February 15th: Call me a coward but there was no way I was going to open that mysterious package all by myself. I invited Leroy (REDACTED) over, that way if the damn thing was full of bees, explosives or Gwyneth Paltrow's head I wouldn't be facing it alone.
Of course we still had about ten minutes of a “I don't wanna open it. You open it!” debate before yours truly finally opened the parcel.
Did I mention the thing was wrapped in old newspapers? Would you be surprised if I told you each of the newspapers was from the day of the fire at Colonie Village Elementary? Yeah, I wasn't too surprised about it either.
I mean sure the realization made my balls break out in a cold sweat but I still wasn't surprised.
But what was in the box you may wonder?
The box was packed full of ashes, thankfully not the cigarette or human remains kind, because my doctor had told me to steer clear of both.
These were just your ordinary garden variety, old fashioned ashes, the kind you might get from a cookout or the aftermath of a building fire.
And mixed in with those ashes? Two plastic bags.
And in those plastic bags? One data card and one sock monkey.
Yes, a sock monkey, a faceless sock monkey with distended arms and an elegantly tailored black suit.
You heard it here first folks- the forces of darkness have taken over Hobby Lobby.
The data card was loaded with videos. Most where of friends and family, but the last was the one I was supposed to see...
THE NIGHT BLOGGER:
Slim To None
Al Bruno III
...it begins and ends with Julio (REDACTED). The video begins with him walking through the woods in the middle of the night. Eventually I would figure out he was making his way through the two acres of land that sit on the border between Troy and North Greenbush. For as long as anyone can remember this forest has been called 'Shadow Glen' and everyone says it's haunted. ‘Everyone’ says that a lot.
Conversations with his parents would reveal that all it took to bring Julio out here was a phone call from a blocked number. Whatever was said in that one sided conversation was enough to bring him out to Shadow Glen after midnight with nothing more than a camera.
After parking his car along the side of the road he started walking. He walked through the scrubbrush until it became an ugly meadow and through the meadow until he was lost in a maze of tall evergreens. Those evergreens were thick enough to blot out whatever illumination there might have been from the moon, or the stars or the Troy skyline.
After a little while Julio started to hum to himself, it was a nervous whispery sound. Did he realize what song it was? I doubt it. If he had he would have stopped humming Every Breath You Take by the Police. Once in a while he would turn suddenly in place and pause. He would wait like that for minutes at a time. Then he would start moving again, only pausing long enough to check his bearings on his smartphone's GPS app.
Up ahead there were two evergreens so close that their limbs tangled and twisted together. A light flickered between the branches, the flickering was too uniform and pale to be coming from a natural source. Julio's breathing became more panicked, he looked back again but this time he saw something. There was a face lingering in the darkness behind him.
A perfectly featureless, empty face.
No more humming.
Julio ran crashing through the trees. The branches grasped and pulled at him. He thought that the flickering light was a sign of civilization; homes he could hide in, people that could protect him.
But there was no house just a dilapidated, doorless barn a few yards from the treeline. The light was coming from there, the light from an old style super 8 projector. A stained bedsheet had been hung up against the far wall of the barn to serve as a screen. What slowed Julio to a stop was the movie playing in that makeshift cinema.
It was that damned schoolhouse fire.
The footage was black and white, scratched and dirty but it was another angle of the same event. A hooded figure was manning the projector, the glimmering light made the mad-eyed, snarling mask worn by Crooked Teeth seem all the more grotesque.
There was a pause that seemed to stretch on forever thenCrooked Teeth spun the projector around, blinding Julio.
A confusion of images followed, the ground, the sky, the barn, the Spindly Man. Then everything slowly went dark, it was as though the very camera itself was sinking into a black mire.
The video ends with the sounds of sobbing...
...only five left now. Leroy is scared shitless and so am I.
This is more than playing games with peoples lives, this entity is playing games with time. Either that or this is something that has been in the planning for years, a conspiracy, a long game.
It’s time to start calling in favors. With any luck Mike Whitehead has gotten over my blog post about how he went deaf. He has friends in the hacker community, the kind of people that can take down a dozen or so online databases without breaking a sweat.
Hopefully he can get answers for some of all my questions.
Like for instance, where the Hell did they find a super 8 projector in this day and age?