The smile on his face almost allows you to overlook the hideous scar that runs from ear to ear and across his entire neck. Inside the smile is pure happiness. For a typical seventy-six year old man, happiness is being around family, vacationing, and watching their children, grandchildren, and sometimes great-grandchildren grow. For Monty, happiness is his hut located high in the wooded mountains of Danboro, a small town in upper New York State. Monty didn’t always live in Danboro. He was born and raised in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. His parents owned a three hundred acre farm, leaving nothing around their rancher besides open, crop-infested land. Most children would hate to be isolated for the entire duration of their childhood, but Monty embraced it. He enjoyed the idea of his dog being his best friend. His only encounters with other people were while at school, where he never really felt welcome. A typical day in the childhood of Montgomery Julistin consisted of going to school, coming home, and playing with his Golden Retriever, Diamond. Diamond would always watch as Monty walked out the door in the morning and was always waiting by the road when the bus dropped him off in the afternoon. Diamond was his best friend; his only friend. Diamond died when Monty was seventeen. He lived to be fourteen years old, which is old for a Golden Retriever, but it wasn’t long enough for Monty. He wanted Diamond to live forever. Although Diamond’s death devastated Monty, it was therapeutic. Monty saw the loneliness of the suburban life and decided to pursue living in the city. At the age of eighteen he left Lancaster and headed for New York City. Once there, he fell in love. Never would he have imagined such a place was real. People, lights, buildings, billboards, cars, cabs, construction—everything was happening all around him, all the time. He had never realized how secluded he was from the world while living in Lancaster. His apartment was on 18th and Rose Ave. From the time he was eighteen until he was sixty- seven years old, he lived in that same apartment. One would assume that from the length he chose to stay there, he loved it. But ever since the first day he moved into the place, neighbors have claimed that they would constantly hear strange noises coming from inside. Monty rarely left the apartment, according to these same neighbors. What has gone on in this apartment is a mystery. My goal is to find out what happened. My name is Andrew Roberts. I am an investigative reporter for a small New York based newspaper called The Yorker Knew. Yes, it’s a cheesy name, I know. But there are too many newspapers in New York to have an original and professional sounding paper. The Yorker Knew took me on as an amateur journalist with no experience, and my goal is to not make them regret that decision. Not many New Yorkers care about a potential story like this, but I do. I believe that something strange had to have happened to this man to make him suddenly go into a social hibernation for a great portion of his adult life. With the rarity of radio clarity deep in the wooded mountains of New York, I have plenty of time to think in silence during my ride. The only thoughts running through my head are images from the apartment. I was lucky enough to be able to see the apartment, but not so lucky at the same time, as I cannot remove the images from my memory. No one has lived in the apartment since Monty vacated the premises over nine years ago, and it shows. Vintage carpet drapes, and kitchen appliances stand out. Scattered across the old, dirty carpet are blood stains. Each wall has several holes, scrapes, and some parallel scratches, resembling what looks like fingernails dragging. The apartment had an eerie feel to it. Nothing about it felt comforting or homely. It is approaching dusk as I pull up to a deserted looking hut. An old man sits on the porch, a dog next to him. I park and get out of the car. Each step closer I take to the house gives me a better look at the old man. “Can I help you?” Monty says. “Are you Montgomery Julistin?” “I am. Who are you?” “My name is Andrew Roberts, sir. I’m with The Yorker Knew. A newspaper.” “Come here, son.” I approach the porch. He stands and looks directly into my eyes. His eyes are filled with fear. He looks deathly afraid of me, but continues to stare. The look of fear slowly disappears and he puts out his hand to shake mine. “The Yorker new?” “Yes. Like New York backwards, but new with a K, like the people ‘knew’.” “Oh.” He smiles and goes back to his seat. “Yes. Clever, but not fun to explain all the time.” He chuckles. “I can’t imagine it would be.” “Mr. Julistin, I was wondering if I may be able to ask you a few questions about your time spent in New York.” “Yes. I had assumed that was your reason to come here.” “I’m sorry to be a burden or a bother. I attempted to contact you, but couldn’t find a way to reach you.” “It’s much more peaceful that way.” “Once again, I’m sorry to just show up.” “It’s okay. It happens every few months. Used to be more often, but I guess there are only so many of you.” I smile, but I need to begin my interview. “Mr. Julistin, may I ask why you chose to leave that apartment after nearly fifty years?” “Come on, son. I’ve just about finished making supper. Join me.” He stands up and walks in, the dog following. Sitting at the dinner table, I’m unsure whether I feel like an intruder or a guest. I did just arrive at his door out of the blue, but he doesn’t seem to mind. The chili and hot dogs he’s made add to the definitive feeling of being in the wilderness. The food is good, and I eat it, but I try to squeeze in as many questions as possible in the process. “Mr. Julistin, what were the strange noises that your former neighbors claimed to have heard?” “Have you met Rex?” The dog sits by his side as he eats; Monty pets his head. “He’s a good dog.” I ask questions, but his responses are deflected answers. He won’t give me anything I’m looking for. He’s looking down at his bowl of chili when I ask him a question that catches his attention. “Monty, who said you could leave?” Wait. I look down at my notepad. That wasn’t the question. The next question on my list was ‘Had anyone ever lived with you while in New York?’ I lift up and see Monty glaring into my eyes, his open wide. The look of fear is back and it covers his face. I notice the look of fear and I skip the question. “Don’t worry, Mr. Julistin. You don’t have to answer that one.” Now I’ll ask him if anyone had ever lived with him. I speak. “Monty, who said you could leave!” My voice grows loud and angry. I didn’t mean to ask that. Monty’s eyes are wide open now, his face ghost white. He can barely move, but he mutters something. I lean in closer to hear what he’s said, but as I do so he jumps back, falling off the back of his seat. As he falls I move to stand and help him. As I do I catch a reflection of myself in the china cabinet set up against the back wall. I look into it and my body freezes. My eyes are wide and solid black. I’m frozen. I can’t move. Monty has now made his way into the corner of the room, sitting, staring into my blackened eyes. He mutters something again and I can understand him this time. “You brought it,” he pants. “I brought it?” I try to say, but nothing comes out. I attempt to speak again, but nothing comes out. Just then, I feel a strong pressure against my chest. My body is lifted and launched back into the far wall of the dining room. I scream; nothing. I scream louder; nothing. I go to stand up; nothing. My legs won’t function. My body is still frozen. I look across the room at Monty in desperation. He is still motionless in the opposite corner. The dog walks over to Monty, but Monty does not look happy to see him. It comes within an inch of Monty’s face and aggressively displays its teeth while growling. Monty turns his head and squeezes his eyes shut. The dog quickly whips its head in my direction and stares at me—its eyes pitch black, just as mine were moments ago. The dog turns its head back to Monty, whose eyes are now open again. The dog’s head and neck bend and stretch beyond the dog’s normal limits. It reaches its head underneath its body and begins gnawing at its own stomach. Monty reaches out to stop it, but the dog bites him as he does. Monty pulls back and watches. The dog begins attacking its own self, aggressively ripping and tearing through its own skin and muscle, eating itself. Monty sobs as his dog penetrates though its own body, breaking ribs as it does. A pool of blood begins to fill the floor underneath it. Monty continues to sob. He covers his ears and squeezes his eyes closed as the dog rips into its own body. The dog eventually loses strength and falls to the floor, shrieking in pain. Its eyes are no longer solid black, but are now back to its brown and white dog-like eyes. The evil has exited the dog and has left it to suffer in extreme pain until death. Monty reaches over now and tries to comfort the dog. It doesn’t take long for the dog to die. When it does, Monty lets out an excruciating, angry scream. I have no clue what this thing is, but it must have been what was in the apartment for all those years. It’s what Monty said I brought here with me. But how? Was I the only person in the apartment since he’s lived there? I couldn’t have been. It’s been nine years. Maybe it just knew I was coming to see him. I was about to find out, but before I could Monty’s body slowly levitates from the floor and is rapidly slammed back down into it. His neck and back are the first to hit, leaving him motionless and unconscious. It seemed like days, but hours later Monty came to. Somehow he manages to sit up. His aged body somehow managed to rise to its feet. He looks around, unclear as to what had just happened. When he spots his dog he begins to weep again. He lies next to the remains of his best friend, while I’m still stuck in the corner of the dining room, terrified. “Mr. Julistin,” I said. He turns in my direction. He looked surprised for a second, not knowing I had still been sitting in the corner. “What was that?” He looks back down at his dog’s corpse. “That is what you’ve brought here with you.” “How?” “It was only a matter of time. All you reporters just want your stories. I should have known it would find me again.” “Sir?” “Do you see this scar on my neck?” He takes off his shirt. Bruises, scars, and bone deformities cover his upper body. “Do you see all of this?” He lifts up his pant legs. More bruises. More scars. “Please, Mr. Julistin. No more.” “These are what happened to me in New York. This,” he points to his dog, “is what happened to me in New York. I couldn’t escape it. For forty-nine years of my life I couldn’t escape it.” He points to the scar on his neck. “It wouldn’t even let me kill myself; wouldn’t let me escape. It just tortured me for forty-nine years. I finally managed to escape that apartment after forty-nine years, and you bring it back to me.” “How? Why?” “I wish I knew.” He rests his head on his dog and begins to sob again. The blood covering the dog’s fur and the floor around it doesn’t seem to bother Monty. He hugs and pets Rex. I can only watch. Monty’s head jerks upward and follows with a loud scream. He can’t stand, but he pushes his back up against the wall. He is in pain, but I cannot tell why. His mouth and eyes are wide open. An unbearable scream comes out of his mouth and now I can see why. His ankle has been broken and flipped up and over his leg, leaving the bottom of his foot now touching his shin. He can’t move. He’s in shock. I can’t move. I’m still immobile. Another loud scream followed by a desperate plea. “Oh my god! Please stop!” His shin breaks, then his femur. His leg is rolled up to his hip. The sound of bones popping and breaking is more than I can handle. Vomit spews from my mouth. Blood pours from Monty’s. I wake. I’m not sure how long I’ve been unconscious, but it’s been long enough that the torture this evil was putting on Monty has stopped. No more screaming. No more breaking and popping. Just silence. Monty lies still in the corner of the room. Both of his legs are rolled up to his hips. His arms are rolled in the same fashion up to his shoulders. His eyes are wide open. I can stand now, and I do. I make my way to him. The skin on his legs and arms is both stretched and bunched together, almost unrecognizable as human. The image is grotesque and unbearable. His body lies motionless. “Mr. Julistin.” No response. I reach down to feel for a pulse. Nothing. All I can do is stare at his face—eyes open, mouth open. He died in a state of pure pain; pure terror. But as I examine closer, something looks different. His eyes aren’t open in fear, but excitement. His mouth is not open in pain, but in happiness. Now that I look at it, he’s smiling. He’s happy. He’s finally out. He’s finally escaped a lifetime of torture and pain. He’s finally dead. I can walk now. I need to get out of here. I need to get to my car and get back to civilization. I need to get as far away from here as possible. I walk to the door and open it, but as I move to step through doorway I feel something. I run for it, but I’m pulled back in and thrown to the floor. I get up and sprint for the door. I can’t. My body is taken and thrown upward against the ceiling. I’m stuck against the ceiling as the front door slams shut. Something grabs my ankles. I don’t know what, but the pressure around them grows tighter. As the pain sets in, I’m pulled backward. I try to stop it, but I can’t. I grab and clasp for anything, but I’m against the ceiling; there’s nothing. I scratch and claw, but can’t stop it. My fingernails make marks in the drywall as I’m pulled back. I hear what sounds like laughter. I’m stuck here. I’ll never leave.
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