Wipe your feet when you come inside.
Cliché. Old school. Who does that anyways?
Well, the shit your grandmother tells you isn’t always bad advice. Quite the contrary really. I’m about to tell you a story you won’t believe. A story that will never leave me. A story about what exactly happens when you don’t WIPE. YOUR. FEET.
And please, whoever finds this, heed my advice. Read the story. It’s too late for me…
It was a cold and wet Sunday afternoon; the sky was grey with post-storm clouds. I had just gotten off work at the town grocery store and was walking home. The roads were horrible. Mud lined the streets, caking on to my shoes and soaking through to my socks. I just wanted to get home, take a warm shower, finally get dry, and pass out.
As I walked, I began to feel unnaturally cold (more cold than normal for the temperature, surely). It was a sensation that seemed to radiate from inside of me. “I must have a fever,” I thought. Some bozo at work got me sick. Soon after this thought I was torn from my pondering by a startling shout.
“HEY KID!” came the intrusive voice.
I looked around. Nearby, at the corner of Lucy and Elm (I live in a small city in the back woods of Colorado, I’m sure you haven’t been there) sat a decrepit old woman. Homeless, by the looks of it.
“What?!” I snapped, annoyed by how obtrusive she seemed.
“C’mere. Sorry for scarin’ ya. I really need to tell you this though.”
She seemed sincere, so I figured I’d hear her out. I walked up to her, slowly, and asked, “Yeah? What’s so important, lady?”
She cocked an eyebrow, hacked out the most disgusting smoker’s laugh I’ve ever heard, and said, “Why, son, yer gonna die. Haven’ ye ever wiped those grimy , stinky little piggies o’ yers afore steppin’ foot in yer house? Anyways, lissen close yung’n and ye might yet be saved. Always, and I mean it, ALWAYS wipe yer feet afore steppin’ in anyone’s house. ANYBODY. Hear me? Yer all in danger…”
It was about this point I just wanted to laugh and walk away. Something… Something in her eyes. It was fear, looking back. But at the time I was just enthralled. I thanked her for her advice, and walked away.
Strange things happened on the way home. For example, I saw a bus pass in front of me. Not any bus, mind you, as I live in a small town deep in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. This was THE town bus. It ALWAYS has a picture of a homeless child on it asking for whoever cares to call whatever scam-agency is funding what-the-fuck-ever charity they advertise and give them their money. I’m pretty sure it was an ad from the 90’s… Well, that day it had an ad for Clorox wipes. Not only that, as that by itself might not have been so strange, but the ad was specifically for shoes. Yes, shoes.
“NEW SHOE-GOO BRAND CLOROX WIPES WILL CLEAN THE MUD, DIRT, AND SWEAT RIGHT OFF OF YOUR FINEST WORK BOOTS! ORDER NOW!”
Strange? I thought so.
I shook it off as a hallucination… Until I came to my street. At the corner of my street is a stop sign. Any normal day, when normal things are happening in a normal manner, it is an ordinary stop sign. This day it had a shoe-scrub attached to- no TIED to the stop sign with barbed wire. A note hung off of one of the barbs written on plain white paper. It said simply “wipe your feet” in red paint. Looking back, I’m not sure it was paint.
Well at this point I was pretty sure I had gotten the message. And I was scared. I began running toward my house. It was just a block away. Then, my cell phone rang. It was my mother.
“H- fuck- Hello?” I panted, out of breath.
“Hi! Erin? Are you ok?”
“Yes mother what do you need? I’ve had the strangest, longest day and just want to go home and go to bed.”
“Well, I just called to check in. Don’t forget to wash up the dishes and clean after yourself! And don’t track mud into the house! I’ve seen the weather reports and won’t be doing any cleaning up after you!”
“Ok mom…” I replied. The same old phone call I get every time she leaves town. I wish I’d listened to her. I’ll never forget her. All she ever tried to do was care about me… (I forgot to mention, I live with my mother, and she’s a major clean freak…) Anyways I will continue my story…
“Ok well thanks mom. I won’t forget. I have to go now; my day has been really weird-” I started.
“Oh! And don’t forget to pick up the deposit I left you for grocery shopping! You haven’t forgotten that I need you to shop for me the day before I get back have you Erin?”
I smiled. Always the paranoid one, my mother. “No mom I haven’t but my-“
She interrupted again, “I’m sorry Erin I have to go. Please don’t forget. The bank closes in an hour your time, I believe. Love you, I’m late for my meeting and need to clean the mud off of the hotel carpet before I go… don’t want to be rude! Bye honey!” *click*
Just like that. Off to the bank then I guess… I had completely forgotten in the strangeness of my evening. I turned around and walked down the street. I forget if the note was still attached to the stop sign, but I think I’d have noticed it….
Either way, a half hour walk later I found the bank was closed for repairs. Apparently part of the bank had sunken into the ground over night. There was police tape around the parking lot and a lot of emergency staff all around the scene. I had decided to call my mother the tomorrow and ask her what she wanted to do since the bank appeared out of business. In the mean time I tried to investigate.
The police wouldn’t say anything to me, and what little journalists and reporters that were there were being kept in the dark as well. I think some-one died. I’m sure of it now, actually…..
Suffice it to say, 2 hours after I had originally left work, I finally came to my door step. I was exhausted and had completely forgotten the old lady, the bus, and the stop sign. I opened the door, kicked my feet against the step to remove the loosest mud, and trudged straight inside to my room, leaving tracks on the carpet just as my mother had asked me not to. I flopped onto my bed without even taking off my shoes and fell asleep.
An unknown amount of time later, long after sun down I’m sure (I’ve been writing these events for about an hour now), I was awoken by my boots.
My boots were moving. The laces were whipping against my shins. They tugged and pulled and dropped off of my feet. I jumped up, terrified and sure that I must be dreaming.
To my dismay, I still have not woken up, if this is a dream…
My boots shot out of the room, seemingly sliding along ice. I got tentatively got out of bed and followed them…
They left mud streaks all the way to the living room…
The tracks I had left earlier were gone. They were seemingly replaced by lines of thick, black, mud-looking marks going up the walls and coagulating on the ceiling in a bubbling, writhing mess of mud. A large puddle, seemingly. There was a strange noise coming from the mass on the ceiling; it was a faint screaming sound, many voices all at once, mixed with a growling and hissing that must have come from a creature I cannot begin to imagine.
The mud puddle seemed, from my experience in horror stories and RPG games, to be a portal to some hellish world. As soon as I thought this, something began to come out of the horrifying puddle. An arm… Human by the looks of it, but all black and earthy brown. Like mud. The hand was webbed with a muddy, black, tar-looking substance which was dripping off of the fingers onto the carpet.
I was done. I had seen enough. I bolted for the door, going around the mass on the ceiling. And, to my surprise and ultimate horror, the tar-substance went for the door as well. A thousand small black droplets moved faster than I can blink, slug-like, to the door, slithered up it, and encased the knob in a sticky black goop.
I dared not touch it and opted instead to kick the door open. No dice. The door splintered under the force of my kick and swung inwards to reveal a sight that made my heart stop. Behind the door was a wall of mud and tar. In this wall were dozens of faces, seemingly encased in the mud all with different looks of sheer horror on them. And… right in the middle of this wall of terror… a familiar bank sign encrusted in the mud…
I turned and ran for the nearest window. I threw open the blinds only to come face to face with my mother. Or, a mud-portrait of my mother. She looked more terrified than I had seen her in my entire life. I nearly vomited from fear.
Swinging back around, I was dismayed to see the arm coming out of the ceiling had developed a shoulder and an egg-shaped ball of mud. Seemingly a head. The arm was swinging lazily, attempting to grab at my boots.
I ran for the basement, as the basement door was the only locking door in our tiny, one-and -a -half-story house (the half being the tiny unfinished basement. It was more of a storage cellar, 200 square feet and made entirely of smooth garage-floor concrete). I locked the basement door behind me and ran downstairs, sitting in the corner.
It has been about 20 minutes, judging by my phone, which has recently died. I was using it to type out these events in my note-app. Now I’m writing this shit on some sticky notes with a near-dead pen I found in my mother’s sewing equipment. About 10 minutes ago I heard a thump come from overhead. I think that thing, whatever it is, has finished spawning out of whatever portal the mud created. I need to listen to old crazy women in the future… if I have a future… oh god what does it want????
I just tried the basement door. The entire thing was coated in mud. I’m trapped. We have no windows down here. I don’t think it would matter if we did.
The door just opened…
It’s coming down the stairs…
It is wearing my boots.
It looks just like me.
Oh god make it sto-
This is a transcription of notes found in Erin Cumboldt’s phone. The residence of before mentioned and his mother, Anna-Marie Cumboldt, has
gone missing, seemingly overnight, with no eye-witness reports or disturbance reports from any of the surrounding neighbors. In place of the foundation of [address removed] was a large crater filled with tar. Retrieval teams were able to remove most of the tar and found only Erin’s phone, boots with DNA matching Erin’s, and a pad of sticky notes. They were all strangely preserved and unharmed by the tar.
This report is being matched to a nearly identical report involving Erin’s mother (the afore-mentioned) Anna-Marie Cumboldt, where a motel room in California was sunken into the ground and left behind a similar pit of tar. Only her phone with a voice message (following), and her boots, were retrieved.
Another report came a day earlier from the bank of [Town’s name removed]. 13 people total have gone missing in these reports. Further investigation is pending. Following is a transcript of the voice message found on Ms. Cumboldt’s phone:
Hello! H-hello I’m leaving this so hopefully someone finds it. My phone has no service and-
[shuffling, terrified scream]
Oh god she almost got me… er… I… oh whatever fuck… My phone won’t even dial 9-1-1. What kind of shit service is this?!…
Anyways, there is a thing… Me… but… not me… Mud me? It came out of the wall. I came back from my meeting…
[more screaming, voice is becoming more frantic]
Oh god why…
Report written 03/02/2015
Lt. Daymon Ruger, Colorado State Patrol