The Farm

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Victims of a horrendous act reach out from the grave to exact revenge.

Submitted: October 12, 2018

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Submitted: October 12, 2018

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The small group of Travelers didn't look at the copse of gnarled black trees at the top of the wind scoured hill. They trudged, bent forward, against the gusting autumn wind. The golden late day sun lit the rose hips on fire and turned the waves of undulating wild grasses bronze. The sun was a brief respite from the snow flurries that melted on contact with the ground still engorged with the summer's warmth.

The Travelers' hats were pulled low and their scarves wrapped high so only their eyes showed. The eyes of Travelers: eyes incised by the lives of ancestors who lived and died on this land for generations; eyes that saw more death than life since the arrival of the settlers; eyes the settlers avoided.

The farmer watched the Travelers cross his land. He gripped his old military rifle a little tighter and waited to see if they changed direction towards his home. He closed his eyes and whispered, "Don't change direction...don't change direction...don't change direction." Images of bullet-riddled bodies of Travelers flashed through his mind; he loosened his grip and let the rifle fall to his side. He opened his eyes. The Travelers did not change direction. They didn't even look towards the hill with the copse of blackened gnarled trees at the top.

It was a gross misunderstanding. The horses were missing. The Travelers had the horses. They had to be taught a lesson. The farmer joined the mob and pulled the trigger like the rest, stacked the bodies like the rest, watched them burn like the rest, and buried the remains like the rest. It didn't matter that the fence was broken; that the Travelers didn't have a history of horse theft; that the accuser had a long history of violence against the Travelers. It wasn't a misunderstanding. It was bloody murder.

The farmer's wife was a Traveler. Wife. He always felt uncomfortable referring to her in that way. The word implied ownership and he knew he owned his wife about as much as he owned the stars in the sky. When she turned those eyes towards him, he would feel a single heavy throb in his chest in fear that she knew his horrible secret. It terrified him.

She watched the farmer from the kitchen window. Their child was behind her in fits of laughter as he built a tower out of blocks and then sent it crashing to the ground. She couldn't see her people but she knew they were there. They knew she was there. To clear her mind, she closed her eyes and listened to all the different sounds of the wind as it blew through the house and the trees and bushes outside. Then she flinched. There was something else in the wind. She focused her mind and began to search methodically for the source of the sound. Her eyes shot open. Voices. Her senses heightened, she jumped and spun around at the sound of the blocks crashing behind her. The boy did not laugh.

As the Travelers receded into the distance, appearing to merge with the landscape, the farmer slung his rifle across his back and picked up the post hole digger. He was building a fence around next year's vegetable garden. He held the handles together and thrust the shovel into the ground while steam rose from his sweat drenched shirt during lulls in the wind. The ground didn't give. He lifted the shovel higher, put some weight behind it, and drove it into the ground again, again, and again. He slowly worked the shovel deep enough to scoop out some earth. He pulled up the shovel and dropped the earth off to the side. In the fading light, he saw something white. He picked up the object and wiped away the matted earth, sticks, and roots. It was a bone. Human bone. The farmer looked up and around in a panic. The sky darkened and the snow fell in heavy wet flakes that flattened the grass and collected in the coulees as the increasing cold won out over the summer's warmth.

The boy was gone. She wasn't one to panic so she methodically thought through the series of events and then searched the house calling his name. She couldn't get the voices out of her head. The screams. It didn't make sense. She returned to the kitchen and faced the living room where a large window overlooked a small field with a thick patch of bur oaks at the far end. The fading light and heavy snowfall seeded the room with grey shadows that grew as the storm thickened and the sun set. She was quickly in darkness. As she turned to light the lantern, she paused when she saw movement in the corner of the room. She breathed a sigh of relief and called to the boy. Silence. The heavy flakes splashed against the living room window in wet thumps. She called the boy again. The wet snow thumped against the window. She turned and lit the lantern. The room was empty. She walked over to the chesterfield, kneeled on the cushions, and cupped her hands against the window to see outside. The wet snow on the window warped the wintry landscape beyond into Daliesque distortions. She thought it's what the world might look like inside someone else's dream, or nightmare. She saw her husband in the distance. He was surrounded by dark shadowy figures that seemed to shimmer and contort with changes in the storm. She ran to the door and called out to him.

Hearing his wife call, the farmer rushed towards the house. There was something in her voice. He couldn't clearly hear what she was saying over his heavy breathing and the loud creak and crunch of his footfalls, as he fumbled his way through the snow. He thought he heard something about their boy and strangers.

As he neared the house, he thought he heard his boy's laugh. He stopped and listened. The snow sounded like the soft metallic click of a giant precision timepiece keeping perpetual time. Mounds of snow formed where stiff stalks of grass were unwilling to bend under the weight. It was a losing battle. Looking down to take a step, he thought he heard the laugh again. He quickly looked up, saw the light go out in his house, and then a scream. He ran.

The farmer's wife went to the closet next to the outside door and put on her oilskin duster. As she turned back to the room, she jumped and screamed as the light went out. In the corner of the room was a black mass, the size of a man, shimmering and contorting in the murky light cast by the snow outside. She stared at the black mass in disbelief. It seemed to stare back. After what felt like an eternity, the black mass spoke to her. The snow thumped against the window.

The farmer stopped running. He saw his little boy run into the bur oaks, just west of the house, wearing nothing but a light shirt and overalls. The farmer was stunned. He called to the boy. No answer. The snow kept time. He called to his wife. No answer. He looked from the house to the oaks a couple of times and decided to chase after his boy: he would quickly die in this weather.

The bur oaks fought his progress at every turn: the black branches ripped and tore at his clothes; the roots caused him to stumble and fall at almost every step. The farmer stopped in the gnarled oaks to listen for his son. The black patchwork of branches provided glimpses of the dingy glow of snow beyond. He couldn't hear anything over his heavy breathing so he held his breath and listened for his boy. A spark quickly flared and faded a few paces in front of him. He thought he was seeing things. He called to his boy. Another spark flared and faded just beyond the oaks. A dark mass blocked out the meager light that penetrated the heavy weave of branches in front of him. Pain shot through his body and he dropped to the ground. It felt as though his chest and arms had been pierced by hot lead. Fighting the pain, he struggled to his feet and, using the bur oaks as support, he fought his way through the twisted mass of branches to the field beyond where, exhausted, he dropped to his knees and then fell face first into the snow.

The farmer wasn't sure how long he had lain in the snow. He was shivering uncontrollably. He managed to push himself up to all fours and then feebly fell back into a sitting position. From behind, he heard his wife ask, "How could you?" He hung his head and began to cry. She walked from behind and stood in front of him, so she could see his face. She wore her oilskin duster and held the hand of their boy who wore a wool cap, mittens, large rubber boots, and a duster tailored to his size. He stared at his father with a confused look on his face.

"Is this where you did it? You and your mob?" He fought his near convulsive shivering to answer, but only broken sounds came out. Black masses started to form around his wife and son. Their shapes solidified, he knew them all too well.

The small group of Travelers didn't look at the copse of gnarled black trees at the top of the wind scoured hill as they trudged through the snow. The golden late day sun lit the rose hips on fire that stood sentinel above the thick blanket of snow. The sun was a brief respite from the flurries that had fallen all day. The Travelers stopped by a mound in the snow, and then continued on their way.


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