Submitted by duskinthegreen t3_126cyif in nosleep

That was the first thing Stella asked me as she settled in at the table.

I looked around the diner. It was two in the morning. The place was mostly empty.

“What do you mean?”

“How many people are in here right now? Besides us,” she said.

“Maybe five, six,” I replied.

Stella’s lips trembled. “How many people are in the room exactly?”

She was terrified.

I counted. The waiter, the old man staring into a bowl of soup by the door, the two young women coming down from a night of partying over pancakes, the guy in a ballcap trying to cut through his overcooked steak, and the middle-aged woman in a pea-green overcoat.

“Six,” I said. “Six people.”

Stella instantly relaxed. “Thank you.”

Stella and I hadn’t seen each other in five months. I was in school out of state and was home for the summer. Stella had gotten into a good university but her sister, Anne, had died in a car wreck two weeks before she went off to school. The death hit her hard. Real hard.

I wasn’t sure why she’d called me. I doubted it was to catch up and it certainly wasn’t to party. Stella knew I abstained from everything. For me, that decision was the end result of being raised by verbally abusive alcoholics and knowing the genetic odds.

Stella looked rough. Not strung out but existentially exhausted. There were scars on her hands, bruises mottling her tattooed forearms, and some unusual scarification marks on her neck. Two of them, they looked like clumsy Zs but reversed as if done in a mirror.

Stella’s friend Cory had dropped her off at the diner about thirty minutes before I'd gotten there. I didn’t know him well but what I did know, I didn’t like.

“So, how’re you holding up?” I asked.

Stella didn’t answer.

The waiter appeared and Stella looked him over cautiously before she ordered a black coffee and a slice of blueberry pie.

I got a hot tea and a side of fries, though I wasn’t exactly hungry.

We sat in uncomfortable silence for a few minutes before Stella, staring down at her hands, asked, “What’s the worst thing you ever did?”

I shrugged, said, “Lied to people. Lied to get out of things. Mostly to my friends, in high school. But I’ve changed. I don’t do that anymore. Oh, I also shoplifted once. A pair of socks.”

Stella laughed.

That’s when the waiter reappeared with our drinks and food. Stella jumped. Her eyes wide. Face flushed. The other people in the diner turned and looked but did nothing.

“You alright?” The waiter asked, weirded out.

Taking a deep breath, Stella slowly sat back down.

“Yeah, sorry,” she said. “I just… just it’s been a long night.”

The waiter shook his head as he put the stuff down. When he left, Stella sipped her coffee and then she looked over the mug at me, her eyes tearing.

“I did the worst thing you can do. I tried to kill someone.”

I wasn’t sure I heard her correctly.


Stella nodded; eyes locked on mine. “A jogger. Cory and me hit him with the car.”

“Oh my God. When did this—”

“On my way here.”

The blood drained from my face.

“We should call the cops. He could still be there, hurt and—"

“Don’t bother,” she interrupted, “we went back and checked on him. There was no jogger.”

“What’s that fucking mean?”

I was starting to lose it.

“Please don’t start playing games with me,” I said. “I don’t want to hear this sort of bullshit.”

“Isn’t bullshit,” Stella replied. “Ask Cory.”

I didn’t want to call Cory.

Stella said, “I didn’t actually see the jogger. Cory did. That’s how I knew. So, I asked him exactly where the man was and I grabbed the wheel and Cory screamed at me as I made the car slam into the guy. Sent him flying. Like it mattered. Cory hit the brakes hard. He was losing it, talking about going to prison and his life being over. But I told him not to worry. That pissed him off something bad. When he got out of the car to go help the jogger, he just froze up, because there was no one there. Road was empty. Me, I expected that.”

She took another sip of coffee and poked at the slice of pie with her fork, stabbing the crust and examining the blue-tinged tines in the dull fluorescent light.

“See, it can look just like a person. Could be any age. Dressed any sort of way. It talks like a person. Eats, drinks, does all the regular sorts of things people do. Doesn’t exactly sound threatening, I know, but wait for the twist: I can’t see it. This thing pretending to be a person, it’s invisible to me. But you, you and everyone else… you can see it.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about…” And I didn’t.

Stella finally looked up at me.

“Two weeks ago, we were tripping. Me and Cory and this woman named Genevieve. She was the guide. This was at Cory’s house, on the deck. We dropped N-Bomb, that synthetic MDMA stuff. We’d been using hallucinogens and trying to explore an inner mental space. Tripping together, sharing the same imagery. It’s crazy how, if you’re in sync, like emotionally and mentally, you can basically travel together. I know how it sounds; I do. But… it was really working for us. We were… I’d guess you’d describe it something like astral traveling. We’d built this architecture, this city, in our minds and then explored it. Mostly it was made of shifting, beautiful buildings. Structures that rose over us like mountain ranges. And, uh, in this mental city, that’s where we came across it.”

The diner door chimed as the two young women having pancakes left.

Stella watched them go, then turned back to me.

I didn’t need an explanation.

“There are four people in here now,” I said.

She nodded, sipped more coffee, and then continued.

“Well, this night, we traveled deeper into the city than we’d ever been before. We ended up in a tower. Had a spiral staircase. We all went up to the top floor and found a locked door –”

“You’re all seeing the same thing?” I interrupted, not buying the experience.

“Yes,” Stella’s demeanor had intensified, the twitchiness melted away. “We all saw it.”


“So, we get to this door. It’s a metal door. Dented, but from the inside. Bulging out. Like someone was kicking the door, trying to smash it down. Genevieve, she got scared. Told us to not open that door. To stay far away from it. She said a voyager was on the other side.”


“That’s what Genevieve called it. Being a guide, she knew the sort of constructions we were exploring. She’d seen doors like this one. And she’d been warned about the voyagers. The way she told it, they were like us… explorers in inner space but not from our reality. From another one. A bad one. But long story short, I opened the door.”

“Why would you do that?”

Stella stirred her coffee, lost in thought for a second.

As she did, one of the cooks quietly came out from the kitchen and sat at the counter. He flicked through a newspaper someone had left and glanced over at me. He nodded, gave a little smile. I wondered if he’d made the fries I wasn’t eating.

“After Cory and Genevieve drifted away,” Stella continued, still staring at her drink, “I heard a voice on the other side of the door. My sister’s voice. She was begging. Pleading with me to let her out. I swear it was her. So, I opened that metal door.”

Feeling the stare of the cook, I ate a few of the fries. They were cold, soggy.

“What happened?” I asked Stella.

“When I opened it, something suddenly brushed past me. Something clammy, cold. It touched me, very briefly. There was pain…” Stella unconsciously motioned to the Z scars on her neck, then continued. “Anyway, there wasn’t a room on the other side of the door. Just a void. A deep emptiness. When the trip was over, I immediately felt a change. I felt… like I was being watched. The whole rest of that night, the next day, the next week, something was following me. A shadow. A presence. And I knew, I just deep in my gut knew, that if it caught up with me, if it touched me again, I would die.”

She kept stabbing at her slice of pie. Breaking the crust, letting the congealed blueberries slowly tumble out in a little landslide of jelly.

“You told me that you can’t see this thing, Stella.”

The door to the diner opened and two men in work overalls walked in, each holding a hard hat. Their clothes dusty. Stella suddenly straightened in her chair.

“Two men just walked into the diner, right?”

I nodded. “Yeah, just those two guys.”

Stella settled.

“Why me?” I asked. “Why did you want to meet? To tell me this?”

Stella smiled. First time she’d done that all night. “Because I knew you’d believe me.”

I swallowed hard, my throat suddenly, impossibly dry.

“You’ve been a good friend,” Stella blinked away welling emotion. “In high school, when things got bad. With… with boyfriends or assholes, you were the one I could confide in. The one that trusted me. The one that, no matter what I did, no matter how stupid it was… you were there for me. A shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold…”

And she reached across the table and took my hand.

Squeezed it. Tight.

Truth was, I’d had a crush on Stella most of high school. She was a friend, for sure. And, for a while, a good friend. I liked being that rock for her. But I’d always hoped for more. Like most friendships, it began with a one-sided attraction. Mine. And even though I hadn’t seen her in half a year, those feelings remained. Dormant but there. Waiting to be awakened.

As Stella held my hand and smiled, I noticed… I felt, her fingernail tracing something on the inside of my palm. At first slight, just a little pressure. Only, it got sharper until—

“Ouch. Shit!”

I pulled my hand away to find Stella had cut me. She’d sliced a shape with her sharp pinkie nail into my skin. It was a backward letter Z. Like the ones on her neck. A ribbon of blood began to well up from the center of the small cut.

“What the hell, Stella?”

She just shook her head and stood up, backing away from the table, repeating over and over, “I’m sorry… I’m sorry… I had to, OK? I had to…”

“Had to what? Hurt me?” I was furious, confused.

Everyone in the diner turned to watch us. Only the cook got up from his place at the counter and walked over, eager to lend a hand.

I waved him away. “It’s OK. I got it under control.”

That was when Stella broke, her voice barely a whisper, “What?

“I told him I got it.”

She went pale. “WHO?! Who’d you tell?”

“The cook!” I yelled. “He’s just trying to help you.”

“THERE IS NO COOK! No one’s there!”

Stella began shrieking, scrambling backward. She slammed into a nearby table. Chairs fell over. Silverware scattered.

“No, no!” she yelled. “No one’s there!”

The cook kneeled down beside Stella and, for a split second, bewildered as I was, I honestly thought he was going to help her up.

He didn’t.

Instead, he leaned in close to her. She was crying and shaking and clearly couldn’t see him. The cook turned to me, nodded with a sick grin, and then opened his mouth wide to reveal jumbled, bloody gums filled with jagged teeth.

He tore her throat out with a single bite.

And as Stella’s blood pumped out across the linoleum flooring, the cook vanished. Not a slow fade. Not dissolving into mist. Just there one second and gone the next.

Someone screamed, I think it was the woman in the pea-green overcoat.

Afterward, when the cops came, a story emerged. All the other people in the diner that night, they said Stella cut her own throat with a knife. Where she got the knife from and where it went, they didn’t know.

They also said that the cook had tried to help her. That he attempted to close the wound and save her life. The cops couldn’t find him after the EMTs got there. When I went back to the diner the next day to ask about what happened, the waiter claimed they didn’t even have a cook who resembled the man I described. The man I saw.

It was as if, after Stella’s death, all the details of her demise began to unravel. Like the universe was erasing her from existence entirely.

And now, the voyager – whatever it is – has come for me.

It’s been five days since Stella died in that diner.

Five days I’ve been haunted and hunted. I tracked down Cory and he led me to Genevieve. She told me what fate awaited me. According to her, voyagers use the symbol – the backward Zs that were on Stella’s neck, the one she scratched into my flesh – to track their victims down.

Stella, I guess she thought she could trick the voyager into taking me instead of her.

It didn’t work.

And now she’s doomed me.

It’s just a matter of time before there’s an extra person, a person I can’t see, sitting across from me on a bus or walking behind me on the street.

Right now, I’m in my bedroom at my parent’s house.

I haven’t left in forty-eight hours and they’re getting worried about me. They’d heard I lost a friend – though they can’t seem to recall anyone named Stella going to high school with me – and so they’re being compassionate and letting me stay cooped up.

But they’ve told me I’ve had visitors. Folks stopping by unannounced. Folks who, when I crane my neck out my window to catch a glimpse of them standing on the porch, aren’t there at all. Just my parents talking, gesturing, into empty space.

I’m going to have to leave this room eventually.

That or my parents will get worried enough that they’ll have me helped out, likely to the hospital. And when I get there, I’ll be asking the same questions Stella did.

How many people are in here right now?

How many exactly?



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herearea t1_je8t36i wrote

There are five of us in here buddy, don't worry. Just you, me, your parents and the neighbour I think, we're all worried about you


iigwoh t1_jedlb5d wrote

Don’t forget Mr poopy butthole


TwilightontheMoon t1_je91355 wrote

Change what she carved into your hand into a different shape. You say it’s a backwards Z? Then change it into a pointy 8. It may not work but it’s worth a try. Update us if you can…


neko_mancy t1_je992p8 wrote

tbh, worst case just cut some of your skin off, better than brutal death from something you can't see


FelicitousJuliet t1_je9avvd wrote

I suspect this won't work, it probably would need a flesh sacrifice, cutting off the hand entirely.


Inappropriate_SFX t1_je9059t wrote

So... does anything happen if you mess up the mark she gave you? If you can get that piece of skin off and throw it away, you'll have a gnarly scar, but ... it might be better.

Genevieve might help you do it. If she knows about these, knowing about a cure sounds important.


Rose_Buddah_994 t1_jecm34t wrote

Exactly. Get that thing OFF!! If it doesn’t work then they were doomed regardless. However, if it does work then OP is safe. Which, considering that the odds against these things is insurmountable, survival should be the top priority. That and encouraging the broader population to avoid going anywhere near what she did. It’s not safe and only alerts them to a new victim.


Sudo-rm t1_jecz9t3 wrote

I’m all about some good flensing (don’t look that up), but instead of peeling it off, try fire? A lot of supernatural stuff responds to burnt offerings.

Agree that Genevieve could help. You could even trip out together and maybe find this thing.


Inappropriate_SFX t1_jed0ahj wrote

A little worried that burning might leave trace fragments of the mark behind.


RavenSoul69 t1_jee9lpp wrote

Hmm, peel it off and then burn what's peeled, perhaps?

The old "Kill it with fire!" thing. 😱


LeXRTG t1_je95tql wrote

Don't worry it's just you, me, your parents, Stella's ghost, and that weird looking guy with the backwards Z t-shirt in the corner who looks like a murderer, he's smiling and showing off his massive teeth. See? I told you, everything is fine. Now stop stressing out


Prudent-Ad4515 t1_je9xkof wrote

I am the voyager. I got bored of killing people, so I downloaded Reddit and have taken a liking to Tiramisu


Redditributor t1_jea0hhq wrote

Plausible. You're from a bad place. Once you realize things like tiramisu are our there backwards zs and bloody neck feasts just aren't the same


clownind t1_jeaeplf wrote

Damn dude, Stella sucks donkey whang.


Ryuiop t1_jec6ve2 wrote

I know… why not fuck over a boss you hate or something? Or Henry Kissinger? (Ok, that would be hard, but still, so goddamn lazy)


RagicalUnicorn t1_jeafq59 wrote

Yesterday, upon the stair, I met a man who wasn't there! He wasn't there again today, Oh how I wish he'd go away!


EducationalSmile8 t1_je9eyii wrote

If I were you I would've tried to contact Genevieve, and with her help go into the "astral projection" and try to get rid of that entity.


neuralzen t1_je8up7s wrote

Maybe you can trap it behind another door in a mental space during a trip! Talk with Guinevere and whomever told her about the voyagers in the first place. Or hell, maybe a Tibetan monk, they know stuff about Tulpas (which this sounds kinda similar), and other mental constructs.


Odd_Critter t1_je8t07y wrote

Contact Genevieve. She said she was warned... But warned by WHO? That person, or entity, might have the answers you need. Or, maybe trip again, find the same room. Try to trap it back in the room. Maybe scratch the symbol into someone else. Use them as bait...


fridgepickle t1_je8yv3z wrote

Don’t try and use someone else as bait. It’s been made clear that that doesn’t work. Plus, if the worst thing OP ever did was shoplift, I don’t think they’d be down with murdering someone else to save their own skin.


duskinthegreen OP t1_jeawlyn wrote

At the time, she said she learned from other, more experienced guides. When I asked who these guides were, she could not give me their names. I messaged her again about it just a few hours ago. She said, "I never told you that."


Tantal-Rob t1_je9o27k wrote

It would be easy to deface the marking rune, since the voyager didn’t create it itself.


Mo3inaz t1_jedckyi wrote

Stella used your crush on her to basically condemn you to your grave. I would cut the flesh carving off and salt the entryway to the room. It might repeal them unholy beings


Voyria t1_je9necy wrote

Correct. I agree with what a few other posters are saying. I wonder if you can't somehow try to lure or trap it in that void room from which it was initially released? But you've gotta talk to Genevieve again.


duskinthegreen OP t1_jeezxv5 wrote

I have thought of this too. And even read up on it. I've never done drugs. I'm scared of bad trips and negative side effects. Genevieve told me last night that she's not really even sure what it was they took. Stella said N-Bomb but Genevieve says it was stronger. Guy who sold it to her called it 'creator flesh,' said it was from the desert. If I can isolate the voyager - somehow convince people to hold them (even though I can't see them) - then I wouldn't know what to do next. Make the voyager trip? Trip together and lock them up if we can find the place? Genevieve feels really bad about what happened but she says there's a balance to things. When I go, when the mark is gone, the voyager will be gone as well. Seems unfair...


HECK_OF_PLIMP t1_jeg3au2 wrote

creator flesh from the desert eh. sounds like san Pedro cactus possibly. maybe u took mescaline.

getting someone to detain the voyager and tripping with them sounds like a promising idea actually.


CaptainSpaceCat t1_jeb8q2r wrote

Oh geez, you've been snagged by kinda an opposite of the It Follows entity. This seems more dangerous though, I'd rather be the only one who can see the entity rather than the only one who can't. I hope you enjoy the remainder of your short life


Less-Doughnut7686 t1_jeb9h5q wrote

Where's the cut? Depending on how deep it is, it'll leave a scar.

My best advice? Cauterize it. Ruin the Z to the point it's unrecognizable.

Cutting off your hand might work too, but Cauterizing it gives a chance that you keep the hand.


Baltic_Gunner t1_jebw8kj wrote

If it's just a fingernail scratch, it should heal, right? Then no more mark. Maybe you just have to wait it out.


Rose_Buddah_994 t1_jeb5r6n wrote

Cut it off. Call it a self harm scar. Agree to therapy. Gradually get “better”. Then never mention it again. Everyone will just think you had a mental breakdown due to stress. Your life will be different for a little bit, but you’ll be safe.


Ryuiop t1_jec7730 wrote

But the Voyagers will still be out there. I’m gonna need OP to solve this before I’m affected.


Rose_Buddah_994 t1_jec7oki wrote

This is going to sound extremely fucked up, but he and you need to forget it. You cannot stop them on your own. It is a road that can only lead to one thing. Cut off the scar, and try your best to move on. Never take that substance, distance yourself from it completely. At this time you as well as the OP’s safety should be top priority. Don’t die attempting to be a hero. Some doors are best left unopened.


LetsLive97 t1_jecdn9p wrote

>This is going to sound extremely fucked up, but he and you need to forget it. You cannot stop them on your own.

Found the voyagers alt account


Rose_Buddah_994 t1_jeclo1l wrote

Yes, it is I! The voyager!! How dare I not want people do needlessly die for something they cannot stop!! 🙄


Ryuiop t1_jedkkf2 wrote

You mean “how dare people oppose me! Let them die like sheep”

We’re coming for you, Voyager. And then we’re coming for your dimension. You think we fucked up Earth? Your whole world’s gonna get nuked.


johnsonbrianna1 t1_jeda700 wrote

Okay so fuck Stella sounds like she deserved to die.


shsisjsooo t1_jealrae wrote

See if you can try to remove the backwards z by changing it into something else removing the skin or maybe just cutting off your hand entirely


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GuiltyPleasures117 t1_jecv3ko wrote

Get rid of that backwards Z. Turn it into something else, burn it off, whatever you have to do. Update if you learn more about them or if you get rid of the symbol.


Xralius t1_jeeshh6 wrote

I mean you had one job.


RhetoricalCocktail t1_jeeyrny wrote

I don't think that was an NBOMe she took

For one, NBOMes are not like "synthetic MDMA" they are classical psychedelics which MDMA isn't. Also MDMA is always synthetic (they obviously meant analogue but that's wrong too)

Also the effects described sound much more like a hole from a dissociative drug like ketamine, not a psychedelic one

So whatever she took was not an NBOMe


NightMother23 t1_jed0e5u wrote

Stella is such a manipulative asshole! How dare she say you were such a good friend and then just sacrifice you. I mean, it does sound like you were manipulating her in high school. Like just being her friend in hopes for more. But she literally tried to have you killed. As soon as she said she tried to kill a jogger , you should have dipped. I’m so sorry you are having to go through this. I hope that you find answers and help, OP! You don’t deserve this hell. Stella was dumb and selfish. You genuinely cared about her. You genuinely wanted to help a friend and she fed you to the wolves.


KoaTheBorderCollie t1_jegh87a wrote

Probably start talking to Jesus immediately. Tell him everything. Not just this. All of it. Ask him to forgive you. Tell him you accept him and believe. Ask him to show you the right path and go give you the strength that you need to get through this.

Jesus will help.

And at the very least if Jesus can't save you on earth from this demon. He can bring you to heaven when it does chew your neck out like Stella's. Then you won't have to go to hell and forever live with the demon that killed you.

Also, a Bible. Get one of those. I feel like you might also talk to someone about an exorcism. ...