The Boy, 1936

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He stood in silence and watched from the yard.

I didn’t like how young the boy was. Nor did I like the fact that the yard around him was empty, as were the trees and the bushes.

Other than the boy, there was nothing alive that I could see or hear.

When I came abreast of him in the road, he stepped up to a gate that had been made from an old wagon wheel, and he observed me with caution.

“Afternoon,” I said.

The boy nodded.

“Are your Ma and Pa home?”

He shook his head.

“Where are they?”

The boy pointed up in the air.

“Heaven?”

He nodded again.

“Who do you live with?”

He hesitated, then spoke a single word. “Grandfather.”

“Is he here?”

The boy nodded, then motioned for me to follow.

He led me around the barn to an old well, the cover of which had been shoved off to one side. As we drew closer to it, I smelled burnt flesh and sickness. There was a rope tied ‘round an old tree stump, and the rope dropped down into the well.

I followed the boy up to the well and came to a stop beside him.

“In there?” I asked.

The boy nodded.

He and I peered down into the well together.

The well must have gone dry a few years earlier, for there was a damp odor that accompanied the stench of burnt flesh. The dampness hadn’t been enough to save the boy’s grandfather, though.

I could see a charred skeleton at the bottom of the well, and there was little left of the clothing except the buckles from a pair of braces and a folding knife.

The rope which hung over the side had been cut a foot or so below the lip of the well.

“Did he cut the rope?”

The boy nodded.

“When?”

The boy frowned. “Last night.”

I didn’t know who the old man was, but I admired him. He knew what he was becoming, and so he trapped himself in the sun.

“Are you hungry?”

The boy nodded.

“Do you want to go into town with me and get some food?”

“Yes.”

I offered the boy my hand, and he took hold of it, and together we walked toward town.

#fear #horrorstories #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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