Curses, Accidents, Illness, and Tragedy: The story of the Blacks

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

The Black family has faced so much loss. After the deaths of six children over the years, how can they find happiness again? The ghosts of their children bring them comfort, but something is still missing.

This story is based heavily off of a dream I had. Almost all of the details are from my dream, though I did have to "bridge" some areas to fill in missing pieces. The dialog might be a bit odd in places as some of it is direct quotes from the dream.

Lilith Black and Babsie Black sat criss-cross on their shared bed. They were playing a game in which they took turns flinging hair ties into rows of small paper cups. Lilith was considerably better than Babsie, who was barely older than a toddler. The cups had been strung up and attached along the wall at the ends of the string with tacks. The game was quite tricky as the cups could swing about if the hair tie hit it in the wrong way. It was a game that they used to play often with their brothers, who had devised the clever setup of targets on the wall. Henry Black watched the girls’ game wistfully. Their oldest brother, Peter Black, was no longer with them. He had passed away in a tragedy – struck by lightning while playing baseball in the field near the house. Henry, who was in between Lilith and Babsie in age, had been there playing with Peter when the incident occurred. The younger boy had made a solum vow to no longer play games without his brother. The younger would frequently return to the field at the site of his brother’s death, and play various games with the ghost of Peter. They would play together for hours and hours, until the sun would set and Henry would have to return home. Through his vow, made in the presence of his brother’s ghost on that very field where Peter was struck, Henry became cursed. If he broke his vow and were to participate in a game without his departed sibling’s ghost, death would befall him as well. As time passes, children tend to forget their promises to long lost siblings. It was on this day that he decided to play once again with his sisters. He accepted a hair tie from Babsie. As the tie made contact with the paper cup and sent the string of cups swinging, Henry fell back clutching his heart and cracked his head.

It was only a year later that Lilith had her accident. Lilith had been determined to go swimming. It had been far too cold, but now the weather was warm again. Their parents, Sarah Black and Ben Black, had forbidden their daughters from going to the lake without an adult. Sarah was heavily pregnant with twins, so the woman had a great deal of difficulty moving about. She was better able to show her affections to her daughters from her near permanent position on the couch. Ben was out every day searching for work. The man had not been emotionally fit right after the loss of his sons, but was feeling ready again, just in time with the twins on the way. That is why Lilith and Babsie snuck out to the water by themselves. That is why no one watched Lilith as she dared herself to swim across to the other side. That is why no one swam out to help her when she called out from the center of the lake that her little arms were too tired to keep paddling, and when her nose and mouth slipped beneath the current. That is why no one stopped wee Babsie from following after her older sister. Sarah and Ben had plenty of love for their daughters, but they could hardly have helped what happened.

The twins were born two months later, a boy and a girl. The boy was never quite right. He was very small, with red skin and eyes so tiny only the black pupils were visible. When he breathed, it was weak and raspy. Dr. Birch said to give him love, for that was all that could be done. Sarah held him tightly all the time, wrapped in many blankets, desperate to keep him warm. The baby boy passed away after only three days. Sarah was heartbroken. The Blacks were almost afraid to give their remaining baby girl a name, for fear that she would slip away the moment that they did. Eventually, they did settle enough to call her Pearl, and nothing bad happened in that moment.

Sarah kept her infant daughter close, ever aware of those who were missing. Ben stayed by his wife’s side. The ghosts of the older Black children stayed close to home, floating about and making themselves known in an attempt to comfort their mourning parents. It did work somewhat. After a while Ben and Sarah were able to see with increasing clarity the forms of their departed children, and this was a great deal of comfort. The Blacks, ever resilient, created a routine around baby Pearl, and the ghosts of Peter, Henry, Lilith, and Babsie. It may be noted that as the baby boy had hardly lived at all, he could not become a ghost. The comfort of routine lasted a decent couple of years. Pearl grew and grew, into a child of three. She was bright and cheerful, never knowing anything different than four ghostly siblings and two doting parents. It was to the shock and horror of everyone when little Pearl was kidnapped by a traveling salesman in the dead of night. They found her small body buried in the woods the following summer.

After so much tragedy, the death of their final child, Ben and Sarah Black felt so empty. Despite the emptiness, they still had so much room in their hearts, so much love to give. The couple had a warm home, plenty to eat, and a lovely yard for some wee child to play in. It just wasn’t right here without little laughs filling their air - without small hands grasping their larger, more weathered hands. The couple imagined the only way to get over the grief was to have another child. However, simply becoming pregnant may not be suitable, even if Mrs. Black could achieve such a thing again. No, due to the family history, such a child would have to be a remarkable one. It must be a child that could withstand curses and accidents, illness and tragedy. It must be a child that would feel at ease with them in their house full of ghost children. The Blacks pondered upon this continuously until they came to a brilliant solution.

The Blacks spotted some of their previous children playing about. Lilith and Babsie were sitting crisscross on their old bed, clapping hands and causing little puffs of ancient dust to swirl about. While the couple could not hear their children speak, could not play with or hug their darlings, the Blacks could see the children’s ghostly precious faces. It was comforting to have the spirits present. Not wishing to cause any unhappiness, Sarah and Ben asked how their children would feel about the Blacks adopting a new child. The children communicated through shifts in the air pressure. One might expect such things as a gust of wind, a sparseness of oxygen for a moment, or when they disapproved of this or that, a feeling of malaise hanging over the property. The children thought adoption was a splendid idea. Not one of them enjoyed seeing their lovely parents mope about, without some sprite to clean up after or to dote on.

Right away, the Blacks got to researching. They were gone often in the following months. The couple was busy attending far away seminars and classes, preparing to adopt when the perfect child did come along. Sometimes the couple was gone for two or three nights at a time. The ghost children missed their parents terribly while they were on these travels. Peter always comforted his siblings, reminding everyone what this was all about. Their parent’s happiness depended on it.

One foggy and dark night, cozied up on their great big couch in the dim living room, the Blacks once again opened their family laptop to the website featuring the list of parentless children. Right away, they spotted their perfect child. Well, they spotted a little two-by-three digital photograph of their perfect child. To an unknowing person, this eight year old would have appeared normal. The black hair hanging in greasy strands around his face and the pale skin perhaps a sign of an apathetic caretaker, but normal nonetheless. It was the description that gave him away. All of his specialness was revealed by a just sparse paragraph – three sentences, really. It read: “William enjoys reading historical novels. He wants to live with a large family. He hopes his new family will take him to visit the home of his ancestors in Transylvania someday.” Mrs. Black and Mr. Black shared a look.

“Oh, how lovely,” said Sarah.

“Transylvania,” said Ben.

“Transylvania!?” Lilith and Henry said in unison (though Mrs. And Mr. Black did not hear them.) The two children had been hovering above their parent’s shoulders, watching the couple’s activities, as they did so often.

It wasn’t long at all after that the Blacks brought their new child home, as a foster for the moment. The Blacks were as pleased as they ever were, and the ghost children were quite pleased for them. The couple ushered their new child into the house, got him all set up in his own space. The room was sparse, and the new son had no items or clothing to his name save for what he wore. The couple would take him shopping soon, they said, as they wrapped him tight in an old baby blue blanket and kissed him goodnight. The new son had no intention of sleeping, however. He did not sleep, not ever. He laid in this strange bed, in this empty room in this strange little house, forming a plan.

This child had been to many homes, been embraced by many new families, only to be returned after a few months due to unfortunate circumstances. The boy smiled, quite smugly. The unfortunate circumstances were how he remained alive. He unwrapped himself from the Black’s blanket cocoon, silently got up and exited the room. As he silently wandered the halls, he collected a little parade of curious child ghosts in his wake. In his wandering, walking back and forth like a caged tiger, the boy’s true face began to reveal itself to the ghosts. There was no physical change per say, yet as one spirit can sense another, the ghost children understood that this was no ordinary boy. Lilith could take it no more. She revealed herself to him, all at once shouting, “Vampire!”. The boy, somewhat shocked to see a ghost in his new home, as this was a rare sight, smiled at her. No mere ghost could stop him from feeding on his new parents. The ghost deduced his intentions. It may have been Lilith’s reflex to get this beast as far away from her parents as possible, but she was painfully aware that this boy was probably the only child who could be safe living in this house. He was the only one that could bring comfort to their parents.

“You’ve got a bit too much smug on yer face. You owe it to uws to have a go at a family like this one.” It may seem a bit odd that Lilith would feel the need to stick up for their parents. She was after all one of six children to lose their lives in this household. But it wasn’t Ben and Sarah Black’s fault. It wasn’t anyone’s fault; they were curses, accidents, illness, and tragedy, each and every one.

“Well it’s kind of hard when there’s angry ghosts.”

“You haven’t seen angry yet.”

“Seniority much? You can’t tell me what to do.”  

“I am your senior. Well, I would have been. I was the oldest of the family once, at eight years old. Before me, it was Peter, he was nine when he died. Henry never got to be oldest. He died before me too, when he was six. Then it was me next. I was followed by the wee Babsie, who was just four. None of us were left when the twins came about, but the two of them didn’t last too much longer. Mom and Dad do try though. They are full of love and you are lucky to have it.” The vampire walked away in a bit of a huff.

Mrs. And Mr. Black awoke at dawn. They could immediately tell from the feeling in the air that their ghostly children had discovered their new son’s secret, and that he had discovered theirs. It was time to confront the new child about it, before the boy began imagining that he was here for any other reason than to receive love. The boy was already at the breakfast table. He wasn’t yet aware that these adults could see ghosts, and felt ever so smug at knowing something else that these people did not. Mr. Black approached. “I’m going to need a name,” he said, firmly. The boy, reasonably taken aback, for no one had known to ask his true name before, responded truthfully. “April,” he stated. Now that the Blacks had his true name, they were safe from him. Knowing a being’s name provided a certain power of him. This is the case with all beings of the other world. But the Blacks wanted nothing more than to care for April. They would assure that he had his ghoulish needs met.

The Blacks and their new son soon found harmony living together. April found it quite enjoyable to have stability. He was delighted to know that he would always have his next meal fresh and ready, courtesy of a steady stream of neighbors sympathetic to the Black’s tragedies. The neighbors all knew the Black’s new son had a special condition, and needed a constant supply of fresh blood to remain alive – it could not be on their conscious if another one slipped away. Curses, accidents, illness and tragedy did come about in turn, and as it happens, vampires are quite immune to that sort of thing. The ghost children, now somewhat neglected and forgotten in time, were quietly happy for their parents. There were no drops in air pressure, no unexplained gusts of wind or sparseness of air to breath in the time that the Blacks were caring for April. The ghost children waited patiently for their parents to return to them, after many, many long and happy years of caring for their permanently young vampire son.

Submitted: January 17, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Madison Thomas. All rights reserved.

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