in another world when the lights were off.

She went to Maman’s bedroom, into the bathroom, into the living room and finally into the kitchen. She’d repeated the same words and was still quite scared for what she was doing. This wasn’t her first ritual that she’d done but she hadn’t expected her first one to work but now she knew they did and it scared her more.

Her footsteps on the hardwood floor as she walked towards the cupboard under the stairs echoed around her. Carmilla felt as though the world was in slow motion but she thankfully had the flicker of the candles she’d previously set up to guide her into the room.

She checked the watch she wore and picked up the paper and pen she had left on the floor.

Leaning against the wall, she wrote:

You are invited! A gathering, hosted by Carmilla Karnstein. Takes place from 22:17. Bring friends!

She placed the note on the floor.

‘I’m ready! Come on in!’

She picked up the 3 matches and blew out the 3 candles she had lit.

Carmilla was consumed by the darkness. It was so dark that she couldn’t see her hand in front of her face. She turned around and walked out of the room so that her back was facing the cupboard.

The hairs on the back of her neck pricked up and she felt a ghostly chill course right through her veins. She took a deep breath in. This must have been how Laura felt before she did her rituals. Was she always this scared? Or was Carmilla just a wimp? But she was doing this for Laura; there was no reward for the game, she was just doing a favour for the girl she lov… liked. She liked Laura. Yes, liked.

She counted out loud to 10. Every number getting shakier and shakier until her voice broke at 10 and she made a horrendous little squeak.

The match in her hands shook and she had to find the mental willpower to ensure she didn’t drop it. She struck it against the box and it lit, making the darkness flee and the shadows dance around her.

‘I’m so glad to see you!’ Carmilla tried to say, ‘Thank you for coming.’

She let it burn until it was down to her fingers and she knew if she let it keep going that she would burn herself. But right now, Carmilla didn’t care. She didn’t want to be left in the dark. But her natural instincts to not get burned deceived her as she blew the match out. It took 3 tries for Carmilla to find the breath to blow it out but she managed.

She took the second match and struck it against the box. It lit on the first try.

‘I’m so glad to see you too! Thank you for coming.’

She blew the match out.

This was it. The big one. She prayed it would light.

Her nervous little fingers clasped onto the 3rd match and struck it.

It lit.

She breathed a sigh of relief.

‘Hey, thanks for being here too, now everyone is here!’

She blew the candle out and began to count to 10 in her head.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9…

‘Thank you.’

Her heart pounded. What was that? She craved to look behind her but knew she couldn’t. It was also known as ‘Don’t Look Back’ for a reason. She squeezed her eyes shut.

‘You’re welcome,’ Carmilla whispered before she quickly reached for the hall lights and turned them on.

Carmilla took in a deep breath and cautiously turned around to see into the cupboard.

Nothing was there.

Chapter Text

Laura sat staring at the computer screen. The big blue button with the video symbol on tempted her more than ever but she knew that she could not press it. Carmilla was doing a ritual but more importantly Carmilla was doing a ritual for her. Laura had to be patient.

What would they talk about? It couldn’t just be the ritual could it? Laura had to think of some interesting topics to discuss but nothing came to her head on what she could ask. She’d never thought of this before but Laura needed to make an impression, what if Carmilla wasn’t what Laura was expecting? Carmilla had explained what she looked like before and Laura had the image of beauty stuck in her head, but now that she could put a face to the voice, would it ruin the excitement of having an internet friend?

Carmilla Karnstein: Hey creampuff. I finished the ritual.

The wait for the message from Carmilla had felt like a lifetime and the bubbly sound was welcomed.

Laura Hollis: How was it?

Carmilla Karnstein: Want to call and discuss it?

Laura’s heart jumped into her mouth.

Laura Hollis: Video call or regular call?

Carmilla Karnstein: Well I have the house to myself for a while until Maman and William get back with some food so I can video call.

Laura froze. She wanted it. Of course she wanted to. She wanted to know exactly what Carm looked like. But at the same time, she was scared and didn’t know how to reply without sounding like an idiot.

Carmilla Karnstein: Unless you can’t video call?

Oh what was Laura thinking, she had nothing to lose.

Laura Hollis: No I can! I can video call! Let’s video call!

Laura pressed send before she realised what she had written.

‘Desperate enough for you, Hollis?’ Laura muttered at herself.

The jingle Laura had been waiting for all night began. Laura took a deep breath and hovered over the answer button with the video symbol on. Slowly but surely, she pressed it down and waited for her computer to load the video camera up.

Laura’s camera went white, indicating that hers was on and she could see herself in the bottom right hand corner of Skype.

Her screen however was black. Carm could not be seen. Laura began to panic. What if this was all an elaborate hoax?

Suddenly Laura’s screen went white and she saw a picture.

The first thing Laura noticed was the ghastly red and gold wallpaper which made Laura’s eyes have to readjust to the image before her. The edge of a bookshelf could be seen with a few thick leather bound books on an askew angle in the frame.

‘Sorry, I forgot to turn the light on,’ Carmilla’s voice rang out.

‘It’s ok, I forget to do that sometimes when I’m calling…’ Laura stopped.

A woman sat down in front of the camera that was perched on what looked to be a reclining leather seat. She possessed long, loose, dark brunette curls with deliberately carved eyebrows, wide set upturned almond shaped eyes with chocolate brown pupils.

Laura looked down to see the woman wearing a rolled up baggy t-shirt with a print consisting of isometric triangles in shades of blue, pink, black, purple and grey and a pair of black skinny jeans. She was the image of perfection, no hair out of place, she couldn’t be real could she?

‘Laura?’ The woman called out. She had the same voice as Carm. This was Carmilla.

‘Sorry,’ Laura squeaked.

‘You’re staring,’ Carmilla smirked.

‘I didn’t think you’d look the way you do!’ Laura rushed.

‘Thanks?’ Carmilla made a scrunched up face, unsure of what Laura meant.

‘I mean, you’re gorgeous, I didn’t think you’d look so beautiful, you look amazing and I…’ Laura stopped as she noticed she was rambling and Carmilla’s smile grew bigger and landed in a smirk, ‘You’re playing with me, you knew what I meant!’

‘Of course, Cupcake,’ Carmilla chuckled softly, ‘You’re not too bad looking yourself.’

Laura frowned as she looked down at herself. Her light brunette hair lay flat on her head, she wore a grey pair of sweatpants and an oversized blue and white striped shirt with the top 2 buttons undone.

‘If I’d have known you looked so beautiful then I’d have made an effort,’ Laura whispered hoping Carmilla wouldn’t have heard.

‘Laura, you look gorgeous too,’ Carmilla assured her.

Laura was slightly shocked that Carmilla had heard that. It was like she had the ears of a cat. Then again, coming to think about it, her eyes reminded her of one. Laura was sure that Carmilla’s animagus and patronus would totally be a big black cat.

‘Thanks,’ Laura goofily smiled. She’d never had anyone call her gorgeous, not even Danny, ‘Anyway, what happened in the ritual?’

*

My first write up of a ritual - The Hosting Game
Submitted at 10:52 25/05/2016 by TheRogueVamp

I’ve done rituals before. They were originally a laugh, something I didn’t think would work and just the figments of some individual’s imagination. But that was until I’d done my first one.

Like most young kids, I’d done the Bloody Mary ritual as a child with my older sister as she wanted to scare me one night. It did. I saw something. But that was over 15 years ago and with the logical mind I possess, I just assumed I’d seen a reflection from the light and that my overactive brain had turned it into the face of a woman.

I came across Creepypasta’s when I was searching for sleep remedies one night and my search for ‘No Sleep’ came across with this part of the internet. I read the stories thinking they were nothing more than that, stories to keep you entertained. I came across one user, CuriousJournalist and read her experiences. I befriended her and soon found myself doing the Daruma-san Ritual which was petrifying because it actually worked.

I hadn’t done another ritual since out of fear but when CuriousJournalist needed another ritual experience for her Journalism project but was unable to do one herself due to being followed by Slender Man, I decided to do one for her. I went for something small because I was frankly too afraid to do anything as big as Daruma-san again.

I chose the Hosting Game also known as Don’t Look Back. I’d imagine you can find the instructions somewhere on this site, or you can just do a quick Google for it.

I followed everything right, called out in every room and made sure that I thanked whoever entered when my match lit.

Thankfully all 3 matches lit so I knew I didn’t have unwanted guests in my house, but so far everything could have been coincidence until I heard a voice whisper ‘Thank you’ to me.

I was shaking, the voice was soft and not at all something to be afraid of but I wasn’t expecting it. I know it’s just one voice and compared to other ritual experiences, this is something completely miniscule but these rituals do work; even the little ones.

*

Laura lay slouched on the couch. She’d passed her first year of Uni by a small margin and her Dad was not pleased. He’d gone off on the ‘It’s not cheap to send you to University’ spiel that Laura had been dreading. She’d been a good student and her lecturers knew that which was why they were letting her continue with her studies rather than drop her out of class. She’d gone through a rough time with Danny but refused to tell her Dad because he wouldn’t understand. She loved her Dad but she knew he wouldn’t get it.

On the plus side, Laura’s journalism project had been handed in weeks ago and Professor Cochrane had sent her marks through. Laura had gotten an A- on the report. She said it would have been an A but that some of the personal experiences she’d written down were ‘slightly out there’ and that Laura should have ‘found more reliable sources’. Laura couldn’t turn around and say that the personal experiences were real because she knew she’d sound like a madwoman but settling for a great grade after appalling results was better than nothing. Her Dad was relieved and had began blaming it on Laura’s revision methods and told her that she must revise differently, but he’d given her some space and she no longer felt ‘grounded’.

She sat and watched the news. In the light of the Pulse attack, Laura had been thinking of how lucky she was to live in a part of the world that seemed to be gay friendly and a place that was accepting of the LGBT community. Apparently the shooter had been gay himself and the self-loathing he had felt towards himself because he’d been told that being gay was not ok lead to him murdering innocent people. It put things in perspective. Was love really worth killing for? What drove people to believe that liking someone who is not of the opposite sex is wrong? What even was love?

Laura had thought she’d been in love. But was she really in love with Danny? She’d respected her and admired her but that didn’t mean that she loved her, did it? She didn’t feel anything of what she thought she’d feel.

She wanted to talk to someone but no one around her would know. She refused to talk to her Dad and Carm was only a few years older than her and had admitted to only falling for 2 people before but had never dated either of them so she would be as clueless as Laura. This was the time that Laura wished her Mum was still alive because she’d know all about love.

Creepypasta Rituals to contact the dead

Laura looked to her computer screen and realised she had self-consciously typed and searched for them. She knew she wasn’t supposed to think of them because of Him, but she needed advice from the only person who might be able to help her. It was right, she knew it deep down that she needed it.

The Shoebox Ritual

Laura began to read and realised that it was perfect and that now was the right time to perform it.

Without thinking, Laura shut her computer down, switched off her phone and the TV and started rooting through the drawers in the kitchen for an ink pen before snatching a piece of paper from the printer. Knowing she couldn’t cross anything out, Laura thought carefully as to what she wanted to write.

Dear Mum,

I know I don’t have the right to ask because you’re at peace right now and hopefully enjoying your time in heaven or wherever you are right now but I really need your advice. I don’t know you, or at least I don’t remember you. I know the woman my Dad fell in love with and all the stories he tells me. I know your photograph and your fashion sense but that’s it. You don’t know me other than what you knew when you were here and anything you see when you watch down on me. I just hope you’re proud of me and that you love me.

In fact, why I’m messaging you is because I need advice about love. I know it’s a stupid thing to send you a message about but I’m lost and don’t think I can turn to Dad about it. He’s great but I think he lacks the feminine touch when it comes to love and would say that no one is good enough for him like the protective father he is. I dated a girl. Her name was Danny and she was nice, she was cool and I thought she was going to be more than what she was if that makes sense. But she wasn’t the idea of love that they talk about in the movies. I didn’t get butterflies. I didn’t have the hairs on my arms stand up when she touched me like I thought I would. I didn’t smile every time I saw her. I got angry with her. I wondered why I fell for her. I don’t even know.

I probably wouldn’t have started dating her if I had a choice. But I suppose you’ll know why I did. I did a ritual and she came to me as a result of it so she was the person I could find as a friend and fall in love with, right? So why are we no longer friends or in love if she was my one? Or is that what love is? Just a fictional idea to make us less lonely?

I don’t understand. I just need some help. Please, tell me what love is.

Laura.

Laura found a reel of thread, scissors and a needle in her sewing kit before running upstairs to find something that reminded her of her Mum. She went to her jewellery box and found the necklace she could remember her Mum wearing. It was green and probably not a real jewel but Laura kept it because it was one of her only memories of her Mum. Laura looked under her bed and found her old shoebox. Her Dad had always told her to keep shoe boxes just in case her shoes went wrong and she had to return them. Thankfully Laura did everything her Dad had asked her and was able to perform the ritual.

She walked back downstairs making a stop in the kitchen for a paper cup and continued with the ritual.

She tied the thread around the necklace of her Mum’s and threaded the other through the end of the paper cup. She tied a knot through the cup and smiled at the make-shift telephone. When she was younger, her Dad used to make them with her and it brought back childhood memories.

She read her letter into the paper cup as sincerely and honestly as she could before placing the letter and necklace in the box and shut the lid, trapping the thread that she had trailed out. The only thing outside of the box was the little paper cup that she handled with care as she knew it was her form of communication with her Mum.

She picked the box up, took it upstairs and placed it in her bedroom cupboard with the cup face down on top of the shoebox and the scissors next to it before crawling into bed and falling asleep.

*

‘Carmilla, can I have a word with you?’ Nigel asked running a hand through his short black hair.

‘Sure,’ Carmilla smiled at him as she put down the first prints of the day.

‘So you know how we discussed you going away before you start here in the autumn?’

Carmilla nodded, unsure of what to expect.

‘I managed to secure you a place in Toronto like you wanted.’

Carmilla’s jaw dropped. Did she mishear that?

‘What?’ Carmilla whispered.

‘You’re going to Toronto,’ he beamed.

‘OH MY GOD!’ Carmilla screamed. She ran towards him and hugged him. He didn’t know how much it meant to her but she was going to show him.

‘Woah, ok, I was not expecting this,’ he laughed as he patted her on the back.

Carmilla let him go and dusted herself off looking slightly embarrassed. She attempted to calm herself down.

‘Thanks Nigel, it means so much! I can’t wait to go out there! When?’

‘Get your accommodation sorted and your eTA and you can go as soon as you like, I managed to get funding for it. There are ground rules but I’m sure you know that already. You’ll be going for 3 months so I suppose I’ll let you have the rest of the day off to go and sort your shit out.’

Without saying another word, Carmilla grabbed her bag and ran out the door. She couldn’t wait to tell Laura.

*

‘Laura, honey, wake up, I’m here.’

Laura awoke from her slumber. She had seen her, her mother staring down at her from above. She looked over at her clock on the bedside table to find out it was 2am. Laura was a heavy sleeper, she didn’t just wake up unless something forced her awake. It had been 3 days since she’d done the start of the ritual and had been waiting for the time for the phone to ring. Now was the time to answer it.

Laura placed her bare feet on the cold wooden floor. The change was enough to shock her body awake and she walked to the closet.

The box was not open and the cup had not fallen over. Laura was safe to answer it. She closed the door to her closet and felt the blood pumping through her ears and knew she had to calm down if she wanted to hear anything. Laura sat down on the floor in her closet, crossed legged with her back to the rest of the bedroom and placed the paper cup up to her right ear.

At first Laura couldn’t hear anything. She blinked a few times and covered her left ear, just in case the natural noises of the house caused her to miss something crucial when her mother spoke.

‘Laura.’

It was barely audible. Barely understandable. Nothing more than a quiet whisper, but there nonetheless.

‘Do not be misguided by anything and keep your heart pure. Trust in it and you will find love. Maybe it is there but she isn’t the one. You believe in these rituals, I know none have gone wrong yet. Maybe you were delivered the love you desired but have been so blinded by the obvious that you’ve forgotten to look at the inner meaning. Nothing is as simple as it seems, especially when it comes down to rituals and I know deep down that you know that. I know deep down you know whether Danny was the one or not.’

Laura waited and listened to the melodic voice of her mother speak. The next thing that she said was not understandable and Laura strained to hear it. Her mother was talking and she didn’t know what she was saying.

‘Beware of the Slenderman, I am protecting you as best as I can but you need to promise me that you are going to be careful. Follow the rituals word by word and do not continue if anything is wrong. I would tell you to stop but you’ve inherited my stubborn nature and I know that something that I tell you won’t bear much weight when you are my daughter. Don’t ask me how it’s possible to protect you, but let’s just say because I am stubborn, no one is hurting my baby girl.’

It went silent. Laura realised that was it. Her Mum had ended the phone call and whilst she got her response, she wished it had have lasted. Maybe Laura should have asked some questions to just hear her voice a little bit longer.

Just as Laura was about to snap the thread she felt something behind her. Something watching her. Laura couldn’t distinguish what it was. Friend or foe? Slenderman? Just as all the ideas rushed through her head she heard an indistinguishable voice. Her mother.

‘See ist dee Rick tig.’

Laura had to replay the words over in her mind. What did that mean? Did she hear it right?

The overwhelming sense of fear overcame her and Laura knew she had to end the ritual immediately and look at what was staring through the closet at her. She snapped the thread as fast as she could and tumbled out of the closet, prepared with a coat hanger to attack anything that stood in her room.

There was nothing.

Laura clambered into bed, knowing she would burn the paper cup in the morning and move the shoebox to somewhere that her Dad would never find it and accidentally open it. She closed her eyes and tried to decipher the last few words her Mother had said before drifting off into a deep sleep unaware of the presence watching over her.

Chapter Text

Carmilla had received her eTA and booked her flights. Everything was ready for a few weeks time. The only thing she hadn’t done? Tell Laura.

She knew it was stupid that she hadn’t told her yet, but she was so nervous. What if Laura didn’t want to meet up? Or what if she was going away for the summer and she wouldn’t even see Carm?

But Carm knew she had to tell her now. Not just because it was exciting news but she was banking on Laura letting her stay with her. Carmilla knew she’d have to pay her own hotel prices if that was the case and she didn’t want to spend that much money. As much as Laura was worth it, she simply didn’t have that amount.

Carm had sent Laura an e-mail asking to Skype call at some point and Laura had told her that she could at 5pm her time.

Carmilla looked at the clock. It was 22:55. She had 5 minutes until it would be 5pm in Toronto.

The butterflies in her stomach began to appear as she waited for the notification to inform her that Laura was online. She didn’t know if she was ready to tell her but she couldn’t put it off any longer as that would just prolong her suffering and that’s not what she wanted right now.

The only soothing thought was that she wouldn’t wake anyone up. Maman and Will weren’t at home. Both were at the University; Maman dealing with an issue on campus and Will in his dorm. It was only Mattie who was home however she was sat by the fireplace in the living room working on some reports. Like Carm, she worked better at night.

Laura appeared online and Carm instantly video called her. Laura was slow at answering the call but did so nonetheless.

Carmilla looked down to see the last time they had called and it was nearly a month ago. In the past month, Carm had been so busy preparing for Canada that she’d not been keeping track with Laura and they had drifted apart slightly but Carmilla hoped they’d still be fine when they got back to talking and would pick up where they left off.

‘Hey,’ Carmilla chirped.

‘Hi,’ Laura mumbled.

‘You ok?’ Carmilla asked.

‘I’ll be fine,’ Laura replied rubbing her eyes.

‘Are you tired?’

‘Yeah,’ Laura answered.

Carm wanted to tell her. She’d prepared to tell Laura that she was going to Canada but she couldn’t bring herself to say it. Laura was tired and she didn’t want to start discussing plans with someone who was evidently not in the right frame of mind to do so.

‘Shall I let you go and get some sleep then?’ Carmilla asked disappointed.

‘No, you said you wanted to speak to me, what’s wrong?’

‘I just hadn’t spoken in a while and just wanted to talk,’ Carmilla began, ‘It’s nothing that can’t wait. You go and sleep.’

‘Thanks,’ Laura whispered as she ended the call.

Carmilla stared at her screen. She hadn’t even said goodbye.

That’s when the emotion began to flow out. She’d been ready to tell Laura the thing she’d been so excited about for almost a month and she had to hold in those emotions once again.

The warm tears streamed down her face. At first it was silent crying, then turned into small sobs before Carmilla broke down and struggled to breathe because the tears wouldn’t stop coming.

There was a gentle knock on the door. Carmilla tried to speak to tell the person to come in but it was not audible in the midst of weeps and cries. But they needed no invitation to the room as the person crept in and wrapped their arms around Carmilla.

‘Shh, it will be ok,’ came the reassuring voice.

*

Laura shut the computer lid and put her head in her hands. She rubbed them over her scalp and through her head in an attempt to stop it from pounding. She could feel the vibrations through the tips of her fingers, as if someone was kicking her violently in the head resulting in her brain moving around in her skull.

Laura had felt like this for a while but it was continually getting worse and always just before she went to bed. It always started with her feeling like she was being watched, the hairs on her neck and arms would stand on end but no one was there before she’d feel sick and have double vision. Her head would begin to pound and it reminded her of when she attended the races with her Dad because the sound of horse's hooves had always resonated in her mind.

She’d tried hard to speak with Carm but the pain increased the longer that she left it and she knew she had to go to bed, to the place the pain stopped even though it was only 5 o’clock.

Laura clambered into bed and as soon as her head touched the pillow, the pain ceased. It magically vanished and Laura hadn’t a clue what caused it to go away.

She turned over so that her back was to the window and prayed tonight would be different than every other night but it wasn’t.

As the night drew closer, in the dark she could see the figure at the foot of her bed. It stood ominously, watching, waiting and wishing she’d come out of the protection of her bed and step into the shadows.

*

You free any afternoon? Your afternoon I mean so my morning? Want to have the Skype call with me?

Carm’s email pinged. Today was her day off so she could talk with Laura but she was still upset over the last time they tried to talk. It was stupid because Laura was probably just tired but it was the holidays for her, she didn’t have to work so why was she tired?

I’m free now.

Carm didn’t want to seem too eager but didn’t want to seem too cold. She pressed send. It was blunt but accepting that they could speak then and there so it was also open and that’s what Carmilla wanted.

She logged onto Skype and saw the green dot next to Laura’s name to indicate that she was online but she refused to make the first move. That was Laura’s choice.

Without Carmilla being able to switch onto a different window, Laura was already calling her and she waited for it to ring two times before accepting it.

‘Hey,’ Laura whispered.

‘Hello,’ Carmilla replied.

‘How have you been?’ Laura asked.

‘Fine. You?’

‘Not really, but that’s not important right now, you have some important news for me and that’s more important,’ Laura said.

Carmilla was taken aback. Maybe Laura was just tired last night? She seemed to care for the news Carm had.

‘No, tell me what’s up. It’s good news so I’d rather hear the bad news first and try and cheer you up with good news than tell you now and then have to talk about bad things,’ Carmilla replied as she lay down on her bed.

‘You’re going to hate me so much,’ Laura said running her hand through her hair.

‘Well then you’d better tell me because I don’t want to tell you this good news if I’m going to hate you,’ Carmilla said.

Laura looked at her like she was being serious.

‘Woah, ok Laura, that was a joke. Tell me what’s wrong.’

‘I did a ritual and before you say anything, it was supposed to be relatively safe but since then I’m feeling like shit at night except for when I get into bed and everything makes me feel better except something is at the end of my bed.’

Carmilla was shocked.

‘I can’t believe you did another ritual. How could you be so stupid?’

‘Don’t you think I know?’

Carmilla took a deep breath, ‘Ok, me arguing with you isn’t going to help. What ritual was it?’

‘The Shoebox Ritual, I wanted to speak with my Mum about love because I didn’t know who else to turn to.’

‘So you contacted the dead whilst Slenderman is stalking you? Oh my God, Laura.’

‘But I’m safe in my bed, my Mum contacted me and told me that she’d protect me. She must be protecting me there.’

‘Laura, I honestly don’t know what else you can do,’ Carmilla said in frustration.

‘I believe in my Mum, I think she’ll keep me safe.’

‘When was this? I hadn’t seen a post on Reddit from you,’ Carmilla asked.

‘It was a while ago. It’s so personal I just don’t know if I could put it up on Reddit. Do you think I should?’

‘It’s up to you.’

‘I just don’t know.’

There was a brief pause, Laura was so tired that she looked as if she was about to collapse and Carmilla knew she probably wasn’t getting the full picture because Laura was too exhausted to provide it.

‘What did your Mum say in terms of doing rituals and love, that’s if you want to tell me?’

‘My Mum said that it was so typical of me because I’ve inherited her stubbornness. She said that I just need to be patient when it comes to love,’ Laura replied.

That set the alarm bells ringing in Carmilla’s head. Laura had done the 11 Miles ritual and had asked for love which Laura had received. Carmilla knew that it was her Laura had asked for and so would her Mum. Carmilla had read that sometimes the Shoebox Ritual brings you a demon rather than the spirit you’re trying to summon. The person had lied to Laura as any person who knew Laura would know she’d done the 11 Miles ritual. This was Slenderman trying to harm Laura.

‘Laura, are you sure this is your Mum? Remember, you did the 11 Miles, she’d know that and would have told you that your dream of love would have arrived then,’ Carmilla replied.

Laura thought. Her Mum had said that her love had arrived then but Laura refused to believe it because she’d not met anyone else in that time but she wasn’t going to tell Carmilla because she felt embarrassed that she didn’t know who her love was.

‘It was my Mum,’ Laura told her.

‘Laura, it’s just…’ Carmilla was interrupted.

‘It was my Mum,’ Laura snapped.

They fell into a silence.

‘Sorry,’ Laura whispered, ‘I’m tired, I didn’t mean to snap.’

‘Ok,’ Carmilla replied cooly.

‘Anyway, tell me this good news,’ Laura suggested to try and change the conversation.

‘I’m coming to Canada.’

‘What?’ Laura scoffed. Did she hear that right?

‘I’m coming to Toronto,’ Carmilla replied nonchalantly.

‘Oh my God, how can you just lie there and act like this is not huge news! Oh my God, when are you going to be here? Will you come and see me? What are you doing over here?’

‘Ok, I know you’re a journalist but you can calm down with the questions,’ Carmilla smiled. ‘I’m coming over until October as that’s when I start my apprenticeship. I’m coming over to do some photography in a different setting as my boss wants me to experience it and I jokingly told him I’d only want to head to Toronto, so he got me flights. Of course I want to see you! I need your help, I’ve got flights but I don’t know where I can stay for really cheap as that’s got to come out of my savings and I don’t have a lot for 3 months.’

‘Come and stay with me! I don’t start Uni until October!’ Laura squealed.

‘But what about your Dad?’ Carmilla asked.

‘I’ll go and ask him, but you’re definitely staying here! I won’t have it any other way, I’ll just say you’re a friend from Uni if I have to and you’re wanting to stay in Canada over the summer rather than go back home. We can work this Carm! We’re doing it!’

Carmilla smiled, she’d wanted Laura to offer her a place to stay. She hated that she had to feign shock as that’s what she’d wanted but she’d known that with how short notice it would be that she should prepare for Laura not allowing her to stay with her.

‘I’m so excited,’ Carmilla replied.

‘I know, same! Can you believe after this short time, you’re going to be coming over to stay with me for a while?’ Laura asked.

‘Not really, it still feels like a dream,’ Carmilla giggled.

‘How long have we even known each other for anyway?’

‘We became friends on the 21st of January,’ Carmilla replied.

‘How do you know that off the top of your head?’ Laura quizzed.

‘Oh, I just remember the post, it was nothing special,’ Carmilla refused to tell Laura that it was the day after she’d done the 11 Miles ritual. Laura was still under the impression that Danny was her one and she didn’t want to ruin Laura’s beliefs.

‘That’s so strange! Anyway, I’m going to have to go, I’m going to have to work on my Dad to tell him that you’re coming over to stay, what are the dates?’ Laura asked.

‘I’ll forward you my flight confirmation e-mail,’ Carmilla replied.

‘Super! Speak to you later!’ Laura chimed.

‘Ok cutie,’ Carmilla smiled as they ended the call and Carmilla found the email to forward to Laura.

Laura opened up her e-mails and saw that she had an e-mail come through from Reddit. She decided to log on and saw a comment to one of her posts asking her for more rituals.

It was at that point that Laura decided to check what rituals she’d put up and figure out which post Carm had read from her. She scrolled through her posts. If Carm said that they’d become friend on the 21st then Laura was looking for something on the 21st or earlier.

She found a post put up on the 21st of January entitled ‘11 Miles’ and that’s when Laura realised. She’d performed the 11 Miles ritual on the 20th of January and her wish was to find love the next day.

Holy crap.

Carmilla.

Chapter Text

Laura was sat waiting at the airport. She twiddled her thumbs because she knew she was about to meet Carm and she was terrified. All the bad things were going through her head but she knew nothing bad would happen.

She was there, it felt so real but she felt half like she was in a dream. It was like she was floating but the thing that kept her attached to the floor was the anxiety deep down that felt like a ton of bricks. She could feel the nerves tingling through her whole body as though she had a serious case of pins and needles.

‘Calm down,’ she whispered to herself.

The sound of voices grew nearer, the feeling of suitcases being rolled along the floor rumbled so loud that Laura could feel it in her bones as she knew one of those suitcases belonged to Carmilla. She could feel her hands getting clammy so quickly wiped her palms on her jeans. Laura averted her gaze back to the sea of people and that was when she saw the raven coloured locks come bounding through the gates.

Carmilla had instantly spotted her and ran up to her. Laura was read for a big embrace, a long hug that would last for eternity but as she got closer and closer, Laura didn’t think she could hug Carmilla. She was frozen in place and when Carmilla approached she wrapped her hands around Laura’s neck and kissed her so passionately that Laura didn’t know what to expect.

‘See ist dee Rick tig.’

*

Laura bolted upright in bed. The sweat was dripping off of her and she had no idea what had happened. It was all a dream but it felt so real.

How did she know this was real? It wasn’t was it? She’d grown accustomed to the shadow at the end of her bed watching her when she slept but it was no longer there. Was she still dreaming? Laura pinched herself hard and she squealed. She was definitely not dreaming.

She replayed what she’d dreamt about. Carmilla would be coming over to stay with her in the next few days and maybe she was just nervous.

But the one thing that kept repeating in her mind were her mother’s words. ‘See ist dee Rick tig.’

What did it mean?

*

What does it mean?
Submitted at 15:30 26/07/2016 by CuriousJournalist

So I’ve been debating whether I should put this up for a couple of weeks now. Anyone who has been following my journey of rituals knows that I’ve been having issues with someone stalking me. And by someone I’m pretty sure I mean Slenderman.

I know I was supposed to stop doing rituals but there’s just something that pulled me into this one, and that was that I needed some help from something only my Mum could help me with. My Mum passed away when I was young but I knew I could only ever ask a mother the question I wanted answering as it was so personal so I did a ritual. The Shoebox Ritual.

Everything was fine, I did everything right, I trusted the voice as it answered my question and could have only answered it by knowing me. But then I felt the presence around me. The feeling that it’s watching over me. I was about to crawl into bed but then I heard something that I didn’t think was important as it didn’t make any sense.

However, last night I had a dream. It was a dream where I dreamt about what I’d asked my Mum help with and I heard the same thing just before I woke up.

It’s the same voice as my Mum’s and it’s saying ‘See ist dee Rick tig’ and I don’t have a clue what it means. So my question is, does anybody understand it?

Laura posted it up on Reddit and went to the kitchen to make herself a mug of hot chocolate to help her get to sleep. When she came back she had a reply on her post.

‘Sie ist die Richtige’ means ‘She is the one’ in German.

*

Laura sat in the airport. She jiggled her leg up and down to help her calm her nerves.

She’d dreamed of meeting Carmilla many times and couldn’t be sure what would happen, her mind had ran through so many different scenarios that Laura was prepared for anything. But this time was real. She knew that she wouldn’t wake up if something bad happened. But nothing bad was going to happen, not when she finally met Carmilla.

‘Calm down,’ she whispered to herself.

Laura scanned the room as she saw people come through the gates. One of them was Carmilla. She was so focussed she could not hear a thing. She could not hear the screaming of people telling her to get out of the way. That’s when Laura was knocked over by a giant grizzly bear that took a swing for her and she narrowly avoided its sharp claws that came flying towards her face.

‘She is the one,’ the bear growled.

*

Laura squealed. Once again another nightmare to wake her out of her peaceful slumber. That was definitely a dream. Only in her Dad’s world would a bear attack her in an airport.

*

Carmilla stared at the departure screen. This was really happening. She felt sick to the stomach with nerves. She was really going to meet Laura who was going to be waiting for her off the plane.

She’d never been on a plane before and wasn’t really sure of what to expect but all she did know was that it was going to be one long ride.

*

Laura stared at her fingertips. The amount of times she’d dreamed of this meeting was making her feel sick to her stomach. This time it was no dream and she was made blissfully aware of that by the big bruise she’d made on her arm from pinching herself so hard. The slow ache was enough to drive her mad on a normal day, but on a day like today she prefered to know that this was real than have a fucking shark waddle in and eat her, because why wouldn’t her dreams feature that somewhere?

‘Do sharks even waddle?’ Laura wondered aloud. ‘Or do they flap out of water?’

She was standing. She was too nervous to be sitting. When she sat, her leg jiggled up and down and she hated it, she hated it when other people did it so when it was her own she had a self-loathing to make it stop. She watched as the sliding doors opened at the airport and people came through wearing all sorts, pulling their oversized bags with them.

That’s when Laura caught her first glimpse of the beautiful woman she had been waiting for. Her bag rolled behind her flawlessly and she looked as though walking off a 12 hour long plane journey was an everyday thing for her. She wore the same clothes as the first time they spoke on Skype. The triangle shirt of all different shades of blue, purple, pink, white and black with tight black skinny jeans. Her hair was down showing perfectly sculpted curls with her bangs covering her right eye slightly.

Laura’s heart skipped a beat as she got closer to the girl.

‘Don’t say anything stupid, Hollis!’ Laura whispered to herself as her heart pounded heavily against her chest and her breathing quickened.

Carmilla noticed her and a small side smile crept onto her face as she let go of her bag and wrapped an arm around Laura and pulled her in close.

Laura didn’t know how to react other than copying the motion Carmilla did. She inhaled and smelt the musky smell of sweat covered up by deodorant, deodorant so strong she could almost taste it. She closed her eyes and buried her head into the raven locks of the woman standing before her. The hair tickled Laura’s face as she felt the rise and fall of Carmilla’s breathing body in her arms.

‘Hey cupcake,’ she whispered to Laura.

‘Hey,’ Laura breathed.

Laura had surprised herself, she didn’t squeal or mess up when she met Carm, in fact she felt relaxed and at ease. There was nothing to be nervous of.

They pulled away from the hug and stared at each other as smiles grew on their faces so big that half their heads were covered in beaming white gleams. Laura realised she had to speak. Not because the silence was awkward but because if she didn’t, she wouldn’t be able to smile anymore as her mouth muscles were beginning to ache.

‘Shall we?’

Carmilla nodded as she grabbed her bags and followed Laura out of the airport. Laura grasped onto Carmilla’s hand. It was a natural thing to do, or at least Laura convinced herself that it was natural to hold Carmilla’s hand. They couldn’t get separated, Carm would be in a country she didn’t know and that wouldn’t be fair, it wasn’t at all because Laura wanted to hold her hand, it was just for safety’s sake.

Laura explained that they would drop Carm’s bags at her dorm and go around Toronto for the night before heading back to where Laura lived and if that would be ok because it would be early in the morning and knowing the time difference might affect her. Carmilla laughed.

‘I spend most of my nights awake speaking to you on the computer, I’m sure I can handle it.’

‘Good!’ Laura giggled, ‘If there’s anything you want to do whilst we’re in the city then let me know.’

‘Actually, there is one thing,’ Carmilla started, ‘I read about a place called Church and Wellesley and I wouldn’t mind heading there.’

‘Sure, I don’t know where it is but I can check on the computer at my dorm,’ Laura smiled.

*

As they arrived at Laura’s dorm room, Carmilla dropped her backpack off in the middle of the room, falling to the floor with a loud thud, demonstrating the weight that was in there.

‘What do you have in there?’ Laura asked, staring at the bag like it had a giant beast inside that would jump out when she least expected it to.

‘Sorry,’ Carmilla said as she moved her bag to behind Betty’s bed. ‘It’s just a load of things, all my hair products, make-up and I don’t know the English word for it but deoderant and toothpaste and toothbrushes and…’

‘Toiletries,’ Laura smiled.

‘That’s it, toiletries. Sorry, sometimes my English fails me.’

‘Your English is really good. Better than half the people I know that only speak English. I’ve always found that those who speak English but don’t use it as their first language are better at speaking English than those who speak only English. It’s crazy,’ Laura laughed.

‘We grow up having to learn it though because we know that English is spoken in many countries across the world. Not many people know that German is spoken in more than one country so it’s not a very popular language to learn. But name to me right now, how many countries you can think of that speak English as their first language?’ Carmilla asked.

‘Errm,’ Laura thought, ‘Well, Canada, the US, the whole of the UK so that includes England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, oh the Republic of Ireland! Errm…’ Laura thought aloud.

‘Australia, a whole load of Africa, a lot of islands like Jamaica and Barbados. It’s spoken in every single continent of the world so you’re fine, you could go anywhere and the likelihood that you’d find someone who understood you is quite high. Instead us German speaking folk have to do more work to be understood,’ Carmilla chuckled and stuck her tongue out at Laura.

‘The Germans are taking over the world,’ Laura laughed.

‘I’d hope not, I want to take over the world and I’m Austrian,’ Carmilla smiled.

‘Taking over the world one language at a time,’ Laura giggled.

‘I shall be Countess Karnstein, ruler of the world and all my peasants shall speak German!’

‘I’d better start learning then,’ Laura fumbled with the mouse of her computer.

‘No time for that now! Let’s head out, you can learn your German after I’m gone,’ Carmilla walked over to Laura, ‘Peasant.’

After a while of searching for Church and Wellesley, Laura found it on the map. ‘There it is!’

‘Is it far away?’

Laura looked at the directions, ‘We can take a cab if you don’t want to walk?’

‘I want to explore this city before I take it over, let’s walk!’

*

‘Here it is,’ Laura looked around, ‘Wait a minute.’

Laura stared at the sign and saw the rainbow flags on top of the street names.

‘What’s up?’ Carmilla asked like it was no big deal.

‘But, we’re in the gay village!’

‘And?’

‘Well you’re not gay so why did you want to come here?’

Carmilla put her head in her hands, ‘I thought gay people had a good gaydar!’

‘WHAT?’ Laura squealed. The butterflies in her stomach went wild. Carmilla Karnstein, this beautiful woman standing right before her eyes, was gay like her. Wait! Like her!

‘I like women,’ Carmilla chuckled.

‘Oh my God! I can’t believe this, I’m gay too!’

Carmilla let out a loud laugh. ‘Laura, I know you’re gay, you were dating Danny and I knew she wasn’t a man!’

‘Oh yeah,’ Laura remembered, of course Carmilla knew about Danny.

‘Come on, I’m hungry, I need food!’ Carmilla tugged on Laura’s sleeve and they walked arm in arm down the street. Laura felt strangely comfortable. She could get used to this.

*

They walked up a couple of steps to enter the patio area of Spirits Bar and Grill.

Carmilla was smiling from ear to ear at the bustling hub that was the restaurant that catered as a gay bar.

‘Hey, do you think we can eat outside?’ Carmilla asked.

‘Yeah, definitely. Did you want to?’ Laura asked.

‘Yes! I want to experience as much of this beautiful city as I can,’ Carmilla beamed.

Laura smiled goofily at the excitable girl in front of her as an overwhelming pang of emotion spread over her. It was almost as though she was proud that she was able to make Carmilla happy and comfortable to be with her. This was real, Carmilla was real and to make everything better than it already was, Carmilla Karnstein liked women and they were in the gay village together.

It was as busy as Laura had expected for the village on a Saturday night and Carmilla seemed to be in bliss. After growing up in such a small village where you’re mainly surrounded by tourists and the same locals, Laura assumed that Carmilla was completely enthralled by a different atmosphere let alone being in a different city, country and continent!

Laura picked up the menu realising just how hungry she was.

‘How much do you want to eat?’ Laura asked.

‘What do you mean?’

‘Well, do you want starters or just straight to the main meal?’ Laura added.

Carmilla picked up the other menu out of the holder it was beautifully placed into and scanned over it before quickly saying, ‘I will have a starter.’

Laura let Carmilla read for a while whilst she looked over her surroundings. She’d not been to Spirits for a while. Not since her first week in Uni so couldn’t believe how little things had changed. The parasols above their table shielded them from the flaming sun and Laura was nothing but thankful that they had sat at a table with one; the glass table separating Carmilla and Laura by a small distance was hot enough from the air temperature and Laura didn’t want to know what it would feel like if the sun had been shining down on it for the whole day.

Laura rearranged herself in the black metal chair as she stared back down to the menu to see what she wanted.

‘Do you know what you want?’ Carmilla asked Laura.

‘Yeah, you?’

Carmilla nodded.

*

Laura sipped on her glass of water as Carmilla took a gulp from the can of Austrian beer she had ordered.

Carmilla was the kick ass bad girl Laura had always dreamed of finding. She reminded her of the typical motorbike girl complete with leather but minus the motorbike.

Laura watched Carmilla switch between her starter of fried calamari and her margherita pizza with ease as though calamari and margherita pizza were made to go together. Laura looked down at her meal in comparison and smiled to herself. She loved eating cookies and chocolate but when it came to her main meals, her Dad had always made sure she ate healthily. She looked at her nacho starter and her beet salad and realised how healthy her meal was compared to Carmilla’s.

She’d obviously been thinking about it for too long as Carmilla had stopped eating and was asking her if everything was ok.

‘Yeah, just me thinking how unhealthy your meal is compared to mine and how I need to let my hair down more,’ Laura voiced.

‘Well, we’ll find something! I’m going to make you have your hair put down by the end of the night.’

Laura laughed at the wrong wording of Carmilla trying to cheer her up.

*

Carmilla didn’t have long to wait to find something to make Laura let her hair down to.

‘It’s starting! If you want to take part then come up and sign your name and put a song next to it. You have 5 minutes before your Saturday night karaoke at Spirits commences.’

Carmilla’s ears pricked up after hearing the voice of a man from inside announce that it was karaoke night.

‘Laura,’ Carmilla began, ‘Karaoke? Let your hair down.’

‘Oh no, I can’t sing,’ Laura said embarrassed. She could in truth but didn’t like doing so in front of people.

‘Well, tough luck. I’m signing you up for it so you’d best tell me a song you like or I’ll have to guess and I may not guess a song that you actually know and you’ll look like a fool.’

Laura’s mouth dropped open. That was brutal. But she liked how forward and forceful the Austrian was, her thick accent oozed sarcasm but her face was etched with a serious threat and Laura didn’t know if Carmilla was being serious.

‘Are you being serious?’ Laura asked.

‘Deadly.’

Laura knew there was no way of getting out of it and should accept defeat. She’d never win against the raven locked woman.

‘Fine, but only if you do something too,’ Laura said, raising one eyebrow.

‘Of course cupcake,’ Carmilla smiled as she got up gracefully from her seat to write their names down on the sheet, ‘What shall I put down?’

‘You go and put yours down, then I will, I want it to be a surprise,’ Laura winked.

Carmilla grinned before she walked off ready for a challenge.

*

‘And next up we have Carmilla Karnsteen, with ‘Creep’ by Radiohead,’ the announcer stated.

Carmilla placed a hand on her forehead, ‘For fucks sake,’ she whispered before she got up to the microphone.

‘It’s pronounced ‘Karn-stine’, it’s Austrian,’ Carmilla stated earning a laugh from the crowd and an apologetic hand from the announcer.

‘Karn-stine,’ the announcer corrected.

The music hit and Laura listened to Carmilla’s graceful voice run along the octaves and it sent shivers down her spine.

I want you to notice
When I’m not around
You’re so very special
I wish I was special

She sang directly to Laura and Laura’s skin erupted in goosebumps. Carmilla was special and she deserved a girl or guy (If she liked men as well as women) to treat her right and show her how special she was.

But I’m a creep
I’m a weirdo
What the hell am I doing here
I don’t belong here
I don’t belong here

Carmilla finished singing and Laura’s hands involuntarily clapped a bit too exaggeratedly that she looked like a seal.

‘Well done,’ Laura whispered as Carmilla sat back down next to her and the round of applause began to fade.

‘Thanks cupcake, I’m excited to see what you’ve chosen.’

And on cue, the announcer stepped up to the makeshift stage in front of the microphone to announce the next participant.

‘And up next, we have Laura Hollis, singing ‘Back To Black’ by Amy Winehouse.’

Laura stood up to the microphone and glanced at Carmilla who had a large grin plastered over her face. Hopefully Carmilla liked it.

Laura sang her heart out. She wanted to impress Carmilla so much so even gave extra vocal riffs during the bridge to show her hidden talent.

She looked over at Carmilla every now and then to see her smile grow wider and wider.

As the music finished, Laura sat down, her heart racing and so focused on Carmilla that she could hear no applause despite seeing hands clapping around the room.

‘I do like jazz,’ were the only words Laura cared about.

Chapter Text

Laura walked up the path towards the white PVC door hand in hand with Carmilla who was by now fairly tipsy and was clutching to Laura’s hand for dear life. Laura was unable to tell if it was because Carmilla was worried she’d fall over or nervous for what was about to happen next.

It was only midnight but coming home at midnight was always frowned upon by Laura’s Dad but hopefully he wouldn’t be staying up to meet them.

She put the key in the lock and turned it to allow the door to swing open.

‘After you,’ Laura whispered.

Carmilla walked in first without relinquishing the grip that she had on the small brunette’s hand.

The house seemed quiet but rather than it feeling peaceful, it felt uneasy, like someone was watching them. Laura stared at Carmilla to calm herself. Carmilla was looking around and taking in every inch of the hallway and what she could see from upstairs.

Laura opened the living room door because the air was beginning to suffocate her and walked in to find her Dad sitting motionless in front of the TV that was muted.

‘Dad?’ Laura asked quietly.

‘What time do you call this?’

‘I’m sorry, we were out for some food and we got a bit carried away with karaoke and then the traffic was bad on the way back up and I had to reduce my speed because they’ve changed the speed limit on some of the roads and…’ Laura took a breath. There was no point in explaining as he wouldn’t listen.

‘Laura,’ he sighed, ‘Show your friend to her room and then I want to have a discussion with you.’

Laura nodded before sprinting out the room and up the stairs, not even checking if Carmilla was behind her.

She entered the spare room which was plain and empty. A few of Laura’s old stuffed toys and games as a child were put on shelves and stored in boxes, the white wallpapered walls and bleached blinds with floor-length spotted curtains gave an unhomely feel to the room and Laura felt bad that Carmilla would be staying in a place that felt like a spare room. She wanted it to feel more like home considering she’d be spending 3 months with her.

She felt Carmilla enter the room and instantly felt a need to explain, on edge from the interaction that had occurred just a few moments ago downstairs with her father. His overprotectiveness made Laura feel like she must protect herself.

‘I’m sorry, I wish this room was better and more homely because it just feels like a spare room and well I want you to feel like this is your home and everything,’ Laura gave up. She couldn’t fight it.

Carmilla walked softly towards her and reached her arms out to grasp firmly onto Laura’s biceps, rubbing the flesh with her thumbs.

‘That was rough, you were right when you said he was overprotective. I don’t care what the room looks like, as long as I have you,’ Carmilla paused trying to gage the reaction from Laura who looked up into the chocolate brown eyes of the taller raven-locked girl. ‘Go down and defend yourself with him and call me down to meet him whenever he is ready to meet me.’

Laura had an urge to kiss the girl standing in front of her but knew she had to resist, she didn’t want their first kiss to be out of sadness but rather out of love and happiness so instead pulled Carmilla into a tight hug whilst she remembered how to breathe. She pulled away and headed downstairs to face the music from her Dad.

She opened the door and he was on her instantly.

‘You barely know the girl and you’re driving her all this way, now I can just about accept that. However you’re doing it in the dark when nobody else is going to be on the roads. She could have kidnapped you or murdered you or anything! How do you know she isn’t a savage serial killer?’

‘Because! Carm would never hurt me!’ Laura protested.

‘Oh and how do you know that? It’s not like you’ve known her for very long! Plus, you’re more likely to get killed by someone you know than by a stranger!’

‘Dad, Carmilla is not just a person to me ok? She’s special and she’s staying here. She’s one of the only people who has met you and rather than saying that they’re going to leave because you’re too overprotective has said that she’ll be there for me when you’ve finished your rant at me. She’s the only friend you’ve not scared off when you’ve first met them!’ Laura yelled.

She looked up to her Dad for the first time and suddenly regretted it. Not because she wanted to back down or because he looked angry but in his eyes were guilt. The guilt that he felt of having his daughter be bullied at school because she had no friends and it all be because of him and his parenting.

‘Look Dad, I love you, I do, but please calm down, she’s here for 3 months! I don’t want things to be awkward. Just treat her like you would me, that’s all I’m asking for,’ Laura pleaded.

‘Fine,’ he sighed trying to hide the pain he was showing, ‘I will. I’m going to bed. I’ll speak to her in the morning.’

He squeezed past her, taking all the oxygen in the room with him and Laura felt herself start to cry so viciously that her weeps wouldn’t make any sounds, instead she grabbed onto the sofa and tried to learn how to breathe. It felt like a lifetime before it was under control. The hand on her lower back instantly soothing and sending signals to her lungs that she was safe and could intake air normally once more.

‘Want to talk about it?’ Carmilla’s voice was soft and full of kindness and understanding.

‘He just wants what’s best for me, I know that but,’ Laura stopped.

‘And what is it that you want?’ Carmilla asked.

‘I want to be normal, I want friends that aren’t afraid of him,’ Laura took in a long breath, ‘I want you to be happy here.’

‘What do you want me to say? I’m happy if you’re happy and if your Dad doesn’t like me then I know that you’re not happy. I can’t make you choose between me and him but I just want you to see you smile Laura. When I split up with my ex, I told myself I’d never trust anyone again. But then I met you and I trust you Laura. Just do what makes you happy.’

There was a long silence as Laura took in those words and Carmilla rubbed circles with her fingers over the fabric of Laura’s shirt.

‘Come on, it’s been a long day, let’s go to sleep,’ Carmilla said.

And with that Laura walked up the stairs with Carmilla close behind.

‘Goodnight Carmilla,’ Laura whispered. Carmilla smiled before heading into her room and closing the door softly behind her.

*

Laura headed downstairs to find her Dad at the kitchen island eating breakfast.

‘Dad,’ Laura whispered.

Mr Hollis looked up from his bowl of cereal and Laura knew she had to say what she had been thinking.

‘I want to be happy, I know you want me to be happy too. My life has changed since I went to Uni and I like how it’s changed. I’ve become independent and I no longer need you to tell me everything I need to do. That doesn’t mean I don’t need you because I’ll always need you when my car doesn’t start or I need you to tell me how to cook something but I have been able to find my own friends. Carmilla is a really down to earth girl and I’m sure that if you grilled her with questions you wouldn’t be able to find a bad bone in her body and if doing that makes you happy then do it but I really need you to be ok with her. She wants me to be happy and you want me to be happy and the only way that I can be happy is if you’re both happy and getting along!’

Laura’s Dad looked at his cereal and swirled some of the pieces around.

‘You’re right, I am overprotective and I always will be. You’re my little girl and I just want to protect you from everything. But I can’t protect you from every little thing that comes your way and I’d rather have you hurt by something and have learned than have me wrap you up in bubble wrap. I just don’t want to lose my little girl.’

‘I will always be your little girl,’ Laura smiled.

Mr Hollis put his arms out for Laura to come and give him a cuddle and she embraced him like a little girl would her father.

‘Oh, sorry,’ a small voice came from the other side of the room.

Laura stopped hugging her Dad as she saw Carmilla trying to leave the room.

‘Carm, wait!’ Laura called after her.

Carmilla reappeared in her long silk bed robe.

‘Carm, this is my Dad, Dad, this is Carmilla.’

‘Hello Carmilla,’ Mr Hollis spoke.

‘Hi, Mr Hollis, it’s good to meet you, thank you for letting me stay here,’ Carmilla stepped forward with a hand reached out in front.

Laura’s Dad took it and shaked it gently.

‘Now, I’m not going to pretend like I’m completely ok with this but I’m going to try my hardest since I want Laura to be happy, do you understand?’

‘Loud and clear,’ Carmilla nodded.

‘Whilst you’re in my house there needs to be some ground rules but because I am willing to compromise for Laura’s sake, there is only 1. You tell me where you’re going with my daughter and she keeps her GPS tracker on at all times so that I know where you’re taking her so if you plan to kidnap her then…’ Laura’s Dad was interrupted by a disgruntled noise from his daughter.

‘Dad, for fuck’s sake! THIS IS NOT A COMPROMISE!’ Laura screamed before storming out the room and leaving Carmilla and Laura’s Dad alone.

Mr Hollis flung his arms in the air and faced back towards his half empty cereal bowl.

‘I’ll leave you to it,’ Carmilla excused herself.

‘No, no you won’t. You won’t go and see her until I’ve sorted this out with her. I don’t want you turning her against me. She’s the only person I have left in this world.’

‘You can’t keep assuming the worse about everybody. If you do then you’ll push her away and you’ll be the monster in her life.’

‘Oh yeah? And how would you know that? Because you’ll tell her?’

Unexpectedly rather than a comeback he felt Carmilla put a hand on his back.

‘Because my Mother wouldn’t let me have friends. She locked me in my room when I came home from school and I never saw anybody. I fell for someone and I would sneak out to see them and when my Mother found out she tried to tell the police that my lover had kidnapped me. We broke up and I have hated my Mother ever since and I do anything I can to piss her off because I despise her and everything she stands for. Unlike my Mother, you actually care for your daughter. Your protectiveness is out of love not out of neglect. Don’t throw it away because you love her so much, let her spread her wings and fly the nest because I know she loves you and would always come back to you.’

‘You really think that?’ Mr Hollis asked.

‘You don’t know how highly she speaks of you,’ Carmilla smiled.

‘You know, I think I could maybe start to get to like you,’ he smiled back.

*

Laura heard a knock on her door.

‘Go away,’ she shouted.

‘Not going to work on me cupcake,’ Carmilla replied.

‘Or me,’ she heard her Dad say.

‘What do you want?’ Laura groaned.

‘To come in would be nice!’ Carmilla’s sarcastic tone really knew how to wind Laura up.

‘FINE! COME IN THEN!’ Laura yelled.

The door opened and Laura saw the 2 of them enter.

‘We were having a bit of a chat,’ Laura’s Dad said.

‘Yeah, I saw some really cute baby photos too,’ Carmilla chuckled as she took a sip of coffee.

‘What?’ Laura asked, half in shock and half in embarrassment.

‘She’s not too bad a person, I could get to like her.’

‘Yeah, your daughter chose a pretty amazing person to befriend,’ Carmilla winked.

‘What?’ Laura repeated, unsure whether this was all a dream.

‘I’ve decided that I trust her, or I at least trust you. I want you to tell me where you’re going and when but I trust you and as long as you let me know if you’ll be out later then planned, I’m fine with you going out with her,’ Mr Hollis announced.

Laura stared at them both like it was a joke.

‘Come on Laura, I thought you’d be happy about this!’ Carmilla smirked.

‘What did you say to him?’

‘She told me something I needed to hear. Now, are you going to go out anywhere before I change my mind?’

Laura jumped up.

‘I know where we’re going,’ Laura beamed suddenly, ‘Going to walk around the village. Errrm, I don’t know when we’ll be back, give us like 3 hours, if it’s longer I’ll text you?’

‘That’s my girl! Have fun,’ Mr Hollis smiled as Laura embraced him for a hug before he left the room.

‘Go on Carm, get dressed, the clock’s ticking!’ Laura giggled.

*

Laura grabbed Carmilla’s hand and led her down the street with a proud knowing smile as she held her rucksack over her shoulder. Today was one of her favourite days and in her excitement over Carmilla, she had almost forgotten what was happening in the village square.

They walked through the neighbourhood, passing houses with children playing on the village greens. Carmilla took in every inch she could as it was a new country and new life that she wasn’t used to. Being from a tourist centre where nobody knew anybody, she was welcomed into a world where people knew each other.

They passed an older lady and Laura smiled and said hello to her. You wouldn’t get that where Carmilla was from. Yes, Austria was friendly but the locals tried to avoid the tourists at all costs as they tried to live their normal lives but this was a tight knit community where everybody seemed to care about each other and traffic abided by the speed limit. The largest vehicle Carmilla had seen was the local bus running into the centre of town, unlike the giant coaches she was so used to seeing through her bedroom window carrying tourists from every part of the world. It was quiet and serene and Carmilla loved it.

After 20 minutes of walking, Carmilla could see the start of the village centre. There was a gym and a large Dollarama store. They turned left on the main road and continued to walk for another 5 minutes down the street, passing a couple of restaurants and passing by the train station.

Behind the train station lay the village square and Carmilla could hear a multitude of voices, some talking, some shouting, some singing with musical instruments that could be heard through the booming speakers.

As they rounded the corner from the station, the smell of fresh flowers and herbs and spices hit her nose followed shortly by the smell of cooking meat that sent a pang of hunger to her belly which she fought to control. In front of Carmilla lay tents and gazebos with street vendors and people dotted across the square, some in rows and some out of place yet so perfectly fitting with their random placement. They belonged and Carmilla saw the true sense of community that Laura loved about here.

People walked in single file past the large wagons holding vegetables and fruits of all shapes, colours and sizes with some stopping to tick off the items they had purchased. It was like a street market, something Carmilla had never witnessed before.

A brief chill swept over her as the square lay open to the wind when the sun was not pounding down upon them. The whole area was a sea of people and Carmilla didn’t even know where you would start if you wanted to. She looked towards Laura and saw the smile plastered over her face.

‘It’s the day of the Farmer’s Market,’ Laura smiled.

‘It’s so busy,’ Carmilla replied.

‘It is, unless you know how to get around,’ Laura beamed, ‘Good thing you have me. Come on.’

Laura pulled on Carmilla’s hand yet again to lead her into the swarm of humans, entering from a side where flowers of vibrant colours were being sold, some that Carmilla had never seen before.

‘Are you into flowers?’ Laura asked, speaking loud enough for Carmilla to hear over the voices around her.

‘Sometimes, they represent life and death and what happens when you don’t care for them. They are like human beings. When we pump drugs and alcohol into our body like poison, we begin to wilt like flowers do if you don’t feed them right and similarly if you don’t treat yourself right mentally and ignore your needs or the needs of others your soul wilts and it physically harms you. If you ignore a flower and don’t give it the attention it deserves then it dies,’ Carmilla replied as she took in all the colours of the rainbow.

‘You are definitely a philosophy major.’

Carmilla chuckled as she looked over the deep red roses, sunny orange Asiatic lilies, bright yellow chrysanthemums, bushy green hypericum and eye-catching purple freesias. There were a variety of shades with some of the colours being almost white and one rose in particular being almost black. Carmilla was drawn to it. A flower as beautiful as a rose could show the darkness that it could possess, after all, roses have thorns so despite being beautiful they were capable of hurting the unwise and timid soul. Laura was timid and found Carmilla beautiful but wasn’t aware of the thorns Carmilla hid.

‘What’s caught your eye?’

Carmilla was brought back to the world by the older man standing behind the stall.

‘The rose that’s almost black, it’s beautiful,’ Carmilla voiced.

‘I can do the lone rose for $2,’ he said.

Carmilla fumbled for her purse and then realised that in her mad rush to get out of the front door, she’d left her purse at Laura’s.

‘Thank you,’ Carmilla took one last glance at the rose, ‘But I don’t have my purse on me.’

She began to walk away from the stall with Laura close behind and they walked towards a vegetable stall.

‘Did you really leave your purse at my place?’ Laura asked.

‘Yes, sadly I did.’

Laura began to look at the vegetables with an eye that Carmilla could tell was experienced. Laura knew exactly what she was looking for in the vegetables she looked at, not that Carmilla knew what that was. Size? Colour?

The vegetables were organised in such a way that was a mixture of neat and messy. They lay over the display table with white signs attached to wooden sticks to display the name and price of each vegetable.

‘Hey Laura,’ the man behind the stall called.

‘Hey Kirsch, how are you?’ Laura asked in response.

‘I’m great, what is it that you and your Dad want this time?’ The male seemed of a similar age to Laura and Carmilla assumed that they knew each other from school.

‘1 cucumber, 3 red bell peppers, a pound of beets, 2 pounds of carrots,’ Laura began as she picked up a pumpkin by her side, ‘And this beast.’

Kirsch laughed, ‘Sure thing Laura.’

Carmilla admired the bustle of the market as Laura paid for all the vegetables.

‘Hey, I’ll leave them down here for you to come and get when you’re finished.’

‘Thanks Kirsch,’ Laura smiled, ‘We’ll be back later.’

They began to walk away from the vegetables and walked past clothing stalls with pretty skirts that danced in the wind, past stalls selling handmade wooden items from a child’s rocking horse to bird houses, past stalls with plates and silverware for half the price you’d get at a mainstream shop. This was people’s livelihoods and Carmilla only wished she could buy something from every stall to show her appreciation for this beautiful village she would be calling home for 3 months.

A man with his wagon tried to pass in front of them and made them stop in their tracks. This gave Carmilla the first opportunity to look around her whole surroundings. A stall of jams, cakes, chocolates and soaps stood to her left so proud and displaying a big sign saying ‘Homemade’ and to her right stood a jewellery stall with creative designs and different colours and Carmilla almost wished that the man had stayed in front of them for longer.

‘Come on, I’m taking you to try something,’ Laura shouted through the noise of market vendors and children screaming.

They walked further and further down the street when they came to an area of benches and stalls in a semi-circle that engulfed them. Laura led Carmilla to a bench and sat her down.

‘You are going to try something very Canadian. I hope you’re ready! I’ll be back in a second,’ Laura said before bounding off towards a stall on the other side of the area.

It seemed as though this was an eating area as all the stalls she could see were offering food. Ice cream, kettle corn and hot dogs were the ones closest to her.

She took in the people which made her smile. One man was stood at the ice cream stall in a tracksuit dripping with sweat having clearly just been for a run. A group of girls who must have been in their late teens passed her bench talking about how they weren’t impressed with their boyfriends. Children ran around their parents legs and baby strollers, playing with one another and even though Carmilla wasn’t a big fan of children, the smiles on their faces were enough to make her appreciate them. A woman in ripped jeans walked past with her black and white mutt that seemed incredibly excited to be going for a walk as the tail of the dog was wagging quickly. People from the other end of the eating area were laughing with sincere belly laughs at something Carmilla didn’t know but whatever it was made her laugh by default. They were all so genuine. This little community where everyone knew each other was beautiful to Carmilla.

‘Here you go,’ Laura said as she put a polystyrene box in front of her before handing her a napkin and plastic fork.

Carmilla looked down at the food on the table. Fries, cheese and gravy. Carmilla was revolted.

‘What on Earth is this?’

‘It’s poutine! It’s the best,’ Laura said through a mouthful.

‘Is it fries, cheese and gravy?’

‘Yeah,’ Laura smiled.

Carmilla looked up at Laura who was enjoying it.

‘It sounds awful.’

‘To be fair it does but it tastes amazing. Seriously, just try it, if you don’t like it. I’m more than happy to eat yours,’ Laura laughed.

Carmilla stabbed her fork into one of the fries and watched as the cheese pulled apart before placing it in her mouth and chewing.

‘What do you think?’ Laura asked.

Carmilla smiled as the bizarre combination hit her taste buds, ‘I like it.’

*

Laura put the vegetables into the rucksack she had, before hauling it onto her back.

‘Thanks for keeping them here Kirsch.’

‘Anytime, Laura,’ Kirsch smiled at her.

‘Do you need a hand with it?’ Carmilla asked.

‘I’m fine Carm, I’m used to doing this!’ Laura said.

‘I’m more than happy to carry the pumpkin,’ Carmilla suggested.

Kirsch picked up the pumpkin and handed it to Carmilla, ‘I’m Kirsch by the way.’

‘I’m Carmilla, I’m staying with Laura for a bit.’

‘Friend from Uni? I’m surprised your Dad is letting her stay with you, I remember he tried to attack me with Bear Spray, especially when you asked if I could sleep over that one time. Considering you’re a lesbian, I didn’t think he’d let you have a woman stay at yours if that’s how he reacted to a boy!’

‘She’s sort of a friend from Uni, we met online, she’s from Austria,’ Laura replied.

‘Oh! Guten Tag! Wie geht’s?’ Kirsch asked.

‘Danke, gut,’ Carmilla replied with a smile.

‘When did you learn German?’ Laura asked.

‘Oh, our floor don studies it so I’ve picked up a bit,’ Kirsch smiled at Laura before turning to Carmilla, ‘How did she talk her Dad into letting you stay?’

‘Carm actually spoke to him and then he became her best friend but we still have rules. Which speaking of, we need to get back or we’ll have been out longer than we said we would have been,’ Laura rolled her eyes.

‘It was nice to meet you Kirsch,’ Carmilla smiled.

‘You too, see you around Laura.’

‘Bye Kirsch,’ Laura said as they walked back to Laura’s place.

When they were away from the hustle and bustle of the market and Laura could speak at normal volume again, she rummaged around in her backpack causing them to both stop where they were.

‘I got you something,’ Laura said, ‘Close your eyes and hold out your hands.’

Carmilla laughed at the childish like nature of Laura but did as she was told.

Laura placed something in her open hands. Carmilla instantly thought she knew what it was.

‘Open your eyes.’

She did and she had guessed correctly.

‘I went to get it when I got the poutine, the man was very happy that I was getting it for you,’ Laura smiled.

Carmilla looked at the green stem with the thorns still on it and the deep red petals that were the colour of fresh blood.

‘Thank you,’ Carmilla whispered.

*

Carmilla sat at the island and Laura stood by the unit cutting celery and a plant Laura had called ‘Radicchio’ that she could only describe as a red cabbage but thinner and finer leaves. There was a vegetarian roast in the oven and Laura had already prepared dessert that would go in the oven when they were ready to eat the roast.

‘So Dad won’t be home for this so it’s just going to be us for dinner,’ Laura began. ‘Anything you want to do after dinner?’

‘No plans, ‘Carmilla replied as she watched Laura finely slicing the celery, ‘I’m more than happy to watch a movie or something.’

‘Sure,’ Laura smiled.

The timer went off that lay on the unit that gave Carmilla a bit of a fright but didn’t phase Laura as she placed what she’d made on the side of the plate.

‘So what is this?’ Carmilla asked.

‘It’s celery and radicchio slaw with celery leaf pesto dressing,’ Laura replied as she took the roast out of the oven and started to cut into the plastic wrapper, ‘I learned it off a website ages ago because Dad hadn’t had time to go shopping as he was doing so much overtime and we barely had anything in the house and I’ve loved it ever since. It’s simple and works perfectly with a vegetarian roast.’

Laura began to carve the roast and place it on their plates. 4 slices each. She cut the rest up, placed some cling film over it and put it in the fridge for her Dad to eat when he got in.

‘And dinner is served,’ Laura smiled as she put the plate in front of Carmilla and got her some cutlery before placing the desert in the oven.

*

Dinner went smoothly and they talked about a variety of things, what it was like in Austria, Carmilla’s family, Laura’s family, their favourite movies and food.

‘Yeah, I love junk food, it’s all I eat at my dorm but Dad insists I eat healthy here which I don’t mind,’ Laura laughed as she finished her food.

‘I still can’t get over how nice the roast was even though it’s not got meat in it and I’m one of the biggest fans of meat you’ll ever know,’ Carmilla smiled.

‘Well, dessert’s nearly finished. Are you ready for it?’ Laura asked.

‘Always! I can always eat dessert,’ Carmilla chuckled.

‘A woman after my own heart,’ Laura swooned.

She took the apple and clementine crumble out of the oven and as she placed it down on the top of the oven to cool down, the room was plunged into darkness.

‘Shit,’ Laura whispered.

Carmilla edged her way over to the window to see nothing but black outside.

‘The street lamps are also off. I think we’re having a power cut Miss Hollis,’ Carmilla replied.

‘I’m not used to it anymore now that I’ve spent so much time in the city,’ Laura said.

‘Do you have a torch about?’ Carmilla asked.

‘It’s not where it used to be,’ Laura said rummaging through the cupboards, ‘I’ve found matches and a candle. It’s a pillar one as well so it will stand by itself.

Laura lit the candle and the flicker of light sent shadows dancing around the room.

‘Gosh, the amount of times we’ve lit candles between us,’ Carmilla smiled at the memories.

‘Yeah, it’s a shame I can’t do them anymore, I really wish I could.’

‘You can,’ Carmilla replied, ‘You just have to protect yourself and I’m here too and I’ll protect you from him if I have to.’

‘Thanks Carm.’

‘You’re welcome.’

Both returned to their seats.

‘Do you have any rituals you want to do?’ Carmilla asked Laura.

‘I can’t think of any of the top of my head,’ Laura answered, ‘Why? Do you?’

Carmilla stared at the candle in front of her.

‘How many candles do you have in this house?’

‘Plenty,’ Laura replied, ‘Why?’

‘What about ‘The Candles Game’?’

Chapter Text

‘Don’t do anything stupid whilst I’m gone,’ Sherman Hollis announced to the 2 girls.

Carmilla and Laura shared a knowing glance. If only he knew what they were about to do.

He left the house and both girls knew he wouldn’t be home until sunrise the next day.

The 2 girls watched him pull out of the driveway and without saying a word to each other, began closing the windows, curtains and blinds throughout the building, preventing the sun from coming in through the glass. They sent the house into darkness, with only a small amount of light creeping from under the blackout blinds and peeking from the sides of the floor length curtains.

‘You know the house best, what electronic devices do you have that we need to unplug?’ Carmilla asked.

‘There’s the TV in the living room but other than that there’s nothing other than phones, laptops and tablets. Do we need to shut them off now too?’ Laura asked.

‘Yeah,’ Carmilla said as she unplugged the TV from its socket, ‘It says they need to be put in a box and put in a closet other than your watch. I think you should take yours with you though so you know when it’s safe to come back.’

‘Me? Why me?’

‘Well, I’m going to be doing the ritual, I’m not letting you do it when you’ve got Slenderman after you,’ Carmilla stated.

‘Yeah but I know this house, I know how many rooms there are and I know how to get around here in the dark,’ Laura protested.

‘And where will I go? I don’t know this area.’

‘You can sit in my car meaning that you’re just outside and if I need you, I know you’re in earshot of my screaming,’ Laura laughed.

Carmilla stared at Laura unimpressed.

‘It was a joke Carm,’ Laura smiled, ‘Come on, I really want to give it a go. Plus, my readers will want to know.’

‘Fine,’ Carmilla rolled her eyes, ‘I’m taking my phone with me so I can actually do something of interest. AND I’m taking some blankets with me or I’ll be freezing in that car.’

Laura smiled as she turned her phone off and continued the rest of the preparation for the ritual.

*

Laura placed the last candle in the hallway before leaving for her room where Carmilla was waiting for her.

‘Right, that’s me,’ Laura said as she sat down on the bed next to Carmilla, ‘Remember, I counted out the exact number of candles for each room in the house except for my own room so if you have any left over at the end then you’ve missed a room.’

‘Ok, I’ll go and place them. I’ll let you know before I leave,’ Carmilla said, rising from the bed without making eye contact with Laura.

Laura waited for a few minutes when Carmilla returned with no candles in her hand.

‘Stay safe,’ Carmilla said from the edge of the doorway.

‘I promise,’ Laura smiled, ‘Stay warm.’

Carmilla smiled back before leaving. Laura waited for the front door to close and she looked towards her watch. It was 19:38. She would see Carmilla again in just over 10 hours, but those 10 hours would feel like a lifetime.

Laura placed a candle inside her room by the door before going around and closing all the other doors in her house. She sat down in the hallway outside of her bedroom door and waited for the sun to set. When it did, she entered into her room, set her alarm for 23:10 and went to sleep.

*

Laura awoke to the sound of her alarm. It was pitch black and bolted upright to check the time. Her watch said 23:10 and Laura knew she had to hurry.

Laura grabbed her box of matches on her bedside table and scuttled over to the candle in front of her door. She took a deep breath to calm her nerves and struck the match to light the candle.

Laura looked down at her watch and saw that it still read 23:10 she knew she’d managed it in time. She took another deep breath and stared at it until it read 23:11. Now she could start the ritual.

She knocked 3 times, leaving a 3 second interval between each knock. Laura listened closely to see if she could hear any noise from behind her door, trying to shake the idea that something was standing outside it ready to pounce when it opened but there was nothing but deafening silence.

Laura took a deep breath before saying the words that she could never take back.

‘I am ready to play.’

Laura picked up the candle and opened the door, relief spreading through her body that nobody was stood outside waiting for her. She placed the candle down outside of her door and closed it behind her.

Laura knew the importance of looking only in front of her. She could not look around even though she felt something there, urging her to look at it. She took a few minutes to collect herself before knocking on the door of the room in front of her, Carmilla’s room.

She knocked 3 times with 3 seconds in between each knock and listened for any noises. Nothing. She entered the room and began to panic, she set her watch to go off in 3 minutes time and realised she had to find the candle quickly. It would be on the floor but would be hidden.

Laura couldn’t see much, not even her hand in front of her face. She had no idea how she was going to find the candle, especially when she knew that someone, or something may be standing right in front of her but she didn’t know. She held onto the closet by her and dropped to her knees, feeling out and around her but it was taking forever.

Laura had crawled around the whole room, felt by the closet, by the dresser and finally by the bedside cabinet where she found it. She quickly struck a match and lit the candle before letting out a shaky breath. She looked at her watch and saw that she only had another 20 seconds to find it or she’d have failed but now the candle shone and lit up the wall in front of her.

Laura was about to get up but something stopped her. An immense feeling of fear and trepidation surrounded her and began to suffocate her that she struggled to breathe. This was not right. There was something behind her. Something staring so fiercely that Laura huddled herself into a ball. She faced the wall in front of her and on the floor beside her, she saw the t-shirt Carmilla had been wearing when she’d picked her up from the airport. Without thinking, Laura picked up the shirt and held it close to her chest. All of a sudden, the fear dissipated and the room felt like it once was. It was like Carmilla was there with her.

Laura picked up her matches and stood, still clenching the shirt close to her chest, inhaling the scent of the girl she knew was her soulmate and had been gifted to her by the 11 Miles ritual. She had a power item and knew that she could face anything knowing she had an element of Carmilla by her side.

Laura left the room and closed the door behind her.

She came to the candle in the hallway and lit it, allowing for her to see her surroundings. To her right was the bathroom, her left was the stairs and in front of her lay her Dad’s bedroom and the room she dreaded going into, the en-suite where she had done Daruma-San, and Laura had no idea if she should do that room now and get it over with or do it later to pluck up the courage. She knew she’d have to do every room at some point in the night but wanted to use her 6 hours to light the candles wisely.

Laura decided to head downstairs. Half way down she realised that she also had the garage to do but decided to leave that one until later for the simple fact that she wanted to get the living room and kitchen out of the way as it was the biggest room and she’d rather fail here than go into the en-suite.

Laura set her alarm and knocked on the door 3 times leaving the same 3 second interval between each knock. When she heard nothing on the other side of the door, she entered the largest room in the house. Laura dropped to all fours and started to crawl towards the kitchen island in front of her before going around it. Just as she headed towards the table, she found the candle and was half happy and half saddened as it seemed that she would have to go to the rooms she didn’t want to.

Laura left the room and walked down the hallway, coming across the only other candle she had placed near the front door. She struck the match before doing the knocking process and entering the downstairs half bathroom.

Due to the small size of the room, Laura found the candle as soon as she dropped to her knees and left as soon as she’d lit the candle. She now had to walk back through the hallway, towards the stairs.

Laura looked directly in front of her and held Carmilla’s shirt closer to her chest, overdosing on the smell of Carmilla, the musky smell of airplanes and days old deoderant. Normally it would be unpleasant, but right now, Laura didn’t care, the smell was better than a cup of hot chocolate.

She started to ascend the stairs before turning to the door on her right on the top of the half way landing.

Laura knew there was no car in the garage but that it would be large and vast and if Carmilla had hidden it well, Laura might not be able to find it. It would also be cold and Laura wished she’d have put something warmer on rather than sweats.

She knocked, and like previously there were no sounds that she could hear. She set her timer, opened the door and descended down the stairs to the garage.

The cold and stuffy air hit her bare arms and sent a shiver down her spine. Laura dropped to her knees and frantically searched around for the candle. Thankfully, the PVC door to her left let in a sliver of light from the street lamps that they had not been able to cover so Laura felt a lot more at ease searching for the candle, especially as, whether deliberately or accidentally, Carmilla had placed the candle in such a way that the white of the candle could be seen in the light. After lighting it, Laura left and headed upstairs once again. She had 3 rooms left. The hardest rooms.

Laura entered the bathroom. She kept her eyes down knowing that on the wall facing her was a mirror. The rules state not to stare into mirrors and that they should be covered if possible however the mirrors in the bathroom and the en-suite were not possible to turn or cover so Laura knew she had to keep her head down.

Quickly, Laura found the candle and lit it before leaving and closing the door behind her.

So far Laura had felt quite happy with herself. She’d done what had been asked of her so far and only had 2 rooms left. She could do the rest. She took a breath and turned to face her Dad’s room. She stood and calmed herself and told herself that she was doing really well and that there was nothing to be afraid of.

Too late.

In Laura’s peripheral vision a shadow ran across the landing downstairs by the garage door. Laura restrained herself from looking at it and tried to distract herself by clutching Carmilla’s shirt to her chest but the smell didn’t help anymore, she had grown accustomed to it, instead she threw it over her head and wore the baggy shirt, finally calming her breathing.

Knocking on her Dad’s bedroom had become a comforting thing when she was a child but now it scared her. No sound came from the other side but it still felt wrong. Laura knew however that if there was no sound then it was safe for her to enter, even if she did so warily.

She set her watch and started her hunt to find the candle. Thankfully for her, Carmilla had placed it near the entrance, just by the seat in the corner, the place where her Dad always went to if he needed to be by himself after a long day of work.

After lighting it, the room felt unusually safe. Right now Laura was on edge but the room felt comforting when Laura knew it shouldn’t. Was something trying to lure her into a false sense of security?

Laura looked to her watch to find out she’d spent an hour and a half doing this so far and that it was 00:41. She only had the en-suite to do before she could go back to her room and lie in her bed for 5 hours making sure not to fall asleep.

She took a deep breath before doing the knocking routine. There were no sounds on the other side of the door and the candlelight flickers from the candle in her Dad’s bedroom made the end of the ritual feel safe. Too safe.

As Laura opened the door and dropped to her knees she began to hear something. A very quiet whimper coming from the end of the bathroom, where the bathtub lay. Laura froze but knew she had to find the candle. She got closer and closer to the bath with the whimpering getting louder and louder. She could detect that it was female. What if it was Daruma-San coming back?

Laura reached the toilet and found the candle resting next to it. She struck the match and as soon as she did, the whimpering stopped. Relieved, Laura stood up, forgetting to keep her head down as she looked directly into the mirror above the toilet.

She dragged her eyes away but not before seeing him. His suit as pristine as ever. The blank expressionless face. Laura had fucked up. She’d fucked up big time yet again. She inched her way out of the room, clutching onto Carmilla’s shirt which by now was doing no use to calm her fear.

As soon as she closed the door, she heard a blood-curdling scream come from behind her and Laura had the urge to run. Run out of the house and into Carmilla’s arms and beg her to protect her from Slenderman and the spirit of Daruma-San but knew that you’re not allowed to run, instead she closed the door to her Dad’s room and the screaming ceased.

Laura took a breath and headed towards her room before knocking and hearing nothing on the other side. She entered the room, closed the door, walked over to her bed and lay down facing the ceiling.

As soon as her head hit the pillow the screams began again and Laura did all she could to focus on the ceiling above her when out of the corner of her eye something began to manifest. In the shadows a white pristine shirt could be seen and as the being stepped closer, Laura could see the expressionless face staring at her.

She daren’t move. She had to focus on the ceiling. Focus on anything but the doom she was in. Focus on Carmilla.

How was she going to make this work with Carmilla? She knew Carmilla was her soulmate but how would she explain that to her without her hating her for not giving her a choice in the matter. Laura couldn’t imagine what it would be like the other way around if someone told her that she was their soulmate and she couldn’t argue because a higher being had already deemed them soulmates.

He took a step closer and the screams intensified. No, Laura. Don’t focus on him.

What would she do with Carmilla now? They could watch some films tomorrow. There was nothing eventful going on in the village and Laura didn’t really feel like heading into Toronto, at least not yet. She was enjoying Carmilla’s company and whilst her Dad was on nights he barely spent any time with them meaning they could spend the whole day with each other without him being present. She’d rather save going into the city for when he was on his days off so they could spend time with each other then.

He was so close that she could smell him. He smelt like freshly dug dirt and death. It was as though he had been raised from the dead, or that he’d just buried someone. Maybe that was who owned the screams? His last victim. No, Laura. Focus on Carmilla!

Carmilla had to do her photography when she was here. What could she do with her? Where could she go with her? What type of photography did Carmilla want? The hustle and bustle of the streets? Maybe she should suggest the next farmer’s market? Or maybe a bit busier like Toronto itself? Or is it nature that she was after?

She could see him looking over her, the ceiling was becoming further and further away as though he was dragging her down toward the Earth, dragging her toward hell, the screaming getting louder and nearer.

Suddenly her alarm started to go off and he was gone. The screaming had stopped.

Laura looked at her alarm and saw that it was 6am. She had to double take. The 5 hours had gone so quickly, it was as though they hadn’t existed at all. She looked towards her window and could see the light creeping in. It was sunrise. She’d survived.

*

The Candles Game
Submitted at 17:16 02/08/2016 by CuriousJournalist

So my friend came over from Austria a few days ago and whilst she’s here I have felt safe enough to try a ritual knowing that she’ll be here if something goes wrong and can be my protector.

I played The Candles Game last night with her as my designated partner. We did all the prep and she left before sundown and spent a freezing cold night sat in my car huddled up in a sleeping bag and a couple of my winter jumpers - Let’s just say she wasn’t happy about that!

I went to sleep and as the instructions state, I woke up at 23:10. I got out of bed and lit the candle before 23:11 which surprised me as I couldn’t see anything, it was so dark and I was seriously thankful that my watch had a light up feature so that I could see the time. I waited until it struck 23:11 and I said the words I knew were going to start the game. ‘I am ready to play.’

I won’t bore you with the details of how I searched every room because that’s just not fun and probably a waste of all of our times so I’ll just tell you the rooms that had the most significance to me.

The first room I went into was the guest room where my friend is staying. I found the candle very late into the 3 minutes and when I lit it the room felt so very different. I felt terrified and every hair stood on end as I knew something was behind me. At this point all I could think of was that my protector was nowhere near and if HE was here to take me, she wouldn’t know. I don’t know what came over me, a sense of wanting to be comforted or knowing that thinking about her would drive any thoughts of him away, I grabbed her t-shirt and held it close. The fear vanished and I could actually continue with the ritual.

I went downstairs and nothing seemed unusual and even in the bathroom (A room I was worried to go into due to the mirrors) I felt good. However as soon as I left the bathroom I saw a shadow dart across the midway landing down the stairs. I knew I couldn’t look at it or openly acknowledge its existence but then it all got worse.

I had 2 rooms left. My Dad’s room and his en-suite which for any of you who have forgotten or haven’t been reading the rest of my articles, is the room I performed Daruma-San in and was genuinely terrified by her all day long.

Strangely as soon as I lit the candle in my Dad’s room I felt safe but was well aware that it might have been the calm before the storm which believe me it was.

I entered the en-suite and immediately began to hear a small whimper coming from the tub. It grew louder and louder as I got nearer to it in search of my candle. Thankfully it wasn’t too far in and as soon as I lit it I wanted to get the hell out of there. But in my haste I forgot that there is a mirror right above the en-suite toilet which we could not cover up and I looked into it. Not for long I may add but I did look into it accidentally, more like my eyes skimmed over it as I realised what I was doing before I could prolong the look. But even though I spent barely any time looking I still saw it clearly as though I’d been staring at a portrait for so long. His suit was clean, his expressionless face and long arms, he was distinctive and terrifying. I steadily left the bathroom hoping he wouldn’t know what I’d accidentally done and could only hope I wouldn’t be punished for a simple fuck up but was I wrong.

I closed the en-suite door and a blood curdling scream commenced. I wanted to run but knew it said you aren’t allowed to so I just walked quickly to my room, did the routine of knocking and when I didn’t hear anything I entered my room and knew I had to stay awake until 6am without letting my eyes look anywhere other than the ceiling. When my head hit the pillow the screams began again and there in the corner of my eye I could see him, he had followed me and was stepping ever closer into my view. I tried all I could to stop thinking of him, I thought about what I was going to do with my friend whilst she’s here but he kept getting closer. If anyone has seen ‘The Babadook’ then you know what scene I’m referencing but it was like that. He kept getting into my field of vision like when the Babadook climbed onto the ceiling. I thought I was going to get taken and die, the screaming got louder and I could feel myself being taken from this Earth.

Then my alarm went off. I was safe in bed and I looked at my watch. It was 6am. I was safe. I ran outside to grab my Austrian friend and after telling her what I’d seen she watched me as I slept to make sure that I was safe.

I know she will keep me safe.

CuriousJournalist

Chapter Text

‘So what are you thinking of doing over the next couple of days?’ Mr Hollis asked from the kitchen to the 2 girls who were huddled up on the sofa with Carmilla’s arm wrapped lazily around Laura’s shoulder.

‘I’m not really sure yet,’ Laura answered, ‘I was actually going to speak to Carm about it later.’

‘What sort of photography are you into?’ Sherman Hollis asked, directing his question towards Carmilla.

‘I don’t really think I know yet. I’ve taken photos for different reasons. I think I like photographing nature but I have a knack for live-action according to my boss,’ Carmilla replied.

‘I’m trying to think if there’s any events that are going on around the local area anytime soon but there’s nothing that comes to my mind. But there’s a lot of nature around here as we’re not very far from the woods.’

Mr Hollis came and sat down next to them, bringing over 2 slices of pizza each which Laura was shocked over. Her Dad never ordered pizza. He was clearly trying to make an effort.

‘Thanks Mr Hollis,’ Carmilla replied as she took the plate and Laura nodded her head in thanks, ‘We’ll have to see. We can easily go back into Toronto if I need anything live action. I’d imagine there must be some sort of sports that happen in the city over summer, especially with the Olympics happening.’

‘Yeah, I know that my University are doing mini Olympics for students who are staying for the summer so we could easily go to that,’ Laura remembered.

‘Yeah, that would be cool and until then I can do some more photography of nature and of this incredible village you live in. I just need experience and I couldn’t have asked for a better place to gain it,’ Carmilla smiled.

‘You think that there is a lot to like about here and would like to photograph?’ Sherman asked.

Carmilla looked directly at Laura, ‘Definitely.’

Laura blushed and turned her head away but Carmilla’s eyes were piercing through her and making her insides melt. Laura was fairly sure Carmilla knew she had a crush on her and she was hoping that Carmilla thought the same about her.

Mr Hollis sat himself down on the chair and stared at the screen trying to see what the girls had put on. In normal fashion, Laura had put the news on so she could keep up to date with the latest goings on.

‘Do you not want to put something exciting on? Like a movie?’ Sherman asked making Laura look up at him.

‘Yeah but I didn’t know what you’d want on,’ Laura defended herself.

‘Carmilla, what do you like watching?’ Laura’s Dad asked.

‘Honestly Mr Hollis, I don’t really have the chance to watch movies, I mainly just read books,’ Carmilla replied.

‘Have you ever read ‘The Hunger Games’?’ Mr Hollis asked.

‘Yes I have,’ Carmilla answered.

‘Shall we watch the first movie then?’

‘Sure, Mr Hollis.’

*

The final credits rolled and both girls looked over to find Mr Hollis fast asleep snoring.

They’d moved closer to each other throughout the movie. Laura’s head now rested on Carmilla’s shoulder, whilst Carmilla’s previously lazy arm around Laura had wrapped itself around the smaller girl and had found the younger girl’s hand which she had interlocked her fingers with.

‘Did you like that?’ Laura whispered, looking up at Carmilla.

‘Yeah it was pretty good, Katniss is very different than she is in the books though,’ Carmilla replied.

‘Still a pretty good movie though in comparison to some of the other movies out there though, right?’

‘I wouldn’t really know,’ Carmilla answered.

‘What do you mean?’

‘Maman has never let me watch a movie before.’

‘WHAT!?’ Laura asked as she moved away to look directly at Carmilla in disbelief which caused her Dad to swat with his hand and mumble something about a new type of bear spray, ‘So have you ever watched a movie before?’

‘Never,’ Carmilla replied nervously picking at her cuticles and refusing to look at Laura for fear of being mocked.

‘Wow, so I took your movie virginity,’ Laura said, 'That’s pretty cool.’

‘Yeah,’ Carmilla smiled, ‘Movie virginity. Oh Laura, your English is sometimes so cute.’

‘Thanks,’ Laura smiled, ‘So what did you think of your first movie? Was it exciting? Did you feel like you were a part of it?’

‘It was exciting and yes I felt a part of it. It made me want to do a ritual to be honest,’ Carmilla said.

‘Oh God! You were thinking of rituals?’

‘Yeah, there’s this one that reminds me of the plotline.’

‘What do you mean?’ Laura asked.

Carmilla looked up at Laura with her eyes gleaming ready to tell Laura of the ritual she had read before, ‘It’s called ‘The Apex’.’

*

‘Carm. This is terrifying. I don’t want to do this,’ Laura said.

‘Come on Laura, it’s amazing, yes it will be terrifying but isn’t that the point?’

‘But I’m not safe. HE is still after me.’

‘Yeah but I’m here for you. I’m not going to leave you,’ Carmilla responded looking directly into Laura’s eyes.

‘I know you would be.’

‘But if you don’t want to I’m not going to force you.’

‘Let me think about it?’ Laura asked.

‘Yes, of course. Whatever you want. Well what do you want to do now? It’s getting late, did you want to go to bed?’

‘Yeah, I’ll sleep on it but I’ll let you know. Dad’s working early so we’ll figure out our plans for tomorrow later,’ Laura replied.

Laura’s Dad let out a snore and woke up before yawning widely, ‘It’s late. I’d best go to bed before work tomorrow.’

‘Yeah, we’re going to join you I think,’ Carmilla said.

*

Laura woke up to the sound of her Dad moving around the house. She rolled over to look at the flashing neon green lights by her bedside table displaying the time 3:58 on it. Laura rolled over to go back to sleep but no matter all the tossing and turning, something was stuck in the back of her mind that refused to let her rest her head. All she could think of was ‘The Apex’.

There was an element of curiosity in the idea whilst also a hint of fear. She could trust Carm, she knew she could trust her, but could she trust herself? What if she was putting Carmilla in danger by exposing her to this? What if she was helping Slenderman find another victim?

She rolled back over to see the time 4:08. Laura was one of the lucky individuals that when she wanted to sleep then she would be out in a click of her fingers but tonight she wouldn’t be. 10 minutes was 10 minutes too long to try and get back to bed and she needed to distract herself from thinking about the ritual.

Laura pulled off her duvet and exposed herself to the cool air of the night before grumpily standing up and going downstairs to the kitchen where her Dad would be, rubbing her eyes furiously to get rid of any reminders that she should currently be wrapped up warm in bed.

Her Dad was sat eating breakfast with a cup of coffee by the kitchen island.

‘Morning,’ Laura yawned startling her Dad a bit.

‘Oh Laura, I wasn’t expecting you to appear, you gave me a fright!’ Laura’s Dad laughed.

‘Sorry, I just couldn’t sleep.’

‘Did I wake you?’ Sherman asked with a hint of worry in his voice.

‘No,’ Laura lied, ‘I’ve just got a lot on my mind wondering what to do with Carm.’

‘I remember her saying that she wanted to do some night shoots of nature at some point but other than that you’ll know her best,’ he said as he took another mouthful of cereal.

‘Yeah,’ Laura pondered, ‘What time are you working until?’

‘Late, I should be back for dinner but if you want to be out then you don’t need to worry about me. I trust you,’ he smiled.

‘Yeah, I just don’t know. There’s something Carm suggested we do, and it’s at night in the woods and I just don’t know if being in the woods at night is a wise idea.’

‘If you take bear spray then it will be safer. I of course don’t want you going out there but if it’s for Carmilla’s photography then I’d rather you’re with her than if she went alone as you know how to survive in the woods but she doesn’t. The last thing I want is to hear of is a dead girl in the woods mauled by a bear.’

‘True,’ Laura thought. Maybe doing the ritual was a good idea? Maybe it wasn’t? But Laura couldn’t let Carmilla do it alone and if that’s what she wanted to do then it was only fair to let her do it. After all she’d come all the way from Austria to visit Laura, the least she could do in return is do a ritual with her. ‘Maybe we will do that tonight. I don’t know when we’d be back though.’

‘That’s fine. I trust you. From what I know about photography, you don’t chase the perfect shot, the perfect shot comes to you.’

Laura smiled as she headed upstairs in the direction of Carmilla’s room.

She opened the door quietly and made her way over to the bed. Carmilla was sleeping softly and in the light from the hallway, she could see the duvet rise slightly before falling and Carmilla curled on her side looking more beautiful than ever. Laura felt a pang of guilt but she knew that if she didn’t do it now she’d regret it or change her mind.

She knelt down and held the girl’s arm before squeezing it and shaking her slightly. Carmilla tried to bat her away but Laura didn’t relinquish her grip on the raven haired girl. Finally sleepy eyelids opened and stared at Laura half in annoyance and half in confusion.

‘Hey sleepy head,’ Laura smiled.

‘Why are you waking me up? You know I’m not a morning person,’ she huffed.

‘Dad won’t be back until late and has given us permission to be out really late tonight for your photography. Instead I thought maybe we could do something else in the woods?’ Laura smirked.

Carmilla sat up, ‘You mean?’

‘Yeah,’ Laura answered, ‘But you need to get ready quick as we have to get there before dawn don’t we?’

‘What time is it?’

‘Just after 4:30, sunrise is in 90 minutes and it’s a 30 minute walk to the woods. I’ll go and get survival stuff if you get ready and figure out exactly what we’re doing for the ritual,’ Laura instructed. ‘Just make sure you’re ready by 5:15 as that will give us 15 minutes to set the ritual up.’

*

Carmilla walked downstairs to greet Laura who was putting an array of homemade weapons clearly made by her Dad in her backpack. She let out a silent chuckle before speaking.

‘Do we have enough weapons?’

Laura laughed, ‘Yeah. I told Dad we might be out there for a while tonight and he told me I needed to take some protection with me. He can’t know you’re awake though yet or he’ll know we’re leaving now rather than later. Get back upstairs, he’s just having a wash. Pretend you’re asleep still. He leaves at 5.’

Carmilla dutifully left the room and headed back upstairs, as quiet as a mouse and as elegant as a cat.

Laura began to put the tupperware containers of sandwiches in the top of the bag.

‘You might want to keep those in the refrigerator until you leave. It will keep them fresh,’ Sherman Hollis said.

‘Oh, yes,’ Laura froze, ‘I know, I’m just getting ahead of myself.’

‘You go back to bed, I’ll see you later tonight,’ Sherman said giving his daughter a kiss on the cheek.

‘Are you leaving?’

‘Yes, I’ll be going now. Stay safe,’ he smiled.

‘You too, Dad.’

She waited for the front door to close and lock behind him.

‘CARM! HE’S GONE!’

The next thing Laura could hear was the pitter patter of feet running down the stairs.

‘Go get changed. I’m ready to go.’

Without anymore instruction, Laura did as Carmilla said.

*

The woodland was ominously quiet for just before dawn. They had been walking into the middle of the woods for some time when Laura came to a stop to which Carmilla stopped too. The sound of their footsteps were gone and the only noise that surrounded them was the intermittent gusts of wind blowing through the branches of nature’s ancient pillars with leaves to form a roof towering above them inadvertently forming the cage they would be enclosed in for the next 24 hours.

‘Here seems to be the best spot. We’re in the middle of the woods so can run in the opposite direction from where the hunter appears. It’s not dawn yet but will be in the next 10 minutes. Shall we do it now?’ Laura asked.

‘Yeah,’ Carmilla said inhaling a deep breath, ‘Ok, we have the packs, we have everything to last us for the next 24 hours?’

Laura nodded.

‘Ok, hold my hands,’ Carmilla instructed to which Laura obeyed helping form a circle between the 2 girls, ‘Are you ready?’

‘Yeah, I’m not going to leave you. Keep a hold of my hand at all times. Don’t get separated,’ Laura said panic in her voice.

Carmilla squeezed Laura’s hands, ‘I won’t dare.’

Laura smiled in answer.

‘We are allies! We wish to game a worthy opponent! Will no challenge face us?’ Carmilla shouted.

There was silence.

‘What now?’ Laura asked.

As if on cue, their response was heard. A loud crash could be heard from behind Carmilla.

‘Run,’ Carmilla demanded, clutching Laura’s hand tightly and running in the opposite direction.

Their feet grasped for grip on the wet leaves, threatening to make them slip and fall. The cold brisk morning air shocked their throats and lungs as they inhaled deeply, knowing they could be running for ages. As their feet hit the floor rapidly, the slow ache of lactic acid began to build up in their muscles quicker than they had hoped. Neither of them ran very often and it began to show as they slowed down. But they knew they had to keep going knowing that if they were to stop they would pay the ultimate price.

Eventually Laura slowed down and keeled over, momentarily losing grip with Carmilla’s sweaty hand. Her heart was racing so hard that she felt it would beat out of her chest but Laura didn’t know if it was from the running or from the danger they were now in for the next 24 hours.

‘I think we’re safe for a bit,’ Carmilla said, calming her breathing faster than she had expected.

‘Yeah,’ Laura panted, ‘I hope so. What now?’

‘We buckle down and survive. We keep moving but we learn when to rest. We don’t have a plan and take different paths. How big is this wood?’

‘Huge!’ Laura blew as she stood up straight for the first time since they had stopped.

‘Ok, we ran for a bit. I think we can buckle down for a couple of minutes,’ Carmilla said, ‘Do you have a sheet we can sit on?’

*

They had no idea how long they’d been resting for before they heard the sound of cracking branches from the direction they had previously ran.

A knowing glance shared between them meant that they jumped up in sync and grabbed the bags and sheet lying on the ground before running in the opposite direction to the noise. They’d cut it fine. Maybe too fine as they felt like they were being chased by something incredibly close behind them and that if they were 2 or 3 steps behind that they wouldn’t be running but instead be prey.

They kept running at the top speed they could, occasionally looking over at each other to make sure they weren’t split up but never looking behind them. Both girls knew that to do so could result in being separated from each other.

Carmilla couldn’t hear anything behind her chasing them and saw Laura was slowing down.

‘Get to,’ Carmilla panted, ‘the tree opening.’

This seemed to spur the remaining energy in Laura who picked up her pace in order to reach the clearing 100 yards away.

Both girls collapsed onto tree stumps, inhaling deeply. Laura was keeled over, trying to get every extra ounce of oxygen into her burning lungs that she possibly could.

Carmilla knew they couldn’t keep going like this, Laura couldn’t keep going like this. They needed a plan but one that wasn’t going to seem obvious. They needed one that seemed messy, like they didn’t have a plan.

She looked up to try and focus on her task. There was light, for the first time the sun could be seen through the hole in the tree line. The circle they were sat in of tree stumps allowed for them to experience the first hole in their 24 hour cage, the woods mocked their freedom by displaying something they could not reach. The wind swayed the branches of the trees around them, a soft blow hitting Carmilla in the face that was much needed after their run. There were no signs of life that could be seen or heard and that’s when Carmilla knew what they had to do.

‘We need to go back. It won’t expect us to return to the place we had previously been. We need to keep moving but learning when to take our breaks but I don’t want us running anymore. You can’t.’

‘But what if it’s expecting us to do the unexpected?’ Laura asked.

‘Well it’s a plan and if we ask ‘what if’ to every plan we have then we’ll be here forever.’

‘Ok,’ Laura whispered still trying to catch her breath, ‘When do you want to do it?’

‘Now,’ Carmilla replied, ‘Put all of our stuff back in the bags, get ourselves ready to carry it and we’ll go.’

As instructed, the girls packed what they’d messily carried into the backpacks they had before heading off at an angle to try and get back to where they’d started the ritual.

*

‘This looks like it,’ Laura announced.

‘How can you be sure?’ Carmilla asked.

‘It’s our tracks,’ Laura stated, ‘My Dad would teach me how to read tracks and these are our footprints.’

‘So you should be able to keep us alive,’ Carmilla laughed.

‘I don’t know about that, especially when I’m hungry already!’ Laura laughed.

‘What time is it?’

Laura looked at her watch, ‘It’s 11, we’ve only been in here for 5 hours. It feels like more than that!’

‘It looks like less though, when we were in the clearing I thought the sun was just starting to rise as it was the first time I’d seen it,’ Carmilla mentioned, ‘I suppose we can eat something. What have you packed?’

‘Salmon sandwiches?’ Laura suggested.

*

‘I didn’t realise I was going to be so cold in the middle of the day,’ Carmilla groaned.

‘Oh shush you,’ Laura laughed, ‘You know if I gave you a jacket now that you’d be freezing when it gets to night.’

‘Well that doesn’t mean I can’t complain,’ Carmilla stuck her tongue out.

‘When do you think we should move? We’ve been sitting here for a while.’ Laura changed the subject.

‘If the woods are quite large, maybe we should start packing away then and start heading off in whatever direction we think we should when we come to leave?’ Carmilla suggested.

‘Fine, I’ll just pack this away, how about you have a look at what is the best way to go?’ Laura asked as she got up and opened her backpack to start putting their belongings away.

Carmilla began to analyse her surroundings. The way they had come from, the way they had gone earlier were ways she didn’t want to go again, at least not for a while but they had a vast area that they could go and Carmilla didn’t know which way would be best. She couldn’t concentrate on what Laura was asking her to do so got out the lighter she kept in her pocket to stare at the flame as that calmed her racing thoughts.

‘CARM! What are you doing?’ she heard Laura shout and felt herself get knocked over, dropping her lighter in the process. She looked to see how Laura had rugby tackled her down.

‘What the fuck?’

‘Don’t have your lighter on! It will attract it. You’ll send smoke signals!’ Laura yelled angrily.

‘So you thought that it would be wise to knock me down and try and hurt me? That was your best plan?’ Carmilla snarled as she stood up trying to find her lighter.

‘Well what was I supposed to do? Just tell you and have the smoke signals last longer?’

‘And what’s an extra couple of seconds going to do?’ Carmilla raised her voice, half in anger towards Laura and half in annoyance that she couldn’t see her lighter.

‘You never know!’ Laura flustered annoyed at Carmilla’s response to what Laura had done to try and save her.

Carmilla blocked Laura out as she focused on finding the metal lighter, praying that the sun would bounce a reflection somewhere.

‘Carm?’ Laura said that Carmilla ignored and continued her search.

The leaves were wet which she was thankful for because otherwise they might have started a fire.

‘Carmilla?’ Laura said once again with more sternness but Carmilla still ignored the brunette.

Finally there was a glint from the sun which Carmilla grabbed for. ‘Found it,’ she breathed in release.

‘Carmilla.’ Laura said grabbing her arm.

‘What?’ Carmilla yelled in response.

‘RUN!’ Laura screamed pulling the raven-locked girl in the opposite direction.

Those words made Carmilla feel sick to her stomach and she could feel herself blache. How close was it behind them? If they let up even by a millisecond would it be upon them? Had she attracted it by her lighter that was supposed to calm her? They ran on their toes, both as fast as they possibly could that it felt like their feet only touched the ground for a brief moment before being back in the air. Carmilla wondered if someone was recording them and slowed it down if they would look like gazelles running from lions where all 4 legs are off the ground at the same time. They had so much energy, they ran even when they couldn’t hear it behind them and they kept going, wanting to get away from it as far as possible. They ran on their adrenaline.

They eventually came to a stop after a good few minutes of running that neither thought they would achieve. They had both exhausted their oxygen supply as Laura fell onto her hands and knees and Carmilla for the first time had to keel over and grab a tree for stability.

Carmilla wasn’t sure if it was her imagination, she knew that depriving your brain of oxygen could result in hallucinations but she was sure she heard a growl.

‘Laura? What animals are around here?’

‘Lots,’ Laura breathed, ‘Why?’

‘I heard growling.’

‘I can’t breathe. It was me,’ Laura tried to control her burning lungs, ‘I might have growled.’

If Carmilla’s lungs weren’t on fire as well, she would have laughed. The way Laura tried to say things in the shortest way possible was cute and thankfully her English was decent otherwise she might have not understood what Laura was trying to say.

‘Ok, I’ll believe that you made that noise,’ Carmilla smiled with a faint chuckle, the only attempt of a laugh that she could muster.

Laura got off the ground, holding onto the sides of the trees for support like Carmilla was doing.

‘Let’s keep moving. I don’t want to be that close again.’

Carmilla obeyed and the 2 girls started walking forwards.

Laura knew something felt wrong, like they were being watched but assumed it was the eyes of The Apex, it was following them but was waiting for the right time to pounce. She took it back to what her Dad would say when he tried to teach her to hunt. You don’t just shoot when you see your prey, you have to be patient and shoot when the time is right. Ironically, that’s what made her become a pescetarian.

Suddenly, both girls stopped in their tracks, clearly hearing it at the same time. God knows how Laura missed it earlier but she could hear the growling this time. It was clear as day now.

The rustling in the undergrowth got closer and closer until the girls could see a set of amber and black eyes staring up at them. It’s long and narrow snout pointed upwards towards them, taking in their scent. Its nose wasn’t brought back in a snarl but it was definitely cautious. Laura thought it might be young but Carmilla was terrified, the long and pointy ears scared her, believing it to be something else.

‘It’s a wolf,’ she whispered in fear.

‘No it’s not, it’s a coyote,’ Laura laughed, ‘Nothing to be afraid of.’

Laura began to search for her flashlight that was on her belt prepared with bear spray and other easily accessible weapons that her Dad had clearly made for her as a child. She turned it on and shone it at the coyote which fled away in a quick panic.

‘I’m so glad you’re here. I would have ran.’

‘Never run, it will think you’re prey. Plus I think it was a young one, it may have never seen a human before as adult ones usually never come near you,’ Laura taught.

‘Can we keep moving? I’d feel a lot better moving?’

Carmilla started to move off in a direction with Laura following close behind her. They were in an area of the woods that Laura didn’t recognise before and she thought she’d been through all of the woods with her Dad. There must be a reason she’d never ventured this far.

The trees began to thin out and the light was surprisingly darker than what Laura was expecting. The shadows grew longer and the girls could see the length spanning over the asphalt in front of them. They’d hit the road and it was a part of the woods that liked to flood easily. There were large puddles that turned the dirt into mud and their eyes adapted to the surprising dark.

‘Dad always told me to avoid this area. It’s boggy and easier to lose yourself on. It’s always darker here too and I don’t know why. Dad always said because the ground held the water much more that the darker colour of the ground makes the surrounding area seem darker.’

‘It’s also getting much later in the day. What time is it?’ Carmilla asked.

Laura looked at her watch, ‘10 past 5. Just over 12 hours left.’

‘Ok, we can get through the next 12 hours. We’re halfway through,’ Carmilla said. Laura wondered the real reason behind Carmilla’s statement. Was it to lift Laura’s spirits? Or was it to give herself the confidence that she could get through the next 12 hours?

‘Let’s keep walking along the outskirts, we’ll get to the lake eventually and we can set up camp for an hour or so and have some food.’

‘You think that’s a good place to set up camp?’ Carmilla questioned.

‘It’s a good watch point,’ Laura clarified.

And without any question, Carmilla followed Laura in the direction of the lake.

*

The dirt road they had travelled on had ended and was instead replaced by the flow of running water. Overhead the woods opened, revealing the late afternoon sun.

Laura had already began to set up a brief camp. She had a pop-up tent that had been left in the garage since she was a child. It could easily be put up and put down in a rush if they needed it.

Carmilla rummaged through the backpack to find the bottle of water that she had opened during their lunch. She wasn’t that hungry right now but had an incredible thirst that Carmilla had put down to the nerves she was feeling. Her whole mouth was dry and no matter how much water she swallowed, it didn’t ease up.

‘So I was thinking,’ Carmilla began, ‘Now that we’re getting closer to night and there being wild animals in these woods, I was wondering if you wanted to take over in figuring out where we travel to in case I lead us into a bear den?’

Laura chuckled, ‘Don’t worry, bears are awake all night. They don’t have dens during the summer.’

Carmilla felt sick. She was praying that all the dangerous animals would be asleep at night.

‘Oh,’ she mustered.

‘Come on, let’s eat before we have to move again,’ Laura said, handing Carmilla a tub of rice, kidney beans and walnuts.

‘What the?’

‘It’s survival food, full of good nutrients,’ Laura beamed.

‘We’re only out for 24 hours.’

‘Yeah but I thought it would be better to be safe than sorry,’ Laura smiled, passing Carmilla a spork, ‘Eat up.’

*

They had been walking steadily for an hour when the blackness of nighttime engulfed the woods. The dark silhouettes of trees were lined against the dark blue of the sky, towering ominously over them.

Laura knew that the moon was out however she could not see its beams. The canopy that lay over them stopped any penetration of light and Laura suspected that the dark blue of the sky was the only sign of light they may encounter being this deep in the forest. She clutched onto her backpack further, wishing she had night vision to see where they were going, not wanting to use her flashlight in fear of attracting the beast following them.

The Apex had been a lot calmer than they were expecting, but both girls knew that it was probably the calm before the storm and that it probably waited until its prey were tired, exhausted and paranoid and that the next 9 hours were going to be the toughest to survive.

The cool air was inhaled by both their lungs that carried the strong smell of damp earth and the darkness pressed on them from every side, sending signals to their brains telling them to run. Instead, the girls continued to walk calmly, trying to avoid the fallen trees and attracting the bears and wolves near them.

Their height was proving difficult however, or at least Laura’s small size was proving difficult. Some of the trees that had collapsed to the ground were sometimes so tall and wide that Laura had to scramble to climb it. Carmilla wasn’t that much taller than her but handled the height a lot better than Laura did. They were trying to climb one of the largest fallen trunks they had faced when suddenly, Laura lost her footing and fell head first onto the ground.

‘OWWWW!’ Laura wailed.

Carmilla jumped down to help her friend and investigate the damage, praying that nothing was broken.

‘Where’s the flashlight?’ Carmilla asked.

Instead of answering, Laura handed her the flashlight as she continued to whimper.

Carmilla turned it on and watched as the flashlight shone back to her from the reflection of the blood covered knee of the tiny gay Canadian.

‘Owww,’ Laura cried.

‘Is the first aid kit in your belt?’

Laura nodded as she pointed to the hard casing attached to the survival belt she wore around her waist.

Carmilla began to rummage through it, trying to find antiseptic wipes and a band aid big enough for the wound on Laura’s leg.

‘How bad is it?’ Laura asked through tears.

‘I won’t know until I clean the blood off,’ Carmilla responded, ripping open an alcohol wipe, ‘This is going to sting a bit, try not to make a sound or we might attract something.’

As soon as the alcohol touched Laura’s open wound, she tried to squirm out of it, clasping at the wet dirt ground she was sitting on. Carmilla felt pain. She hadn’t fell, but hurt because she was hurting Laura which was a pain that hurt more than if she were to hurt herself. She just wanted it to be over but wanted to be as gentle as possible so as to not hurt Laura more than was necessary.

Finally she was able to put a band aid over the wound. It wasn’t deep, it just seemed to bleed a lot and Carmilla enveloped Laura in a hug.

‘Hi,’ Laura giggled, accepting the hug.

‘I’m just glad you’re ok,’ Carmilla said, ‘We should probably keep moving or we’re sitting targets. Can you stand?’

‘I’m sure if you help me then I will,’ Laura smiled against Carmilla’s neck which she was able to feel.

Carmilla broke off the hug, placed her hand out and helped Laura up so they could continue their journey. Hopefully without anymore problems along the way.

*

Dark had completely fallen now and they only had 6 hours left. So far, nothing had happened but they didn’t want to get their hopes up and believe they were outsmarting the hunter because that would get them killed. Their vision had almost completely gone but their other senses helped them greatly, their hearing was like a wolf, their touch was like a cat’s whiskers and their noses were like dogs. Everything was heightened.

The path felt more and more claustrophobic and they were almost certain that it was watching them, begging for another tree to trip them up or for a root to claw at their legs. Laura had already fallen over another time by a stray knotted root poking above the ground and Carmilla had patched her up again. Carmilla was starting to think that Laura had incredibly bad luck or was very clumsy and Laura had been able to watch Carmilla’s feline presence in action. They were thankful to have each other, Laura provided humour and Carmilla provided amazement to the 2 girls who were deep down incredibly nervous of what was to come.

They kept walking and resting when their feet got tired. They never stayed in one spot and changed direction randomly at points but Laura always knew where she was. It was the longest couple of hours they had ever experienced and to pass the time and keep each other awake, Carmilla taught Laura some German.

There was just half an hour to go.

‘No, it’s not pronounced like that!’ Carmilla began to laugh.

‘Well, German is harder than I thought it was going to be!’ Laura tried to defend herself.

‘Oh Laura, you’re so cute with your pronunciation though, when you come to Austria, I’ll translate,’ Carmilla smiled.

‘Austria?’

Laura stopped in her track.

‘Yeah? That’s where I live,’ Carmilla said, turning to face her.

‘I mean that you’re wanting me to go to Austria?’ Laura asked, turning her head to face the floor, ‘With you?’

Carmilla stepped closer, ‘Yes. Of course I want you to come to Austria with me, like I have come to Canada with you.’

They stared into each other’s eyes, taking in the windows of each other’s souls.

‘Carm, I,’ Laura started but she was silenced by Carmilla putting a finger to her lips.

There was a brief moment of silence before a loud crack came from behind Laura.

‘Run,’ Carmilla instructed.

The next thing Laura knew, she was breathing with short and sharp bursts because she was trying desperately hard to keep up with Carmilla. Her arms swung in an effort to make herself go quicker, to catch up with Carmilla who kept looking behind her every hundred yards to ensure Laura was behind her but she was getting further and further ahead.

Carmilla slowed her pace and as soon as Laura was in grabbing distance, she pulled on her arm and tried to help her along.

‘Carm,’ Laura panted, struggling to keep up the pace.

‘Come on! Keep going! You can do this. WE can do this.’

Laura felt like she was running through mud. Her legs were heavy and she knew she was slowing. But with Carmilla by her side, she could do anything and threw herself forwards with as much force as she could muster in an effort to stay with the girl that she wanted to travel the world with.

They could still hear something behind them. It knew it was the last chance it would have to catch them.

15 more minutes.

Carmilla started to run off in one direction but Laura knew it would lead them further into the woods.

Laura jerked Carmilla’s arm, ‘No, this way.’

Carmilla turned direction so quickly that it caught Laura by surprise.

Laura knew that if they ran this way, they would be heading towards the outskirts of the forest so they could leave them as soon as the 24 hours ended. But Laura questioned whether it was a wise idea. She could hear the branches behind her breaking. It was still behind them and still giving chase but it seemed to be getting further and further behind them. They were outrunning it, but they wouldn’t ease up just yet, they’d run until they couldn’t run anymore.

Laura could see the outskirts of the woods coming up but knew she couldn’t leave until the 24 hours were up.

1 minute left.

‘We can’t leave yet, we have 1 more minute,’ Laura said frantically.

Aside from their heavy breathing, the only thing that could be heard in the vast forest was the sound of cracking getting closer and closer. The woods were in darkness but right in front of them was the road which the sun had began to rise on. It was as though they were on the boundary of Yin-Yang, white and black, light and dark.

‘How much longer?’ Carmilla asked as the cracking got closer to them.

Laura looked at her watch, ‘15 seconds.’

Another crack.

‘10 seconds.’

This time the crack was much closer.

‘5 seconds.’

The crack was behind the tree next to them.

‘Done.’

Laura grabbed Carmilla’s hand and pulled her onto the road just as a crack from where they were standing was heard and all cracking ceased. Everything was silent.

‘That was terrifying,’ Carmilla whispered, still staring into the woods.

‘I know,’ Laura whispered back.

Both girls were rooted to the spot, too scared to move.

‘Are you worthy?’

Both girls turned around to see an older woman with a brunette bob. She was in a grey shirt, black trousers, thick leather belt and a hat. It was the uniform of a park ranger and the girls knew this was the end of the ritual.

‘Am I?’ Laura and Carmilla asked in unison, surprising each other that they would answer at the same time without prompt. Clearly 24 hours of only each other for company was too long.

The woman handed them a box which they both took before vanishing into thin air.

*

They collapsed onto the sofa. Laura’s Dad had left to work before they got back and they were both left alone in the house.

‘Shall we open the box?’ Laura asked.

‘Yeah,’ Carmilla smiled.

Laura took off the lid of the brown cardboard box to find a piece of paper.

‘I was hoping we’d get some money!’ Carmilla laughed as she went to turn over the paper.

‘No, don’t,’ Laura protested, ‘It doesn’t feel like the right time.’

Laura was afraid that the paper would reveal to Carmilla that she was Laura’s soulmate and Laura didn’t want Carmilla to know. She was too afraid that knowing it would push Carmilla away. But also because she was afraid that Carmilla’s soul mate wasn’t her.

*

The Apex
Submitted at 21:36 04/08/2016 by CuriousJournalist

This one isn’t going to be a long post because there’s not much to say. We got chased, we ran away, it was terrifying. What else can I say? We didn’t see it but it worked.

I’m really just putting this up as a record that we’ve done it as it’s our first ritual together.

I also want to put it up so that I don’t forget what we got given by the park ranger at the end. She gave us a piece of paper and we were prepared to read it but as my friend was to turn it over, I felt like it was wrong. I didn’t feel like I could read it. At some point I’ll feel ready but I guess for once, I’m scared of the unknown and what I will find.

CuriousJournalist

Chapter Text

The girls slumped down on the couch with Carmilla carefully placing her camera on the table in front of her.

‘Did you girls have fun?’ Sherman asked as Carmilla wrapped an arm around Laura lazily which was becoming a regular occurrence by now.

‘Yeah Dad, it was awesome! I felt like a movie star,’ Laura giggled.

‘She should have been a model,’ Carmilla teased.

‘Well thank you for the compliment but I’m nowhere near tall enough and I kind of like cookies too much,’ Laura laughed, cuddling into Carmilla’s shoulder.

‘You’ll have to show me later,’ he said.

‘Are you working tonight?’ Laura asked.

‘Yeah, I’ll be leaving before dinner and won’t be back until 4, I’ll be quiet and try not to wake you,’ Sherman replied.

‘Ok, Dad,’ Laura smiled.

‘But it’s my last shift until I have a couple of days off so I don’t know what you want to do whilst I’m here if there’s anywhere you want to go out to?’

Laura looked at Carmilla and felt a pang of guilt, ‘I didn’t realise these were going to be your days off. The Uni are doing the campus Olympic games starting on Monday. We were going to leave tomorrow night so that we would have Sunday in the city and Carm could take some photos. But we can stay and do something.’

Sherman raised his hand, ‘No, you do what you need to do. You’ll be able to spend all the time with me until you go back to University later in the year. Besides, we can do something tomorrow before you leave. How about we go to the market tomorrow together? Carmilla can take her photos around here and we can spend some time together?’

‘That sounds like a plan,’ Carmilla smiled.

‘Wonderful,’ Sherman beamed, ‘Now, do you want anything to eat before I go as I’m going to make myself something right now?’

‘Sure,’ Carmilla stated, ‘How about I help you and I can show you the photos of Laura that I took in the park?’

*

‘So,’ Carmilla drew out the syllable as she sat next to Laura, ‘Your Dad asked me whilst we were making dinner if he could see the photos of the woods and I told him that they were on my other SD card. But it just made me keep thinking back to the ritual and I kind of want to do another one.’

Laura put her head in her hands, ‘Which one?’

‘You don’t have to if you don’t want to.’

‘No, I’m good, I just want to know which one you want to do.’

‘The Midnight Game?’

Laura’s face lit up, ‘We need to do it tonight or we won’t get another chance.’

Carmilla smirked. This was the type of trouble the 2 knew they were going to get into but were going to enjoy it nonetheless.

*

‘Do you have the candles?’

‘Yeah, do you have your lighter?’

Carmilla nodded in response. It reached the 23rd hour of the day and they had assembled everything on the kitchen island. 2 large pillar candles, 2 small notebooks, 2 pencils, 2 needles, Carmilla’s lighter, a set of matches and 2 small bags of salt.

‘So that’s everything,’ Laura said looking at the array of equipment.

‘Yeah, at least until we have to do the ritual,’ Carmilla replied.

‘Ok so we’re both going to our rooms to do it,’ Laura thought aloud.

‘Cupcake, stop worrying, we talked about this. Both go to our rooms, start the ritual and do it together.’

‘I know, I’m just nervous. It’s like doing The Apex but for 3 and a half hours and only in a small house. I think this is scarier than The Apex.’

‘True,’ Carmilla pondered, ‘But this time it’s different, there is a way to protect yourself. We didn’t have that with The Apex.’

‘I know, I’m just still nervous.’

‘If you weren’t nervous then I’d be worried. Here,’ Carmilla went over to the cookie jar, ‘Have one to calm your nerves.’

Laura smiled and took one. Carmilla knew how to calm her. She stood up and embraced her arms around the girl in front of her and her heart began to race for a different reason. It was soothing the way she could make her feel. If there was any doubt in her head that Carmilla was her soulmate, those doubts disappeared every time she held her close.

*

‘We have 5 minutes until midnight, should we start doing the rest of the prep?’ Laura asked Carmilla who was sitting on the kitchen island next to her.

‘Yep, let’s do it.’

Carmilla reached over Laura wafting the earthy scent that Laura had fallen in love with. She grabbed her notebook and a pencil and began to scribble down her name, to which Laura realised she had to do the same.

Laura Eileen Hollis

‘Eileen?’ Carmilla chuckled.

‘What’s so funny about that?’ Laura asked.

‘You don’t strike me as an Eileen,’ Carmilla smiled as she took the needle and pricked her finger, grimacing slightly at the pain as she let a drop of blood land on the piece of paper with her name on.

‘And what’s an Eileen supposed to look like?’ Laura smirked as she did the same and felt the prick of pain seep up her finger.

‘I don’t know, isn’t that just something you say? Anyway, every time I hear that name I think of a famous song,’ Carmilla replied grabbing the items that she needed.

‘Which one is that?’ Laura copied.

‘You know, it’s by a country artist, I don’t remember her name.’

‘Sing it, I might know.’

‘Ok,’ Carmilla coughed as they began to walk upstairs, ‘Eileen, Eileen, Eileen, Ei-leen, I’m begging of you please don’t take my man.’

Laura keeled over whilst walking up the stairs.

‘What?’ Carmilla asked, ‘My singing isn’t that bad is it?’

‘No,’ Laura snorted, ‘You got the wrong lyrics. It’s not Eileen, it’s Jolene.’

‘Oh,’ Carmilla frowned, ‘Oh well, English isn’t my first language.’

‘Oh God, you’re so funny,’ Laura wiped away the tears that were forming in her eyes from laughing so hard, ‘Come on, let’s get the ritual done.’

Laura dragged herself off the stairs and towards her room with Carmilla following closely behind.

‘See you on the other side,’ Carmilla smiled.

‘You too my favourite Austrian,’ Laura beamed back, the memory of Carmilla getting the lines to Dolly Parton wrong still fresh in her head.

Laura placed the piece of paper in front of her door, lit the candle and placed it on top of the paper. The nerves began to hit Laura as she realised just what she was doing. It always seemed to be just as it was too late to take something back that Laura felt the nerves the most. She wished she could say stop but the likelihood that Carmilla had already started the ritual was high.

Laura looked down at her watch and saw she had 30 seconds until midnight and began her 22 knocks, trying to time each one to be a second in between. She did 21, took a deep breath and as the clock struck midnight, she placed her last knock firmly on the door.

Nervously, Laura stood up, opened the door, blew out the candle and closed it. She had started the ritual and could hear behind her the shuffling of what she hoped was Carmilla. The sound of a lighter being clicked confirmed Laura’s suspicion as she tried to strike her match to relight her candle.

‘Well Creampuff, we invoked him. Let’s see what we can do,’ Carmilla whispered as Laura’s newly lit candle sent shadows dancing across the room.

‘You never said your middle name,’ Laura replied.

‘I’ll tell you later, let’s just figure this out first.’

*

‘It’s been 2 hours, you’d think we’d have seen something by now,’ Carmilla groaned as she slouched herself down on the couch keeping her candle upright and lit.

‘Maybe we’re just doing a good job of avoiding it?’ Laura suggested.

‘Or maybe this one doesn’t work?’ Carmilla rolled her eyes.

‘They all work though,’ Laura began, ‘I’ve never seen one not work.’

‘Well, you have to think that if a lot do work then you’ll have those people who put rituals up that don’t. It’s like anything that’s real, you still have people making fake drugs and saying there’s an alternative to medicine as part of their next money making idea. People will always cash in if they can even if it’s just for the fame.’

‘That’s true,’ Laura replied.

‘Or just that they thought that these rituals were fake and put one up as a bit of fun or to test out their writing ability? Who knows but this one sure seems like it’s not working. Your house isn’t that big, surely we’d have come across something by now.’

‘True,’ Laura repeated, sitting down next to Carmilla on the couch.

They sat in silence for a few minutes, Laura listening to Carmilla softly whisper something that Laura couldn’t quite understand as it wasn’t English. She assumed Carmilla was speaking in German to pass the time. It had a rhythm to it so she believed that it might have been a song Carmilla knew.

‘You said you’d tell me your middle name,’ Laura said.

The whispering stopped.

‘Oh yeah, it’s long as fuck,’ Carmilla chuckled.

‘What do you mean?’

‘Maman had a thing for switching letters around. My full name is Carmilla Mircalla Millarca Karnstein.’

Laura laughed.

‘Holy crap, that’s a mouthful!’

‘Isn’t it just? I’m surprised she didn’t add Marcilla in it to be fair. She used to pretend she had but she probably realised it after she’d chosen the name.’

‘So do Mattie and Will also have anagrams for their middle names?’

‘No, their Dad’s were still around when they were born and I think they had a say in the names. I never knew my Dad, he just gave Maman money to raise me and off he went. I was an inconvenience to his way of life.’

‘That’s awful, I’m sorry.’

‘Ahh, it’s fine. No point in apologising for something that wasn’t your fault cupcake,’ Carmilla smiled.

She wrapped an arm around Laura which was when Laura realised she’d been very cold and the warmth of Carmilla was a blessing. Carmilla began whispering once again and it sounded like it was a lullaby that Laura wished she could fall asleep to.

‘What are you whispering?’ Laura asked.

‘Wait, what?’

‘What are you saying? It’s beautiful.’

‘That’s not you?’

Laura’s eyes shot up to meet Carmilla’s. Even in the flicker of the candlelight, the fear expressed on both their faces scared the other even more.

‘I thought it was German.’

‘I thought it was…’ Carmilla trailed off, her eyes fixated on something behind Laura.

The hairs on Laura’s arms spiked up and terrified she turned her head slowly to see what Carmilla was staring at.

By the kitchen island stood the darkest of black outlines. It was so dark that no light could penetrate it. It was darker than the night sky and the candles made it ominous. The blackness made Laura feel sick. It had been real and by falling into a false sense of security, it had found them.

It was tall and took on a humanoid figure but it was too tall and too thin to be human-like. It was unnerving and both girls were frozen in place, praying for it to not move any closer.

That’s when Laura saw the arms of the being. They were long and almost touching the floor and Laura had to refrain herself from screaming as it took on the shape of the monster chasing her in her dreams. It took on the shape of HIM.

‘It’s Slender… Slender… Slend…’ Laura stuttered.

‘Fucking run,’ Carmilla spoke, voice breaking in the process.

Laura felt her candle being thrust into her hands and Carmilla grabbing the neck of her t-shirt as they ran out the side door, up the stairs and down the hall to Laura’s room where they sat down on the floor by the bed with hearts pounding and minds racing as to what had just happened.

‘It wasn’t the Midnight Man,’ Laura began to sob.

‘What?’

‘Its arms were down to its knees. That’s Slenderman.’

‘It wasn’t. It was humanoid. It was creepy because it looked like Maman.’

‘What?’ Laura asked this time.

‘You saw a different thing?’ Carmilla pondered. ‘Are you afraid of it? Like is it your greatest fear?’

‘Yes,’ Laura breathed.

‘It took on our greatest fear. Laura, it’s deliberately trying to scare us to subdue us. If we’re scared of it and don’t move then it has us. It wasn’t what we thought. It was the Midnight Man.’

‘Are you sure?’

‘Well unless we were seeing 2 completely different things in the same place then yes. Maman doesn’t have arms down to her knees. I bet you didn’t see the bun on its head?’

‘No, it was bald,’ Laura thought back, squeezing her eyes closed.

‘It’s taking on the shape of our greatest fear.’

‘Like a boggart?’

For the first time the tension in the air subdued as Carmilla let out a brief laugh, ‘Yes, like a boggart.’

*

‘I’m starting to think we should move,’ Carmilla told Laura a few minutes after they had moved from Laura’s room to the bathroom.

‘Are you sure? We’ve literally only just moved. We don’t want to move too much.’

‘No, I think we should move. Maybe just move into your Dad’s room or the ensuite,’ Carmilla suggested.

‘I don’t want to go into the ensuite at night,’ Laura admitted quietly. Now that she knew the figure looked like Slenderman to her, she didn’t want any other reminders of him.

‘Ok, I understand. But at least move to your Dad’s room?’ Carmilla suggested again. She understood Laura’s fear. She didn’t know if she’d ever want to visit the forest where they’d done ‘The Apex’ ritual again. Only Laura could convince her to do that.

‘Sure,’ Laura whispered.

Carmilla looked down at her watch to see they only had 45 minutes left of the ritual and she couldn’t wait for it to be over. Never again were they going to do a hide and seek ritual. She’d definitely learned her lesson.

Laura grasped her arm tightly and Carmilla looked towards Laura to see what was wrong. Laura was staring off to the door and Carmilla spun her head around to see what Laura was staring at.

The silhouette of Maman was slowly coming up the stairs. The strong and powerful walk that she feared. Her mother was somebody that anyone in their right mind wouldn’t dare to mess with and it took Carmilla back to being a young girl where she’d told her teacher that she didn’t want to take part in the class party because she didn’t have any friends. That night, her mother had climbed the stairs and yelled at Carmilla to be a better human being and to stop being so selfish. Her admitting that she had no friends looked bad on her mother and ever since then, Carmilla had always been terrified of seeing her mother advancing towards her room up the stairs.

Carmilla wanted to run, but where would they run to? If they ran out the door right now, they’d run right into it.

Carmilla grasped her bag of salt as it approached the top step. It stopped, seemingly analysing where to go, as though it couldn’t see the 2 girls hiding in the bathroom in front of it. Was it blind? Could it not see the light from the candles bouncing and glimmering off the tiles?

For what felt like minutes but was in reality, only a few seconds, the being began to walk down the hall towards Carmilla and Laura’s rooms. But something felt wrong, as though the presence was still there. It left with it an uncomfortable cold draft and suddenly the room felt darker than before.

Carmilla looked to the candle she held in her hand that was now extinguished.

She panicked and fumbled for her lighter, dropping it in the process. The adrenaline coursed through her veins making her shake and making it almost impossible to light the candle and the fact that Laura was looking at her in desperation whilst counting down the seconds made it harder to light.

‘5, 6,’ Laura counted. If Carmilla couldn’t light it then Laura would have to go alone whilst Carmilla sat in the bathroom in a circle of salt. She’d have to face Slenderman alone, without Carmilla there to protect her like she’d promised she would.

‘7, 8.’

And Carmilla would be left with only the darkness for company.

‘9.’

Carmilla finally managed to light the candle and both girls let out a sigh of relief in unison.

‘I think we should wait a minute and then head into your Dad’s room,’ Carmilla whispered, trying to take control of the situation. That was how Carmilla felt safe, if she could control what they did then she was safe from whatever the Midnight Man threw at them.

*

They walked around the house, one hand on their candles and the other grasping each other for safety and comfort. They had just over 10 minutes left but the past 5 had felt like an hour so they had no idea how long the last 10 would feel.

‘You know other than the ensuite which I totally get, there’s another room we haven’t been into all night,’ Carmilla whispered.

‘The garage?’ Laura asked.

Carmilla nodded before realising that in the flicker of the candle, Laura may not have been able to see the subtle movement the raven-locked girl had made so decided to vocally confirm what the smaller girl had answered.

‘Ok, 10 more minutes,’ Laura gulped.

There was method in what Carmilla was suggesting, Laura thought. The fact that they hadn’t been in that room all night might make him think that they were predictable and he would only search the rooms they kept going in for the last few minutes. It made sense even if it was the most terrifying thing Laura could want to do right now but it was either that or the ensuite and Laura definitely knew which one she’d prefer.

They made their way into the garage and huddled behind Laura’s car. They had a view of the door so they were able to be made aware of any sudden intruder entering the garage.

‘I’ve decided,’ Carmilla began, ‘I’m never doing a damn hide and seek style ritual again.’

Laura huddled in closer to Carmilla, ‘I agree.’

‘Maybe we should even have a break from doing them for a while?’

‘I’m all up for that,’ Laura replied.

‘Yeah, maybe we can do one after we’ve come back from Toronto but for now, I kind of want to focus on enjoying spending time with you whilst I’m alive and not while I’m worried if we’re going to survive.’

‘I definitely like that idea,’ Laura said.

Carmilla could hear the fear in Laura’s voice. She hadn’t said anything but knew Laura was terrified because of what shape the Midnight Man had taken. Carmilla knew she had to help Laura, get her to focus on something else, maybe the positivity would fight away the being? Just like laughter was the weakness of the boggart. Maybe positivity would be the weakness of the Midnight Man?

‘What do you want to do when we get to Toronto?’

‘Carm, some creepy demon who is taking on the form of the thing I’m most afraid of right now is in my house. I don’t think now is the appropriate time to be thinking about what I want to do when I get back to Toronto,’ Laura snapped.

Give her a few more seconds, Carmilla thought. She’ll come around.

‘But I would probably take you to a museum, or something historical because I know you like history. And maybe you can take some photos there,’ Laura began.

Carmilla saw the silhouette of Maman saunter down the stairs but knew she didn’t want to tell Laura. She needed the positivity.

‘Yeah, I’d like that,’ Carmilla gulped, ‘What else?’

‘Well, the river is pretty nice. We should definitely go there. I wonder if you’d be able to take some nice photos there? I bet you would. I think you’d like it.’

‘If you think I will then I probably will,’ Carmilla said, ‘How are we going to sleep in your dorm?’

‘Well, Betty is away for the summer so there are 2 beds available in my dorm. 1 for you and 1 for me. They’re both clean though so no need to worry about that but if you’re uncomfortable with it then you can sleep in my bed and I’ll sleep in Betty’s. I’m totally cool with whatever you decide,’ Laura rambled.

The silhouette appeared once again and stood in the doorway. Carmilla could feel it, as though it was staring right into her soul. It reminded her of Maman’s ‘death glare’ which she was sure was capable of burning holes right through you and usually appeared if you’d done something wrong. Carmilla was terrified and knew she had to get Laura to keep on talking without worrying her as to the intruder in their conversation.

‘I’m fine with sleeping in Betty’s bed,’ Carmilla began, trying to think of how she could continue the conversation, ‘It’s not like me to sleep in someone else’s.’

‘Spoken like a true gentlewoman,’ Laura said and even though Carmilla couldn’t see it, she knew Laura was smiling, ‘You’re very gentlewoman-like. I’d imagine that if the whole world was about to end and you knew then you wouldn’t want to scare me with it.’

‘You give me too much credit,’ Carmilla said knowing that Laura didn’t know how true that was at the moment.

‘No, I mean it, you’re amazing,’ Laura said as she grabbed Carmilla’s waist from behind and pulled her into a hug.

Carmilla turned around to face Laura, if this was how it was going to end, she wanted to be staring into Laura’s honey brown eyes. She suddenly felt safe, as though the looming presence was no longer watching over them. She had Laura and she wasn’t going to let her go.

‘BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP!’

Both girls startled as Carmilla reached for her watch.

‘3:33. Well, that was a kick,’ Carmilla moaned as she hurried to switch off the alarm.

*

The Midnight Man
Submitted at 17:34 6/08/2016 by CuriousJournalist

So this is going to be possibly my last post for a bit at least. Me and my friend are going to be going into the city for the next week and we’re probably not going to do any rituals whilst we’re there.

This was the first ritual that I’ve done where halfway through, I genuinely thought it didn’t work. It was a slow burner but now that I look back on it and what happened later in the night, I have to wonder if it was just that we’d done a similar ritual before and had perfected the timing of moving or if it was that it was playing with us. I hope it was the former and not the latter because it was terrifying.

So we’re 2 hours down and nothing has happened yet. We sit down in the living room discussing our names and how we think this ritual isn’t working when my friend starts staring off behind me towards the kitchen.

I turn my head and see it. Now the only way I can describe it is as dark as nothing like there was the blackest of black voids standing by my kitchen island. But the creepiest thing about it was what the silhouette looked like. It looked like Slenderman.

Before I knew what was happening, I felt my candle being thrust into my hand by my friend and being grabbed to run upstairs with her, hiding behind my bed. We spent some time in my bedroom and began discussing what we’d seen. I told my friend how I was adamant that it wasn’t the Midnight Man but instead it was Slenderman but she disagreed. She said that to her it looked like the silhouette of her mother and we realised that it took on the shape of our greatest fear probably in an attempt to scare us so much that we would be paralysed with fear.

A few minutes later we headed into the bathroom, realising that our previous mistake was probably that we’d been in the living room for too long and it had found us. Just as we were about to leave, we began to see the shapeshifting fiend climbing the stairs. I was terrified and was sure it would come into the bathroom. Instead, it rounded the corner and headed in the direction of my room and my friend’s room but even though it left, it left behind a breeze and it blew out my friend’s candle. I was terrified. I began counting, hoping and praying she’d be able to light it before the 10 count but she was just as afraid as me and her adrenaline was peaking that she couldn’t keep a solid grip on her lighter. Finally, she got it lit just before I counted 10 but it was lit. Panic over. Right?

A bit later in the night we realised that we were nearly finished and there were only 2 rooms we hadn’t been in all night. The en-suite which after all the other rituals I’ve done, there is no way in hell I was going in there or the garage. So we settled on the latter and headed to the garage. Surprisingly, it never found us. I hate to say it but I think we outsmarted it because it didn’t expect us to hide somewhere that we hadn’t been all night.

Even though we managed to make it to the end, I seriously urge people to not try this ritual. In fact, don’t do any of these rituals. We’ve vowed to never do another hide and seek one after having a fair share of them over the past few days. I think we’re going to choose our rituals very carefully in future if we do anymore.

CuriousJournalist

But had Carmilla got the same views Laura had? As Laura pressed the button to post onto Reddit and left to go and raid the cookie jar, Carmilla began searching, searching for something specific. A smile of recognition spread across her face as she began to frantically write down what had appeared on screen for her to use at a later date.

Chapter Text

‘That was so much fun,’ Carmilla smiled as she looped her arm around Laura’s.

They exited onto the bustling street of Bloor Street West and Carmilla kept her camera close to her.

‘I’m glad you enjoyed yourself,’ Laura shouted over the sound of cabs honking their horns and people yelling across the street.

‘Yes! The Royal Ontario Museum was so good! You just knew it would be up my street right? The history of the Earth and its development is perfect for a history nerd and philosophy major.’

‘It sure is, I’m just glad you are starting to feel more like a tourist, or at least I’m starting to feel more like a guide. I prefer this over rituals any day,’ Laura laughed.

‘Even the bat cave?’

Laura thought. She was terrified of being in the bat cave. It was dark and all she could think of was the number of times they’d been in the dark together and how something ominous was usually lurking. But with Carmilla by her side, she felt safe.

‘Yeah, I’d rather live in the bat cave than do rituals. As long as I had you there with me.’

‘Well, I’m not going anywhere, Cupcake,’ Carmilla beamed.

‘Did you get some good pictures too?’ Laura asked.

‘Yeah,’ Carmilla began, ‘To be fair, I was more intrigued by the fact that you could choose for the displays to be in English or French. I just think it’s amazing. Like I’m used to seeing everything written in English in Austria for tourists because most tourists speak English. Yet here, the French option was for the tourists. I’m right aren’t I? Most people in Toronto speak English as their first language. It’s Montreal that is predominantly French?

‘Yeah, pretty much. I get what you’re saying. I’d never thought of it like that before though!’

‘I suppose you don’t think of things in a different light until you have to due to it being challenged. I mean that’s how we came up with a load of theories.’

‘You’re such a philosophy major, you freak me out with some of the things you say,’ Laura chuckled, ‘Hey, shall we get some lunch before we head to the river?’

‘Sure, where do you want to go?’

‘There’s this place just down the road from here on the way there. They pretty much just serve breakfast and lunch, it’s great and really quite cheap,’ Laura replied, continuing to walk in the direction they had been doing so for the past couple of minutes since leaving the museum.

‘Well, I’m all for cheap!’

*

They arrived. The Sunset Grill looked like a traditional diner. High ceilings with lights that had huge attachments to the roof above them so the lights were only hanging around 7 feet off the ground. The wooden booths with red leather lined seats was a nice North American touch for Carmilla to feel like she truly was a tourist in the city.

They were taken to their seats by a young woman and were seated by the window which allowed Carmilla to look out on the busy streets of Toronto.

‘The menu is quite big so feel free to browse it,’ Laura said as she picked up her own menu.

Carmilla was in awe. For a place that only served breakfast and lunch, the menu was like that of a 24 hour restaurant due to the sheer amount of choice that was available. It was a shame that Carmilla wasn’t too hungry as she was still feeling full from breakfast earlier in the morning or she’d have struggled to figure out what exactly she’d want to eat.

‘Honestly, I’m happy with some toast. I don’t want too much. But don’t let that change you from having a feast! I just kind of want to sit and watch the street. Maybe even take some photos.’

‘If you’re sure? Did you want a drink?’

‘Yeah, I’ll just have a coffee,’ Carmilla replied slightly distanced as she took out her camera and Laura gave her the space she needed.

A few minutes later when the waitress arrived, Laura ordered for them, guessing at what type of bread Carmilla wanted for her toast.

*

Carmilla had been playing around with the shutter speed and lens of her camera when her coffee and toast arrived.

‘Thank you,’ Carmilla gave a brief smile to the waitress before looking through her viewer and taking one last shot before putting the camera down.

‘Got what you wanted?’

‘Yeah, it’s a very good shot,’ Carmilla replied.

‘Good.’

‘Oooh, what did you order?’ Carmilla asked, eyeing Laura’s food.

‘The Salmon Eggs Sunset. So it’s eggs, salmon and English muffins with Hollandaise sauce. I didn’t know what type of bread you wanted for your toast so ordered wholemeal, is that ok?’

‘Yeah, that’s fine. I have coffee and trust me when I say that is the main thing,’ Carmilla chuckled.

*

‘Thank you,’ the girls called out as they left the restaurant.

‘Off to the river?’ Carmilla asked as she followed Laura turning left out of the building.

‘Yep, you can pretty much get to it by just following this street. It veers off to the right but it’s still the same street,’ Laura smiled.

The sun was glorious and Carmilla could feel the warmth it produced resonate in her. In bounced down on them just as much as her feet bounced off the smooth and grey asphalt lining the sidewalk. The foot traffic died down as they got further out of the town and they could walk side by side without having to give way to people coming the other way except for the odd occasion. But the crowd that passed them by was still special, as though they oozed life. This was Toronto, a place that Carmilla had fallen in love with and wished that the next few months would pass by slowly as she didn’t want to think of leaving. How the Toronto streets differed from back home. Here, the people had a way of life and granted they did back in Austria but here people expressed themselves through their clothing choices. Band t-shirts, slogans, vibrancy and those still wearing black walked past. In Austria everyone had the same clothing store to buy from so you saw it all, the likelihood was that if you were a normal adult that you would have the same clothes in your closet. The chatter filled her ears, businessmen and women on their phones discussing sales and mergers, friends catching up with each other after University and even other tourists. It had such a special atmosphere and whilst it was busy, the hustle and bustle was the life essence of the city.

‘You ok?’ Laura asked. ‘You’re quiet.’

‘Yeah, I’m just taking it all in. I love it, it’s so different and I wish I never have to leave,’ Carmilla thought aloud.

‘Well, I’m glad you like it,’ Laura said at a loss for words and instantly cursing herself for what she had said.

For Carmilla, this was a haven of possibilities and whilst it was the same for Laura, it was also just a city to her that she had gotten used to. It had lost the special feeling Laura used to have and she was fairly sure that if she was to go to Austria, she would prefer there and never want to leave. She guessed that it was true that you don’t know what you have when you have it.

Laura loved Toronto, there was a reason she had moved there for University and it wasn’t so she could escape from her Dad but instead, it was for the opportunities. It was a progressive city where women held positions of power, LGBT rights were huge and their prime minister actually cared for the people of the city. Toronto was the place for her and Laura wondered if she had had the same expression of love on her face that Carmilla was displaying when she first came to Toronto for University.

‘I get it, you know?’ Laura began, ‘The love you have for the city.’

‘It’s beautiful, it’s like it speaks to me but I don’t understand it. Maybe you can enlighten me? What is it about this city that makes me fall in love with it?’

‘The progression of the city? How forward we are on women’s and LGBT rights? I don’t know but it speaks to me as a young lesbian,’ Laura answered.

‘Yes, as a queer lady, I have to agree. It’s a big city that allows you to be yourself and be open. I think you’re right,’ Carmilla replied.

They approached a green area. Trees littered the gravel footpath along with bushes placed at random. It was natural. A park where the shrubbery was left to grow without human intervention yet was so beautifully looked after. The footpath edges were shaggy with undergrowth that was dark green from the summer sun. The pale mud and occasional stone gave texture underneath their feet as they walked towards a bridge. The sound of cars ahead of them replaced the odd bird tweets that pierced the silence beautifully. It wasn’t an uncomfortable silence between the girls, but rather a silence that allowed them to experience the nature.

The footbridge was a marvel of steel that spanned over the 4 lanes of traffic below them. It looked like the bridge went on forever and Carmilla lay amazed that people could build something so long and thin and wondered where it led to.

Carmilla fumbled for her camera and began to play with the light before snapping a photo.

‘That a good one?’ She heard Laura call.

‘Yeah,’ Carmilla replied. She looked up to where Laura was supposed to be but she was nowhere to be found, ‘Laura?’

‘Over here,’ Laura called back.

Carmilla snapped her head to the direction of Laura’s voice to see her stood on a couple of steps to the right of her. Laura was already partially down them with only her head and arm waving above her visible to Carmilla. Carmilla gave a silent chuckle at the small stature of the Canadian.

‘I thought you’d ran off,’ Carmilla shouted, putting her camera away before walking towards the steps.

‘Nope just didn’t want to get in your shot,’ Laura said.

‘How thoughtful.’

They reached the bottom of the steps and were met with a similar track to which they had been walking on previously.

‘This is the River Don,’ Laura said, pointing with her arm to her left.

Carmilla looked and through the trees, she could see the water of the river’s edge.

‘Wow, it’s well covered,’ Carmilla laughed.

‘It is unless you know where to look, it’s harder to find this north of the city. It’s more attractive further down but I think this is the best part. It’s quiet and who doesn’t love the peace and quiet when taking photographs of nature?’

‘You are certainly right, Miss Hollis,’ Carmilla smirked.

*

They had been walking for a while now, with Carmilla taking regular breaks to take photographs and Laura asking questions to pass the time. She had learned a great deal about photography from listening to Carmilla who clearly had a true passion and desire for the art of imagery.

‘Do you have any inspirations for your work?’

‘None whatsoever,’ Carmilla replied, ‘I suppose that I look up to my boss and his work but I don’t really do inspirations. Not even in my life, no one has ever done enough to inspire me before, that was until I met you.’

‘Me?’ Laura squeaked.

‘Yes, you’re strong, independent and courageous. You did whatever you could to find friendship and love, even risking your life. Some may find that reckless and desperate but I find it resilient and beautiful.’

‘Why, thanks,’ Laura smiled, not knowing what to say.

‘Are you inspired by anyone for your work?’

‘My work?’

‘As a journalist?’

‘Oh!’ Laura blushed, ‘There’s a good few but I’m not inspired by the way they write but by what they do. I’m into all of those who expose wrongdoings or go to places to help others. I’ve always wanted to do the same.’

‘You want to help people,’ Carmilla smiled before snapping another photograph, ‘I respect that.’

‘Thanks,’ Laura chuckled.

‘I’d imagine that must make you a likeable girl,’ Carmilla remarked, ‘Why is it that you need friends when you must surely be liked by everyone?’

‘I wish,’ Laura snorted, ‘I don’t know what it is. I do everything I can to make others happy, I respect people but I’m just not cool so I get bullied.’

‘It seems that happens to those who want to help people the most. We’re seen as easy targets.’

‘I suppose that’s how we make friends. We find those who are the same as us. That’s why you’re my best friend.’

‘And mine too,’ Carmilla grinned.

‘Thanks, Carm.’

‘What sort of things make you laugh?’

‘What do you mean?’ Laura questioned, a bit taken aback by the change of topic.

‘Well, for me things like sarcasm and certain books make me laugh. My imagination also, although it normally seems to be at times I shouldn’t be amused,’ Carmilla replied.

‘I suppose cheesy and bad humour make me laugh so bad pickup lines can intrigue me as long as they’re inventive. My Dad makes me laugh without intending on it. Some of the stuff he says when he’s in his overprotective mood just gets me in fits and giggles. He once told me that I needed to take a whistle to school to deafen the bullies ears. I then asked if it would deafen me and my Dad got me some earmuffs and forced me to wear them and the whistle when I was at school! It was so silly that it just made me laugh. Children can be funny too, as well as comedians. Why do you ask?’ Laura explained.

‘Well, I read that someone once said that the way to get to a girl’s heart is either with food or by making her laugh and I already know what food you like to eat.’

‘I’m not that predictable am I?’ Laura asked.

‘Well, if I get you cookies and chocolate I know you’ll love me.’

Carmilla smirked and Laura couldn’t resist. The thoughts flooding through her head that she couldn’t fight made her want to press her lips against Carmilla’s to wipe the smug smile that lay on the Austrian’s face.

‘What stands between you and happiness?’ Laura asked. She didn’t know what made her ask it but it had come to her head.

‘Wow, that’s deep,’ Carmilla blew out a long breath, ‘I’m a philosophy major so I wouldn’t mind hearing your idea first.’

‘Ok, I do. I prevent my own happiness. Only I can stop myself from being happy, or at least I should be the only person to stop me from being happy,’ Laura replied.

‘I understand and you’re right but it’s also materialism that stops us. We can never be happy. It’s within us to constantly grow and better ourselves. Nowadays there is too much materialism and when we’ve got one thing, something else replaces it and we have to get that and it’s not only a physical matter. Once we have the one thing we’re aiming for, there are more goals and a better position to be in. We’re never content to just let things be as they are, it’s no longer in our nature.’

‘That’s really quite sad,’ Laura replied.

‘Well, let me ask you this. If you could start over, what would you do differently?’ Carmilla asked.

‘Wow, there’s so much I would choose to do differently now that I know the results.’

‘That’s the point. You wish you could fix your mistakes. You’re not happy to have made mistakes and to have learned from them. That’s what we do. We’re never happy with what we’ve done, we just want to know what we can do better.’

‘That’s very true,’ Laura replied.

‘Sorry, I get quite intense when talking about philosophy,’ Carmilla chuckled.

‘Oh, it’s fine. I get you. It reminds me of when I was a kid and I had to try and defend my bear from Dad,’ Laura smiled.

‘Your bear?’ Carmilla asked as she looked at Laura as though Laura had no idea what she had just said.

‘Yeah. Mum took me out somewhere when I was a child and I fell in love with this stuffed bear so Mum brought me it. When I got home my Dad started yelling at my Mum about how I would start finding bears cute rather than dangerous. I had to tell my Dad that he wasn’t a real bear but a human inside the body. I told him that a bear kidnapped this human and I had to rescue him. My Dad finally gave in and let me keep him,’ Laura explained.

‘I can totally see your Dad doing that too!’

‘He’s definitely a character.’

‘I have to agree. Our parents are like no other,’ Carmilla smiled.

‘They are very different,’ Laura laughed.

‘But they managed to have us and I think we’re pretty good together,’ Carmilla stated.

‘You think we’re good together?’ Laura asked as Carmilla wrapped her arms around Laura’s waist and pulled her in close.

This was it, Laura realised, this was the time. She leaned in slowly so that their foreheads were touching. Laura couldn’t resist. She couldn’t fight her urge to show the beautiful human in front of her just how much she cared. But the best thing was that she knew Carmilla felt the same way too. They shared a knowing glance to check each other wanted what was about to happen as there was no turning back if it did. But both girls were ready and wanted it more than the other knew and Carmilla’s earthy scent was beginning to drive Laura crazy.

Carmilla brushed her lips against Laura’s. She was scared. Scared that the smaller girl would stop her advances and she wanted to be sure before she continued. But Laura was sure, she didn’t recoil, she stayed and wanted more. Carmilla pecked her lips innocently before she began to lay hot, wet kisses on the brunette’s swollen lips. There was a passionate fire burning within the kisses that caused both girls to hold onto each other and only pull away when they both needed to gasp for air because the heat was intoxicating.

Carmilla was thankful to have Laura to hold onto as she thought she was going to lose herself. Laura tasted of sugar and all her senses were seduced by the girl she was clasping onto for dear life. She could no longer think straight.

‘Carmilla,’ Laura whispered slowly, still catching her breath from their previous encounter.

Carmilla’s mind whirled, her heart fluttered and a smile crept onto her face as wide as the Cheshire Cat. Never had her name sounded as beautiful as when it rolled off the tongue of the younger girl within her grasp. She wanted to reply but felt her voice would fail her so leaned in for another kiss which Laura captured.

Laura began to kiss Carmilla and she was sure the ground beneath them was falling away and Laura was confident that the world could be ending and she wouldn’t notice or care because she had what she so deeply desired. Their kisses had changed from fiery to slow, soft and comforting. They expressed more words than either girl could say to each other at that very moment. Laura reached her hand up to Carmilla’s face, placing her warm hand on the cold jawline below Carmilla’s ear. Her thumb began to caress her face mirroring the actions of their tongues that were connecting on a level that Laura didn’t know was possible. As Laura slowly pulled away, their breath began to mingle and it was a combination of earth and chocolate.

Carmilla ran her hand up Laura’s back, sending shivers down her spine, pulling her closer to her so there was no space separating them. They were chest to chest and Laura could feel Carmilla’s heart pounding in her chest, or was it her own heart that she could feel? They felt so magically in sync with each other that neither girl could decipher 2 different heartbeats. They were one.

The river continued to flow and was symbolic of their relationship. Slowly moving, but moving nonetheless. Moving in the right direction, closer to where it belonged.

Chapter Text

‘If it’s not Laura Hollis,’ a giggle came from behind them.

Laura turned around to see Sarah-Jane and her group of friends standing by her car in the parking lot.

‘Sarah-Jane,’ Laura nodded as she slammed her car door shut.

‘I can’t believe you’d think to show your face here considering you have no friends,’ Sarah-Jane giggled. Her other friends began to chuckle too.

‘I do have friends,’ Laura blurted.

‘Wait, did your Dad kick you out because he could no longer take the disappointment you are?’

A car door slammed behind Laura.

‘Alright, camera ready, are you?’ Carmilla asked.

‘Oooh! Who’s this?’ Sarah-Jane asked.

‘I’m sorry but is there a problem here?’ Carmilla asked.

‘I’m sorry but is there a problem here?’ Sarah-Jane mocked.

‘What’s your problem?’ Carmilla asked.

‘My problem? What’s yours? What excuse do you have for hanging out with this low-life?’

‘Low-life?’ Carmilla snapped in disbelief.

‘Yes, low-life,’ Sarah-Jane spoke slowly, ‘Do you not understand?’

‘I think you’ll find the only low-life here is the one who is insulting someone,’ Carmilla replied calmly.

‘Insulting? Oh sorry Laura, am I insulting you?’ Sarah-Jane asked approaching Laura and squishing her cheeks, ‘I’m sorry little Laura.’

Carmilla had enough and stepped in front of Sarah-Jane to protect her Laura.

‘Get away from me, you freak,’ Sarah-Jane said, stepping back.

‘What? Can’t come up with a better insult?’ Carmilla asked walking towards Sarah-Jane aggressively. Laura knew she should stop her but the fact that Carmilla was standing up for her, turned her on slightly.

‘Step back,’ Sarah-Jane said. Pushing Carmilla slightly.

‘You want to push me?’ Carmilla asked, pushing her back.

‘Get away,’ Sarah-Jane screamed before lashing out and catching Carmilla in the face.

‘You should be so thankful that I’m not going to hit you,’ Carmilla growled.

‘Awww, poor Laura, her only friend is weak,’ Sarah-Jane laughed.

The next thing Laura knew was the explosive power that Carmilla unleashed from her fist as she slammed it into Sarah-Jane’s face. Blood pooled in her mouth and Carmilla stumbled back from the force she had released.

For a quick second, they locked eyes before they in sync dived in towards each other, eyes narrowed in determination - Sarah-Jane in defending herself and her reputation and Carmilla in defending Laura.

Carmilla dodged the first fist Sarah-Jane swung at her and instead connected with her own. Sarah-Jane’s hazel eyes widened as she looked slightly dazed.

Sarah-Jane’s hands flew to Carmilla’s head and Carmilla found herself being dragged to the floor by her hair. In response, she tried to kick the aggressor but missed as Sarah-Jane was in control and able to avoid Carmilla’s attack but the unexpected attempt resulted in Sarah-Jane letting go of Carmilla’s hair.

‘See, weak,’ Sarah-Jane spat, blood oozing from her mouth.

Carmilla growled, something Laura could only like to a wild cat before she saw the Austrian lunge herself at the Canadian student and connected by taking her down in a tackle that looked like it belonged in a wrestling ring.

Laura could see them running towards Carmilla but couldn’t say anything as she was too proud. Campus security jumped onto the 2 girls and pulled them away from each other.

‘I want to report her for assault!’ Sarah-Jane screamed.

‘Assault? You hit me, I was defending myself. It’s not my fault if you’re not as hard as you think you are!’ Carmilla yelled back.

‘Do we really need to take you to the police?’ One of the campus security staff asked.

‘No, no, they’re ok,’ Laura squeaked knowing that her Dad would find out somehow, ‘We’re good, aren’t we Carm?’

Carmilla could sense the panic in Laura’s voice and as much as it hurt her to relinquish the grip on the person who bullied Laura and made her first year at University hell, she nodded and agreed that she was fine just because her Laura wanted that.

‘Get off of campus, all of you,’ the security staff member demanded.

And with a hand on Carmilla’s arm, Carmilla relaxed and began to walk back to Laura’s car knowing she had done all she could to protect the woman she loved.

*

I Found My 100 Miles Reward - Finally
Submitted at 19:23 9/08/2016 by CuriousJournalist

So I’m back a lot earlier than I expected but I’m happy about it.

Our trip to Toronto didn’t really work out like it was supposed to. We were there and did some sightseeing but when we went back to my University so my friend could take pictures at our sports event, one of my classmates decided she was going to start being nasty to me. I’m used to it, I’ve spent the last year getting used to it but my friend who was with me wasn’t expecting it.

Without going into too many details, we got kicked out from visiting my University because someone *looks over towards my friend* decided to plant her fist very squarely in my classmate's face.

She defended me and it was at that moment that I realised she was my soulmate and what I’d asked for from the 11 Miles ritual. The best part about it? She’s been in my life since the day after I completed it as we first spoke the day I posted up my 11 Miles experience. I found her. Or should I say - She found me.

CuriousJournalist

*

Laura opened her eyes and looked around. The chalky paint blistered off the wall and fell down in front of her eyes. It was all so real but Laura felt as though she was somewhere else.

The door was splintered and old, held up by only one of its rusty hinges and the ivy that had crept its way through the shattered windows and held the wood within its grasp like a snake grips its prey. It began to move and an ear-piercing squeak of the opening doors made Laura close her eyes forcefully to attempt to block the noise out of her mind to no avail.

A shadow cast itself over the wall plunging the room into darkness and sucked the living soul out of the abandoned and derelict room. Laura felt the rotting oak floor beneath her and realised it could give way at any second as she moved slightly to get a vision as to what was causing the shadow.

‘Laura.’

*

She woke up. This time in the comfort of her own bed knowing her Dad and Carmilla were just down the hall.

Chapter Text

'A vegetarian shark?’ Carmilla laughed, ‘Honestly when you said that was what it was about, I thought it would be awful but that was so good! It was honestly the best film I’ve watched in the couple of months since I’ve been here!

‘I know! It never fails to make me laugh,’ Laura replied.

‘I can’t believe it was a load of drawings on a computer made into a movie,’ Carmilla smiled in awe, ‘What did you call it?’

‘Shark Tale?’ Laura questioned.

‘No, the way it was created, the type of film it is.’

‘Oh, an animation,’ Laura corrected.

‘That’s it, that’s just amazing!’

‘Well now that we’ve watched that, what do you want to do now?’ Laura asked.

‘What else do you think I’ll never have seen?’

‘Oooh, I know, let me just grab my laptop and HDMI cable,’ Laura said, jumping up from the sofa.

‘A what cable?’ Carmilla asked confused.‘

A HDMI cable! It hooks my computer up to the TV, I’m going to introduce you to Netflix!’ Laura shouted as she ran up to her room to fetch what she needed to introduce Carmilla to a show she loved - Scandal.

*

‘Was that the whole of the first season?’ Carmilla asked.

‘Yeah,’ Laura smiled.

‘Are there more?’

‘Of course there are more! Do you want something to eat first and then we can watch the next season? Or at least as much of it as possible before the trick or treaters start coming around?’ Laura suggested.

‘Sure,’ Carmilla smiled.

Laura jumped up and headed to the kitchen.

Carmilla started to let her mind wonder. The endless possibilities that she had been introduced to over the past 10 months was incredible. Computers, writings online, rituals, films, TV’s and most importantly - Laura. She wondered what if she could put them altogether? She had the potential to live a life with a lifetime of experiences that until a few months ago she didn’t know existed. If people could write stories and have them turned into TV shows or films then why couldn’t she? What if she could do a ritual that was so extreme that it could allow her to write it down and aspire for greatness? She had some material but she needed one last big ritual to be the grand finale ending that would make it a success.

That’s when she remembered the note within her pocket. A few months ago she had scribbled down the instructions for one of the scariest rituals she had ever read and was determined to follow it through. She had only a few days left staying in Canada and she wanted her final days to go out with a bang especially now that Laura was struggling to remember what they had been doing over the past few days. It wasn’t a few days ago that she thought it was August rather than late October.

‘Laura, what time is your Dad home considering that it’s Halloween?’ Carmilla shouted to the kitchen.

‘I’m not sure, he was in court this morning and is working night shift tonight, why do you ask?’ Laura responded.

‘Well, I was thinking that as I’m leaving in a few days that maybe we could do something that reminds me of how we met,’ Carmilla suggested.

‘What do you mean?’

‘Well, do you want to do a ritual?’ Carmilla asked.

‘No, absolutely not!’ Laura protested.

‘Well, you don’t have to do it, just let me do it. I know you’re all worried since the last one we did and you know something is going on with you and you don’t know what but I really want to do one last ritual here!’

‘I do not think there is something wrong with me!’

‘You do! You’re having random coughing fits and forgetting things and you think they’re linked! You’re paranoid Laura!’

‘I’m not paranoid, ok, I just know that Slenderman can cause all those things! Anyway, I don’t want to talk about it, I just know I don’t want to do another ritual, just in case.’

‘Please. Just let me do one? Only one. It’s not going to invoke him, it’s just that I really want to do a last one before I leave.’

The doorbell rang, ‘That will be a trick or treater. We’ll discuss this later.’

*

‘Stop eating all the candy!’ Carmilla laughed as she caught Laura sitting on the arm of the sofa eating out of the last bag of candy they had.

‘It’s 10pm, they probably won’t come around now, I say this bag of candy is ours!’ Laura said piling chocolate in her mouth.

‘Well if it’s ours, where’s mine?’ Carmilla raised an eyebrow.

‘Well, if you want some then you should come and get some,’ Laura winked.

‘Is that a challenge Miss Hollis?’

‘I believe it is Miss Karnstein.’

Carmilla grinned accepting the challenge the tiny Canadian had voiced before she pounced on her. Laura squealed and jumped off the sofa, Carmilla following her as she ended up on top of Laura, pinning her beneath her slim frame.

Laura’s breath hitched in her throat as she caught the familiar metallic smell of Carmilla crossed with the earthly scent that she craved when she wasn’t in its presence. But just as quickly as it arrived, it disappeared as Carmilla snatched the bag of candy from Laura’s hand.

‘I won,’ she smiled as she jumped off the smaller girl. Her smile was one of knowledge, she knew what she’d done to Laura and was incredibly proud of the power she had over her even if it did scare her some of the time.

Laura stood up and dusted herself off, not wanting to meet Carmilla’s eyes as she knew that Carmilla had the power to unravel all of her.

‘So, you want to do a ritual, which one?’ Laura asked.

‘Are you allowing me to do one?’

‘Yes, as long as I don’t have to be involved,’ Laura stated.

‘Ok, then I’m doing it - Tonight,’ Carmilla beamed.

‘Well, what is it first?’

‘You’re not doing it so does it matter?’

‘Well, the fact you don’t want me to know what it is makes me slightly terrified that it is dangerous,’ Laura said, looking Carmilla in the eye.

‘It’s not dangerous to you but is dangerous to me,’ Carmilla revealed, ‘But I’ll be fine.’

‘Famous last words,’ Laura said, ‘Never say you’ll be fine. The first person who says that in movies is always the first to die.’

‘Trust me on this, it’s risky but I really want to do it,’ Carmilla told Laura.

‘I trust you, just please tell me what ritual it is?’

‘The Unholy Hour Ritual,’ Carmilla stated.

Laura froze. This was one of the rituals that scared Laura the most. It was one of the first she had heard of and can remember reading how the viewer watched his friend get ripped into pieces and die of the most painful death because he couldn’t answer the questions right.

‘No, you’re not doing it,’ Laura demanded.

‘Come on, it will be fine.’

‘I am not watching you get flayed in front of me!’ Laura shouted.

‘You said I could do it,’ Carmilla said.

‘But that was before I knew you were doing this! No. Carmilla, I will not let you do this.’

‘Well, I’m doing it whether you like it or not, it’s just up to you if you want to be there through it or if you don’t. Your choice,’ Carmilla growled as she pushed past Laura to head upstairs. Laura hoped she was going to bed, but she knew deep down that Carmilla was going to get prepared for the ritual.

*

Carmilla woke up at 6:30am after a restless night. She’d hoped to get some sleep considering what she was going to be doing in a few short minutes and was aware she would need full concentration to do what she had planned.

She rubbed her eyes and walked over to the window to judge how much light would be let in. It wasn’t a lot and she hoped it would be dark enough for her to perform the ritual correctly. She stared at the mirror but could see the slight reflection of her figure looking back at her and decided to darken the room and headed to the laundry cupboard to get a spare duvet.

*

Laura awoke to the sound of Carmilla’s feet pattering along the hall and heading to the laundry cupboard. She looked over to the clock and fought every urge within her to not get up and be there for Carmilla’s ritual. She had to think about herself. Slenderman was near, she could always see him in the corner of her eye and she feared that being in the proximity of a ritual would strengthen him further. It was just too much for her to risk. On top of that she knew that this was such a dangerous ritual and she knew Carmilla wouldn’t survive it and didn’t want to watch the person she loved get murdered in front of her without being able to do anything to stop it.

Laura rolled over in bed and tried to block out the man looming over the bottom of her bed. She blocked out the instant wish that he would take her now so she had no choice in the matter of whether to watch the love of her life die in front of her or not. She wondered why she even wanted to be there.

But if it was Carmilla’s last seconds, wouldn’t she want to be there to tell her that she loved her? Could she really face never seeing her soulmate again and knowing that the last time they talked was an argument over whether to do this stupid ritual or not. Carmilla was too stubborn for Laura’s liking and vice versa but Laura knew she would regret not saying goodbye.

*

Carmilla was in the process of throwing the duvet sheets over the curtain rail when she heard the door to her room open. Without looking she knew who stood there and smiled to herself that even when facing the most danger she would ever face, Laura wanted to be by her side.

‘What changed your mind?’ Carmilla asked.

‘I haven’t changed my mind, I just don’t want you to go through it alone,’ the Canadian replied.

Carmilla judged the light in the room and the fact that she couldn’t see Laura made her believe it was dark enough.

‘Put the light on a second?’ Carmilla asked.

The light switched on and Carmilla’s eyes adapted to the brightness but it was worth it to see the woman she was doing the ritual for. She wanted to spend her entire life with Laura and this way she could. It would be just like Edward and Bella but without the blood and sparkly crap. She just wished that she could turn Laura immortal but didn’t know if she would survive this and would never let Laura do it.

She looked over to the clock to see it flick to 7:00 am and she took a long drawn out breath to calm her nerves without success.

‘Ok, turn the light out. Let’s do this,’ Carmilla replied as she picked up her lighter and faced the mirror.

The room was plunged into darkness and Carmilla could feel her breathing getting heavier and her heart beat faster but she had to do it - She had to do it for the future she wanted with Laura.

She tried to light her lighter but her hands began to shake and found it impossible to do no matter how hard she concentrated or how many times she tried. She tried until her thumb began to hurt.

‘Are you ok?’ Laura asked.

‘I can’t light it,’ Carmilla said, her voice shaking.

‘Are you sure you want to do it?’

‘Yes, I’m sure,’ Carmilla said with confidence.

She felt Laura’s hand on her arm and her hand grasp around the lighter.

‘Give me the lighter, I’ll hold it for you so you can concentrate.’

Without hesitating she relinquished her grip and felt Laura move back a step. She saw the flicker of flame appear in the reflection of the mirror and took a long breath before reciting the Lord’s Prayer.

‘Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into the temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.’

Carmilla repeated the prayer over and over again, chanting every word as she began to relax into a form of meditation.

The 8th time around, Carmilla began to see something briefly in the mirror. The outline of a man appeared and disappeared in a flash. She repeated it once more with desperation oozing out of every word she chanted. Nothing.

He couldn’t leave her and she wouldn’t leave him alone until she got what she wanted and continued to repeat it over and over again.

‘Amen.’

The flame on her lighter grew dramatically and she could briefly see Laura’s terrified face as she held the continually growing flame within her hand that was slowly turning from a deep yellow to a light green.

Carmilla’s attention was turned away from the changing colour of the lighter flame to see a face as clear as day appear in front of her in the mirror. His long brown hair pinned back behind his round ears and other than the burn upon his left cheek he possessed the perfect face with deep-set and stern eyes. His armour shone from an invisible light and wings draped behind his back so elegantly but terrifying at the same time and she knew it was the archangel Michael that she stood before.

Carmilla bowed to him to show her respect to what she was going to be requesting.

‘Are you certain that you want to continue?’ Michael asked. His voice loud and commanding with a low growl to indicate the power he had. It made Carmilla feel uneasy and she wished he didn’t talk as it sent a buzzing sound around her head and he continued to make her feel queasy but she refused to back down.

‘I do.’ Carmilla said standing up straight to confront him and show him that he had no power over her.

‘I will ask you 7 riddles. You will have time to think about them. If you answer 4 or more right then I will allow you a conversation with a dead loved one or give a living person immortality. However if you answer less than 4 correctly I shall provide you with the most painful death at the hands of my sword. Are you ready for your first riddle?’

‘Yes,’ Carmilla replied.

Laura began to shake. She couldn’t let her nerves get the better of her as she wasn’t even doing the ritual herself but ever since she’d been introduced to rituals she had been afraid of the ‘Unholy Hour’. When she found out that they were real her fear for this ritual grew and now she couldn’t believe that her nightmares were coming true in front of her eyes as she watched the woman that she loved risk her life for no real reason at all and she couldn’t do anything to stop it. It was too late. Carmilla had already accepted doing the ritual.

The feeling of dread swept through Carmilla’s body as she immediately regretted agreeing to the ritual. She had been so sure until this point when she started to realise that she’d signed up for a death sentence. Her whole life rested on how smart she was but riddles were not just about intelligence and Carmilla started to doubt if she had what it took. She clasped her cold and pale fingers together and wondered if that was a sign of death approaching her. She knew she had to calm the panic that she felt and decided to look her fear directly in the face as she stared into the piercing eyes of the Archangel standing in the mirror before her.

‘There is a house. One enters it blind and comes out seeing. What is it?’

Carmilla began to feel her fingers tremble and she forced her fingers to calm down before the trembling took over her entire body but as she began to focus on hiding her true emotions she felt her muscles give way from exhaustion. She had to give all her energy to her mind as she realised how tiresome the next few minutes were going to be. Her stomach was in knots as she tried to figure out the answer. How literal was it? Could it be a operating room for your eye? Was there a special type of surgery to fix blindness? Her brain started to translate every spark it gave desperately trying to piece together an answer for the problem she had to solve but nothing made sense. Something was there but she couldn’t translate it. Like a foreign language you didn’t understand, static on a TV screen where you can faintly make out the picture or receiving a message but not being able to load it due to a lack of signal. The answer was there in her brain but she couldn’t find it.

‘You have 10 seconds left,’ Michael stated.

Carmilla had to think. She couldn’t lose this, not when the answer was on the tip of her tongue. She knew it from somewhere. It was a riddle from a cultural group in history, she knew it had to be and the only culture she knew off by heart was Sumerian.

‘A famous Sumerian riddle,’ she muttered to herself. She looked at Michael in the eyes and saw his smile fade and she knew she was right, ‘A school.’

His eyes revealed it all. He was not happy.

‘You are right.’

Carmilla began to breathe once again. She only needed 3 more right answers and she’d be out of here with what she wanted most. As she began to calm down she started to register a sharp pain in her hands. Her nails had been digging into her fingers and she relinquished the grip to which she felt a sharper pain but only momentarily as the pain ceased. She stared at the fingernail dents left around her index finger on her left hand and realised just how much power she had in such a tiny part of her body. She would not let the archangel win. This was her battle to win or lose and she was determined to make it the former. Her hands clasped back together as she heard Michael clear his throat and she mentally prepared herself for another riddle.

‘An ornate arched roof atop,

A ruby red room inlay with a thick velvet carpet,

In its grandeur, gleaming pillars of ivory hold firm this mighty structure.

What so be it, am I ?’

Crap. Fancy English words.

Carmilla had no idea what ‘ornate’ or ’grandeur’ meant. If only Michael could have said this one in German then maybe she would understand. She knew it was a losing battle and what if he’d realised her weakness and was going to use long English words in every riddle from now on?

Carmilla glanced over towards Laura because now she felt closer to death than ever before. Her mouth was dry as she stared at the love of her life knowing she would never get to put her arms around the small brunette or let her lips touch hers. She’d fucked up.

What was ivory? Wasn’t it the material that tusks are made of from those animals with the gigantic penis on it’s face? In German it was called an ‘Elefant’ but she had no idea what it would be called in English as ‘Penis face’ was probably not PG enough.

‘You have 10 seconds.’ Michael repeated in the same tone of voice he had used before or lack of tone for his monotone voice was anything but heavenly.

‘Fuck it. An ‘Elefant’, I don’t know the word in English.’

Carmilla looked the archangel directly in the face and saw his smile grow and she knew it was wrong. She knew deep down that it was wrong before but the confirmation made her feel sick to her stomach. It didn’t matter how much she had read or how intelligent she felt like she was, her life could end in a matter of moments if she got the next 3 questions wrong. Time stood still for the moment as she waited for him to tell her she was wrong.

‘You are wrong,’ he said with a large grin plastered across his face that made Carmilla and Laura both feel sick to their stomachs. The only way that Laura could think to describe it was like a ‘Smiler’ from Doctor Who, it was creepy, terrifying and unnerving all at once and despite it being a simple facial expression you knew there was more to it than just a smile.

‘First think of the person who lives in disguise,

Who deals in secrets and tells naught but lies.

Next, tell me what's always the last thing to mend,

The middle of middle and end of the end?

And finally give me the sound often heard,

During the search for a hard-to-find word.

Now string them together and answer me this,

Which creature would you be unwilling to kiss?’

Carmilla’s mouth went dry. What nonsense could this riddle answer? She was completely confused and started to debate death and how painful getting flayed would be.

She dug into her fingers with her nails involuntarily out of the nerves she felt and realised the sharp pain she felt was from drawing blood. Carmilla realised she could psych herself up for death as she put her nails back into the holes they had created in her skin and she tried to pull.

She whimpered. The pain was real and so much worse than she had expected. She couldn’t end it this way, she couldn’t.

She had looked at the last riddle too literally but something inside her was screaming to do the same with this one and she had to fight every urge to not do so now because it just made so much sense. The end had told her to string her answers together and Carmilla realised it was a riddle within a riddle. A person who lives in disguise? Lies and secrets? It sounded like someone who had to hide or a spy. Next? Something about last to mend, middle to middle and end to end. Fuck knows. Maybe she could get the answer from not knowing what that was. The last one? The sound when searching for a word. Finally something Carmilla knew because there was a lot of English words she had to find and she always said ‘Um’. Hide-um. Spy-um. But those weren’t words of a creature unless it was some unusual name for an animal that she didn’t know like penis face.

Carmilla realised she had to figure out the middle part of the riddle and she laughed as she realised how impossible it seemed but had to have a logical answer. It was like the riddle she had spent ages figuring out that said how ‘What has a word made of 4 letters yet has 3 letters’ and you spend ages thinking of a word that has 4 letters but also has 3 but not realising that it needed to be taken logically as the word ‘What’ had 4 letters and ‘Yet’ had 3.

Last to mend? Middle to middle? End to end? Could it be as simple as she thought it could be? Mend and end both ended with the last letter ‘d’ and the letter ‘d’ was found in the middle of middle. But a hide-d-um or a spy-d-um were not creatures she was aware of.

‘Hide-d-um, spy-d-um. Wait?’ Carmilla phonetically spelled them and by pronouncing ‘d’ it sounded like ‘der’ and some people said ‘err’ whilst trying to find a word. A spider? That was a creature and not many people would want to kiss one of them.

‘You have 10 seconds.’

It had to be. She had nothing left.

‘A spider.’

His smile faded instantly and Carmilla could see the fury in his eyes. He’d clearly tried with that one but she had guessed right, she knew it.

‘You are correct.’

Carmilla’s heart pounded against her chest that she could feel it across every part of her body reminding her that she was alive. Her breathing hitched as she registered that she had answered 2 out of the 3 so far. All she needed were 2 more correct answers out of the next 5 and she’d be safe. She could spend eternity with her love. Her legs began to shake in anticipation and Carmilla had to fight to not fall over and get feeling back into them where she could confidently stand on her 2 feet in front of the archangel reflected back to her in the mirror. She could not show fear.

‘Voiceless it cries,

Wingless flutters,

Toothless bites,

Mouthless mutters.’

She focused on the room she stood in. The darkness only stopped from consuming them by the flicker of the lighter that the love of her life held delicately in her hands. The only light, physical and metaphorical came from the same place. She knew she had to survive this for Laura. She was doing this for Laura because even though Laura didn’t realise it, this was all Carmilla wanted. Eternity with Laura Hollis.

Carmilla sighed thinking about the future, or at least the future she wished to have. The hope in her head the hope she carried in her heart as she started to decipher the riddle but unlike all the others she had no idea on where to start.

She shivered and in an automatic response she looked to the mirror to look at the reflection of Laura, searching for her face, hoping that she could give some ideas but instead all she could see was Michael bearing down on her. The excitement and exhilaration that usually fueled her during rituals had all but gone from her weary mind and in return all her mind could offer her was silence; as silent and as still as the air surrounding her.

Wait.

It can cry without a voice. It moves through the air without wings. It can bite without teeth. It mutters without a mouth.

Carmilla grinned slyly at Michael which seemed to throw him off guard as he did a double take on the raven locked girl stood before him in the mirror.

‘The wind.’

His nostrils flared and Carmilla breathed a sigh of relief and let her eyes wonder now that she was more comfortable. Her fingers stained red from the self-inflicted injury she had caused but it hurt no more than a cat scratch.

‘You are correct.’

Carmilla heard Laura squeal momentarily and a smile pulled at her mouth. She could do this. It was all for Laura.

‘What touches one person but binds two?’

The butterflies awoke once again and started causing Carmilla to feel ill. Yet again she had no idea but hoped it would come to her like it did in the last riddle. She began to focus on Laura. She wanted to wake up and make Laura breakfast and surprise her with it when she would wake and other early morning surprises. She chuckled to herself as she realised that those would never happen because there was no way in hell Carmilla would be able to wake up before Laura and actually want to be awake although she supposed that’s what she’d done today and had woken up to do something for Laura so maybe she could make her breakfast in bed, even if it was only her favourite cereal at first whilst she got used to wanting to be awake in the mornings.

‘You have 10 seconds.’

‘Wait! No!’ Carmilla cried. She hadn’t even thought about the riddle. It couldn’t end now, what if this was the easiest one out of the next 3 and she’d just fucked it up. No she couldn’t. Binding. Rope? Handcuffs? A contract?

‘Times up.’

‘No, no, no! You can’t. Just one more minute?’

‘This is non-negotiable.’

‘Fuck!’ Carmilla groaned. She’d been so focussed on her love for Laura that she couldn’t focus on her need to live. She guessed you could be blinded by love. She had to focus.

‘What turns everything around but does not move?’

Her eye muscles twitched from staring at Michael. She wanted to focus on every word he said. Her first thought was a sign saying ‘Road closed’ but that wouldn’t turn everything around as animals wouldn’t obey it. She clenched her teeth. What was able to have such power over everything, not just people but animals, nature and things that weren’t intelligent. What could turn a cupboard around without moving? She grasped onto her hands as though it would help and her foot began to tap as she impatiently searched for the answer. This one made absolutely no sense and she didn’t want to wait it out to see if something came to her. She had too much to lose. She had to get this one right.

‘You have 10 seconds.’

Her head was screaming and trying to grasp onto anything that could make sense but none of it did. Her heart thudded and her face grimaced in frustration making her look older and more tired than she really was. Nothing made sense.

‘Time’s up.’

She stared at Michael and that’s when she realised the answer.

‘It was a mirror wasn’t it?’

Michael smiled and Carmilla let all the tension go within her body. Everything rested on the last riddle and she wanted to be as relaxed as possible. She could not afford to lose this one in the same fashion she had lost the one previous.

‘You cannot see me, touch me, or hear me

I lie behind the stars and alter what is real

Close your eyes and I come near

I am what you really fear.

What am I?’

Carmilla knew this was her last chance. She took a deep breath out letting everything escape her and let the new breath fill her with a fresh start. Her future could wait as she needed to figure out her present.

The answer had to be something that had no physical presence if you could not see, touch or hear it. Something that lay behind stars? Space lay behind the stars but it didn’t really alter what was real, it needed to be something to mask reality, like a curtain. Carmilla closed her eyes and tried to figure what came near, the curtain she saw were her eyelids but they were physical and she could touch them so it couldn’t be that. Something that she really feared? Well at that moment in time, Carmilla really feared being skinned alive but she doubted that was what it could be. She opened her eyes and closed them again, hoping the repetition would give her the answer. The only thing that surrounded her were her eyelids again as they plunged her into darkness.

That was it. It couldn’t be touched or heard and even though it could be seen, it couldn’t really be seen as that was the whole point. In the night sky it lay behind stars and would mask reality and if Carmilla blew the lighter out, her current fear would come near.

Carmilla tugged on her sleeve and took a deep breath before looking Michael in the eye and with every certainty she could muster, revealed the answer she believed to be right.

‘The dark.’

She searched his face for confirmation but he revealed nothing. The moment of silence deafened her and in response her heart began to race, almost a little too fast. She was right, she had to be and to believe anything else right now would destroy her.

She looked into his eyes and watched the world pass by in slow motion as he opened his mouth and let the words come out that Carmilla had been dying to hear.

‘You are right.’

Relief filled her body so quickly that she felt like she would faint from happiness and had to stay focused to not fall down to the ground and feel something protecting her from sinking deeper into the mess she had created.

‘You have answered 4 out of the 7 questions right. You have passed and you may now have a conversation with a deceased loved one or give a living one immortality. Which do you choose?’ Michael asked. His scratchy and unpleasant voice was a relief to Carmilla and she refused to look at Laura knowing how much Laura was going to hate the decision Carmilla would make.

Laura smiled as she realised her girlfriend would remain alive but was confused at what it would mean. Carmilla was going to choose immortality but Laura would still die at some point and it pained her to realise that one day she would be old and frail but Carmilla would still be the young woman that she was and would have to watch Laura die one day.

‘I choose immortality,’ Carmilla said, doing exactly what Laura had anticipated and Laura took a breath as she prepared for Michael to turn her girlfriend immortal.

‘For yourself?’ He asked.

‘No, for Laura, the girl behind me.’

Laura suddenly felt faint. Had she misheard what Carmilla had said? Was Carmilla forcing immortality on to her?

‘Carm?’

‘Laura, don’t say anything, I’m certain. I want you to live forever, I don’t want Slenderman to kill you and I’ll do this again and get immortality for myself and we can live forever together.’

‘But Carm I don’t want it! No, take it back, Archangel Michael, please don’t give me immortality.’

‘That is not my choice to make, your wish is granted.’

Before Laura could protest, Michael was gone and Carmilla dropped to the floor panting from exhaustion. As much as Laura wanted to hate Carmilla right now, she rushed to her girlfriend’s side to see what she could do to help and to prolong the inevitable argument that would ensue.

Chapter Text

Carmilla rolled over, her head was pounding and all of her senses went wild as though they were on fire. There was an unusual smell lingering in the air that made Carmilla’s stomach churn in a way that she had never experienced before. It was a musky smell similar to dust but something she could not put her finger on. She slowly sat up as an attempt to gather her bearings and felt the whole world spinning beneath her as she sat perfectly still in the bright green duvet that Laura had provided her with.

One moment was all it took for Carmilla to realise how odd everything felt. It was all wrong but she could not determine why. She looked around for some familiarity in the world that felt so unfamiliar to her and laid her eyes on a picture of her and Laura that sat by her bed. The gorgeous woman that she had fallen madly in love with had insisted on the photograph and excitedly demanded that Carmilla learn to take what was known as a ‘selfie’ together one night after a date with the couch, a film and an array of sweet edible goodies that Laura obsessed over. She greedily gazed at the picture and longed for the woman to be in her arms. The want was incredibly powerful that it made her stomach roar as though she was hungry for the young Canadian and could have devoured every part of her that she got her fingertips on. It had been only a few hours since she had last seen the girl but it felt like days, months and maybe even years to Carmilla.

Something was wrong and Carmilla rubbed her eyes, feeling her unusually cold skin beneath her touch. The room felt wrong but it felt right at the same time and Carmilla was perplexed by the feelings she felt. Directly ahead of her was a wall with a shelf and to the left was the large window which would stream light into the room when the curtains would be pulled back but for Carmilla the light already seemed to be seeping through at such a pace that she hoped she wouldn’t have to open the curtains to the world outside. She could hear the quiet chirping of the birds in the garden which seemed much louder than she could remember and Carmilla wondered if she was coming down with something? The flu?

The smell she had previously smelt quickly changed to something delicious and powerful that she had to refrain from lurching out of bed towards the door. It was of a metallic smell that normally would make Carmilla hurl but today it made her hungry. It was impossible to explain to herself as to why the smell had such a strong reaction before the bird sounds were replaced by the patter of footsteps and most importantly the sound of external pounding that Carmilla could not locate the host of.

Laura entered her room, there was no knocking but just her entering and Carmilla’s senses heated to a higher temperature than what she thought was possible. She could feel a greed forming in the pit of her belly as she looked towards her Canadian girlfriend. Her hair sent chills down Carmilla’s spine, her beautiful eyes made Carmilla’s hairs stand to attention and her neck was incredibly inviting.

Carmilla watched the girl before her breathe. It was something she had never noticed before but the soft rising of material as Laura’s lungs filled with air was beautiful and much more sexier than Carmilla thought was usual. She concentrated on the smaller girl which allowed Carmilla to locate the host of the loud and tempting pounding that she was unable to before. It belonged to Laura although what exactly it was confused Carmilla but it worked in sync of Laura’s breathing and the surprisingly subtle bulging vein in Laura’s neck and if Carmilla was a superhuman she’d have guessed it was Laura’s heartbeat but Carmilla obviously couldn’t hear that.

‘Good afternoon,’ Laura whispered wearily. Her speech was barely audible but for Carmilla it was the loudest sound she had heard all of her life and was like music to her ears.

‘Morning,’ Carmilla replied. Her voice was strange like it was much lower and sultry than usual and it reminded her of the stereotypical female vampire voice.

She ran her fingers over her exposed arm and felt the icy flesh beneath her touch and wondered how cold it was as strangely she did not feel cold or hot yet her skin obviously felt different.

‘How are you feeling today?’ Laura asked.

Carmilla felt like she could almost taste the girl in front of her and found herself biting her lip in response. She could taste the smell that the girl released like if you smelt food cooking and you could almost taste it but Laura was not food.

‘A little weird but ok,’ Carmilla replied truthfully, letting her gaze fall to Laura’s neck.

‘Do you fancy some food?’ Laura asked and Carmilla found herself standing without a thought to follow the girl to the kitchen knowing that what had happened a few hours ago was troubling Laura and that they would be having a discussion about it at some point during the day.

*

Laura handed some cereal to Carmilla who realised how hungry she was but as she put the first spoonful of the chocolatey goodness in her mouth she quickly spat it out.

‘Is the milk off?’ Carmilla asked.

‘No?’ Laura answered with uncertainty.

Laura hopped off her stool and opened the fridge to look at the use by date.

‘No, there’s still another week left on it. It tastes fine to me.’

‘Hmm,’ Carmilla wondered, ‘Maybe I’m just not wanting cereal this morning.’

Carmilla was ravenous though.

‘Maybe I can cook you some toast?’ Laura offered.

‘I don’t think that’s what I want. I really want meat,’ Carmilla said aloud.

‘Well, there’s not meat in here. There’s a cafe down the road that does bacon rolls and stuff if that’s what you want?’

Carmilla found herself standing prepared to go and get something.

‘I’ll be back in a second. Feel free to eat my cereal.’

Laura watched as her girlfriend walked out the kitchen and headed towards the front door without bothering to put on her coat and almost forgetting her shoes.

Carmilla was acting very strangely and Laura wondered if she had slept at all or if the horror from a few hours ago had kept her awake as it sure had kept Laura awake. She was now immortal. She could never die and Carmilla had selfishly forced immortality on her to try and protect her from Slenderman.

She looked in the corner of her eye. He was still there. Maybe he couldn’t kill her now but his arms still lingered just as close as they had the day before, tantalisingly close but far enough away that she was protected.

At least immortality hadn’t affected her hunger as she quickly finished her own cereal and pulled Carmilla’s over to her. She wouldn’t let chocolate go to waste!

*

Carmilla entered the cafe and picked up a menu from one of the tables to see what she wanted.

Baked goods, toast, eggs, pancakes and full English breakfasts but she finally found what she craved. She had thought a bacon roll sounded delicious earlier but then she saw a black pudding roll. She had no idea what a black pudding was but it tempted her and she knew that was what she needed.

‘Hi, can I have a black pudding roll please?’ Carmilla asked for.

‘Coming right up,’ the guy behind the counter said as he took the cash from her hands.

Carmilla could smell the meat being cooked and she felt hungrier than ever. The smell drove her insane and every millisecond she spent in the cafe was making her want to devour a human being. She couldn’t believe she had missed eating meat this much.

After what felt like years of an agonising wait, the guy brought her roll out and Carmilla snatched it out of his hands like a woman possessed and messily took a bite out of it, letting the ketchup on the bun fall down the sides.

It tasted amazing to Carmilla. It was like a sausage and she could detect oats, salt and spices in it with a very distinct taste that she adored - Blood. The chunky parts made her feel like she was eating meat and the smoother parts felt like she was tasting blood but the irony taste and smell drove her wild and she finished her first bite with ease, the edging tasting a bit more cooked than the centre and almost tasting like she was eating a dried up scab. To Carmilla, the texture was incredible.

She had heard of a blood sausage before but had never wanted to try one, in fact the idea of it had always freaked her out but now she was in heaven and her hunger had been satisfied but she could not quench her thirst. Strangely to her, water, juice or coffee did not appeal to her. All she wanted was to taste more blood.

She finished her roll much too quickly for her liking and looked the guy behind the counter in the eye. He had been watching her eat like a monster and was visually terrified but looked even more uncomfortable when she locked eye contact.

‘I want another 10,’ she replied, ‘With extra blood sausage.’

*

Laura began to worry. Carmilla had been gone for over an hour. Laura knew that sometimes the cafe would be busy but it was a Tuesday at 2pm, the lunch rush would have been over by now and the kids weren't out of school just yet. Nobody would be eating in the cafe at this time of day.

Laura heard the door shut near the front of the house and she breathed a sigh of relief when she saw Carmilla standing in the hallway. She looked somewhat normal and seemed to be showing signs of life compared to the dead image she had earlier. Carmilla rubbed her hands up and down her upper arms in a stereotypical manner to signify that she was cold.

‘Brrr,’ Carmilla released the sound, ‘It’s so cold!’

Laura chuckled, ‘Well, at least it’s good to see you looking normal. Before you looked like you were dead.’

Carmilla entered the living room and Laura couldn’t believe her eyes.

‘Well I feel a bit more alive now,’ Carmilla grinned which seemed to horrify Laura, ‘What? What’s wrong?’

‘Your teeth are red, have you been eating a raw steak?’ Laura said visibly gagging.

‘Errr, I’ve been eating blood sausage and lots of it. Maybe I have an iron deficiency?’ Carmilla pondered.

‘I didn’t want to know what you’ve been eating. I will not kiss you until you have brushed your teeth and used a LOT of mouthwash,’ Laura put her hand up in a dismissive manner.

‘Sorry, didn’t mean to freak you out of anything,’ Carmilla apologised, ‘I don’t know what came over me this morning. I just wanted meat. I must have missed it or something.’

‘I don’t want to hear about it. Eating meat is one thing but eating blood is another. I don’t want to hear about your bloody ways!’ Laura called out, still hiding behind her hand.

‘Alright, alright, I’m going to brush my teeth. Calm down,’ Carmilla chuckled as she headed upstairs. The smell that she had been craving all morning reappeared but it smelt muskier as though it was going bad. Carmilla realised it was the smell of meat, or more specifically the iron smell of blood.

‘Brush everything, I don’t want you to have anything like blood in your mouth,’ Laura called from downstairs.

‘Hey, Laura,’ Carmilla began, ‘I think there might be a dead animal upstairs or something. I smell blood.’

‘You’ve just been eating it, what do you expect?’ Laura shouted back.

‘No, Laura, I really mean it. This isn’t right.’

Carmilla felt like she could hear the brunette downstairs jump off the kitchen stool and come upstairs before she could feel her presence bounding up to meet her in the hallway.

‘I don’t smell anything,’ Laura whispered.

Carmilla could hear Laura’s heart pounding with such force that she thought it was going to pop out of her chest. She took another whiff and realised it was coming from her bedroom.

‘It’s coming from my bedroom,’ Carmilla voiced.

The two girls walked down the hall to the solitary room on the left side of the house. The hallway felt long and almost like it narrowed as the two girls got closer to the wooden door. Carmilla led the way and placed her hand on the doorknob which felt colder and rougher than usual. All of her senses were on high alert as she slowly opened the door to reveal what lay behind.

She pushed the door open, letting it swing by itself, creaking under the pressure of the hinges.

Carmilla had half expected to find something bleeding in her room or for some injured animal to try and run out but nothing was there. The bed was how she had left it and the curtains were still drawn too but the smell was stronger and Carmilla was sure it was resonating from this room.

‘See, there’s nothing,’ Laura said as she pushed past Carmilla to open the curtains. The floorboard creaked under her but Carmilla knew something wasn’t right.

Laura ripped the curtains apart to let the light flood in. After a momentary pause whilst Carmilla’s eyes adapted to the white light entering the room, she saw the source of the smell to which Laura still seemed to be oblivious.

‘Laura?’ Carmilla whispered, not taking her eyes off the wall where it lay.

‘Absolutely nothing, nothing at all I don’t know what…’ Laura turned around and saw what Carmilla could see too.

The green wall was smeared in a thick red substance that Carmilla knew was blood and the amount there indicated that the animal would have died from blood loss if it was from the same creature. Carmilla was sure it had to be a large creature, like the size of a human being. On the wall lay specifically placed letters which spelled out a haunting message for the 2 girls.

You asked and you received.

The two girls shared a terrified look.

‘Carmilla. How could you smell the blood? It’s almost like you’re…’ Laura trailed off as she realised where she was going but Carmilla agreed and finished the sentence for her.

‘I’m a vampire.’

*

The 2 girls sat down in the kitchen and the sense of uncertainty and confusion was heavy in the air.

Laura couldn’t believe that vampires existed, but upon thinking about all the supernatural things that she had experienced in the past few months, vampires seemed less of a stretch than ever. If rituals worked and HE could be real then why couldn’t a mythical creature that was as old as fairytales themselves exist. Why shouldn’t vampires be real?

Carmilla on the other hand was certain. She had read books and her nightmares as a child had been surrounded by the paranormal. She wasn’t wanting meat, the taste she wanted was blood. The blood made her mouth water and being so close to a living human being as she was to Laura took all restraint to not try and bite her. Her whole body was cold and she could feel her heart was still. She wasn’t going to tell Laura that though. How could she?

‘But I thought I was the one that you asked to get immortality?’ Laura finally spoke.

‘Maybe that’s the consequences. I asked to give you immortality so I have to give my life to allow you to have it? So now I’m cursed with a craving for blood immortally?’

‘So we’re both immortal?’ Laura questioned.

‘Well, as long as you are then I’m sure vampires don’t just die when they’ve been a vampire for 50 years or something.’ Carmilla snapped.

Carmilla’s tone didn’t phase Laura as she was in her own world. Wasn’t this great? She and Carmilla were both immortal. They would never die and would live together forever. ‘I wonder if I really am immortal?’

Laura felt for her heartbeat which was still present, would her heart stop beating if she became immortal? Then she thought to Doctor Who, granted he had 2 hearts but was thousands of years old and his hearts were still beating. Maybe she was.

Carmilla looked over at the adorable idiot who annoyingly was so focused on herself that she was struggling to see the pain Carmilla was in. Laura didn’t know how much restraint Carmilla was using to not lunge at her neck.

‘Well unless you want to step in front of a truck, I don’t think you’re going to find out,’ Carmilla hissed. She wondered why Laura seemed so concerned to whether she was immortal. Immortality seemed like the worst thing in the world to Carmilla now and she was wishing she didn’t do the stupid ritual in the first place.

‘Carm, don’t be so upset. Think about it, it means we get to spend eternity together!’ Laura beamed.

‘And you think that’s worth it? Worth this?’ Carmilla spat gesturing to herself, ‘I want to jump onto you, bite you and drain every drop of blood out of your body because your heart is pounding and that is all I can hear and all I can smell. I would rather be dead than be a vampire.’

‘Carm,’ Laura began, the words cutting into her like a knife, ‘But you can adapt to it. This is what you wanted wasn’t it? So what if it’s hard now, I’m sure that other vampires have learned to control their urges. You could do what everyone in Twilight does and drink animal blood. You could be a vegetarian vampire!’

‘Twilight isn’t real!’ Carmilla yelled, ‘Look, just leave me alone. I need some space because the angrier I get the more I’m scared my emotions will take over and that I’ll hurt you.’

Carmilla stood up abruptly, scraping the stool along the tiled floor. Without looking Laura in the eye, she swiftly walked up the stairs and into her room before collapsing onto the bed in a big heap.

Carmilla’s beliefs on life and existence were shattered in one night. She had always believed that there would be one day that no one would remember her name. Maybe her great-grandchildren would only know her as their parents grandmother and not know her name, let alone her family name. Maybe that day would have come sooner rather than later but one day she would die and so would people’s memories of her. One day there would be no humans and that the existence of human life would be forgotten about eventually, except if a more intelligent race overtook us and had fossils like we did of dinosaurs and other prehistoric life. But no, Carmilla would live. She would know history and so would Laura. How could she wrap her mind around the fact that the past 20 or so years had felt like a lifetime, how would she be able to live another 20 years, let alone 20 billion years? How long was a billion? Would she forget her first memories? Would she forget who her mother was? What would happen with memories? Would more important memories take priority over the memories she never wanted to forget? Were memories stored like in the animation ‘Inside Out’ and would there ever come a time where her brain was too full of memories that she wouldn’t be able to function? What would happen with her brain? She had too many questions and she knew she would find out every answer but she hoped and prayed that she wouldn’t.

There was a faint buzz in the distance, and by faint, it was considerably loud for Carmilla who now had all of her senses heightened. Carmilla knew she could be mistaken but it sounded almost like vibrating, like that of a phone. Carmilla hadn’t used her phone since she had arrived in Canada as there was no need for it. The only people who had her phone number was her boss and her family but her boss and her older sister, Mattie had been communicating with her via the internet and she had no desire to speak with her Mother or with her younger brother, Will and it would have surprised her if they had wanted to speak with her.

Despite this, she decided to find the ancient flip phone which was lying under a pile of clothes she had in the corner of the room that she had done well at hiding from Laura who didn’t like the mess Carmilla prefered to live in.

Maman

The last person she wanted to speak to was her Maman. She was angry and now felt more hormonal than if she was on her period. Carmilla declined the call whilst wondering if vampires got their periods when she saw that there were 15 missed calls and 12 unread text messages ranging from a few hours ago to the current time.

Maman - Call me when you get this.

Maman - Carmilla. YOU NEED TO PHONE ME. This is really important.

Carmilla wondered what was wrong. Her Mother was an evil being and there was no way she would be calling Carmilla unless she had done something so awful that she deserved to be yelled at whilst there was a whole ocean in between them. But there was something inside of her that was wanting to figure out what it was. She was already pissed off, maybe speaking to her Mother wouldn’t piss her off as much as normal.

Before she could mull it over any further, her phone began vibrating again and she picked it up.

‘Maman,’ Carmilla forced a smile, ‘What can I do for you?’

She wasn’t expecting her Mother’s response. What she was expecting was a snide comment back but instead she got a moment of silence which unsettled her. Something was wrong. Something was very wrong.

‘Carmilla,’ she finally spoke after what had felt like an eternity, ‘There’s writing on the wall.’

Carmilla was confused, ‘What?’

‘There’s writing on the wall and your sister. Oh God, your sister,’ she sounded distraught. Carmilla had never seen her mother show emotion except for anger before and Carmilla didn’t know how to function.

‘Mattie? What’s happened? Maman, please breathe and tell me what is wrong,’ Carmilla tried to speak as calmly as possible.

‘I went to see your sister this morning,’ her Mother began, ‘And when I knocked on her door there was no response so I opened it and there were words on the wall written in red and oh God.’

Carmilla began to hear sobbing from the other end of the phone and she didn’t know what to say.

‘Ok? What were the words? What did they say and where’s Mattie?’

‘Matska!’ Carmilla’s Mother cried, ‘The words said ‘You asked and you received’ and they were written in what looks like blood. And oh God, your sister! Matska is dead!’

If Carmilla’s heart hadn’t already stopped beating it would have now. The whole world felt like it had stopped as she listened to her crying mother on the other side of the phone. She had given Laura immortality for a price and that price wasn’t her own mortality and human nature. No, because that would have been too simple. The price was much bigger than that. The price was Mattie’s life.

Carmilla had murdered her sister.