~Lunar Falls~

~Preface~

So you found my notebook. I hope finding a leather journal shoved into a glass bottle was at least a unique experience. Perhaps it washed up on a nearby beach or perhaps it was caught in a fishing net. Regardless, it is now in your possession. Life is so unbelievably boring at times it simply needs a moment of uniqueness to offset the grind.

You don’t know me… I assume at least as the chances of that are astronomically high. Regardless, I will introduce myself. My name is Jason Orion Grace. My parents were rather obsessed with Astronomy, hence the name. I am 21 years old at the time of this writing and fresh out of college. I graduated high school at 17 and almost immediately enrolled in college, earning my bachelor’s degree in Journalism.

My dream is to one day gain employment at a mainstream news source but for now, I decided to take the council of my professor and stick to the newspaper business in order to gain traction. Boring, I know but the collection of stories to follow is not about my personal life goals but rather why I will never leave the town of Lunar Falls.

I am prepared for the sheer amount of skepticism that surrounds the tales, some personal experiences and some accounts of others, you will find in this journal. To be quite honest, I could not care less. The experiences I detail are all painfully real to me as are the scars I received for my findings.
You can speculate as to the reasons and causes behind the events that occurred, however, I have found it best to simply accept them for what they are, the downside of living in a beautiful small town.

Please excuse any literary liberties I may take when it comes to descriptions and the general tone of the following stories. I am a journalist after all and the art of spicing up literary pieces is my job description.

I am not at liberty to publish my findings and simply wanted to get rid of the leather journal you now hold once it was completely filled. Do what you wish with the journal and if nothing else, perhaps come to Lunar Falls and visit me.
We would love to meet you.

With Regards,
Jason Grace


They sent me a single piece of paper. I held the thin folded piece of white office paper in my hands as I contemplated my life choices that had led me to this single scrap of paper. I had been waiting for about a week to receive the introductory packet. It made much more sense for them to simply email it but no, they insisted on mailing the small packet of information. Perhaps it was a tradition with this particular newspaper or with newspaper publishers in general. This was my first job for a publisher of any kind after all and what did I know about application courtesy? Whatever the case, “packet” was not the proper word to describe what I held.

I turned the paper over in my hands, unsure of whether to open it or just throw it in the trash. It had been almost two weeks since I had applied for a Journalist position at The Daily Redact, a small newspaper in the town of Lunar Falls. A buddy of mine, Connor, had moved there a few months back to help out his family and had been begging me to leave my tiny apartment and my two roommates who I all but tolerated and move into his tiny apartment with him and his red bull fueled personality. I knew it was simply so I would have to pay half the rent but hey, what are friends for?

I had been looking for a job at a local newspaper and, after learning that the local paper in Lunar Falls was in need of journalists, I immediately applied. It took several days to receive a reply through the mail which was an odd way of responding. It simply stated that my application was being reviewed and I would contact soon with the verdict. And here it was. A single sheet of off-white printer paper.

I sighed and unfolded the sheet of paper. Times New Roman font. How nice. After grumbling a great deal under my breath, I finally grit my teeth and began to read.

To Whomever Applicable,

Thank you for your application. It has been reviewed and approved, resulting in a scheduled interview to further determine your abilities and temperament.
Your interview will occur on September 8th at 2:00 PM. Below is a list of guidelines to ensure your arrival is on time and your safety is not compromised. Your safety is our primary concern so please follow the guidelines to the very best of your ability.


1. Although your appointment begins at 2:00 PM, please arrive by 1:40 PM. This will give you optimal time and ensure you are not late. Life is unpredictable, however, we are here to plan for such things.

2. Please obtain and wear a three-piece suit to the interview. The colors must be dull and on the ends of the spectrum (black or gray). Your shirt must be white and your tie black or gray. It must be well-fitting, the sleeves covering your wrists but not extending over your palms. The pants must not be baggy but still cover the ankles. It is imperative that you must wear the color yellow in some shape or form (lapel pin, flower, etc). Please ensure that the yellow object does not fully cover any more than 2 inches of your suit. This is very important, especially when outdoors in the area surrounding our office. Please ensure your yellow object is well within sight when approaching our office. Failure to comply will result in automatic dismissal of your application and, in many unfortunate cases, personal injury.

3. Please obtain a three-pronged notebook as well as a black ink ballpoint pen. It is required that you keep these objects in your hands at all times when walking to and from your car. Failure to comply will result in automatic dismissal and possible arrest.

4. When parking your car, please park in the parking space outlined in red. Do not park in any other spaces, no matter what your vehicle may tell you. Failure to comply will result in automatic dismissal.

5. Once you have entered the building, be sure to deposit your notebook and pen in the bin by the door.

6. When in the interviewer’s presence, greet them with a smile and a firm handshake. Please state your full name. This is a must. Please do not leave out any of your name as this will be grounds for automatic dismissal.

7. Once introductions are complete, take the chair to the left of the interviewer. In the unlikely event of 2 interviewers, they will be none too happy at seeing their chair occupied.

8. In the event of two interviewers, it is imperative that you wait 3 minutes once they have made their entrance before greeting them or speaking to them in any way. It is imperative that you make eye contact with the first interviewer when addressing them, however, avoid making eye contact with your second interviewer at all cost. Failure to comply will result in personal impairment.

9. Follow any and all instructions your interviewer may provide to the best of your ability. Ensure that any and all instructions provided by your second interviewer are condoned by your primary interviewer before complying. Failure to do so may result in personal harm.

10. This is especially important both to your safety as well as the safety of the Daily Redact. Throughout your time here at the Redact, do not under any circumstances give anyone permission to enter the building or the grounds. Should someone approach the door, hold it open for them. If they do not enter but instead attempt to obtain permission to enter, refuse it. Do not communicate with them at any cost and alert the receptionist immediately. And no, there is no elderly gentleman by the name Ridere Mortem employed at the Daily Redact. We suggest that you brush up on your Latin as even the smallest grasp on the language would provide a certain common sense.

We are not responsible for any consequences that may result from a disregard of the above mentioned guidelines.
We look forward to further considering you for the position and wish you the best.

~The Daily Redact

I stared at the paper in my hands for what felt like hours. The hair stood up on the back of my neck as the overwhelming urge to look behind me pricked its way up my spine. I resisted… for a moment before casting a sheepish glance around the empty room. Laying the paper down I leaned back in my chair, a shiver encompassing me despite my oversized hoodie.

A prank? A practical joke? I turned the paper over in my hands, finding no other writing or clue as to the origin of the strange list. “Most likely some sort of test,” I spoke aloud, the sound of my voice in the quiet room easing the tension. Yes, that made sense. A test designed to reveal just how well I would follow instructions, just how reliable I was. Laying the paper to the side I stood to close the blinds now bothered me for one reason or another. It was quite an elaborate test to be sure. Whoever had written the list had quite an imagination and it was clear they had done research.
I, ever the overachiever, had been one of the few students to take Latin back in high school. That, along with my philosophy obsessed study of the ancient language in college, had left a clear imprint of the language and its translations on my mind. “Ridere Mortem,” the gentleman mentioned in rule #10, the name fascinated me, and yet with it came an unmistakable sense of dread that tugged at the back of my subconscious. Perhaps I was mistaken, though a quick google search proved I was not. I stared at the translation on my screen, the sense of dread growing. The gentleman’s name was quite literally “Smiling Death.”
I shivered once more, pulling my hoodie a little tighter around me. I was looking forward to this interview.

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By the end of the week, I knew the single piece of paper and every word, line, and phrase by heart. The very next day after receiving the letter from the Daily Redact, I began preparations for the coming interview. A quick jaunt to the store and I had procured a single leather three-pronged notebook, a black ink ballpoint pen, and a yellow carnation.
I slipped the plastic bag onto my arm as I popped open the plastic container, studying the artificial flower with mild annoyance. I would have to do some modifications to ensure the bright pedals fell within the required length.

Tuesday I was forced to put preparations on pause as I managed to wrap up the last of some brief editing work for a small local paper. It was a rather bland job but it did pay the bills… sort of.
The next morning found me bright and early, staring at my 6’ thin figure in the large mirror that occupied the back wall of the Men’s Warehouse. Buttoning the two black buttons on the slim gray suit coat that hung snugly around my waist, I scrutinized the matching gray suit pants that fit securely yet still hid my ankles.
“Y’know,” the smooth voice of the middle-aged salesman that casually leaned against a rack of suits startled me slightly, “the proper etiquette when it comes to suit coats is to only button the top button. The bottom button should only be buttoned when attending a funeral.” His tone carried a pride that came from far more knowledge on suit etiquette than any normal human being should possess. “Then again,” he continued after a brief hesitancy, “you might be going to a funeral.”
My fingers worked quickly as I unbuttoned the lower button and glanced in his direction. “No sir. I have an interview actually.” Staring into the brown eyes of my reflection, I mentally kicked myself.
“Oh? Well… I do hope the suit is up to your satisfaction.”
“Yes sir,” my eyes wandered down to the sleeves of the coat, mentally measuring them, “I believe so.”
“In that case,” the salesman straightened with a grunt, “I’ll get your bill ready.”
My head nodded up and down, my eyes still studying my reflection thoughtfully. From my black ankle socks to my dark brown wavy hair, I was entirely and completely bland. I was significantly thin, my chest and arms toned and filled out due to adulthood but most certainly not muscular. My shoulders were broader than average, a blessing I can only attribute to genetics.
Other than a decent jawline and the lack of common blemishes, I was most certainly not good looking. My lips were thin and average, my nose smaller than most and a tad turned up at the end which always had irritated me. My eyes and hair, both the color of mud, served as the perfect addition to an overall bland appearance.
It mattered little to me, however. I had been raised to value intelligence over appearance. My father, a biochemical engineer and professor at the local state college, kept a well-stocked library and seasoned knowledge of many subjects ranging from mathematical theory to ethics and religion. My mother was away a large portion of the year on business at least from what I gathered. At a young age, I was taught that knowledge was power and power was hard to obtain. I was given a decent education and, often home alone, I devoured the bank of information that was my father’s library.
Such raising left me with a hunger for knowledge and the necessary drive to find it. Perhaps that drive is what led me to pursue Journalism. A top tier newsman was a comfortable job, though money had not been first on my list.
Whatever the case, a small-town job in a small-town newspaper with a small-town editor would get me nowhere fast I thought as I hung my brand new, fresh-pressed suit on the small bent closet rod that sat in the corner of the room looking pitiful as it sagged under the weight of the many articles of clothing draped across the thin metal rod. I had given up trying to keep our room tidy the night Thomas dumped a full liter of soda onto the carpet just to spite my efforts to keep an organized living space.

A quick text to Aiden and I rolled over in the darkness, closer to the open window and in view of the large pale moon that hung high in the ebony sky. The street lights made it practically impossible to see any stars, something I had missed considerably. I was looking forward to a small-town life and the change such a place brought. I closed my eyes and drifted off as a phrase my father used to say seemed to echo in my mind. “Change is just a different view of reality.”

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