I should have never ordered that acne cream from China.

July 5th, 2015

I can’t believe how long it’s taking. Yeah, I get it, things that ship from China are going to take longer to get to Rhode Island than if they shipped from Canada. IDC. I paid so much money for this shit I’d expect the people who sell it to actually care about their customers. Such bullshit.

The tracking info says it’s in fucking Rotterdam. I thought it was going to be flown over here because it needs to be refrigerated. If it’s just sitting in a hot cargo ship next to baby clothes and ballpoint pens and dildos I’m going to be so mad. $155!

July 6th, 2015

So fucking pissed. It’s going to be another week. I sent an email to the company and they got back real quick and told me, “yes, it’s refrigerated” and, “yes, it will be perfect when it arrives.” But I have to wait SEVEN MORE FUCKING DAYS. That’s cutting it so super close to Carlotta’s wedding and I need my skin to be PERFECT for all those pictures. I’m not going to look worse than my sister, even if she’s bride. I want people to look at her wedding pictures and be like, “yeah Carlotta’s beautiful but Rachel is the one in the family with the looks.” Because I am.

July 10th, 2015

Another three days of waiting. My skin is AWFUL. I don’t have a ton of zits but the ones I have are huge and they don’t just look gross but they hurt. None of the stuff I’ve gotten at the store works. Yesterday, I went to Whole Foods and found some natural coconut oil cream that people online said was good. I put it on last night and this morning I woke up with another massive pimple right in the left corner of my nose. I did a test with my camera and I stood 15 feet away like how the photos will be taken for the wedding. The pimples were so obvious. Even with makeup, you can see them underneath. Especially if one starts leaking. So fucking gross. I’m so mad.

July 12th, 2015


The package came in a really well-sealed box that looked like it had some weird refrigeration packs inside. It was definitely cold. The acne cream was in a clear tube. The stuff looked almost exactly like the Neutrogena scrub I use every day but instead of being blue with gray exfoliating beads, the Chinese stuff was yellow with white exfoliating beads. I have no idea what the writing on the tube says but I’m texting a pic to Mei so she can translate.

Update @ 11:25am

Ok, Mei said the writing just says “skin care” and “for use on blemishes.” The instructions say: “Keep refrigerated, use a thumbprint-sized dollop on the face immediately after getting out of a hot shower, let sit for a half hour, then rinse off with warm water. For best results, use twice a day for one week. Mild swelling may occur, but it is normal. If severe peeling occurs, stop using immediately.”

I jumped in the shower and turned it as hot as I could stand so my pores would open up. I squeezed the pimples that were ready to blow and almost threw up when the biggest one popped so hard i heard the glob of pus hit the shower wall. That one bled a lot. I hope the new acne cream won’t sting too badly.

I got the cream out of the little dorm fridge I keep in my room and started to spread it on my face. It stung SO BAD. I thought it smelled pretty good, though. Reminded me of Mei’s mom’s perfume, although there was something weird in the background. Not chemicals, either. Just…weird. Whatevs. I left it on for a half hour like it said, washed it off, and went to work.

Update @ 10:50pm

Work sucked as usual. My face felt nice, though. The stinging went away pretty quick after I scrubbed the stuff off and my skin feels smooth. Definitely less greasy. I could see in the mirror at work that my pores were a bit larger than normal. But they didn’t look or feel oily. The blackheads were gone, too. So far, so good.

I got home and took another hot shower and put on the stuff. I rubbed the exfoliating beads over the worst of the remaining zits, hoping to erode them down. One of them popped and hit the mirror like a mashed potato javelin (I’m working on my similes for English 102 next semester) and the cream stung like crazy when it touched the open sore. I gritted my teeth and rubbed the beads across the bleeding crater, working them into the skin to bring down the edges.

After a half hour, I cleaned it off and went to bed.

July 13th, 2015

My face looked SO MUCH BETTER this morning. The big pimples are still there but I can tell they’re starting to shrink. None of them have whiteheads. The skin’s a little swollen and feels hot, though. I’m glad the cream’s still working even after it’s been washed off.

I’ve got a lot more confidence today even though my face still is way worse than I want it to be for the wedding. I’ve gotta go to work now but damn it feels good to not want to cut my stupid skin out of my head.

Update @ 10:30pm

Apparently the cream helped me grow some balls because I asked out Todd from the deli department. I’ve wanted to fuck that dude for two years. I’m so going to, too.

July 14th, 2015

Last night after I showered and did my face, I started peeling a little bit. I’m not too worried because all the acne stuff in the past that stung going on always made me peel later on. I’ll keep an eye on it just to make sure it doesn’t get really bad, but I can’t believe how happy I am with how well it’s working. I take back everything I said about that company and the Chinese people in general. I’m glad Mei hadn’t heard me. Jeez.

Update @ 9:19pm

Todd looked so good at work today. I can’t wait until we can go out next weekend. Mei came in to see me and I pointed him out and I think he noticed but he didn’t say anything. She agreed he’s hot as fuck. She told me if I didn’t hit that this weekend she’d be on him an hour later. No way she’d have that chance lol.

My face feels pretty okay but it’s definitely more swollen than I’m used to. The biggest pimples are almost all gone, though. I dare say my complexion looks almost GOOD for the first time in 10 years. Jesus, I’ve gone from 12 to 22 with fucked up skin. No wonder I’m such an asshole. Oh wait, I’ve always been an asshole lol.

July 15th, 2015

My skin is smoooooooooooth! It’s not peeling anymore and even though it’s still swollen and the pores look way big, I’ve got no new pimples. Not one. Hasn’t even been half a week. I’ll be recommending this stuff to everyone once the treatment is finished and I’m in the wedding pictures looking like a total goddess. You’re so screwed, Carlotta lol.

July 16th, 2015

Nah, nothing. Same ol’ shit.

July 17th, 2015

Face is smooth as a baby’s buttcheeks. Still swollen, still big-ass pores, but not a single zit. Two more days of my skin treatment, five more days until date night with Todd, and eight more days until the wedding. Things are pretty damn good right now.

July 18th, 2015

Tomorrow’s my last day of the acne cream. I started peeling again just a little bit, but everything is still pretty damn smooth. I used the exfoliating beads in the cream to get off the majority of the peeling skin, anyway, and I don’t think anyone but me noticed. That said, my housemate said something about my cheeks being swollen and I told her it was just my acne meds. She nodded and said I might want to stop using it. I just laughed and told her I’d be stopping it tomorrow anyway.

After Olivia mentioned that, though, I’ve become pretty aware of the swelling. I can feel it when I smile and furrow my brow. When I poke my cheeks, they’re still smooth but they feel a little hard underneath, kinda like my ankle did when I sprained it and it swelled up. I’ll write the company tomorrow after I finish with the cream.

July 19th, 2015

Done! Today was boring as fuck ‘cause that’s how I roll but I just finished my last application of the acne medicine. I just looked at the “before” pic I took of myself the day before I started, and it’s RIDICULOUS how much better I look. I was fucking HIDEOUS last week! Omg. Yeah, my face is a lot rounder and stuff right now but it’s clear and smooth and TOTALLY awesome for the wedding AND my date with Todd. This is going to be awesome.

I’m writing an email to the Chinese company about the swelling just to put my mind at ease. I think it might have gotten a tiny bit better overnight but I really can’t tell. Neither could Olivia. I’ll ask some of the people at work later how it looks to them.

July 20th, 2015

Holy shit Todd texted and wanted to see if I could go out with him tonight instead of when we’d planned because something came up. I’ve just spent the last hour showering and shaving every hair below my eyebrows. I have to admit, I’m a little self-conscious about the swelling in my face. When I got out of the shower, I pressed on one of the larger pores near my nose and one of the damn exfoliating beads came out. That made me worry. I’d pushed those beads in pretty hard when trying to get the flaky skin to go away. The last thing I wanted to deal with was an infection. Everything I’d read about those was how bad they are for the environment. They can’t be good if they’re trapped inside your skin.

I’m going to go on our date and maybe tomorrow I’ll go to the walk-in clinic just to get looked at. It really doesn’t hurt much and I pressed on a couple other pores and got more of the beads out. There wasn’t any blood or any gross pus or anything else that would make me think my face was infected, so it’s probably fine. Whatevs. I’m getting dick tonight.

August 13th, 2015

I’m in the hospital. And fuck it, I’m going to write what happened because I missed the wedding and Todd thinks I’m a freak and I’ve got nothing else going for me but this story. And Todd told everyone already. I’m done for.

The first part of our date went so well. Dinner, drinks, then a romp at my place. I was riding him and leaning forward and sucking his tongue when my face started to hurt REAL bad and he opened his eyes and yelled. Then he threw me off him and ran out the door with his clothes in his arms. My skin hurt so bad I could hardly breathe but I got up and ran into the bathroom. I almost died.

My pores had erupted with thin, white worms. And they were still coming out. Each pore released a few cracked exfoliating beads. No, not beads, I realized. Eggs. As each broken egg came out, a thin, pure white worm slithered out behind it. They slid and dangled eight inches out of my face. I screamed as I grabbed a handful of them and pulled. Hard. I felt them stretching out of my pores from deep inside my head. From behind my neck. From my scalp. I reached arm’s length and they were still in me. I dropped what I held in the sink and used both hands to frantically yank the things out.

As I pulled, they curled up in the sink like vermicelli noodles. Finally, after what must have been five feet of length, that group was out. My pores oozed gray and yellow pus that smelled worse than anything I’d ever encountered. It was then I understood what the underlying smell of the acne cream had been. I vomited into the sink as I kept pulling, but more of their bodies poked out of the pores.

I ran out of my bathroom, feeling the things slapping against my neck and naked chest as I scrambled to find my cellphone. I could see them dangling when I reached down for the phone. And they’d started to move. No longer did they just slide out, but they wriggled and thrashed, finally sensing they were in some sort of danger. I screamed over and over and eventually was able to dial 911. Somehow they were able to get my address from the cell phone data and they said an ambulance would be there ASAP.

While I waited, I stood in my kitchen, puking and crying, snipping the things out of my face with a pair of scissors. They squirmed over the linoleum, dripping the same yellow and gray pus that was squirting from each gaping pore. As a crop of worms, a fatter ones than I’d seen so far, started to crawl out from underneath my left eyelid, I knew I was losing my mind. And I did what anyone who loses touch with reality does: I carved underneath the eyelid with the scissors. Immediately, everything in the room blurred and lost some level of dimensional perspective. I shrieked as the pain of the injury exploded through me, but I couldn’t stop.

I snipped down the eyelid, down my cheek, and unzipped the side of my face. I took my fingernails and dragged them under and through the incision, feeling unwound masses of the things buried within the muscle. I pulled and pulled, not feeling any more pain, and I watched the blurry, blood-soaked bodies drop to the kitchen floor with a wet sound.

Some time later, my door was being kicked in and I saw firefighters and EMTs staring at me in abject horror. I said something like, “be careful, there’s worms in my face” before I fell forward and cracked my head on the counter.

Two weeks later, I woke up. I wasn’t allowed to see my face for another few days, either. I could tell I was really messed up but apparently I’d be fine aside from some pretty bad scars and a damaged eye. The doctors had no idea what kind of parasite was in me, but said they’ll be taking the rest of the acne cream to run tests on it. They said that while it was refrigerated, the eggs would have been dormant. They figured once they got into the steamy humidity of my skin, they were able to gestate. And gestate they did.

Once Carlotta learned I’d survive the whole thing, she went and had the wedding anyway. And she had a great time. The wedding pictures were in an email attachment I got after I woke up. She looked amazing. Most gorgeous woman at the place. Before her email, though, was another one. The mail I sent to the Chinese company about my facial swelling had bounced back. No such recipient.

Fuck everything.

Unsettling Stories is on Facebook.

I found a diary while I was out hiking in New Hampshire. I have to admit, I’m thoroughly creeped out by what was written inside.

The diary was from a while ago; 21 years, according to the dates. It was sealed really well in plastic wrap and stuffed in a watertight bag. It I hadn’t hit the thing with my shovel when digging a hole for a latrine, I never would’ve found it. I wish that would’ve been the case because I can’t stop thinking about the stuff I read. I’m only going to share the fucked up parts, but all I’m leaving out is the lady talking about how she and her husband were spending the month camping and having a good time. There, I just saved you 5 pages. Here’s where it got weird:


7/2/1994, 7:00am

Last night, James and I got woken up by a ridiculously bright flash of lightning. There was no thunder, either. James said it must’ve been heat lightning. He’s probably right because it was disgustingly hot and muggy all day and once the sun went down it got even more humid. We eventually got back to sleep and this morning the air seems a little less like a wet sponge. We’re hoping to do 12 miles today.

7/2/1994, 8:00pm

I don’t even want to write this down because it’s so gross. James asked that I do it anyway so we’ll remember to report what we saw once we get to a ranger station. Like I could forget something like this. Anyway, here: all day, while we walked, we saw animals. Deer, birds, raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks, and a black bear. That’s pretty par for the course out here. But when we went off the path for a little bit because, well, James was staring at my ass for the last hour while we walked and I guess he got some ideas, we were stopped by the sight of something awful about a hundred feet off the path. Well, many somethings. Strewn across a wide area that I estimated to be a couple thousand feet were miscarried animals. They were all at different stages of development. It was horrible.

7/3/1994, 2:45am

I’m not able to sleep after the events of yesterday. James, of course, is snoring like a buzzsaw despite the big flashlight lighting the tent up. What the hell could’ve caused something like that to happen? I’ve heard about animals going to find a safe place to die when they’re sick or old, but I’ll be damned if something like what we saw is in any way normal.

That heat lightning just happened again. This time it was three flashes clustered together within a couple seconds. No thunder. Fuck that’s creepy. James is mad that I just kicked him to wake him up and tell him about it. Sorry hon.

7/3/1994, 7:30am

I got to sleep about an hour after the lightning. Thank God we brought some good coffee to brew over the fire. We’re going to do 10 miles, although it might be a little less because the map says we’re getting into a pretty hilly area. Good for the glutes!

7/3/1994, 9:15pm

Pretty good walk today. We’re both going to be sore tomorrow, though. The map does a decent enough job telling us where the hills are going to be, but it’s shitty at indicating how steep they are. On the bright side, and I never thought I’d be at a point in my life where this sentence would make sense, we didn’t see any more fields full of animal fetuses. Whee.

7/4/1994, 6:10am

My dickhead husband smuggled some fireworks in his pack and decided to wake me up by setting them off right outside the tent while screaming, “Happy 4th of July!” Of course he was naked as he did all this and was presenting himself to me through the tent flap while holding a sparkler in each hand. I’ve come to the conclusion that I love his sense of humor between 8am and midnight, and anything from 12:01am until 7:59am makes me want to choke him. Waking up to explosions and his dick and balls is not quite how I envisioned our mornings together. Take away the explosions part, though, and I’m pretty okay with it.

It looks like it’s going to rain today. The clouds are low in the sky and it’s pretty breezy. Gusty, too. The rain gear we bought before we started our hike kept us dry during the storms last week, though, so I’m not too bummed out about it.

7/4/1994, 6:30pm

No rain while we walked. James shot a rabbit an hour ago and he’s about to skin it and get it ready for the fire. He’s making me learn how to do it, too. It’s pretty much the last thing I want to do, but there’s no reason why he should have to be stuck with the job every time we want to eat some cute forest critter. Ugh. Here we go.

7/4/1994, 7:30pm

I just finished throwing up. As soon James started working on the rabbit, we saw how sick it must’ve been while it was alive. Again, I’m only going into detail so we can report it at the ranger station, but for fuck’s sake James, if I have to learn how to skin a rabbit you can learn how to write clear, descriptive sentences. That’s a fight for another day. Under its fur, the rabbit was absolutely covered in what looked like big whitehead zits. They were under a lot of pressure, too, because when James poked one with the tip of the knife it burst and flung grayish white pus like 10 feet and onto the tip of my shoe. Cue me throwing up for a half hour while he apologized and tried not to laugh.

We still have a good amount of beef jerky and stuff in the food pack, so it’s not like we’re going to go hungry, but it would’ve been nice to have something a little different. The rain finally started and we’re stuck in the tent.

And here’s the lightning again. It’s flashing over and over and over. Sometimes it’s a few quick bursts, others it’s just single ones that last upwards of 4 or 5 seconds. It’s those long ones that scare the shit out of me. I’ve never seen lightning like that before. James keeps telling me it’s unusual but not unheard of, especially at this time of the year. It appears to be tapering off a little now, and I’m pretty glad it coincided with rain this time. I guess it really is just plain lightning. James is a pretty reassuring guy. Early bed time.

7/5/1994, 10:10am

I’m freaking out because James is trying hard not to freak out. We’ve been up since 6 and when we opened the tent the ground outside was covered in dead birds, dead bats, and dead bugs. And I mean covered. I guess we didn’t hear them hitting the ground because of the rain that started up again while we slept, but we still have no explanation as to why they’re all fucking dead. That’s not the worst part, though. They’re ALL covered with those zit things like the rabbit.

We’re deciding to cut the trip short and get the fuck out of here. The map says there’s a ranger station about 40 miles to our west, and James said we can get there by tomorrow afternoon if we really move. Both of us are at the point where really moving sounds like a great plan.

7/6/1994, 12:30am

We walked fast and we walked far. The whole way, we saw dead animals. They weren’t as tightly clustered together as they were around our tent, but we still saw a lot. I remember walking under a tree where the ground was littered with dead wasps. When I looked up, there was a huge nest with nothing flying around it. The forest is almost silent, too. No birds. Only insects. And even their sounds are few and far between. I never realized how omnipresent their din was until it was nearly gone.

Fuck. Just a minute ago, the first live deer we’d seen in all day walked into the lit area around our tent. It stared at us for a while on the outskirts of where the light fell, and when it turned around, I saw a dead fawn hanging halfway out of her body. As the deer trotted away, the fawn slid out and hit the ground with a wet thump, still connected to its mother by a tangle of afterbirth that stretched until it, too, slid out a few feet later. Fuck everything. Good luck trying to sleep tonight, Mel.

Okay something just happened while we were sleeping and I am freaking the fuck out and can barely breathe and I don’t know what to do other than write it down to make it make sense. The lightning came and just…stayed. The whole forest was lit up. James and I tried to convince each other it was just the weather. But it stayed lit for a whole minute. Then two. I begged James not to go outside but he unzipped the tent and went out. I panicked and didn’t want to be alone so I followed him and the entire sky, not just one area where lightning might be, was white. Brighter than the sun at noon. It hurt my eyes really bad to look at and James was squinting hard, too. I squeezed my eyes shut to recover a little and when I reopened them, he was gone. I ran around and looked and didn’t see him until I turned back around and he was right there again, staring at the sky. Except, he was…wrong.

He didn’t answer me when I screamed his name. He didn’t even blink. And I could see bumps starting to form on his neck and face. The light was so, so bright. I pushed James to try to get his attention and when I did the area under his shirt where I pushed got soaked with something. Well I know what it was but I couldn’t look. I couldn’t. I can’t. He is still outside and he’s not moving. Just standing and staring at the terribly bright sky. His pupils are gone and all that’s left is the blue and white. He’s different. He’s wrong. His skin is getting worse. And I am fucking terrified.

Little bumps are popping up on my hands while I write this and they’re coming to a head and now one of them just broke open and that’s my blood on the page. I know the wetness I feel on my thighs is blood, too. Blood signifying the end of what I’d been waiting to tell James on our anniversary next week. I keep thinking about the dead fawn sliding out of its mother.

I’m going to wrap this journal up in a bag and run in the direction of the ranger station. I don’t know what else to do. I’ll leave it under a tree or in some safe spot right off the trail so someone can find it if something happens to me on the way. This page is soaked through now. I have to go before I get worse. Before James gets worse. The light is so bright.


And that’s what was in the diary. As soon as I read it and typed out what was inside, I mailed it to the CDC because I have no fucking idea what was wrong with that lady and her husband and I sure as hell don’t want to catch anything. That last page she wrote on was disgusting. I wish I’d been wearing gloves when I touched it. It was encrusted with dried stuff, probably that pus she wrote about, and it smelled awful. I washed up real good and left a note for the CDC guys to be careful with it.

I’m pretty reluctant to go back in those woods again, but I’m just being stupid. I bet the whole thing was a prank by some high school assholes and I’m going to waste the time of some pretty important guys when they get what I mailed over. Still, I’m more than a little creeped out. Everything that lady wrote about is just so far-fetched. But I still wonder. I wonder because I vaguely remember hearing about some massive animal die-off back in that part of the state in the mid 90s. It was probably something else though. It had to be.