The NoSleep Podcast
Since July 2015, I joined the team of illustrators resonsible for providing individual episode cover art, catered for the lovers of chilling tales and frightening stories.
Episode cover art
"As a child, I was a picky eater like I assume most children are. As my parents tell it, my eating habits transcended normal childhood proclamations of "I don't like broccoli!" and evolved into a refusal to eat absolutely anything of substance."
“It’s Saint Elmo’s Fire,” I said, trying to sound confident. “It’s an electrical phenomenon. It’ll go away soon; don’t fret over it.”
There is evil in the beauty that surrounds us.
"Pretty heavy-handed for an opening line, I know. But perhaps if you read on, you’ll indulge me these dramatics, for I don’t use them lightly. You see, as an avid hiker, I’ve sought beauty my entire life, and I’ve scaled some of the world’s highest peaks in this pursuit."
They would repeat an incantation three times. Then, if all went as desired, a malevolent being from the unseen world would come through the mirror. I’m not sure what the plan was supposed to be at that point.
We had all liked Mr. Winscot. He didn’t mind when we used the sledding hill on his property and he always gave out the best Halloween candy in the neighborhood. So when we heard he’d been taken by the Tall Man everyone was really bummed out.
As she passed the security office, I was compelled to open the door and pull her in to safety. Maybe I could be a hero. Her hero.
But I didn’t. I didn’t even unlock the door. I couldn’t take the risk. Skinny was just so fast.
I just watched.
Faye and I are currently at the cabin. It's day four, and we were planning on leaving today. But things have gotten very strange around here and it looks like we're going to be here a while longer. We have enough food for a winter and the heater is in stellar order, but the wifi is terrible at best and there is virtually no cell reception. We feel isolated. I will try to respond to comments but the internet dips out for hours at a time up here.
Something cold on my face. Moving darkness. A voice. I focused on the voice, pulling my subconscious towards it with all my willpower. The black began to fade. Light. Color. The world swam in an explosion of blurry motion and then I blinked.
I sat up gasping, eyes popping open. Sweat poured from my face and I scrubbed it from my eyes. Where was I? What had happened?
I was trembling, shaking in my boots. I hadn’t even done anything yet, but I was already drowning with guilt and regret. What was I doing? What was I expecting to find buried beneath the ground? I was sickened by my own morbid thoughts and actions. This obsession had to end. How could I have let it get this far? I lowered my arms, took a step back, and hung my head in shame.
I remember the man with the soft teeth. He’d come into my room at night and bite me over and over. The bites didn’t hurt and they left no marks. All I felt was pressure.
The first time I saw his face, I was terrified. His eyes were different. Instead of two eye sockets, he had nine.
I didn't actually think she was alive—or, rather, animate. Most of her skeleton was exposed among rotting gobs of flesh that dripped putrid black ooze. One hand manned her keyboard and the other manned her mouse, a decade-old corpse that had become melded to her chair.
Her skull still held hair on the side closer to me, but she turned to look at me, showing white bone that had been hidden by my perspective. Her face was surprisingly intact, kept together by careful maintenance, and her eyes were the only thing about her still fully alive.
Let me tell you this about Huber: I feared that guy. I'm not a small man myself, and I don't tend to intimidate easily, but this guy gave me the fucking creeps. He towered at least six-seven, thin as a rail. His sixty-something-year-old face was gaunt and pale, except for the swollen nose that the man couldn't stop blowing into that godforsaken, crusty handkerchief he kept in his pocket.
The nickname ‘Paper Girl’ was not meant kindly, but was meant to be mocking; a cruel in-joke amongst the children of the school. At the end of every class, Alison would pause to sit spraddle-legged on the floor and go through the waste paper basket, stuffing used paper into her over-stitched school bag – or if a piece fulfilled some mysterious criteria, she would carefully smooth it, then fold it and tuck it inside her sleeve.
We started noticing them about a year ago, when I was doing some research at a pretty shallow depth, all things considering. At first we thought it was just some kind of weird camera anomaly, because the pressure really messes with things down here. We have a camera mounted on a little arm that extends from the sub. There's a few arms that do different things, but the one with the camera is important because that's how we can record things like sulfur lakes near volcanoes, which is something we didn't know existed until recently. But as I mentioned, the pressure can really take a toll on the equipment, and glitches are to be expected.
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I want to believe that my eyes were lying to me then, but I know what I saw. What looked horrendously similar to a human heart was bobbing gently up and down in the black fluid, and I suppressed the sudden urge to heave.
"All kinds of samples." The big one said in his mechanical drawl, placing the jar back into the bag and zipping it up.
The thing crawled out of the pool and raised itself on thick legs to stand before the gathered crowd. What dad said he remembered most about the thing was its head. It sat directly on its lopsided shoulders and it had no eyes, no nose, no ears. All that was there was a gaping hole. Not even a mouth, but a hole. And inside, the same blue glow from the pool shone out onto the faces of the people surrounding it.
I’m a freak. In the literal sense. I was born this way. Doctor said it was a “rare skin condition”. Felt more like a curse. I was born with thick, scaly red scabs covering my entire body. My outer nerves were dulled; I could feel no pain or pleasure from touch. The early years of my life were a series of long stays at hospitals and clinics. I spent more time with doctors and needles than I did with my mother and father. It’s no wonder they left when they did. After that, the money dried up, and the doctors and needles went away.
Will had sketched a near carbon copy of those wartime Uncle Sam posters, except not quite. The suit was there. Bow tie, check. But no Uncle Sam head.
The Uncle Sam body had the head of a goat.
The animal flashed a welcoming, toothy smile. A hoof pointed at me, nearly coming right out of the page. But it didn’t want me to join the U.S. Army. No, this goat-headed creature had something else in mind:
"I want your kids."
Under that declaration, in slightly smaller letters, it read: "At Uncle Gerry’s Family Fun Zone! Opening soon!"
It’s a cute thought, right? Save an innocent creature, and enjoy a few years of good fortune. The problem with good luck is that it’s relative. For some, “good” means winning the lottery, finding a long-lost family heirloom in the attic, or even catching the bus just in time. For others, it could mean being the only survivor of a car crash, having a bullet miss their brain by half an inch, or only getting first-degree burns over half their body.
I was part of that second group.
"The parking lot was gone. I had fallen to my back and all I could see was the tall emaciated man looming over me. One hand was extended for me to take. The other hand was holding my fucking eye.
Or what I mistook for my eye. It was white, squishy, with a gray-blue cornea like my eye. But instead of bloody tendrils out the back hung multi-coloured wires with gold tips.
I tried to look at anything but that eye, but my head was restrained. Rough leather scratched my forehead and wrists as I struggled against the chair."
"Clint threw himself against the door violently. Just one blow nearly threw the thing off its hinges. Again and again, he slammed himself against the surface, causing the workbench I’d placed in front of it to slowly inch away. All I could do was push myself against it to try and keep the door closed. My only thoughts were to keep him from escaping, for my own safety. I knew he’d attack me if I let him out. I just knew it."