When we moved to Pine Drive, I never expected to find a
conspiracy among the kids there.
I was an only child and a loner, thanks to my parents always
moving. My dad’s job had him hopping from state to state. It was a pretty tough
going if you wanted to make friends. But he promised that we’d stay at least
six months here, so I had a chance to make at least one friend.
And whadya know, on my block, there were a ton of kids to make friends with.
I didn’t even really have to try. Two days after moving in,
the Langley twins Diana and David were pounding on my door, asking who owned
that bike parked in the front yard and if they wanted to play. I was shy but
the twins were ecstatic to meet me.
Apparently their group had an odd number before I moved in
and they needed equal teams to play their games with.
There was Alicia, who was six, she was the baby but she was
very sweet. The oldest was Fletcher who was thirteen but his social skills were
a bit behind so he didn’t mind hanging out with a bunch of nine and ten year
olds. I think there was about ten of us all in all.
But I learned soon enough that there was a secret each of
Have you ever played a video game where you have to sleep to recover? They only let you do it if everything is safe. Otherwise they won’t let you sleep. You’ll get a message, saying “You cannot sleep now, there are monsters nearby.”
Now, remember the last time you just couldn’t get to sleep?
The Dyatlov Pass Incident occurred in the Ural mountains of Russia nearly 60 years ago. 9 experienced hikers were found frozen in the snow with unusual injuries and even more unusual circumstances surrounding their deaths.
A hiking group from the Ural PolyTechnical institute, lead by Igor Dyatlov, were hiking to Ortem, a category three hiking trip(the most difficult) The trip was no worry to the hikers(originally 8 men and 2 women) as they were all experienced hikers and skiers.
Before they set out on what would be the last leg of their journey one of the men, Yuri Yudin, did not feel well and had to leave early. This illness would save his life.
The group of 9 set up camp on the base of the mountain called Kholat Syakhl, also known as “Dead Mountain) in Mansi. It is unknown why they camped on the slope and not down near the forest where they would have more shelter from the elements. By the next morning all the hikers would be dead. Some of the bodies wuld not be found for 3 months.
Here is where their deaths become a mystery. It was determined they froze to death(6) or died of fatal injuries(3) however their bodoes were scattered up to 3000 meters from their tent, which had been cut open from the inside.
Yuri Krivonischenko and Yuri Doreschenko were found 2000 meters down the hill huddled together with a dead fire. Branches on the tree they were under were broken up to 5 meters high suggesting one of them climbed up the tree. They were both shoe less and only in their underwear. Between the cedar tree and the camp the bodies of Igor Dyatlov, Zinaida Kolomogorova, and Rustem Slobodin were found in positions suggesting they tried to return to the camp. All of these bodies were found February 26, 1959.
It wasn’t until May 6 that year that the last four hikers would be found dead under 4 meters of snow in a ravine 2075 meters away from the tent. Lyudmilla Dubinina had been found face down in the ravine missing her tongue, lips, and eyes. She had also sustained a major chest fracture along with Zolotaryov, though neither had bruising on their bodies or soft tissue to suggest anything causing the fracture.
Thibeaux-Brignolles had also sustained a major skull fracture.
The injuries Thibeaux-Brignolles, Zolotaryov, and Dubinina sustained that lead to their deaths were made with a force as strong as a car crash said Dr. Boris Vozrozhdenny when asked.
Those who had died first had relinquished their clothing to the other as
Zolotaryov was wearing Dubinina’s faux fur coat.
The nine hikers were the only people on the mountain that night, they had all died within 6-8 hours of their last meal, and they all left the tent by their own accord. Some hikers camping on a mountain a few kilometers away reported seeing strange orange orbs in the sky that night and the last picture on Krioneschenko’s camera showed some blurry orbs. It was also reported that at the funerals for the hikers their bodies held a deep tan, an almost orange one. Ultimately their death was ruled to be caused by an unknown force and may remain a mystery forever.
I was in my backyard stargazing, when a bright light streaked across the sky and a few moments later Gabriela smashed into my backyard.
She was really tall, I had to use two mattresses for her bed and move out most of the things in my living room to make room for her to sleep. She was very badly injured. Something had taken huge bites out of her chest, her eyes had been ripped out and one of her wings had been torn off. She spent most of her time unconscious and the rest gibbering in an unknown tongue.
She only spoke to me twice, once to tell me her name and the other time was to respond to a question I had asked her. “How did you get injured Gabriela?” I had asked. “War” she replied. She died a few hours after that.
In the following days, more and more angels fell from the sky. These angels however, were already dead, their bodies had been mutilated, sometimes so badly, that if not for their height and wings, we wouldn’t know for sure if they were angels. Surprisingly, while many people panicked, peace as a whole was kept and it only took a few days before the buses and trains were running on time again.
When the rain of corpses from heaven stopped, people were overjoyed. When huge cracks in the earth started to appear, they were less so. When fire and lava began to bubble up through the cracks, people rushed to monasteries, churches, mosques, and temples, anywhere they thought they might find answers. When the earth rumbled, and the cracks opened to spew out a horde of demons, we finally understood.
You see, the demons were all dead. Their bodies had been mutilated, just like the angels were. I thought that heaven and hell were in a war against one another, but they were actually fighting together. Against something else, something worse.
don’t ever remember my dad being normal. He was always a little
strange. The man was secretive and closed off, and all his attempts at
acting like a father rose the hairs on the back of my neck. It seemed
forced. I don’t think I ever got used to that. There was no need,
because he didn’t keep that up for long. By the time I was 5, I didn’t
have a dad. What I had after that was a boss. Maybe an owner. Definitely
not a dad.
He fully opened up as a person around that time. He brought a little
girl into our home. She was small, but she was older than myself, too.
Maybe 7 or 8. Her face was red and raw with tears. “Sam, this is your
new little sister, Maria.” Before I could react, she spoke up between
small sobs. “No, mister. I don’t know you. My name is Claire. Please
take me home to my mommy, I promise that I won’t tell.” By the time she
finished what she was saying, she was barely forming coherent sentences.
That’s when I saw my Dad stop being my dad. With one fluid motion, he
swung his arm, hitting her in the face and knocking her back on her ass.
I jumped up, too afraid and confused to do much of anything, but
still frightened nonetheless. I was young, but I’d seen enough
television to know that normal families didn’t do these things. “Sam,
you sit your ass down or I’ll put you in the ground, you hear me?” Thus
marked the loss of my father. Later, as I listened to the quiet cries of
the girl, now locked in the room next to mine, he sat me down and
explained that he wasn’t my father. He told me things a 5 year old
should never hear. My life changed forever. I was a mistake.
The little girl was with us for a while. My dad left me at home while
he went to the mall, buying all kinds of nice things for Maria. Claire.
Whatever. He probably blew $500. The weeks afterward were strange,
disgusting, and violent all at the same time. At the best, she would
play along with his games and he would be happy. At the worst, I would
have to listen to her screams as he did unspeakable things to her in the
next room. After, when the screaming would stop, he would come to me
and give me the same speech.
“This happens because you aren’t right, you understand? You should
have been born a girl. We wouldn’t have to do this. She’s going to die
someday because you’re trash.” He would walk to the door and finish with
“Remember, Sam. No one out in that world will ever love you. If you try
to leave, I’ll find you and I’ll kill you.”
Maria died about three months after my dad took her. This day wasn’t
her first attempt at escape, but instead it was her last. Truly, I do
not know if my father meant to kill her or not. He became consumed in
his rage and I fought back tears as he continued to hit her and hit her,
over and over again. Her little light went out as she choked on blood,
gurgling sounds coming from her throat. She was buried in our back yard,
right next to the playset that my father bought a year before. After
that, he became nervous to the point where he packed me up and we
started off on the road.
We lived like that for years. Sometimes, we’d live somewhere as long
as a year, but that was the extent of it. On a good year, he’d take two
or three girls without so much as a second look. People didn’t
necessarily suspect him, though. He was a psycho, but the man was smart
too. He would falsify documents and references, getting himself jobs as
close to children as possible. I remember, one time, he was hired on to
be an ice cream truck driver. He snatched up a little girl he called
Gloria right in front of her house. He somehow managed to finish his
route, too. She only lasted two months.
Every year I ask my 2nd graders to draw a picture of whatever scares them most. We discuss the drawings in class. It helps the kids confront their fears and control them.
Sharks in the 70s. Clowns and nuclear bombs in the 80s. Serial killers in the 90s. Lately, guns and lockdowns. Some fears are silly, and others I can’t even bear to talk about. But since the beginning, one subject has appeared with astonishing regularity, two or three in every class.
Aside from slight variations in perspective and style, it’s always basically the same picture. A boy sits high in the trees that grow on the grounds of the middle school next door, on the opposite side of our playground fence. He’s flinging rocks at terrified children below.
“God help the little bastard I catch throwing rocks,” we teachers would say to each other. But we never caught anyone. Middle schoolers are quicker than minnows. And the victims were no help, refusing to tattle or return fire. My colleagues believed it was a perverse rite of passage: smaller children endured the abuse until it was their turn to throw rocks at future generations.
In class each year, I’d hold up an assortment of the perennial drawings. “What are these about?” I’d ask. “Bullies?” The kids would shake their heads. “Ghosts,” they’d say.
Here’s the weirdest part. They always drew that boy the same way. Red hat, one eye slightly bigger than the other, brown shoes. How was I supposed to explain that? I couldn’t. All I could do was give those poor kids my speech about bullies, and stuff their drawings into my desk drawer with the rest of them.
Then last summer, the middle school chopped down the trees and built a new gymnasium in their place. All the teachers were thrilled. “No more rocks,” we said to each other. No more ghosts, I thought.
So imagine my surprise when more than half my class drew that damn picture again this year. Sure, the trees were replaced by the gymnasium and the ghost boy was gone, but the rest was the same–children crying, bleeding, flinching, crouching in the dirt.
I spread out the drawings on my desk and called up Tanner, a kid I trust to be a straight-shooter. “What is this?” I asked. “The boy’s gone. He can’t throw rocks at you anymore.”
“Not at us,” said Tanner, pointing at something in each picture. I dug out the drawings from previous years and Tanner went on pointing at those too. “He was aiming at her.”
A little girl. Lemon yellow dress. Hair in pigtails. I hadn’t noticed her before because she’d been cowering with the other children, afraid. Not anymore. In the newest drawings she was standing tall, chin up. Smiling.
Tanner spoke in a whisper, almost too soft to hear. “And now there’s nobody to stop her.”
TW: Mentions of sexual assault, attempted sexual assault.
It’s been six months to the day since I was raped.
I still haven’t gone back to school, I’m doing it all from home. It’s easier so I don’t have to face him. I sometimes miss my friends, but at least there’s Facebook. Not many of them talk to me anymore. There’s a few that do but half of those treat me like I’m… different. I haven’t changed.
That’s a lie. A lot has changed. But I’m still Alex.
And I’ve finally picked up going to the survivor support group.
The leader’s name is Krissa. She’s nice. I told them my story. For once I felt no judgment. Even my mom seems critical of my every move.
I’ll keep going back.
I don’t know if I can survive this still.
I survived today though. That counts for something, at least.
You’d be surprised at the number of people who think that all
librarians do is sit around and read the whole day. They have no
concept of all the duties that come with being a librarian. In just one
day, my mother will teach a class for senior citizens on how to use the
computer, help four different families find the graves of their loved
ones, register a thousand new books into the system, reorder all the
books that have been returned, hold a story-time session for the
children… the list goes on and on.
The point of me telling you this is for you to understand that it
takes a person with a degree and years of experience to run a library…
and I am not that person.
My mom has run our small town’s library for over twenty years. She’s
damn good at what she does, and that’s the only reason that town still
has a library. Unfortunately, this meant that it was difficult to
replace her, even for a short amount of time, when she fell down the
basement stairs and broke her leg.
“When I was 5, I would visit my aunt Rosemary for holiday. I was flown out from North Carolina all the way over to Vermont. So, it’s the day before Christmas. My aunt Rosemary takes me, my little sister, and my cousin Katy to this weird barn show. I wasn’t really interested in it until I was told there would be horses.
As expected, the whole thing was pretty damn boring. The only fun part was when we got on the hay ride, and aunt rosemary would not stop cracking jokes that were probably funny when she was a teenager.
This part is interesting. The hay ride ends, we get out of the horse-drawn cart and head into the little diner. Aunt Rosemary said she was going to order us some grub, while cousin Katy was busy chatting with her friends.
I remember sitting down in front of a checker board table, with a set of black and white chips to the side. I was staring at the board for maybe two minutes, when I heard someone start to talk to me.
I looked up, and didn’t recognise the man. ‘I’m cousin Ian!! Wanna play a game of checkers?’
I mean, of course I said yes. He said he was my cousin and he was away for a long time, not only that, but I REALLY wanted to play checkers.Ten minutes later of me dicking my way through the game, and Ian allowing me to do so, I finally got all of his white checkers off the board. I celebrated my victory, as he ruffled my head, and told me he had to go.
Years later, when I was 12, I brought the story up to my aunt Rosemary, asking if she remember cousin Ian.