SCARE TACTICS: By Thomas Edmund

In 2012 a friend linked me to a series of tweets that aside from a share on Reddit’s NoSleep subreddit, had gone unnoticed for two years. A teenager, Ryan Wiseman, accepted a dare from his crush, Angela Higgs, to spend the night in an abandoned Governor’s mansion on Second street. Ryan tweeted the experience of himself and four friends to Angela throughout the night. I did some fact checking and found no evidence of Ryan Wiseman ever existing, but I was able to track down Angela Higgs who resides in a mental health facility outside Washington DC. She declined an interview, although did comment that she thought the tweets should be published to stop anyone going near that place again, unless they are going to burn it down.

Here are the tweets of Ryan Wiseman aka ‘WiseRyan’ and Angela Higgs aka ‘HiggyAngel’ from 25th August 2012.

@HiggyAngel  - 12h

Hey at the place huge and plenty creepy what is the story again?

@WiseRyan – 12h

Oh the usual: a local governor who did bad things to people, blah blah blah

@HiggyAngel – 12h

Um, any word on what those bad things were??

@HiggyAngel – 12h

Fine don’t answer just let us spend the night in ignorance Sams got enough snacks to give a racehorse diabetes Hope you like fatties, cos by our date tomorrow Ima be one

@WiseRyan – 12h

Thats even if you get the date- remember the whole night or nothing

 

@HiggyAngel – 12h

You sound like you’re looking forward to it

#hots for Ryan Wiseman

 

@HiggyAngel – 11h

Guess you back to not answering I understand I tend to make girls speechless

 

@HiggyAngel -11h

OK you real good at not biting

@HiggyAngel – 11h

Jesus this place is cold we made camp in one of the tiny rooms not far from a shithouse Tony brought a portable camping heater still freezing

@HiggyAngel – 1907

Talk to me or I’ll take your tongue out

@WiseRyan – 10h

What the hell was that? Did you get Jimmy to hack Twitter and change the timestamp? #notfunny

I emailed Twitter to inquire about the date stamp. They insisted that the date had been changed ‘post’ with photo-shop. If someone had genuinely hacked their timestamp they would have a record of it. Plus they stated that WiseRyan was a ‘fictional person’

@HiggyAngel – 9h

What the hell was what? Are you trying to freak us out Jimmy’s Mom took his Smartphone and he’s been in withdrawal all night

@HiggyAngel – 8h

Just an update still here, even if you’re going to ignore us – still cold windows are totally dripping Max puked from too many take-away burgers had to change rooms

@HiggyAngel – 8h

So that Governor… there is a picture on the wall here of a priest pulling wires out of some poor guys throat

@WiseRyan – 8h

Apparently the Governor kept white slaves, don’t want to be a racial, but a pretty crazy concept right?

HiggyAngel – 7h

Christ sometimes these guys drive me nuts Tony left his heater in the other room went to get it like 10 minutes ago still smashing around in there looking for it.

@HiggyAngel – 7h

Ok where the hell is Tony? I went over to the other bedroom and the heater was right in there in the middle of room Tony was fucking nowhere

@WiseRyan – 7h

Hey is Tony OK? Look I’ll go on the date with you if you guys want to go home now

@HiggyAngel – 7h

Ha getting scared there sweetie… Tony got himself lost on the first floor, we found him wandering around like an idiot

@WiseRyan – 7h

You Asshat

@HiggyAngel – 7h

You love me though right?

@HiggyAngel – 6h

Ok doing the ignoring thing again…

@HiggyAngel – 1907

Try ignoring me when I come to cut your heart out of your chest

@WiseRyan – 5h

Ryan what the fuck was that? Not funny at all I’m showing that tweet to my Dad, and forget about the date

@WiseRyan – 4h

Ok are you there? I talked to my dad and he wants to call the cops

@HiggyAngel – 4h

Sure am whats with the freakout? Lost Tony again he keeps sleep walking towards the basement

@WiseRyan -  4h

Check your tweets – you’ve been sending some horrible stuff

@WiseRyan – 3h

Ryan!!! Answer your cellphone

@HiggyAngel – 3h

Yeah sorry Tony really went off the deep end locked himself in the basement Max started puking up blood actually freaked out here phone got no bars connecting to Twitter OK tho

@WiseRyan – 3h

Want me to call the cops???

@HiggyAngel – 1907

Want me to slit your throat?

@WiseRyan – 3h

Ryan???

@HiggyAngel – 2h

Ok you need to tell me what the hell is going on here Tony is AWOL Max just passed out Jimmy is in the bathroom just staring at himself

@WiseRyan – 2h

What about Dunk?

@HiggyAngel – 2h

Dunk? Dunk wouldn’t shut the fuck up about ringing 911 so I shut his face in a doorway

@WiseRyan – 2h

Jesus Ryan what have you done? Are the cops there yet?

@HiggyAngel – 2h

Clearly not…

@WiseRyan – 2h

Just stay put they’ll be there soon

@HiggyAngel – 2h

Are they bringing paramedics?

#Jimmyeyesgorgedout

@WiseRyan – 2h

Jesus

@HiggyAngel  – 1h

Ang are you there? I don’t know what happened? Dunk is knocked out,  I think Jimmy and Max are dead. I don’t know where Tony is

@HiggyAngel – 30m

Angela?

@HiggyAngel – 15m

You gotta help me I found Tony he pulled me into the basement and locked me in a huge fridge theres ice on my face can barely type

@HiggyAngel – 13m

Ang?!?

@HiggyAngel – 10m

If you’re going to let me die, at lest tll me wht happned here

@WiseRyan – 5m

It was last owned by a Governor from the 1900s after he died they found he had been keeping slaves in the house. Not blacks his own family members

@WiseRyan – 4m

He used to send coded telegrams as threats to his relatives to let him keep their children

@WiseRyan – 3m

In the end the locals formed a lynch mob but he hid in the house and was never found

@WiseRyan – 2m

The story goes that the house isn’t haunted by the Governor but by the mob who couldn’t satiate their bloodlust

@HiggyAngel – 1m

Well they got one thing right

@WiseRyan – 1m

Ryan?

@HiggyAngel – 30s

We didn’t get caught by those hicks

@WiseRyan -10s

Ryan where are you – the police just rang said they opened the freezer and all they found was Tony strangled to death. What have you done?

@HiggyAngel – 1s

See you soon

___________________

©2014 Thomas Edmund

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MY NAME IS LEGION: By Lawrence Buentello

Claire’s daughter, Annie, was the first to notice the old woman sitting on the park bench.

Claire held the girl’s hand as they walked back toward the parking lot after visiting the museum, which offered an art exhibit Annie had wanted to see, but the girl’s hand pulled desperately at her own as she pointed toward the park.

“Mama, do you see it?”

Claire stopped and studied the small municipal park, which was no more than a square block, before seeing the old woman on the bench. The woman was dressed in a colorful layer of clothing, wool socks disappearing beneath the hem of a long a plaid skirt, a red scarf tied around her head. She was unremarkable to Claire, except that she was very old, and held a doll on her lap.

“Do you see her doll?” Annie said excitedly. “She’s beautiful!”

Her daughter, only seven years old but fascinated by beautiful things, pulled at her hand strangely.

“Let’s go see!”

Clair hesitated, not because she was wary of the woman, but because she thought the poor old thing might be homeless, or have mental problems, and exposing her daughter to these sad things might not be wise. But she felt ashamed of her bias, too, so she relented. What harm could such an old woman do?

They walked up to the old woman, who gazed up and smiled weakly, and Claire wondered what she should say.

Her daughter spoke first.

“Your doll is very beautiful,” Annie said, studying it carefully.

The old woman nodded, readjusting the doll on her lap, before saying, “Thank you.”

Claire looked at the doll more closely now; it was exquisitely made, and must be an antique. The head and arms were certainly porcelain, or perhaps even china. Thin and proportioned like a ballerina, it was dressed in scarlet gossamer, a billowing dress gleaming with sequins and rhinestones, its blue eyes gorgeously painted as if by an artist.

“What’s your doll’s name?” her daughter asked, still mesmerized by the figure.

“Her name is Hannah,” the old woman said in a raspy voice. “Would you like to hold her?”

Her daughter turned to Claire with pleading eyes. Though Claire felt uncomfortable letting her daughter touch something potentially unsanitary, she once again dismissed her bias and agreed.

Annie sat on the bench next to the old woman and accepted the doll onto her own lap.

“What’s your name?” the old woman asked the girl.

“My name is Annie,” Claire’s daughter said, touching the doll’s shiny brown hair.

Claire watched her, curious as to why the girl seemed so taken by the toy. It was, after all, just a doll, certainly beautiful, but Annie had several dolls at home that were just as pretty.

Claire turned to the old woman and said, “Do you come to this park often?”

The old woman shook her head. “No. We travel a lot. We’re always meeting new people.”

Claire understood this to mean that she was homeless, and probably lived in one shelter after another.

After a few moments she turned to her daughter again and said, “I think we’ve bothered this nice lady enough. Let’s go now.”

Her daughter returned the doll to the old woman, her eyes fixed on its pale white face. She sat with her hands in her lap, staring silently.

The old woman rose from the bench, the doll in her arms, and said, “It’s time for us to go, too. We have so many things to see together, now. So many new things to learn.”

She watched the strange old woman limp away from the bench, waiting for her and the doll to disappear down the street before turning to her daughter.

Annie sat staring into space, and Claire wondered if something was wrong with her.

“Annie?” she said, touching the girl’s shoulder. “Annie, are you all right?”

Her daughter sat very still, her eyes steady, her lips slightly parted.

“Annie!”

Claire sat next to her daughter and patted her arm, trying to rouse her, but the girl seemed catatonic.

“Annie, what’s wrong with you?”

The girl looked into Claire’s eyes and blinked.

“My name is Hannah,” she said softly.

__________________________

©2014 Lawrence Buentello

Lawrence Buentello has published over 80 short stories in a variety of genres, and is a Pushcart Prize nominee. He lives in San Antonio, Texas.

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