People always tell stories about women who give birth to Satan’s baby. But do they ever ask what it’s like to be that kid? Yeah… that’s me. My dad is literally the devil. It’s cool, I guess.
My mother was a virginal and devout Christian girl when she got pregnant with me. She knew Satan was the father, but she still refused to have an abortion. So after I was born, all she could do was try to hide my more demonic features. But that never worked. The others knew I was different in strange, unseen ways.
When I was six, I discovered that Dad would visit when I summoned him. I’d draw a pentacle on my bedroom floor with chalk and ashes. I’d light red candles, and chant Bible verses in backwards Latin. Then—there he’d be! Sometimes he’d bring me a souvenir from Hell, usually a tooth extracted from a sinner he’d tormented that week. But best of all, he’d cradle me in his fiery-hot arms and patiently listen as I’d recite the names of the bullies who had taunted me.
Naturally, they’d always try to apologize once Dad got hold of them. But he had no mercy. None! He’d dangle them upside down, belching scorpions from his mouth into theirs. The scorpions would sting their lungs and chomp away at their bones and soft organs until they were helpless, screaming bags of hollow skin.
His protective rage made me feel safe, loved, and empowered. So much so, that when I was thirteen, I summoned the courage to tell him about Momma.
His scowl deepened as I recounted how she had begun my forced transformation from ugly to perfect.
“She held me down and cut off my horns with a curved blade,” I said. “There was so much blood that it mixed with my tears.”
“Did she?” he bellowed, narrowing his eyes. “What else?”
“My tail,” I whimpered. “She tied a string around it so tightly that it withered off.”
“And your hooves?” he asked, holding my wrists in his fingers, tenderly stroking the raw, still-oozing stumps.
“She burnt them off,” I whispered. “But I look fully human now, don’t I?”
Dad’s roars of grief and fury shook the earth.
He promptly nailed Momma upside-down to a hot iron crucifix and placed a crown of jellyfish tentacles upon her head. And for three days, I watched her die. Her blood mixed with her tears as she begged me for forgiveness.
“Her anguish is nothing compared to what you suffered at her hands,” he said, putting an arm around me. Then he hoisted me onto his massive shoulders, just like when I was little.
“Listen, kiddo,” he said. “You’re perfect, just the way you are. You always were. How about you come live with me, and finally become the Antichrist?”
“I’d like that,” I said.
With a stomp of his dreadful hooves, he opened a crack in the ground, and we descended to Hell together.
In 1901 a doctor named Duncan MacDougall tried to prove the existence of the human soul. To do this he measured the weight of terminally ill patients before and at the moment of their death. He had 6 patients, who all experienced weight loss at the moment of death, with the average loss of weight being 21 grams.
got this package in the mail from my dad: brown paper wrapping, large
but flat, with the word “FRAGILE” written on it in black ink. When I
unwrapped it, it was this big, acrylic painting, framed in some sort of
The painting itself was of this long hallway full of doors, kind of
like you’d see in a fancy hotel. The walls had edging about halfway up,
the upper part was painted sort of an off white while the lower half was
a crimson red that blended into the carpeting. Between each door was an
up-turned light, as well as on the far wall at the end, where the
corridor seemed to connect to another hallway running perpendicular to
it, disappearing around a corner.
It was really amazing detail, though I wouldn’t call it life-like by
any means. Just the sheer amount of intricate pieces to each aspect of
the scene showed that the artist really paid attention to every little
thing, like somewhere in the world was this hallway, and you could stand
in it and hold the painting up in front of you and if it weren’t for
the border and the clearly stylized art, you wouldn’t be able to tell
where the canvas ended and the real world began.
I called him up and thanked him immediately.
“But where’d you find this?”
“I got it at an auction.”
I kinda figured as much.
So I hung up the painting in my office, just behind my desk, which I
realized later wasn’t the best place for it because in order to actually
look at it, I had to swivel completely around, but there wasn’t
anywhere better really, and once I’d gotten it hung up, I felt less
willing to take it back down, so I just left it there. It kind of hung
out over my shoulder and watched me work, and every now and then I’d
turn around and stare at it and get entranced by it, feeling like I
could get up and put my hands in the frame and climb into the painting
as if the frame were a window.
Of course, I wouldn’t be writing this if something weird didn’t happen as a result of the painting.
We had a couple friends over, Marc and Sabina, and Marc and I went
into my office when the women-folk started talking about knitting, which
has become my wife’s new favorite hobby. I went and sat down at my
laptop to find a video I had been telling Marc about, and Marc wandered
over and started admiring the painting.
“Where’d you get that?”
“My dad bought it at an auction and gave it to me.”
“It’s not that creepy. It’s kind of… I don’t know.”
I turned around to look at it with him while the video loaded. He got
up close and was running his finger over the canvas, feeling the raised
acrylic, and I just let my gaze wander over all the details again.
“Huh, I didn’t notice that before.”
“At the end of the hall, there’s some sort of light coming from around the corner, and it’s casting a shadow on the floor.”
I got up and looked closer, because I really hadn’t spent a lot of
time studying the far end of the hallway. There was definitely some
yellow and some darker colors making what looked like the shadow of a
person coming from around the corner. I even reached out and touched it
to make sure it wasn’t some trick of the light in the study making it
just look like there was this shadow in the painting, but I felt the
paint and sure enough it was actually there in the painting.
“See what I mean?” Marc said, “Creepy.”
I genuinely felt weirded out by it. It was one of those moments where you start thinking, Why didn’t I notice this earlier? Was it there to notice?
A couple days later, I was working on a project in my study, and it
was like 9:30 at night, and I just couldn’t focus, so I spun around in
my chair to look at the painting and I felt this sudden vertigo effect,
like the ground wasn’t there and I had to grab my chair to keep from
tumbling into emptiness.
You wouldn’t have noticed it if you hadn’t looked at the painting a
hundred times like I had. The hallway was long, with exactly six doors. I
remember, because I counted them the first day. three on the left,
three on the right, each with a little shiny, metal doorknob.
Only now there were seven doors. Three on the left, four on
the right. It didn’t make sense. Everything looked proportionally
exactly the same, and the far end of the corridor was just as far away,
and yet there was a fourth door in the right side of the hallway, with
its little metal doorknob. I don’t even know which door was the fourth
door, that’s how well it blended in, I just know that there were four
doors where once there were three.
“What the hell is going on?”
I turned away in my chair and back to check several times and make
sure my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me, but the number of doors
I called my dad again and I asked him, “Is this a trick painting you sent me?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean it keeps changing. I can see it changing.”
“Not as far I know. It was just one in a bunch I picked up all at the same auction.”
After I got off the phone I took the painting down and checked the
back for some some of mechanical or digital hocus pocus, but it was all
soft canvas so I left it on the floor behind my office chair with the
painting facing the wall because the thought of it was freaking me out.
The next day I pulled my wife into my office and held the painting up
so she could see it because she hadn’t had a chance to before.
“How many doors are there?” I asked.
She looked it over for a moment. “Seven.”
“When I first got this, there were six.”
She just looked at me like I was being a goofball. “Okay, so which one wasn’t there before?”
“I have no idea.”
“You don’t know which door magically appeared?” and she laughed and gave me a kiss and went back into the other room.
It gets worse.
The next time I chatted with Marc, I told him about the extra door in the painting.
“Are you sure there weren’t seven doors to begin with?”
“Well, I would swear I counted six.”
“Well, if another one shows up, at least Melissa counted seven, and
can confirm it then. You know what you should do? You should take a
photo of the painting so you can prove it if anything else changes.”
What a great idea, so I got my phone and took a photo of the painting.
Two days went by. Nothing.
On the third day, I walked into my office and there was a man staring
at me. Well, I mean… it wasn’t… I can’t say that it was a man or a
woman. Hell, I can’t say that it was human. There was a shape
at the end of the hallway in my painting. It was oddly lacking in the
detail that the rest of the painting had, like someone had hurriedly
painted it on. I even ran my hand over it to make sure it wasn’t fresh,
that someone hadn’t actually come in and painted over my painting to
drive me crazy.
It was really there.
And the look of it scared me more than anything else, changing
painting included. I wish I could do it justice with words, but the best
I can describe it is that it was human-ish, with legs and
arms, but it seemed squat, or hunched, and lopsided, like someone had
slapped a blurry Quasimodo onto an otherwise beautiful painting. You
couldn’t see the details of its face, but you could see shading on it,
defining really warped features. I was almost glad that there wasn’t
more detail to it, except that it left just enough to the imagination to
give one nightmares.
But I had proof! Here was proof that the painting was changing. So I
brought up the file on my laptop to show my wife for comparison, only
when I did, the figure was in the photo I took too!
At no point did I start questioning my sanity about all this.
Something unnatural and terrifying was going on, so I took the painting
out of the house and set it on the curb where we put our trash for
pickup. I was so done with that painting.
Or so I thought.
The next evening, when I got home from work, it was gone from the
curb. I figured someone had seen it and taken it home, and I waved my
hands and said, “Good, now it’s someone else’s problem.” I went in,
played with daughter, had dinner, put them to bed, and after watching a
show with my wife, went into my office to check my email.
No, the painting wasn’t back on the wall. I made sure of that the moment I walked in the door.
But I got a message from Marc, asking if the painting had changed
anymore, and I told him about the creepy new addition and also how I had
gotten rid of the painting.
“Oh man, that sounds cool. I wish I’d gotten a chance to see it.”
“Well, I can send you the photo I took of it.”
So I opened the image file.
The thing in the painting had raised its arms.
Before, you could only barely make out the arms hanging at its sides,
but now both arms were raised up over its head, and its fingers were
spread apart like it was waving hello at me. I think it was waving hello at me.
I zoomed in, as best as I could without pixelating the image, and the shaded contours of the face seemed stretched into a grin.
Oh Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
I sent Marc the file, but the connection kept fucking up, so I put it
in a folder on my dropbox account and gave him access to it.
“The file’s corrupted.” He texted me.
I tried to open it as well, but he was right. Every time I copied the image file, somehow it got corrupted.
“It must be the spooky magic.” Marc joked.
“This is no joke. I’m freaking out here.”
“Delete the file if it’s scaring you so bad.”
So I deleted the file.
But it gnawed at me, you know? The painting was still changing, in
horrible, terrifying ways, seemingly acknowledging my observation of it,
and now it was gone. But if it was gone, why should it matter? If
something unholy happens, it’s the problem of whoever has the painting
now, right? And they’ll see it changing too, won’t they?
It was two days later, and I was organizing a folder of documents and
had accidentally deleted a couple I hadn’t meant to. I went into the
Windows recycling bin and –you guessed it– there was the image file
along with the documents.
I had to look. I was trembling with dread at the thought of it, but
when something so surreal happens to you, you have to witness it and see
it through to the end.
I recovered the file and opened it.
The walls of the hallway seemed to be melting. The partition
separating the red from the off-white was lower than it had been before,
and drooped in places. The ridge on the lights looked like they were
peeling off. The carpet seemed less crimson and more reddish brown.
And the figure had taken several steps down the corridor toward the
viewer’s perspective. More details had become defined: hair hanging off
its head, long and black like it had been painted with a fine-tipped
brush, the eyes were little more than dull black points under the
shading of the brow. The grin came with teeth, uneven and fat, like
those of a child more than an adult. Its arms were extended out on
either side of it, touching both walls. One foot was ahead of the other,
as if I had caught it mid-step in a game of red light/green light.
I realized I was panting and shaking as I looked at it. It was really
hard to breathe, an anxiety attack. The painting was going to make me
pass out, just from looking at a digital photo of it.
Quickly, I closed the image to calm myself down, but that suddenly brought forth the thought, What if it progresses every time I look away? The only way to stop it is to keep looking! and I opened the file again.
No change. Oh– no, wait, that wasn’t a new change, I had noticed it
before, but it hadn’t dawned on me. One of the doors was open. There was
a dim blue light coming from the room inside, moonlight I thought. And
just outside the threshold of the door, there was an object lying on the
I zoomed in for better detail.
It was a little, yellow, stuffed lion with a scraggly, orange mane. A
child’s toy. Of all the details, the melting hallway, the grinning
fiend with arms wide open, the blue light from the open doorway, it was
the innocent nature of that little toy lion that filled me with the most
My wife came into the office.
“Come kiss Gabby goodnight.”
I went into her darkened room, where she was wrapped up in blankets
in her bed, hugging a half dozen stuffed animals and looking cute as
could be. My little darling. I love her so much.
I kissed my daughter goodnight. She kissed me back and hugged her
little pillowpet with the built in night light. It glowed through a
variety of colors.
“I love you, baby.” I told her.
“Can you get my Simba?”
I looked around. “Where’d you leave it?”
“Over there.” She pointed to the closet. The door was open, and her toy lay on the floor just inside.
Simba, her little, yellow, stuffed lion with the scraggly, orange mane.
Seeing it lying there, just past the threshold of the closet door,
while the dim glow of my daughter’s night light faded from red to purple
to blue, I felt my heart rise up in my chest. The closet was just a
closet. I could see it was just a closet. There were clothes on
hangers and bags with toys and blocks in them. They were right there.
And yet, as I looked at the stuffed lion lying on the floor, waiting for
me, I felt as if I could see carpeting on the floor inside the closet,
even though there was none. Carpeting, not in my vision, but in my
imagination. And maybe if I went in and shut the door, I’d find that the
walls beyond those clothes had a wooden partition, red below, off-white
And maybe there was something hunched and terrible shambling its way toward us even as I stood there staring at that toy.
I walked, briskly, trying not to look half as frightened as I was,
snatched up Simba and shut the closet door. My breathing was heavy, like
I’d just run a mile, and I struggled to avoid gasping for breath as I
tried to calm myself down.
“Hey, did that poster fall down?” I asked nobody in particular, then
pretended I was trying to adjust a cat poster that had been on the floor
by her dresser for months, and shoved the heavy dresser over so that it
partially blocked the closet door.
“Here’s Simba, sweety.” I handed the lion to Gabby, gave her a quick
hug and kiss, and wished her goodnight before rushing back to my office.
The painting had changed, as I knew it would. The open door was
closed, the toy gone from the floor, the hallway was dimly lit with
yellow light from the melting lights again. But the thing, that
not-quite-human fiend, was standing right outside the now shut door, its
body turned to face it with both hands pressed up against the door
itself like it was running its hands down it, caressing it, and its head
turned toward me, still grinning that awful, frightening grin full of
gnashed, crooked teeth.
Oh God how close had it been? No, it’s just a closet! The hallway is not there. It’s not real. None of this is real.
I’ve put up signs around the neighborhood, knocked on doors, asked
everyone I know and many I don’t if they know who took the painting. I
need to find it and get it back. I want to tear it, shred it in my
hands, throw it in a fire and watch it burn to ashes. Jesus God in
Heaven, I hope it didn’t end up in some landfill.
I’ve learned the awful truth… All Doors Lead To The Hallway
remember the day I started to lose my hearing. I remember it because
two things had happened the day before; I’d received a particularly
painful numbing injection at the dentist’s office prior to having some
work done and my daughter was raped and left for dead in a dumpster just
outside her college campus.
We got the call at 4 AM. Being woken like that, by a shrill ringing
in the otherwise still and quiet dark, is something no one should have
to experience. You know before you pick up that something has happened,
that something life changing is about to be dropped in your lap, and all
you can do is answer.
was an odd kid, even by odd kid standards. I met her in sixth grade,
when our alphabetically ordered last names landed us in adjacent seats,
and she turned to look at me with a cheerful, gap toothed smile.
“Hi!” She said.
“Hi.” I replied quietly.
I was shy and intimidated by my first day in middle school, but she wasn’t the least bit nervous.
“I’m Eden, but nobody calls me that. They call me Fly, so you can too!”
The police told me there was nothing down there. I know they’re lying.
(This story is very very long, be warned.)
I never wanted to be a mother. A child happened to me, I didn’t ask for it.
After you’ve had a child, you never get peace and quiet. I don’t mean that in a resentful way, just a fact. There’s the crying phase, the screaming phase, the yelling phase, the “NO!” phase, et cetera. And you never get time. You don’t have time for hobbies and distractions. Raising a child is two full-time jobs.
It’s not that I didn’t try to do everything I could for him. It’s not that I didn’t try and be a good parent. I did, I gave it everything I had. But deep down, I think he could tell that I didn’t want him. Kids know.
I had a part time job. I didn’t get paid very well, but it was enough. It was just office work, nothing exciting. My sister would look after him when I wasn’t around. I didn’t really have the money for daycare.
I knew that things weren’t working out like they should have. And I did what any self-respecting human being would do - I bought a book. I’d always heard that you should read to your child every night, and that doing so would make them smart and well-adjusted. Well, I had nothing to lose.
I’m not really an Amazon person, so I paid a visit to my local bookstore - a dark, slightly grubby independent place that shuns all but the most obsessive of bookworms. Standing in the narrow, dimly-lit aisles, surrounded by towering bookshelves jammed with volumes at every angle, I wondered, briefly - what do people normally buy for their kids?
The Very Hungry Caterpillar?
He was a bit old for that. Besides, I think that’s one of those books that parents buy because they think it’s kitschy, not because their kids will actually enjoy it.
Amongst the slightly destroyed second-hand Roald Dahl books and Dr. Seuss anthologies, I found a book that stuck out. It was old, and bound in what looked like real leather, but it was in surprisingly good shape. It wasn’t too long, but it proclaimed its suitability for for children aged 4-6 (he was five). It was called ‘The Trap Door’. No author, no other details. I picked it up and skimmed through the first few pages, and it seemed an ideal fit. It was written in an irregular rhyming meter, and it was festooned with colourful, scratchy illustrations that depicted a boy strikingly similar to my son. The picture was already forming in my head - we’d read it, we’d bond, and we’d smooth over the cracks.
I know it was just a book, but for the first time in my life, I realized I was excited to spend time with my son.
That night, after I’d tucked him into bed, I sat down on his shark duvet (he liked sharks), and I sprang the book upon him.
Once, long ago and far away
There lived a boy of five or so
With a rounded face and hair like hay
And a mind that yearned to learn and grow
The boy lived in a mud-flecked land
Of rolling hills and sheep and styles,
And brooks and trees and miles and miles
Of hinterlands and ranch hands
Long ago there was a war,
Of petty kings and border-lords
The earth did drink the blood of those
Who died for honor or a rose
The boy was happy as could be,
In the cottage on the hill
His mother his only company,
Who loved that boy with all her will
It’s challenging material for a five-year old. But it was educational, it was stimulating. I had only a faint idea of what the war of the roses was actually about, but I did a good job of pretending that I did.
We said our i-love-yous and I closed the door. Things were going to be okay.