"Shackled By The Damned"
                 by Scott Wydra


           The vilest deeds like poison weeds
              Bloom well in prison air:
              It is only what is good in man
              That wastes and withers there.
Oscar Wilde, The Ballad of Reading Gaol, 1898

           Branded in pain, marked criminally insane
              Locked away and kept restrained.
              Disapprobation, but what have I done?
              I have yet only just begun to, Take your fucking lives!
Slayer, "Criminally Insane"


Wow, I never thought I’d be writing in a journal! But in here, Garrits County’s Peace Of Mind, Pennsylvania’s
premier mental health facility, what the hell else is there to do besides write, read, and watch crazies eat their
chess pawns?

So, here goes. And whoever might come along and read this after I’m gone, even if you don’t believe my words,
at least listen to this: BEWARE!

Because there are things out there we can’t explain.

And another word of advice: Also beware of the crimes you commit in life. Because I’ll certainly take this
punishment for the rest of my days than what They did to me.

Here is my story.

*                        *                        *

People always talk about "monsters". Are monsters merely dragons in fairy tales, chainsaw psychotics in movies,
and slimy, three-headed ogres in comic books? Or could they exist with us? Are some of us monsters? Monsters
come in all different forms, as I now know.

It seems to me essences walk and creep around us everyday, and we feel them completely. But sometimes we
refuse to, whether consciously or not. And sometimes they do touch, slither, and tickle, and we pass it off as
the wind. Maybe an unexplainable shiver races through our core and we laugh it away. Those things we think
we see out of the edge of our vision and disappear, could they be real, or just imagination teasing our
brainwaves? Are we being watched by things that we can’t see?

Questions the mortal mind attempt to fathom on these subjects die like puffs of cigarette smoke. They start
out as white thoughts--clear and sure. But after inhaling the problems into the mind, they gray and dissipate,
and we are left in a new state of confusion. Are they real? When they leave our vision for a second, are they
really gone? I know this is not true, for these Things had imprisoned me in my own home.

*                        *                        *                        

As I sat in my Lazy-Boy, I stared at the Thing that has been attached to my wall for the past four days. It
whispered to me, telling me of things I’ve done without movement of lips. Over and over It reminded me of my
deeds. It repeated their names to me in a voice that sounded like a clogged drain bubbling over. It‘s not just
my ears that heard the voice, but it also swam throughout my head, and echoed off the walls of my conscious
state. The language was English most of the time, and It taunted me with Its black words.

The tall lamp on my left blinked directly into my eyes; it made it hard for me to watch the television. My skin
was freezing, I remember, as I glanced from the screen to that Phantom. It looked like a child’s painting of a
blackened and burnt person. It never moved, only stared, with pure white eyes. Eyes as white as freshly peeled
bone. And It grinned. All day, all night, it smiled at me, showing me It’s brown needle-teeth.

I thought that Thing on the wall was the only One. But I was wrong.

I felt something caress my cheeks, like icy nails. I shivered and screamed at the Thing on the wall. It didn’t
even twitch. I threw myself out of my chair and grabbed a pairing knife that was on my coffee table. I rushed
to the grinning bastard and drove that knife into it.

Dumb move, I now know.

The knife along with my hand went right through the wall. I thought I felt a chill before, but the frigidness of
whatever laid on the other side of the Thing was like if you could touch death. I tore my hand back and
shouted in supreme pain. I fell backwards over the coffee table; my head hit the cushioned foot of my chair.
After I stumbled-- through tears of agony and frustration--back over to my chair, I fell into it. I studied my
hand and forearm. It was covered in speckles of brilliant ice the color of phlegm.

I exhaled a long breath. I knew I’d pay for what I did to them eventually; me knowing was all part of my
rehabilitation. I tried the whole Bible-reading thing, going to church on Sundays...but that urge never left me. I
would even be on my way to church and I would see one, skipping along in a flowered dress in front of her
folks, not a care in the world. Her father, I would think, has someone that beautiful and precious in his own
house, and he doesn’t even realize what she wants. Or needs. And I would turn away, go home, and "relieve"
myself. But those urges never stopped. I had to always do something more about it.

They called me the Bleacher Creature in the newspapers. I would stalk the late-night high school football
games. When I found one worthy of me I would snatch her and take her to where I did my business. Then, well,
I disposed of her. I knew her purpose was fulfilled on this planet.

For three years I collected, and then it happened.

I was found not guilty by reason of mental defect and sent to Peace Of Mind. And, five and a half years later,
they said I was cured. Just like that, and I’m home again! I was so happy, and I really tried to get a new life for
myself. I guess that wasn’t the way the dice were rolled for me.

"But I’ve been good lately!" I yelled at my wall that now had a pairing knife buried in it.

I was so tired and I couldn’t get any sleep. And when I did sleep, my nightmares were filled with horrid childish
screams and visions of unholy torment with tools of twisted evil. I awoke with sticky sweat pouring out of me
as I roared for it all to end.

I asked time and time again if It or Them wanted to just please kill me and get it over with. It seemed they had
other plans for me. I thought of suicide, but I figured I’d committed enough sins already. No need to add a
mortal one.
I would think for reasons why these Things were here if not to kill me or really torment me with some kind of
unknown pain, but the One on the wall just grinned, and that other One touched me at times, making my skin
squirm. It was horrific, believe me. But what else did they have for me?

In the middle of the Evening News, the television started to blink on and off. I saw the pretty newscaster’s
face pop in and out between squares of black; the sound was split into bits of unknown clutter. I shook my
head and was disgusted by everything. Sweat was wiped from my forehead. I decided to get a bottle of water
from the fridge.

When I stood, one of those icy nails drew up the center of my naked back. I shivered and almost burst into
tears. I swung my right arm around to see if, maybe--you never know--I could hit whatever it was this time.
But I just arched my arm through chilly air, almost falling in the process. Three short blunts of laughter seemed
to come from every wall. The last one trailed off in a deep growl.

Still tears in my eyes, I walked towards the hallway that led to my kitchen. I looked over at my demonic
roommate. He continued to smile. I stopped under the arch...and It slid closer to me across the wall like an
ashy smear. No features changed, It just came closer. I already knew what it was like to be close to that
Thing, so I hurried down the hall.

Halfway in, I looked down. And almost shit myself. It was right there! Under my feet on the floor, It grinned up
at me like a damned-to-hell hyena. I took my steps; It kept Its pace with me, and I could feel my toes almost
going numb.

I reached the kitchen. I went to flick the light switch on to my right...but it seemed the Other One wanted to
get it for me. I felt the chill as It touched my hand. Then It switched the light on. The fluorescent lights blinked
once...twice...then came on in a wash of brilliance. Unlike my living room, everything in there was spotless,
mainly because I hardly ever went in since those Things arrived. Don’t get me wrong, I would have loved to be
able to stay away from Them all the time, and I tried. I was so thankful my mother sent the landlady a check
every month for the rent and a second one for my meager expenses because I couldn’t even get a job, with my
past and all. Plus, I don’t think they’d let me leave, anyway. But everywhere I went in the house, the Invisible
One would follow close behind. I don’t even want to inscribe how it was when I tried to go to the bathroom.
That day was different when the grinning bastard trailed along.

My fridge was on the right. I grabbed the handle and opened up the door. There was a fresh case of bottled
water on the second shelf. The plastic wrapping was torn off. I noticed the number of bottles left,
and I froze. Twelve. The same number of my victims, all lined up next to each other. I reached out for one,
grabbed it, twisted the top so hard that the cap flew off, and took a long drink. I exhaled.

"Why did you ruin me?" A small, sullen, girly voice entered my ears. "Why, Mister?"

I looked around, saw the silhouette of the Thing on the far side of the kitchen, and knew it didn’t come from
Him. My gaze went to the bottle. A stream of urine trickled down my leg like an insult. What I saw couldn’t’ve
been there. It just couldn’t!

A small mouth had opened up on the bottle; the lips painted in bubble gum lip-gloss. The water--now turning
from clear to pink to crimson--flowed over the child’s lips and onto my feet. I tried to scream but nothing came
out. My feet intertwined as I staggered backwards. I fell to the floor, plastic bottle still gripped in my hand.
More red slopped all around me.

The kid’s voice came again, only this time it had that bubbly quality to it. "I’m waiting to play with you, Mister.
Wanna play jump rope with some razor wire? Wanna play doctor? I have a nice, shiny scalpel. You can see it if
you want. I’d luuuuuuv to show it to you..." She ended with laughter. Long, cheery but menacing laughter.

This time the scream came, and the bottle was whipped into the open fridge. It collided with the other bottles,
all of which now had mouths of their own. They rolled out of the fridge, onto the floor, and started coming at
me. I scrambled away, but they were quicker. They told me of similar things they wanted to do to me like Rosa
did (I remember every name of every victim; they say that most serial criminals never care to know their
victims’ names, but I did). They went for my feet first, but I finally got up.

I knew what had to be done.

I ran to the phone and dialed the hospital’s number.

I was picked up in fifteen minutes after I confessed to my doctor that I needed to be put back in there;
needed it.
As I was led away from my home, I turned to look through the open door at the wall. The Thing was fading
right in front of me. I snapped out laughter. I turned to see the ambulance and cops that showed up. On the
side of the ambulance, I thought I saw that same phantom shape, reminding me. But maybe I didn’t.
*                        *                        *

Either way, I’m back here, and I know I belong. I never want to leave here again. Every night before lights-out,
I check all parts of my room to see if I’m alone. And every night I go to bed satisfied.

But once in a while, I feel something icy on my flesh, and I break out in goose bumps. I know that when I die, I
am in serious shit. But at least I’m here, and not with them anymore...or maybe I still am, in a way.

Like I said, be careful, you never know who or What is watching you...