Some People in Gas Masks have been Standing Outside of a Building in a Dead Cornfield

By Chef Mr_Outlaw_


We’d been driving around Texas for a while. Clayton, Tom and I had recently graduated, so we had no destination. We were just there to dick around and create some memories until we had to snap back to real life.

At one point, Tom had gotten into a heated bar-fight at some dingy joint in Bexar County. The police were called. Although he hadn’t gotten any charges, the cops pretty much warned us that we weren’t welcome back in the area. Fair enough. We decided to tone it down a bit. That’s when we started planning some shit that wouldn’t get us potentially stabbed and/or arrested. We all settled on the paranormal. That stuff was just so interesting, you know? I guess it really preys on that esoteric fear of the unknown that the human psyche implicitly holds, stimulating some kind of fucked-up rush to the brain. Anyways, we were in the market for some spooky shit.  Continue reading “Some People in Gas Masks have been Standing Outside of a Building in a Dead Cornfield”

Midnight Dancer

By Chef Mr.Baubas


Have you ever had one of those feelings that something was wrong? I don’t mean during the day either, but at night. I mean that sudden unprovoked feeling of dread that commands you to wake. Funny, it’s almost like nocturnal evil gives something off that your sleeping brain picks up on. I had one of those recently. It forced me up at 3 a.m. Normally when you have that feeling you’d lay still feigning sleep, or if you’re feeling adventurous you’d take a quick check around the house. After you failed to discover anything you’d inevitably crawl back to sleep. I should have done that this time.

I should have stayed asleep.

That night I sat straight up. For the longest time I sat there staring into the dark of my house before I even realized that I was awake. Then came the fear, that slow strangling feeling that constricts your chest and worms its way down your throat. I was alone in my home wide eyed and afraid with no explanation. I couldn’t hear the tell-tale signs of a break in downstairs, or the phantom sounds of a leaking pipe. I had no reason to be freaked out, but I was.

Without much thought I got up and walked over to the window. I don’t know why I did. I peeled back just enough of the curtain to poke my head through and I stared out into my moonlit backyard.

I should have stayed asleep.

Outside prancing around my garden was a clown. It had ruffles around its sleeves and collar, baggy pants and floppy shoes. Its painted white face was even topped off with a big red rubber nose. It was without a doubt the last thing I wanted to see at three in the morning.

It danced in complete silence doing a step that only a madman or a child could understand. Its playful manner was haunting. I watched with dread fascination as it circled the garden trying my best to ignore the growing lump in my throat. It moved around pausing occasionally to play with my gardening tools or sniff the budding plants. Then it waltzed over to an oak sapling I had planted and disappeared. I blinked. This wasn’t possible. It walked behind the thin infant plant but didn’t come out the other side. I should have seen it the entire time but I didn’t. It was like the clown had walked through a door hidden by the sapling.

I should have stayed asleep.

I hoped that everything was some sort of waking dream. Pretending nothing happened was easier than the truth. The clown came back though. Night after night I watched as it danced around my backyard, and at the end of every night it would vanish the same way. One night it disappeared behind a garden hoe only for it to appear seconds later from behind the lawnmower.

Tonight I found it digging a hole in the middle of the yard. I’ve never seen it do something like this before and my immediate thought is that the clown is digging my grave. The hole got deeper and deeper as the clown dug until the top of the hole reached its head. Once finished, it stood at the edge of the hole motionless when out of nowhere it jerked its head around. My heart pounded so hard that I could taste the copper in my mouth. I’m about the tear away from the curtain when I see it bend down and pluck a flower. The clown put the stem between its teeth and planted the shovel firm in the ground before stretching out pretend suspenders and admiring its work like a farmer. My heart was still racing at this point but I was just glad that it didn’t see me.
As if the thing read my mind it turned on its heel and stared right at me. I never thought I’d actually pray for a heart attack. It spit out the flower and ran toward me its feet flopping to the sides. It stopped a few feet from the house grinning at me with filthy orange teeth as it pointed to the hole and waved me over excitedly like a child showing off a finger painting. Frozen in place the only thing I could do was furiously shake my head no.

The clown’s smile fell and it scratched its head as if confused. Then it walked over to the hole and pointed at it again. I would have told it to fuck off if I could. It stood there for a moment before animatedly acting out its “aha!” moment. It then waltzed over to the planted shovel and disappeared behind it. I stared wide eyed hoping it would reappear in the yard like before. I silently prayed for this until the moment I heard my closet creak open.

I should have stayed asleep.

Mr Moogy was Imaginary. He Had to Be.

 By Chef Ryedenanne

My daughter started talking about Mr Moogy on her 4th birthday. My brother and I lived across the street from one another and we held the party at his house since he could afford a pool and I couldn’t.

That day, the shift was indicated by a small tug on the skirt. I turned to see the beautiful hazel eyes of Melissa, my daughter, staring up at me. “Mommy, Mr. Moogy wants to come home with us.” I knelt down to get to her level. “Who’s that, baby?” She looked around, as if searching for someone. “He’s my new friend! I don’t see him, though. He must have gone to grab his coat.” I realized then that my little baby had her first imaginary friend. I nodded enthusiastically “Of course he can. Mr. Moogy is more than welcome in our home whenever he wants.” Continue reading “Mr Moogy was Imaginary. He Had to Be.”

Mr. No-Good

By Chef Bpaige

I had been living alone for over a year. The divorce was a difficult one but, since the scumbag ran off with another woman, at least I got the house. It was a modest ranch home with a lot of acreage, though surrounded by woods and the grounds were in serious need of repair. I had always wanted one of those husbands that cherished their home, mowed the lawn and liked to fix things. Unfortunately, he became more of a lazy bum that was more interested in the bottle. I could not really afford to hire anyone to fix up the place, so it just slowly started looking worse and worse for wear.

After the divorce I tried to fix things up myself. I weeded and worked my petite butt off to make a nice garden right in front of my big front bay window. It still did not look great; the beauty of the bright flowers was surrounded by rotted wood and unkempt landscape. At least I tried, and I was proud of my little garden. I tended to it every day. If I could not make the whole place beautiful, at least I had my one little spot that I could focus on, and block out all the muck that surrounded me (both literally and symbolically I guess).

It was only about a month or so after creating my wonderful “masterpiece” that I arrived home from the grocery store to trampled flowers. I dropped my bags filled with fruit and frozen items, and ran over to the sad looking little garden. “That no-good, worthless, nasty man must have done this!” I thought. He was probably trying to peek into my windows to spy on me! “No…” I then retracted “it was probably just some animals or something”.

The next day I went to the market and got myself a little border fence for my garden, only about a foot high. I placed it around the garden in front of my bay window, tended to the wilted plants that could be salvaged, and started it anew. There were no critters (human or animal) that could keep me from having this one nice thing!

Unfortunately, as time went on, every week or so I would or wake up to trampled flowers. Whatever was getting over that fence had to be pretty large…like a dog or…a 180 pound man. I would fix my garden every time this happened, but I was becoming more and more suspicious of my ex-husband. What could he possibly want though? He had moved on and moved in with his new tramp almost immediately, so why would he care what I was up to?

Then, one morning, I saw it. I walked out to get my mail and the flowers were trampled again, only this time I could see a boot print in the soil. I just knew it was that no-good, so-called man! He must be going through the garden at night to peer at me through the windows!

After seeing the boot print, I was so mad, I called him up and started to yell at him and demanded my privacy. Of course he claimed he did not know what I was talking about, but eventually he agreed to give me the privacy and to never come around again. Being the no-good man that he is, I didn’t completely believe him, so I got myself ready and went to the store immediately after hanging up the phone. I got myself some big curtains to that big bay window. Now, even if he came by again, he would not be able to see me.

A few days later when I saw the trampled flowers (even though I had to dig them all up and replace them this time since they were completely destroyed), I had to laugh because I knew he made the trip in vain and he could not see me this time! It looked like he had a fit too, because I had never seen the area so destroyed! I did not care this time though, because I had won! He thought he was being sneaky, but I found him out and foiled his plan…whatever that plan was. I then went back to the store and bought myself new flowers for my garden.

Everything was good for about a month or so. I saw no evidence of Mr. no-good spying on me. There was one thing though….

Every night, before bed, I made SURE to close those curtains. Then, upon waking, I would sometimes find them open. I could only imagine that I had forgotten to close them the night before, with all the stress I have been under of course, but I could have SWORN I had always closed them. I shook it off though, and blamed it on simple forgetfulness.

Then, one morning, I woke up and opened my bedroom door to find the hallway rug covered in dirt. I followed the trail of dirt to my front door. I couldn’t believe it! That no-good man must have made a spare key before handing his over to me. At this point I was both furious and a bit frightened. Why is he so determined to spy on me? What could he possibly want? It must be the house! He isn’t happy in the trailer with his little tramp, and he is trying to find a way to get me out! At that point I decided I would change the locks, and if I ever sense, even in the slightest, that he is still spying on me, I will call the police.

I changed the locks that very day, and felt content that Mr. No-Good’s spying days were finally over. Before bed I made SURE to close the curtains and lock all the windows and doors. The next morning, I awoke to nothing unusual. I opened the curtains and could see my beautiful flowers untouched and there was nothing in the house to indicate an unwanted visitor. If he had come by, he obviously realized what happened and went home!

I began my day as usual, and then went out to tend to my garden. From afar everything looked wonderful. As I knelt down to begin my work I noticed something unusual, it was a dead field mouse laying in the dirt. “Yuck” I thought and went to pick it up to dispose of it out in the woods that began a few yards from my house. As I went to toss the tiny carcass into the dark patch of trees, I noticed what looked like red paint on a few of the trees near where Mr. No-good had built his cheapo, and now run-down storage shed. Upon closer inspection, I saw some animal carcasses, like raccoons and possums, even something that looked like a deer.

My heart dropped into my stomach at this point. No coyote was making a meal here, it was definitely a person. Someone was living in that storage shed. My mind was racing as I ran back into the house. Was this who was watching me all this time? Who was coming into my home?

As I ran into my house and slammed the door behind me, the thought hit me. “Oh my God, he has been in my house” I said out loud. He could be in here right now. I knew at this point I had to make a decision to run outside to my car, or run to the phone that was in my bedroom and call the police. I did not feel safe inside my house, but I did not feel safe out there either. I decided to run to the car and get away. I would then find the nearest person or payphone to call the police.

I opened the door a crack and looked out, it looked so peaceful, but I knew he was out there (or in here somewhere). Then I made a run for my car, which was about 25 feet from the house. I opened the car door, jumped in and slammed the door shut only to realize “You idiot, you don’t have your keys!”

That was when I saw him. I could see him in my rear-view mirror as he rose from the back seat and smiled at me. I screamed and he grabbed me, telling me that I had to be quiet, that no one could hear my screams anyway. He pulled me in the back seat, I could see the knife in a pocket holster and I reached for it. He got to it before I did, held it out, and told me that he just wanted to talk. He would never hurt me because he loved me. With no real choice, I listened to him, and I agreed with everything he said…. to humor him of course. I did not want to make him mad.

Now, I am living in a huge, beautiful home in a gated community in the suburbs. I could not believe when the police came to my door that night. They told me that my poor poor ex-husband and his sweet new wife were murdered in their sleep in their trailer a few miles away. Apparently there was some sicko, who had murdered his brother and his brother’s wife, that escaped from prison and he was living in the woods near my house. He had some sort of obsession with me, and had been stalking me. I couldn’t believe it! I suppose he went to kill my ex-husband because of his love for me. I just feel absolutely terrible, and the police even had to relocate me for my safety. They put me in this lovely new house, far far away from my old life. I have a huge house, a beautiful pool, a lovely grand garden, and a small little guest house in the back. Apparently the murderer is still out there somewhere. They fear he will still be looking for me, and so I always leave my door open just in case. I really can’t stand these new neighbors of mine.

Never Answer the Door After Midnight

   By Chef MrBaubas

I’ve never been a social person. If asked, I could name all of my acquaintances in a single breath and count my friends on one hand. Not to say that I hate people. I love people. It’s just that I get really bad anxiety when it comes to talking. If any aspect of a conversation catches me off guard, if I haven’t mentally prepared myself, then I shut down. I can’t think no matter what I do. It feels like my head is weighted and I’m drowning in burning sand.

I’ve tried fixing this problem before. Believe me I’ve tried. I’ve given it a shot at everything from self-help books and meditation to exposure therapy and the ever present advice, “Stop being a pussy.” Nothing works. As you can imagine I’ve messed up more than my fair share of job interviews because of this. In fact the only job I managed to get was a night janitor’s position at my old high school. It made sense really, I knew the building so the learning curve was easy and since I was there at night I didn’t have to worry about running into anyone. It was a perfect fit.

Due to my work schedule however, I usually found myself awake at night even when I wasn’t working. My whole circadian rhythm was messed up.

So there I sat, alone in my one room ground floor apartment at 3 am on a Friday. I finished work early and had the whole weekend to myself. So I settled in with a movie and was winding down when there was a knock at the door.

I quickly muted the movie and turned. It was a faint knocking that I almost didn’t hear. I had to sit in silence just to make sure that I actually heard something. It knocked again. Someone was definitely there. I briefly questioned whether I should answer. The low intensity of the knock made me uneasy. The only reason I could figure someone would knock on a door at 3 in the morning that softly would be to see if there were any dogs inside.


Freaked by this thought I turned the television off. I didn’t want even that slight ringing sound a muted television makes to escape.

My eyes slowly adjusted to the sudden dark. The white of the front door stuck out from the shadows casting a ghastly glow while I sat. The knocking continued. It wouldn’t cease. The gloom around me shifted with imagined horrors as the hairs on the back of my neck stood up.

Though the door was closed I couldn’t help but feel watched. Either someone knew that I was home, or they were insane. I didn’t want to know but the knocking was incessant. I had to check it out.

I crept through the dark careful to avoid making the floorboards cry out. Once I’d made it to the door I carefully placed my hands on either side of the wall and leaned forward. I had to avoid putting pressure on the door or I’d give myself away. As I leaned toward the peephole the knocking came right by my head. As close as I was it sounded like thunder in my ears. It took everything I had to keep from shouting out. Slowly I lifted the brass latch over the peephole inching it with glacial speed so it wouldn’t squeak. When it was secure I allowed myself a deep breath. I had darkness to my back and uncertainty before me, I looked.

There on the other side of the door, in the dead of winter, stood a man who had managed to avoid making any footprints in the snow behind him.

Even in the dark I could make out the details on him. He was dressed in all white. Short sleeves and a hat with a black band on it. It took me a few seconds to realize what he was.

A milkman, but not quite.

His appearance was haggard. His clothes were filthy, stained with sweat and somehow streaked with dirt. The right leg of his pants was ripped to the knee and his belt was hastily fastened leaving it dangling about his waist. He looked like a 50s era milkman who was in a rush to get dressed.

The color was drained from his face and his yellowed eyes were gaunt as if sick. They were sunken in his skull with dark sagging bags. Yet in the middle of his forehead sat a perfect circle, dark in contrast to his pale skin.

He stood silently for a moment before taking his hat off. He ran a scraggy hand through greasy brittle locks then worriedly looked behind him. As he turned I saw the back of his head and instantly knew what the circle was. A large portion of it had been blown out, the entry in his forehead reciprocated in a grisly display of ripped flesh and shattered bone. Skin hung in tatters around the cavity and chunks of pink and red dripped out in gooey clumps. This was no burglar.

A gasp escaped my lips and he quickly turned. He knocked again, this time louder.

“Is someone there?” He asked nervously. “Can I come in?”

I pulled myself away from the door incredulous. This couldn’t be happening. I was just sleep deprived or something. This wasn’t possible. At least, this is what I tried telling myself. The growing lump in my throat however didn’t buy it.

“You’re home early,” his tone was different, confused. It was as if he was suddenly talking to someone else. “Why are you home so early?”

My breathing started to pick up and I slowly backed away from the door. I tiptoed away staring at the nocturnal blue glow coming from the still open peephole. A phone, I needed a phone.

He kept talking as his knocking grew louder. “Come on open the door already.”

I fumbled through the dark like a blind man until I reached the couch. I reached down and on the middle cushion my phone sat. I grabbed it and hit the screen unlock. Nothing. The phone wouldn’t come on.

“Why were you home so early? You shouldn’t be here.”

I pulled the battery pack out and put it back in, still nothing. Maybe I was hitting the wrong button because I couldn’t see? I flicked on a small lamp expecting the room to be illuminated. The lamp wouldn’t come on either. I tried another and was met with the same result, in fact nothing powered on.

“This isn’t what you think, just open up.” He jiggled the handle.

I sat in the dark watching the door shake. What was I supposed to do? I couldn’t call for help and there was only one way out. His voice was pained and he sounded impatient. I still get chills thinking about it. Why was he so nervous?

“Why are you doing this to me?” he asked angry. “Fine. I see how it is…” The knocking stopped.

Seconds stretched into agonizing minutes of silence. It seemed like time crawled on broken fingers as I sat there. Had he really gone? Nothing turned back on yet I couldn’t hear anything from outside.

When ten minutes had passed I got up to check the peephole.

I put my eye to the aperture and was met with a sight I dreaded. On the other side of the door the specter stood staring straight at me with a look of pure hatred. He slammed his fists on the door and started screaming as I fell back. The entryway shuddered under his assault and dust rained from the ceiling.

“I knew it!” he screamed in a shrill voice “You were hiding from me! Now open the door!”

The handle violently exploded into movement as he pushed and pulled. Furiously he beat on the door and it seemed the whole apartment came alive with noise.

“Open up! Open this fucking door damn it! I swear to god I’ll kill you!”

I scuttled away as fast as I could eventually backing into the side of the couch. I stared wide eyed as he bombarded the door like a raving beast. He was angry, beyond furious but he kept diverging, his voice switching from demonic to frightened.

“Why? Oh Christ why are you home so early!?” he nearly sobbed.

I could hear wood groan as the door started to give.

“Open this door! Open it! Open it! Open it!” each shout was followed by pounding.

I curled up in a ball quickly losing my mind. Nobody was hearing this. I was alone without a chance at help. He grabbed the handle with both hands again and pulled back and forth letting out a howl. The latch to the peephole flew up and down as it clattered against the wood noisily.

There was a final crash against the door and he began crying in frustration.

“Please!” I heard him say. “It’s not what you think!”

My eyes were shut tightly as he cried out. His voice was now pure fear. It sounded as if he was being murdered. “Don’t do this to me, I’m begging you please!” he was breaking down almost completely incoherent. Then a noise resonated that immediately caught my attention. It was a gun cocking.

Oh god.

A gun shot ripped through the air with the sound of bottled thunder. I could feel the pressure wave as if I was right next to the barrel. My head began throbbing violently and felt like I could throw up. There was a ringing in my ears as the smell of gun smoke wafted through the apartment.

Then silence.

There was no more banging. No more screaming or crying. The smell lingered for a moment before dissipating. I lifted my head and stared at the open peephole. The opaque light of dusk hung in the air as ceiling dust visibly filtered through it. It speared through the black of my home resting at my feet. My heart had long since leapt into my throat, but when that light was suddenly blocked out I swear I could taste the blood.

A malicious silence flitted through the air with the sound of heavy breathing. Then a voice cut through. It was a different voice this time, a cold voice. One that could have belonged to Hannibal Lector.

“Thanks for not letting him in.” It rasped.

The shaft of light returned and I heard the telltale crunching of snow as someone walked away. This time I did not get up to see who it was. Even when my lights cut back on and the migraine died away I stayed put. I don’t know what all of that was about but that second voice scared me deep in my bones. I don’t how I knew, but I could tell that as that voice was speaking its owner was smiling.

Mr. Widemouth

By Chef PerfectCircle35

During my childhood my family was like a drop of water in a vast river, never remaining in one location for long. We settled in Rhode Island when I was eight, and there we remained until I went to college in Colorado Springs. Most of my memories are rooted in Rhode Island, but there are fragments in the attic of my brain which belong to the various homes we had lived in when I was much younger.
Most of these memories are unclear and pointless– chasing after another boy in the backyard of a house in North Carolina, trying to build a raft to float on the creek behind the apartment we rented in Pennsylvania, and so on. But there is one set of memories which remains as clear as glass, as though they were just made yesterday. I often wonder whether these memories are simply lucid dreams produced by the long sickness I experienced that Spring, but in my heart, I know they are real.
We were living in a house just outside the bustling metropolis of New Vineyard, Maine, population 643. It was a large structure, especially for a family of three. There were a number of rooms that I didn’t see in the five months we resided there. In some ways it was a waste of space, but it was the only house on the market at the time, at least within an hour’s commute to my father’s place of work.
The day after my fifth birthday (attended by my parents alone), I came down with a fever. The doctor said I had mononucleosis, which meant no rough play and more fever for at least another three weeks. It was horrible timing to be bed-ridden– we were in the process of packing our things to move to Pennsylvania, and most of my things were already packed away in boxes, leaving my room barren. My mother brought me ginger ale and books several times a day, and these served the function of being my primary from of entertainment for the next few weeks. Boredom always loomed just around the corner, waiting to rear its ugly head and compound my misery.
I don’t exactly recall how I met Mr. Widemouth. I think it was about a week after I was diagnosed with mono. My first memory of the small creature was asking him if he had a name. He told me to call him Mr. Widemouth, because his mouth was large. In fact, everything about him was large in comparison to his body– his head, his eyes, his crooked ears– but his mouth was by far the largest.
“You look kind of like a Furby,” I said as he flipped through one of my books.
Mr. Widemouth stopped and gave me a puzzled look. “Furby? What’s a Furby?” he asked.
I shrugged. “You know… the toy. The little robot with the big ears. You can pet and feed them, almost like a real pet.”
“Oh.” Mr. Widemouth resumed his activity. “You don’t need one of those. They aren’t the same as having a real friend.”
I remember Mr. Widemouth disappearing every time my mother stopped by to check in on me. “I lay under your bed,” he later explained. “I don’t want your parents to see me because I’m afraid they won’t let us play anymore.”
We didn’t do much during those first few days. Mr. Widemouth just looked at my books, fascinated by the stories and pictures they contained. The third or fourth morning after I met him, he greeted me with a large smile on his face. “I have a new game we can play,” he said. “We have to wait until after your mother comes to check on you, because she can’t see us play it. It’s a secret game.”
After my mother delivered more books and soda at the usual time, Mr. Widemouth slipped out from under the bed and tugged my hand. “We have to go the the room at the end of this hallway,” he said. I objected at first, as my parents had forbidden me to leave my bed without their permission, but Mr. Widemouth persisted until I gave in.
The room in question had no furniture or wallpaper. Its only distinguishing feature was a window opposite the doorway. Mr. Widemouth darted across the room and gave the window a firm push, flinging it open. He then beckoned me to look out at the ground below.
We were on the second story of the house, but it was on a hill, and from this angle the drop was farther than two stories due to the incline. “I like to play pretend up here,” Mr. Widemouth explained. “I pretend that there is a big, soft trampoline below this window, and I jump. If you pretend hard enough you bounce back up like a feather. I want you to try.”
I was a five-year-old with a fever, so only a hint of skepticism darted through my thoughts as I looked down and considered the possibility. “It’s a long drop,” I said.
“But that’s all a part of the fun. It wouldn’t be fun if it was only a short drop. If it were that way you may as well just bounce on a real trampoline.”
I toyed with the idea, picturing myself falling through thin air only to bounce back to the window on something unseen by human eyes. But the realist in me prevailed. “Maybe some other time,” I said. “I don’t know if I have enough imagination. I could get hurt.”
Mr. Widemouth’s face contorted into a snarl, but only for a moment. Anger gave way to disappointment. “If you say so,” he said. He spent the rest of the day under my bed, quiet as a mouse.
The following morning Mr. Widemouth arrived holding a small box. “I want to teach you how to juggle,” he said. “Here are some things you can use to practice, before I start giving you lessons.”
I looked in the box. It was full of knives. “My parents will kill me!” I shouted, horrified that Mr. Widemouth had brought knives into my room– objects that my parents would never allow me to touch. “I’ll be spanked and grounded for a year!”
Mr. Widemouth frowned. “It’s fun to juggle with these. I want you to try it.”
I pushed the box away. “I can’t. I’ll get in trouble. Knives aren’t safe to just throw in the air.”
Mr. Widemouth’s frown deepened into a scowl. He took the box of knives and slid under my bed, remaining there the rest of the day. I began to wonder how often he was under me.
I started having trouble sleeping after that. Mr. Widemouth often woke me up at night, saying he put a real trampoline under the window, a big one, one that I couldn’t see in the dark. I always declined and tried to go back to sleep, but Mr. Widemouth persisted. Sometimes he stayed by my side until early in the morning, encouraging me to jump.
He wasn’t so fun to play with anymore.
My mother came to me one morning and told me I had her permission to walk around outside. She thought the fresh air would be good for me, especially after being confined to my room for so long. Ecstatic, I put on my sneakers and trotted out to the back porch, yearning for the feeling of sun on my face.
Mr. Widemouth was waiting for me. “I have something I want you to see,” he said. I must have given him a weird look, because he then said, “It’s safe, I promise.”
I followed him to the beginning of a deer trail which ran through the woods behind the house. “This is an important path,” he explained. “I’ve had a lot of friends about your age. When they were ready, I took them down this path, to a special place. You aren’t ready yet, but one day, I hope to take you there.”
I returned to the house, wondering what kind of place lay beyond that trail.
Two weeks after I met Mr. Widemouth, the last load of our things had been packed into a moving truck. I would be in the cab of that truck, sitting next to my father for the long drive to Pennsylvania. I considered telling Mr. Widemouth that I would be leaving, but even at five years old, I was beginning to suspect that perhaps the creature’s intentions were not to my benefit, despite what he said otherwise. For this reason, I decided to keep my departure a secret.
My father and I were in the truck at 4 a.m. He was hoping to make it to Pennyslvania by lunch time tomorrow with the help of an endless supply of coffee and a six-pack of energy drinks. He seemed more like a man who was about to run a marathon rather than one who was about to spend two days sitting still.
“Early enough for you?” he asked.
I nodded and placed my head against the window, hoping for some sleep before the sun came up. I felt my father’s hand on my shoulder. “This is the last move, son, I promise. I know it’s hard for you, as sick as you’ve been. Once daddy gets promoted we can settle down and you can make friends.”
I opened my eyes as we backed out of the driveway. I saw Mr. Widemouth’s silhouette in my bedroom window. He stood motionless until the truck was about to turn onto the main road. He gave a pitiful little wave good-bye, steak knife in hand. I didn’t wave back.
Years later, I returned to New Vineyard. The piece of land our house stood upon was empty except for the foundation, as the house burned down a few years after my family left. Out of curiosity, I followed the deer trail that Mr. Widemouth had shown me. Part of me expected him to jump out from behind a tree and scare the living bejesus out of me, but I felt that Mr. Widemouth was gone, somehow tied to the house that no longer existed.
The trail ended at the New Vineyard Memorial Cemetery.
I noticed that many of the tombstones belonged to children.