The Mask Boy
By: Isaac Cook
My hastily-packed belongings rattled in the trunk as I pulled into the driveway of the small, forest-embraced two storey building which I was now to call home. Getting out of my car, I walked towards the front door, all the while pushing away uneasy feelings–as the disrepair of the entire place was quite overwhelming. Entering, I noticed that the place looked rather dull. Not in an empty house way, but in a lifeless, abandoned way. A staircase stood in front of me, accompanied by a carpet that looked not far from the colour of cat vomit. Throughout the small hallways and rooms, I found forgotten furniture in what I presumed to be the living room, with a large window facing the front of the house, and finding a dusty old table set in the kitchen. I made my way back to the staircase that led up into darkness.
Ascending the staircase, I felt as though it could collapse if I put too much weight on it. I came to a short hallway with 2 doors. After a short amount of wondering, I discovered that one was a small closet, and the other was what I presumed to be a bedroom. Claiming it as mine, I unpacked my things. After a couple trips back out to the car and hauling my mattress and bed frame up the stairs, I stood quietly and absorbed the situation, as this was my first home.
This silence was quickly interrupted by a low-pitched scraping sound, coming from downstairs.
It was the subtlest of sounds but it didn’t matter, It still put me on edge. I peeked out from my bedroom door and looked right and left before slowly moving out from its false security, and down the stairs. Each step creaked and cracked as I made my way down, harshly working against my current predicament. Reaching the bottom of the staircase, I prepared myself for the worst.
I entered the soon to be kitchen where a table and chairs sat, except for one chair that was pulled up against the wall under an air vent. Slowly moving towards it, I investigated. The dust on the floor had left a trail where the chair had slid. Surrounding the chair were small oval-shaped prints in the light dust. I tried to follow them to their source, but my previous movement around the house had scratched any chance of that. Moving back to the chair, I decided to inspect the vent. I stood on the chair, peering into the air vent before realizing it was too dark too see anything. Pulling out my phone, I used the dull light of the screen to cut through the blackness. What I thought to be eyes that glowed in the darkness like embers were staring back at me. Just as I realized what I was looking at, I stumbled backwards off the chair, falling onto the kitchen floor. For brief seconds, I thought the sound of scampering echoed in the walls.
Pushing myself up and off the ground, I quickly glanced back up to the vent. Even if there were still something there, I couldn’t see it. What the hell was that? I thought. Standing up, I brushed off the dust and shock of the situation. I slid my phone into my pocket and proceeded to search through the wooden cabinets the kitchen.
Moldy cans of food that looked ripped open, rusted mousetraps and a wooden spoon. Any hope of finding something to take down whatever was in my new home was lost. After a long day of traveling and unpacking; It was late and I was exhausted to the point that I didn’t even care about whatever it was.
Lying down to bed with a cup of tea, I hoped to calm my nerves after the unsettling events of the day. I shut off my bedside lamp and held the tea close, as the aura of heat was soothing. I heard a scraping and a thump from downstairs that made me jump up to a sitting position. Just from instinct, I knew that this was not the house settling.
I sat there draped in blankets, swallowed in the darkness of the night, and waited. For a while I heard faint rustles and thumps coming from throughout the house. I turned on my bedside lamp to illuminate the room and remove at least some of my rising terrors. Just as I was about to lie back down, the bedroom door’s handle started to turn. I wouldn’t have noticed if it weren’t for the painful screeching it made. The screeching went on for what felt an eternity as I sat there, paralyzed with fear, until I heard the metallic click of the mechanism at its limit. Why didn’t I run? To be honest, I’d suffered from night terrors before, and wondered if this was one of them. As the door began to slowly drift open with a low squeal, I spastically shut off my bedroom lamp, dropping my tea mug onto the floor in the process, and huddled under the covers. The low squealing only stopped for a couple seconds following the commotion of my cowering. It continued until I heard the thud of the door knob hitting the wall. I could hear whatever — or whoever had opened the door slowly start to walk closer to my bed. Every footstep made a torturous creaking noise. Creak, creak, creak, creeeeak. It stopped right beside the bed. Images of a crazed serial killer, ready to plunge a knife into the hump of covers that was me flashed through my head. With a slow, torturous motion, I heard and felt it crawl under my bed. Through the thin mattress I could hear it breathing — raspy and low. I lay awake in terror as what felt like hours passed by.
I must have fallen asleep from pure exhaustion at some point, because I opened my eyes and sunlight gleamed through the door to the hallway. Quickly remembering the events of last night, I was once again engulfed in fear. Was it still under my bed?, I thought. With a spark of bravery or foolishness, I moved towards the edge of my bed. I saw a large stain from what I quickly realized was my tea from last night, but no mug. Disregarding this, I moved toward the unknown, slowly lowering my upside-down head over the bed’s edge. Quickly dropping it to the level where I could see beneath, I saw; nothing. Absolutely nothing. Was it a dream? No, it couldn’t have been a dream, my tea was all over the floor and I quite clearly remembered the long hours that I had spent terrified, sitting on my bed.
Determined to figure out what had happened last night, I slid my phone out from my pants pocket — I hadn’t bothered to change into anything comfortable last night– and looked once again under the bed, using the phone’s light, this time. My efforts were quickly halted as a horrible stench invaded my nostrils, making me gag. After getting myself together, I held my breath and pinched my nose to inspect the source of the horrible stench.
A large rat, ripped to pieces. Whatever came into my room last night was definitely real, and large enough to rip a rat to shreds. That scared me more than anything.
I cautiously cleaned up the mangled corpse and tossed it out to the the forest behind the house. Trying to push the current situation’s strangeness out of my mind, I cleaned myself up and got ready to do some errands in town.
The entire day I had conflicted feelings about the house;
I should be there and figure out what was going on, and if it’s something serious!
No, I should sell the house right now and leave while I’m alive!
It’s nothing, I shouldn’t be worried.
After all my errands were done, I made my way home. Seeing movement in the large front window of the living room, I slammed on the brakes, for what I saw made my stomach churn. A short figure stood in the centre of the window. Quickly pulling into the driveway and jumping out of the car, I ran inside. I was going to catch whatever this thing was.
Bursting through the door, I found myself face to face with it. Through a mask made of wood, covered in strange swirls of brown, green and red–ominous glowing eyes met mine. No taller than a small boy, It stood looking almost as stunned as I was. It wore a small burlap sack tied with a rope to make a makeshift backpack, and a tattered cloth around it’s waist. “H-hey little guy, w-where’d you come from?”, I asked, sweat dripping down my forehead. It emitted a quiet, high pitched giggle as it raised its hand, motioning for me to follow it. Even though I questioned the entire situation, I followed. The boy led me to the kitchen where he opened one of the low wooden cabinets. Crawling in, he slid out the wooden back of the cabinet to reveal a dark crawl space.
Watching as he crawled deep into the darkness, I hesitated. What in the bloody hell was I about to do? This thought was interrupted by the boy’s hand piercing through the darkness, holding my phone. I felt around my pockets and realized that I had left it on my bedside table before rushing out this morning. Watching me come to this realization, he emitted a high pitched giggle as he clicked the power button to cast a dull light throughout the crawl space, revealing his small figure once more. Was this a tactic to force me to follow him? Was he that smart?
I ducked my head as I crawled through the cobweb infested passage, overcome by a mix of curiosity and terror as we shuffled through the crawlspace. Beyond the boy’s figure in front of me–I could see that around the corner; there was light. Turning that corner, the passage opened up into a room no larger than a car, with another tunnel shrouded in darkness leading off to the left. Masks covered the walls, made from scraps of what looked like a combination of plant life and garbage, all bearing their own unique designs. Piles of miscellaneous items were scattered about the room. Examining the “creative works of art” that he had placed all along the walls, I extended my arm to touch one, hoping to gain a better understanding of what they were made of. Just I was about to, a shriek rang through the air. Before I could react, my arm was bleeding.
I looked toward the boy, as he stood there bearing what looked like an old makeshift knife. His eyes were thin and dark, and even through his mask I could tell that he was enraged. “Ah, fuck! If you didn’t want me to touch them, why didn’t you just say so!?”, I screamed at him, holding my arm and slowly backing away. Throwing my phone at me, he raised the hand with the bloody knife, pointing the its tip toward the tunnel that had led us into this hell. Without hesitation, I turned on my phone’s dull guidance and entered the darkness of the crawlspace. As I moved through the tunnel, there was a great deal of commotion behind me. Loud bangs and low-pitched groans that sounded almost like sobbing. This only quickened my pace. Exiting the nightmare into my kitchen, I grabbed my keys without a second thought, and left for the nearest hospital. The cut was too deep and that knife was too dirty for me to be able to treat it myself.
Three hours later, with a bandaged arm and the emergency room doctor’s numerous moronic questions about “self harm” playing through my mind, I slowly drove up to the nightmare I called home. Once more, the boy was in the front window, shrouded in darkness, but definitely there. Just as I saw him, he fled back into the shadows of the house. I drove the car up the short driveway and sat there for a moment. Letting out a long sigh — I opened the car door and walked towards the front steps.
As I entered, I couldn’t shake a sense of dread, knowing that the boy was still here. Searching the living room and kitchen for him, I found nothing. Although he was more than likely curled away in his crawlspace nightmare, I urged myself to search upstairs. Not particularly enjoying the thought of the closet, I decided to check my bedroom first. Lightly grasping the brass handle, I swung open the door in one swift motion. A mask lay on my bed. The design looked as though a toddler had tried to draw my face. I moved towards it and picked it up; It was surprisingly sturdy. Was this some sort of present from the boy? I had no idea. Holding it face-down in my hands I noticed what seemed to be vines fastened loosely to the back of the mask for securing it to the wearer’s head.
My investigation was interrupted by a creak of the floor behind me. I quickly twisted my neck around, revealing the boy, peeking through the doorway. Not knowing whether he was going to attack me for touching one of his masks again, I stood there, frozen. After some moments of us staring at each other, he pointed to the mask, and then to my head. Not seeing the harm in it, I lifted the mask up and slid it over my face. He let out his ever-so-childish giggle, and scampered off down the stairs. Peering through the two eye holes, I felt strangely accepted. At this point, the day had come and gone more quickly than I had realized. The air grew cool, and the life of the sky turned to a deep black. Setting the mask on my bedside table, closing my door, and getting under the covers, I drifted into sleep.
I awoke sometime in the night to the boy standing over me. His eyes glowed in the darkness with a mischievous glare that made me uneasy. I could once again hear his quiet, raspy breath under the mask he wore. Contrary to last night, I decided make my presence known.
As I slowly sat up, his eyes followed me. Turning on my bedside lamp to get a better understanding of the situation exposed his small form. Gesturing for me to follow, he slowly turned around and made his way down the stairs. I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, grabbed my phone, and shambled out into the darkness. Guided by the moonlight, I made my way down the stairs and into the kitchen, where my little friend was standing. Opening his passageway once more, we crawled in. Back in the same nightmare art museum, I made sure not to touch any of the masks, and for a moment, we simply stood and glared at each other. This moment was broken by a low giggle he let out before crouching down and crawling into the unexplored tunnel. I followed him, even though every instinct in my body told me to get the hell out of there.
My phone lit up another room, up ahead. I approached the opening as cautiously as I could. A coppery scent crept into the stale air of the crawl space. A freshly mangled rat lay in the corner of the small room. The boy looked to me almost as though awaiting some approval for his actions, which I did not feel, but I assured him that he’d done a good job, but that I was going back to sleep. He nodded, complying with my wishes. I headed out of the crawlspace and stumbled through the dark, back up to my still warm bed.
Every night for a week straight, he woke me in the middle of the night to show me his most recent kill, which was either a rat or squirrel. He’d stand beside me — breathing over me, until I got up and “approved” of his kill. Anything to keep whatever the hell he was happy.
It had been a long day of trying to clean up the house and doing the occasional errand, and I was ready for bed. I lay in my nest of covers and slowly drifted to sleep. As expected, the schedule repeated on this night; I awoke to his off-putting presence. At this point it wasn’t even surprising or disturbing. I entered the crawl space, all the while trying to not collapse with exhaustion. As we reached his collection of masks, I noticed that my tea mug sat carefully on the floor; steaming hot with my personal preference of green tea. Something to impress me? Paying no large amount attention to this, we kept moving on to the usual spot, where something tore my exhaustion away from me.
A smell so putrid that it made my throat burn surrounded me. I persisted, and came into the small crawl space. What the dim light of my phone revealed made me freeze. It was a human body, artistically surrounded by the rotting rodents of the past week, wearing a mask, and littered with stab wounds. Its stomach had been sliced open, revealing the large intestine. It lay motionless as we stood. The boy let out that ever so familiar giggle — but this time, it sent pure terror through my thoughts.
“Jesus Christ! You can’t do this; the rats and squirrels were one thing but this- this is fucking crazy!” I shouted. He blankly stared back up at me. Gesturing for me to leave, he crouched down over the body, and started to quietly cry. I left without remorse for him.
Opening my eyes the next morning, I heard the now-familiar sound: a low, long scrape coming from the downstairs kitchen, rumbling through the house. I sat up, feeling ever so groggy. As the events of the previous night set my thoughts racing, I realized that I had slept into the afternoon. Slowly moving down the staircase, I could see the paper-boy dropping off the weekly news. Reaching the bottom of the stairs, I opened the front door. Rushed by the cool morning air, I snagged the paper and moved back inside. Flipping through the numerous pages of politics, sports and local news; my eyes settled upon something that truly disturbed me. A piece of paper bearing the image of a man laid stapled to the paper. It read “Gerry Hall was reported missing in the early hours of this morning, after his wife witnessed “A dark figure rip him out of bed and drag him into the night”. If anyone knows the whereabouts of Gerry or was witness to any suspicious actions, please call…”.
Anxiety overtook my body. Clear images of the boy breaking into an innocent couple’s bedroom as they lay sleeping, snatching one of them from their slumber, flashed through my mind. What if someone saw where he took the body? I wouldn’t be suspected for this, but I certainly would be if the authorities found a body in the crawlspaces of my home–and all I had to defend myself with was a story of a masked, murderous boy living in my floors and walls.
Crumpling the missing persons report into my pocket, I moved towards the kitchen. The passage to the crawlspace slid open effortlessly. Feeling the musty air of my home’s innards, I felt my way through the dust, emerging out of the darkness, into the light and familiar sight of the boy’s masks. My mind was taken over by an urge to confirm my fears. My phone cast its trademark dull light across the walls as I went deeper into the boy’s home. The musty air mixed with the familiar scent of death as I neared the room of killings.
A figure crouched over the body. Noticing the light approaching, it turned around. To no surprise — it was the boy. Holding a knife in one hand and the innards of last night’s kill in the other, he tilted his head in confusion, as I must’ve looked like a maniac. I flashed a nervous smile at him, and continued to the body. Carefully pulling the mask off of the man, I compared his face to that of the man on the paper. Other than what I can only describe as terror and death on his face, the two were identical. The boy shot an annoyed glare at me, presumably because I had removed the mask from the lifeless doppelganger of the man on the page. Sliding it back onto the man, the boy returned to his task–which by sitting and watching for a few brief moments, I realised involved carefully taking apart the body peice by peice. The gruesome sight of this led me to flee back up to the light-bathed kitchen, mentally scarred by the display.
I spent most of the day sitting in the living room, contemplating what to do.
Night had almost engulfed the sky by the time I had gotten up from my mental session. Realizing that the only thing I had decided was that I was now going to call the boy, The Mask Boy, I moved upstairs to lie down early. I prayed to any higher being in the Universe that the mask boy wouldn’t awake me that night. Turning away these thoughts, I shut my eyes. I remained in this state for what felt like hours, until I heard a gentle creak outside my door. A feeling of dread swept over me as I rolled over and sat up to face it. As the door knob thudded against the wall, the mask boy appeared. Without needing his usual gestures for me to follow, I got up and walked with him down the stairs.
We silently entered the passage of darkness. Even from afar I could feel the rot of death, dancing in the back of my throat. Moving through his collection and closer to the source of the scent, I couldn’t help but feel as though I knew what was ahead. I watched the dark figure of the boy in front of me, until we stopped. Turning on the light of my phone, my fears were confirmed. Two more bodies lay next to the last: a man and a woman, both with shocked expressions. He looked up to me for approval. Giving him the pleasure of a slight nod, I exited the tomb. As I moved into the tunnel that would lead to my kitchen, his familiar giggle echoed from the depths of the crawlspace. My mind was so disturbed and worried for what the future might entail, I was surprised when I found myself standing over my bed. I collapsed into a world of nightmares.
Waking up the next day, I decided to leave the house. Making my way down the stairs, I noticed that the smell of rot and death was lightly drifting in the air. This bothered me, but not out of concern for anyone other than me noticing–because after all, I wasn’t planning to have company any time soon. Exiting the nightmare I called my home, I slid into my car and drove off.
At the end of the day, I found myself at a local bar. Usually I was quite social in these situations, but I felt not the slightest need to interact with anyone. Conversations echoed around me, hearty laughs battled my eardrums, and a fight even broke out at one point. All this as I sat; witness to the loneliness of my own thoughts.
Without the attention of a single person, I exited the bar silently.
The sun was just disappearing, and I felt the need to be back in the house. Even though it did hold my nightmares, it was strangely comforting. The haze of the drinks and night overwhelmed me as I drove through the darkened streets. Pulling up to the house, I was slightly disturbed to realize that the mask boy was not in the window as per usual. An uneasy feeling overtook me as I rested my hand on the front door of my home. I twisted and pulled, and the stench of rotting death swarmed me, stinging my eyes, burning my nostrils, and flaring in my throat.
Moving inward and up the stairs, I thought I faintly heard the mask boy’s giggle echo from behind the walls around me. This sort of behavior was odd for him, as he was usually very social and upfront with me. Reaching the top of the stairs, I turned and entered the dark door frame of my bedroom, collapsing into the bed.
Greeted by the bright sun of midday through trees overhead, I opened my eyes and realized that I was lying in a forest. I quickly sat up, instantly ridden with confusion and terror as I saw a dead body beside me, covered in stab wounds — bathing in a pool of blood. Noticing that my vision was slightly narrowed, I held my hands to my face in shock. A mask. A bloody makeshift knife lay in my left hand. Standing up and looking down, I saw that I wore nothing more than a cloth. My self-investigation was quickly interrupted as voices came from my right. Three hikers trotted along a dirt path–before bearing witness to what I’d done. Frantically looking around, I could see my home through the dense trees. I got up and ran faster than I ever have in my life, discarding the mask and knife onto the forest floor as I ran.
Reaching my home, I burst through the door and ran up the stairs. Knowing that I had to leave town, I began to pack my valuables. Running back down with a box full my things, I made it to the front door before noticing something through the living room window. The hikers were standing on the road in front of my home, all holding phones up to their heads. I panicked. I raced to the kitchen and practically dove into the mask boy’s passage, leaving my box of belongings behind. Ignoring the intensity of the stench, I hastily crawled through the dark, narrow space. I came into his room of masks, only to find him not there. Shuffling across the floor and into the second tunnel, the horrible smell attacked my senses like acid as I moved farther into the crawlspace.
Coming close to the source, I turned on my phone to illuminate the sea of darkness that lay in front of me: three bodies, decoratively surrounded by mangled rodents–but the mask boy was absent. I quickly turned around and fled the nightmarish tunnels.
Reaching the kitchen, I stood, frantically trying to think of a way out. I ran around the house looking for something, anything to aid me. As I passed by the living room window, I saw several police cruisers parked on the road outside. Officers were speaking with the hikers, anxiously glaring at my home and the forest surrounding it.
I had to leave- now.
Realizing that my only options were to stay here and go to prison for the rest of my life or run, I smashed open a window. Cutting myself on shattered glass, I lept through and ran into the forest.
I sat in a motel room just outside of town as an old TV flickered in front of me. “Police have confirmed the deaths of four missing locals: Gerry Hall, Jane & Phil Turner, and Charlie Smith. Gerry Hall and the Turner couple were found beneath a home outside of town in a crawlspace, while Charlie Smith was found in close vicinity to the home. Police say that the murders were very gruesome and that they have suspicions as to who is responsible.”
They know exactly who is responsible; there was enough evidence there that a fucking child could’ve pointed the finger at me. The house was listed under my name for Christ’s sake. They’re coming for me. I fled from that horrible place four days ago, and every night since, I’ve awakened to find him standing over me, gesturing for me to follow.
So far, I haven’t.
Credit To – Isaac Cook