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The Unknowable Question: A Short Story


If this journal has made its way into your hands then it is too late for me. What is contained within these pages is meant for the mind of no man, yet I could not keep myself from recording the events which led to my demise. Do not read this book! It is a festering abomination which should not exist among the world of men! If I cannot dissuade you from reading, then you must make two promises to me before continuing further. Firstly, you must not read the last words of this journal! They will sear knowledge into the very depths of your mind that cannot be unlearned! Secondly, you must burn this journal immediately after you have finished its contents. If you can agree to these terms then you may be allowed to read further, but I still must advise that you stop now! You have been warned.


December 7th, 2017

I was sitting at home enjoying a cup of black tea when my friend Theodore called me on the phone.

“Are you seeing this?”

“No? What is it?”

Theodore sounded shaken, like he had just witnessed something terrible happen. I could tell he was fighting back tears on the other end of the line.

“Just turn on the TV. I cannot believe what I am seeing right now. Channel 56. Please hurry!”

“I’m moving as fast as I can, I assure you!”

Taking the phone with me to the living room I hastily grabbed the TV remote and pressed the power button. I flipped through the channels as rapidly as I could. 53, 54, 55, 56, 57…darn, I had gone too far. Rolling back a channel the screen was flooded with a scene of utter chaos. At what appeared to be an awards ceremony everyone was screaming and running in panic. The stage was ablaze with fire, smoke rapidly filling up the building. The attendees were climbing over each other trying to get out as fast as possible. Firefighters were just beginning to enter the building as my friend began to audibly cry on the phone.

“Dear God…?” I said quietly into the phone. There was a long pause before my acquaintance finally spoke again.

“What kind of disgusting individual could do something like that? I can’t discuss this anymore. Just thinking about it is making me sick.”

“Please just speak to me. What caused all of this?”

“I cannot speak of it, I simply cannot. You must understand! It is not something that should be said…” I heard him begin to retch violently before abruptly hanging up the phone.

“I cannot speak of it, I simply cannot. You must understand! It is not something that should be said…”

It remained unclear to me what had caused the disaster on-screen and my curiosity would not be left unsatisfied. I turned the channel to the local nightly news. Surely they would give me a through explanation of what had occurred. The screen showed a burning building in the middle of Los Angeles. In front of it stood a professional looking woman holding a microphone.

“Hello viewers! Tonight we find ourselves at the scene of a terrible disaster! During the Video Game Awards held in downtown Los Angeles this evening, chaos broke out amongst the crowd as the presenters were handing out the Best Indie Game Award. As of right now details are scarce on what caused this incident, but rest assured that we will bring you those details as soon as they are made…one moment…I’m being told we have a witness on hand who can tell us more about what happened.”

The reporter made a beckoning motion to someone off screen. A woman wearing what must have once been a beautiful dress appeared on screen. Her attire was now covered in soot and ash from the roaring fire that continued to engulf the building behind her. She stared directly at the ground.

“What a relief,” I said aloud, “we are finally going to find out what started this whole thing. My curiosity will be sated.” I didn’t watch the awards, nor was I interested in what had been announced there, but when my curiosity is piqued I am like a man possessed. Besides, Theodore sounded distraught earlier and he wasn’t one to be easily shaken. I had to know what it was that had perturbed him so. The reporter turned to the witness.

“Could you tell us your name, ma’am?”

The witness was unresponsive. She continued to stare at the ground, occasionally twitching all over her body. Something clearly wasn’t right. I leaned in closer to the TV screen. Something was coming out of her ears. It…was blood. Letting out a gasp, I violently pulled back from my TV, landing hard on my couch cushions. The reporter seemed to think that maybe she had somehow offended the witness with her previous question.

“I don’t mean to be rude ma’am, but is it possible you could tell us what happened here tonight?” She put the microphone directly under the woman’s mouth.

There was the sound of heavy breathing and wheezing. This wasn’t surprising in the least. She had just come out of a smoky ballroom after all. But then she started to babble. It was almost inaudible, but I could tell she was making a noise besides breathing and coughing. I pressed the volume button on my remote a few times. Yes, she was clearly saying something, but it was still too quiet to hear. I held the volume button down on my remote until the TV’s volume reached maximum. Finally, I could understand what she was mumbling:

“He knows what can never be known, he hears what can never be heard, he has said what can never be said, this cannot be reality, this cannot be reality, this cannot be reality…”

She continued to this that over and over again. “This cannot be reality.” I pondered over the words. Surely whatever she had seen had to be reality. Bearing witness to the unreal is not an activity a mortal can participate in. Everything around us is real without exception. If a ghost were to appear in front of you right now you would be forced to acknowledge its existence. You cannot simply say that what is there is not there. If you still deny that ghost’s existence, it does not change that it is real, only your perception of it. And besides, even if something like, say a unicorn, is not real the concept still remains. A unicorn can still appear in a work of literature or a piece of cinema and be recognized as a unicorn. Therefore, in a way it remains “real”. The concept of unreality was a silly one.

"If a ghost were to appear in front of you right now you would be forced to acknowledge its existence. You cannot simply say that what is there is not there."

These were the thoughts which reached me at that time. I could not have known then how truely wrong I was.

I was so deep in thought that I hardly noticed the woman’s voice growing louder. With every passing second, her mad mantra grew stronger and spoken with more conviction.

“This cannot be reality, this cannot be reality, this cannot be reality…”

By this point the reporter had grown deeply concerned by the strange behavior of her guest. With a quizzical look on her face she asked, “Ma’am…ma’am, are you alright?”

At these words the witness quickly lifted her face to the camera. The look she wore could only be described as a mix of fear, anger and profound sadness. She walked towards the camera, unblinking, still continuing the endless recitation of her spell. Off-screen the camera man gave out a cry as the woman lunged at the camera. She let out an ear shattering cry of madness which blasted out of my TV set. I had forgotten to lower the volume. Wincing in pain, I covered one of my ears and reached for the remote with the other. After a panicked search I found the mute button and suddenly everything was quiet. The screen had gone to black. When the news finally returned there were two reporters sitting at a desk, attempting to explain away what had just happened only a few moments earlier. The rest of the news that night said nothing of what had caused the incident in the first place. My curiosity would have to go unsatisfied for the night. I washed up, ate a late night snack of toast and strawberry jam with another cup of tea to calm my nerves, and went to bed.


December 21st, 2017

I have spent countless days looking for information on what happened at that awards show. Time after time I have been met with nothing but dead ends. Everyone who had been witness to the ceremony was entirely unwilling to speak about what had occurred that night. I tracked down a list of attendees and tried to interview any I could find. Despite my best efforts, none would say a word to me. All who had seen what caused the commotion were in a similar state to that mad woman who I had seen on the TV. Even my friend Theodore was not spared the effects of the phenomenon. He had gouged out both his ear drums and locked himself away in his house, refusing to leave for any reason. 

I have quit my job and spent much of my savings on tracking down the witnesses of the Video Game Awards and learning of what happened that night. It is hard to explain, but I feel compelled by an unknown force to pursue this knowledge at any cost. It is no longer just my insatiable curiosity. NO! It is something far more sinister than that. It is an evil force which now keeps me in pursuit of the truth.

Dear reader, I must tell you of a dream I have had every night since that terrible incident:

I stand in front of a burning building, the mad shrieks of that woman on the TV filling my ears. She appears before me, her twisted expression chilling me to the bone. I am overcome by a sense of powerful dread and agony. Clutching my ears with both hands, I discover they are bleeding profusely. The blood flows strongly, growing thicker and thicker until it is like that of a sludge or gelatin, pooling on the ground around me. I vomit. It too mixes with my gelatinous blood, turning it a light brown. Now dark brown. Now black as night. I stare down at it mesmerized by its color. How can something so dark exist? I can almost feel myself sinking into it. I want to blink, to look away, but I cannot. It has its hold on me.

"I stand in front of a burning building, the mad shrieks of that woman on the TV filling my ears."

A news reporter next to me asks, “Could you tell us your name, ma’am?”

I begin to mumble to myself.

“This cannot be reality, this cannot be reality, this cannot be reality…”

Suddenly a face appears from that dark pit below me. It is scarred and ugly, like the face of Satan himself. No, not Satan. This being would laugh in the face of Satan, as it laughs at me now. It gives a mocking smile, revealing its long black fangs that stick like jagged knives out of the midnight sludge. When it finally speaks, the words come not from its mouth but from the very back of my mind. It says:




Now you understand why I have grown so desperate in my search for the truth of that night. Only the truth can deliver me from these hellish visions that claw at my mind unceasingly! Only the truth can drive back the blackened beast that dwells at the bottom of that pool! But soon I will sleep soundly once again. I have finally found the whereabouts of the very man who was asked the question which started the chaos that night, a question which I have now come to call the, "Unknowable Question.” It seems he has been moved to a mental ward on the other side of the city. I will pay him a visit and demand he tell me the Unknowable Question and his answer thereto! Ah, to be delivered from these nightmarish apparitions at last! You would not believe the joy that comes to my heart at the mere thought of it.


December 22nd, 2017

The air was frigid and biting, piercing through my thin winter jacket as I approached the mental ward of the hospital. Of course, it had to be on the side farthest from the bus stop that dropped me here. Cursing my luck, I made my way into the building and to the reception desk.

“I am here to see a Mr. [The words are scratched out]. I believe he was admitted here a few weeks ago.”

The receptionist did not even bother to look up at me as she typed away at her computer. I was about to ask if she had heard me when suddenly she said in a monotone voice, “3rd floor, second to last room on the left.”

I thanked her and made my way up the stairs to his room. Approaching the door I thought I could hear the sound of mutterings from inside. Yes, it was those cursed words! “This cannot be reality!” I broke into a cold sweat. I felt as though I was suffocating on the words themselves. How I wished to never hear those god forsaken words again! Without even thinking to knock I burst into the room.

The man who spoke these words turned to see me. His face was twisted into an ugly smile as he lie tied to his bed, the mantra being whispered slowly from his mouth: “This…cannot…be…reality…”

Upon approaching him his eyes darted towards me. In that moment some level of sanity appeared to reach him once more.

“Why have you come here?! Get out! GET OUT!” He bucked and turned in the bed, knocking himself to the floor. His yells echoed through the empty hallways, disturbing the other denizens of the ward. I could hear their haunting moans enter the room. I did not want to create a scene and risk being removed from the building before learning the Unknowable Question. I attempted to calm him.

"His yells echoed through the empty hallways, disturbing the other denizens of the ward. I could hear their haunting moans enter the room."

“Sir, please! I know you recieved the award for Best Indie Game at the Video Game Awards 3 weeks ago. You have to tell me what you said as you accepted it!”

At these words he stopped his wild motions and was suddenly calm. He lifted his head to see me. His eyes were wide and bloodshot.

“Then the visions have reached you too. You know what it is I said. It has told you.”

What could he mean? Who had told me? Then I remembered the words of that damnable demon that had appeared endlessly in my dreams.

“Never,” I whispered.

“Yes. Never. NEVER!” The man once again pulled against the restraints that bound him to his bed. “It was an honest answer, but it was the wrong answer to THAT question! No one should answer in that way to such a question!” He let out a terrible laugh of insanity. “Now I have been cursed with knowledge no man should ever know!”

“What was the question that made you and so many others this way? What evil has done this to you? I must know! The visions, they haunt me every night. Just today I thought I saw that creature across the street from me! He has begun to appear even during the day! You must tell me the Unknowable Question!” I put his bed upright once more and grabbed him by his collar.

“YOU CANNOT KNOW!” the man cried. “By knowing the answer I gave that night you know too much already! You have been given the key to a vile secret and I will not give you the lock which keeps it bound! I can already feel my sanity slipping more and more each day! I will not curse another with the same fate! I will stay here until they let me die! Oh, how I wish they would let me die!”

I could not stand the thought of never knowing the Unknowable Question. I stalked across the room, back and forth, back and forth. I clawed at my face until the skin begin to peel. I knocked my head against the wall countless times. He had to tell me! I had to know! Reaching into my coat I found the pocket knife which I have kept on me at all times and held it to the man’s throat.

“If you will tell me the Unknowable Question I will deliver you from this pain! I will take your place as the bearer of your secrets and grant you the mercy of death! TELL ME THE QUESTION!”

The man smiled at me and nodded. “You are a fool. The greatest fool of them all! But you make an offer I cannot refuse. My mind longs to be free of these chains which bind it. Please, end my suffering. I will tell you the question. I will…I will.”

I stared at the knife I held to the man’s throat. My hands trembled at the thought of murdering this pitiful man. But it was the only way to learn this his secret! Looking up at the man again I was greeted not by his face, but by the face of that jagged toothed demon from the dark abyss. It said, “The question


[The rest of this page and others have been torn out. You turn to the last entry. It is undated.]


How long has it been since I killed that man and was admitted to the very same mental ward? I have lost track of time and fade in and out of sanity on a moment’s notice. I do not even recognize my own face in the mirror. I know it is not long before I am completely overcome by the knowledge of the Unknowable Question. The hopsital staff will have me bound to my bed much like my victim was. Upon hearing that scarred being tell me the man’s secret, I took the pocket knife and gouged out my ear drums. I wanted to unhear the words that devil spoke, but I could not. Now in this unending silence all I hear is the echoing of those words in the back of my head.

"I have lost track of time and fade in and out of sanity on a moment’s notice. I do not even recognize my own face in the mirror."

I do not desire for anyone else to know the Unknowable Question, but it demands to be known! It whispers to me, “Tell everyone. Tell everyone the knowledge you have come to know!” I CANNOT! I will not tell another soul that accursed question! Those words will never leave my lips. And yet I cannot fight its desire to be set free. So I will write it here, in this journal. I beg of you to close this book now! You too will be cursed with the knowledge none should know! I can only hope whoever has read this record of my suffering will heed my words by reading no further and burning this terrible book.

I cannot stop my hands! They write on their own! LOOK AWAY! THE UNKNOWABLE QUESTION IS:



Switch port when?



- What are you doing sitting around reading books? Go outside and play a video game!

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About D-Voltone of us since 10:51 PM on 06.28.2012

I live in Hokkaido. This may possibly be the only interesting thing about me.