My village's folk tales torment my new home. Now people stay inside at night.

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

Every culture has its myths, its folk tales, its creatures that go bump in the night.

Most are stories to keep children in line or give subtle warnings to adults. Some are real. And some of them haunt you no matter where you go.

I come from a village that doesn’t show up on any maps, in a part of Europe most people never think about. In our village, we had many superstitious traditions. Most were relatively harmless.

For instance, it’s bad luck not to look someone in the eyes when you toast with a drink. Never leave your purse on the floor, or return a wallet empty, unless you want your finances to take a turn for the worse.

My parents passed these on to me, of course. We followed these traditions out of habit more than belief. None of us truly thought bad things would happen for such trivial actions.

But one thing sincerely terrified our entire village is the story of the Black Goblins.

It’s said they first appeared after a war nearly 500 years ago. These goblins are small humanoid creatures, about the size of a five-year-old child, with grotesquely exaggerated facial features. Their eyes glow a bright yellow. They have small straight horns on their heads, vicious iron teeth, and long sharpened nails. On their backs are short, furry tails, like a particularly hairy dog.

For four days, starting on Good Friday, the Black Goblins come out of the depths of the earth. They hide during the day, abhorring light in all its forms. If anyone is seen by the creatures to be outside at night during this time, one of the Goblins will jump on their back and demand to be carried to the nearest body of water. If the victim plays along, the Goblin makes them walk around until they are tired and knocks them into the water, hoping they will die. We all learn to swim very well at an early age.

If they refuse...well, we haven’t found more than scraps left over, if we find anything at all.

Our village had an unwritten but strictly-enforced rule: starting on Good Friday, nobody goes outside after sunset. Parents rush to get children home as soon as the sun gets close to the horizon. Workers are sent home early, just in case. Very few have ever remained outside on these days. Usually they were ignorant of the rules, unlucky, or just stupid.

Sometimes...they were broken. They put on the best clothes, clean themselves up, ensure their affairs are in order, and simply walk outside, never to be seen again. There were many of those during the war.

When I was a young boy, conflict tore through our country and ripped the slim fabric of humanity that remained in a people already suffering from years of economic hardship. Many of my friends died. Others began to hate me for being “the enemy”.

We all assumed these creatures would continue to abide by the old rules during that time, but we were wrong. It’s said the chaos, pain, suffering, and brutality of war strengthened the creatures and allowed them to break from their historical shackles. They tormented the village for four long years, until the war finally ended.

My family made it out. Others didn’t.

We ended up in a town in North America that I’d rather not specify, so that more people don’t get hurt. When we moved, we felt what would be best described as relief.

Relief that we were safe and together.

Relief that we could live in total peace.

Relief that we escaped the curse of the Black Goblins.

Only one of these was true.

Our first Good Friday in the place we now called home was when it started. We wanted to be a part of our new community, so we went where people “back home” usually gathered: the local church. It was different, but we didn’t care.

We went at 3 PM, and the priest informed us we were early. The sermon started at 5 PM and finished at dusk, with the sun beginning its daily descent into the horizon. We met plenty of nice people and I even made a few friends, but old habits die hard and my parents were itching to get home before dark.

They mentioned why to some of the friendlier people around, but a few other people must have overheard. Some gave us strange looks on the way out. Others whispered to each other while staring at us. I couldn’t make out most of the words, but I distinctly heard someone say “some friggin’ village in Siberia or some damn place”.

I could tell the words stung my parents, but they would never show it. A quick disappointed glance shared between them said everything they were willing to say in front of me at the time.

Most people on our street, especially the ones who had an “old country” to talk about, were home and firmly indoors before dark, except Mr. Felten. He was in his 50s at the time, lived alone, and always upset about one thing or another. He lived across from us, on a modest street with cheap housing and no streetlights. Most new arrivals lived there at some point, and none of them liked Mr. Felten. The feeling was mutual. When we first got there, all of our neighbours held a barbecue to welcome us. All of them, that is, except Mr. Felten.

We all left the church around the same time, and got home within minutes of each other. I saw Mr. Felten’s car pull up in the driveway, and I saw him get out. I did not see him go inside.

Instead, he sat on his trunk and lit a cigar, staring at our house with his angry hazel eyes. He must have overheard my parents talking about the Goblins. As the sunlight gave way to darkness, the only thing clearly visible was the end of his cigar, an orange circle of embers floating in the night. His angry face hung behind it.

Two more circles appeared above. Bright. Yellow. Angry. Burning.

Whatever it was must have been on the roof behind him. Circles flattened into ovals. I blinked, and suddenly they were behind the cigar’s flame. The embers twisted and turned as they fell through the air, spraying across the ground like fireworks as the cigar bounced.

Screaming followed. Swearing. Panic.

I couldn’t make out much, but I could see a tangled mass stumbling around the street. Curtains drew open at some houses, spilling light outside as curiosity overtook families one at a time. The sound was unmistakable.

One voice, small and screeching but muffled. The other, angry and panicked, belonging to Mr. Felten, screaming “NO! GET OFF ME! I WON’T DO IT! THIS ISN’T REAL! WHAT IS THIS? THOSE FU-”

Then a hiss, followed by a wet, guttural scream. The sounds of ripping permeated the night sky, like fabric and paper being torn at the same time.

More screams. More ripping.

A few seconds later, silence. Curtains drawn. Doors locked.

We found the cigar in his driveway the next morning, but nothing else. He was declared missing immediately, presumed dead within a week, and forgotten by local media within a month. But our town remembered.

You wouldn't hear anyone admit it openly, but they believed after that. Nobody went out after dark until Easter Monday had passed. The sermon that day was scheduled earlier than usual, and not a single soul hung around long when it was over.

I overheard my parents talking to someone back home over the phone. The war was over, and the Goblins had returned to their usual routine, but the damage was done. They had followed everyone who left the village during the war, strengthened by the living hell we created on earth.

We thought we escaped the horrors. Little did we know that humanity itself gave them the strength to spread their terror across the globe.

My family moved here for peace.

This Easter, we will all stay home at night.

Submitted: March 26, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Mister Skulk. All rights reserved.

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