MORE TOP RANKED STORIES WE THINK YOU'LL ENJOY:
- Red Lights ★ 9.42 Rating (24 votes)
- The Favor – Part One ★ 9.38 Rating (21 votes)
- The Man Who Couldn’t See (My Guardian) ★ 9.33 Rating (18 votes)
- Interference ★ 9.31 Rating (16 votes)
- The Burned Photo – Part 2 ★ 9.31 Rating (49 votes)
- The Class ★ 9.29 Rating (17 votes)
- Bedtime III: My Fears Realised ★ 9.28 Rating (18 votes)
- Mr. Leaves ★ 9.27 Rating (30 votes)
- The Antiguan Giant ★ 9.25 Rating (12 votes)
- Off the Beaten Path ★ 9.25 Rating (12 votes)
“He’s waiting, he’s watching. He’s biding his time.
He stares as your sleeping, it’s just after nine.
You‘re holding your blanket, In comfortable heaven.
He’s sneaking towards you, the clock says eleven.
You dream about candy, and chocolate and fun.
He’s nearly beside you, it’s just turning one.
You don’t see him coming, there’s no time to flee.
You wake up, you scream. It’s his time. It’s three.”
Old children‘s tale, The Ragman.
I’ve always had a keen interest in horror. Ever since I was a young boy and my friend Richard and I used to sneak into his living room at night when I’d stay over. We’d stick on whatever scary film we could find on VHS or we’d turn on his TV and watch one that we’d spotted in the TV guide.
I remember watching the movie ‘Halloween’ when I was roughly twelve. It terrified me, sent chills up my spine and made me peek over my shoulder for the next week but it intrigued me. I kept lapping up all the ghost stories and horror tales that I could get my hands on. I watched the Exorcist when I was fourteen and it freaked the hell out of me. I didn’t sleep for about a month I’d say.
That was also roughly around the time that I discovered the delights of Stephen King and James Herbert novels. Nerve shredding chills on every page and there was just so many of them that I could barely have the time to read them all. No matter how old I got, no matter how mature I became, I never lost that spirit. That need to be frightened by a horror story or movie. That desire to feel terrified. That’s probably why I turned to writing horror myself. I just wanted to give someone else that thrill that I’d been seeking all throughout my adolescence.
In time I unfortunately grew desensitized to scary movies and books. It‘s part of growing up. The feeling of fear when watching a terrifying movie alone with the lights off began to get diluted as I became older and I began looking for bigger and better scares.
Searching for ghost stories or other tales of dread that people had told me were real became the next big thing. Not the stories that you might see on the TV screen and then switch off and simply try to forget. Not the tale in the pages of a book that’s escaped from by shutting it. I went from town to town and all over the web hearing all the ramblings of the paranoid and the true believers and after years of searching I found something. That experience with the truly macabre that came with the chill up my spine. The peeking over my shoulder. The difficulty of sleeping simply by knowing it. The most disturbing and heart retching, fear inducing tale of menace that I had ever heard. Well, to be honest, I am a little bias and I will tell you why. It’s simple, it happened to me. Here is my account with the entity known as ’The Ragman’.
In my home you could find all sorts of horror paraphernalia. Old books, haunted dolls, crucifixes used during real life exorcisms and just about every scary movie you could mention. Give me a thunderstorm and a camera and I could give you a truly terrifying scene by simply filming any part of my house. Still, everybody has their vices. Mine was something I was proud of. It had become difficult to meet women though. Most of them couldn’t stay in my house too long and it’s no wonder why. There just simply isn’t enough cushions in the world to block your sight from that much frightening imagery. That is just the way that I am however, and say what you want about me. I don’t change to suit someone else, a trait that I find to be a rare quality.
Let me start the tale of ‘The Ragman’ by giving you a little history lesson in folklore. While you may not be aware of it, the story has been around for centuries. Supposedly it was taken up by the Grimms brothers at some stage and became a fairytale of sorts. This of course was back in a time that all fairytales were darker and more chilling. Back in the day when Disney didn’t own the rights to them. When they had a more sinister effect on the imagination. Eventually it was forgotten as its details were known to be too grim (excuse the pun) for a child’s bedtime story. Parents refused to tell the story to their kids and it was lost over time. If you ask me, they were right to. I had never heard of the story, in all my years of researching tales of terror but that changed on the evening of November 12th. The date I received a painting.
It was a morning like all others, nothing special or noteworthy about it, therefore, I’ll try not to bore you with the unimportant details of exactly what happened in work and get right into the story. I went to work, as I always do every weekday, for eight hours, in the planning and payroll section of the local authorities office. Sorting out invoices for local businesses and decades old planning files. Boring work basically, and like all other days I was glad and exhausted when the clock said five.
I immediately went home eager to get online and talk to my friends over Facebook about a party which I had been planning for that night. Nothing special, just a couple of drinks, a scary movie or two. To celebrate the fact that it‘s Friday and I had the rest of the weekend to enjoy and because I still had Halloween fever. I always tried to remain social amongst my immediate circle of friends, most of them I had already converted into die hard horror fans. Some of them hadn’t quite become comfortable with it, which also suited me. If you’re not intrigued you’d be scared and that’s what it’s all about.
I reached the patio doors at the front of the house and just as I was about to find the front door key hidden within the rest of my keys I spotted a package just inside the closed patio door. It was large, surrounded by brown paper and was covered with a two thin lines of white string, one horizontal, one vertical meeting in the middle in a large knot. I didn’t need to open it to know that by it’s dimensions it was some kind of painting or poster, framed, as the outline of the paper suggested. It had a small note attached to it, which I picked up and read.
‘Title: The Ragman. This should offer adequate material for a story.’
I was a little perplexed. It wasn’t entirely unheard of for people to send ideas, objects or pictures of a scary scenario to me. Normally it was done online and it almost always came with the name of the contributor so that they could have their names in the finished piece. But this trinket came with nothing of the sort. Not even a return address. Still, I was curious so I took it inside.
After settling myself with a hot drink and taking my coat off I undid the string that hid the mysterious picture underneath. As the brown paper fell from view I was struck with the beautiful but haunting image that dwelled on the other side. It was a large painting, roughly three feet by two. It depicted the edge of some kind of haunted woodland on a mound encompassing the left portion of the painting, overlooking some kind of plantation style house and surrounding land on the right. The plantation land was being toiled by labourers and land owners that watched on, drinking some kind of iced beverage (I assumed) seemingly oblivious to a menacing and daunting, long limbed and aberrant figure standing on the mound at the foreground to the left of the scene. He was wearing some kind of strange pin striped, dark and ragged suit that barely covered the base of each of his twisted limbs. His fingers extended, pointing towards the house in the distance. They seemed disproportionate to the rest of his strangely thin body. He had an odd hunch on his back which facilitated a tear on the suit. He had badly worn shoes on his feet that were torn at the seams, much like the rest of his attire, and he pointed from the trees, into the direction of the house in the distance, his face trapped in some kind of twisted laugh. His eyes were pale and white, giving some kind of deathly omen and his smile stretched from one ear of his large head to the other, bearing gritty, yellowish teeth. His long, dark hair strewn past his shoulders. He seemed to even absorb the color from his side of the picture, leaving the whole tree line melancholic with a deep sense of foreboding. The picture genuinely unnerved me. I put it down, propped it up against the wall and examined it intimately, my eyes focusing on every detail, noticing that there was no date or artists signature anywhere to be seen. I felt a chill up my spine, that cold sensation I had felt when I was frightened as a young boy. Whoever sent me the picture had indeed given me good material, and I thought to myself ‘Bravo’.
I hung the picture up in the spare room downstairs connected to the sitting room. It was originally a utility room that had been converted into a spare room by the landlord two years ago, right before I moved in. I would occasionally let a friend sleep in the room now as I didn’t have anyone else to share the rent at the moment. The picture sat above the radiator on the wall opposite the entrance to the room so that it could be seen from the living room if you simply kept the door opened. It would help with the inspiration.
Later that night, one by one, my friends showed up. We partook in some drinks, put on a DVD in the background (not really paying attention) and discussed life in general but we also discussed the gift that I had received at great length. The painting became the life of the party as I mentioned it to everyone when they came in. People discussed the disturbing imagery in the painting, the fact that there was no name to take the credit for the painting and also the title. Like myself none of them had ever heard of ‘The Ragman.’
They all had their two cents on the art and then requested that I keep the door closed for the rest of the party which I did. It seemed a little too eerie for some. For a time afterwards people threw ideas at me for what kind of story I should write with it. One of them thought that I should write about the plantation owner in civil war era and that the Ragman should be an avenging angel to get vengeance on the evil land baron for cruelty to slavery. One of them postulated that the Ragman be a disfigured slave himself, his gaunt body having been tortured by the master of the house. I thought the best suggestion however was when someone mentioned that he should simply come out of the haunted forest for victims. It should not be related to the fact that the man owned slaves, on the contrary, he should just show up out of the woods for the rich mans children. Stories are always scarier when they involve innocent children I thought.
Eventually as the evening dwindled people started to leave, the drinks and tiredness had gotten the better of them. I offered the room if anyone wanted to stay but they all politely declined. Some of them said that they didn’t want to get up in the morning and have to go then and would instead rather leave now. Some said that they just preferred the comfort that only their own bed could give but I knew the real reason. The conversation about the painting had unsettled most of them.
As the night came to a close I walked the last guest to the door, an old friend of mine, Matt. He smelled like there was a thick blanket of beer surrounding him. I thought to myself that it was a good thing he wasn’t driving. As I said my goodbyes I asked one last time his opinion on my acquisition.
“So what you think of the picture?”. He placed his hand up to his mouth as his response came with a slight burp that reeked of alcohol.
“Very creepy” he said. “Gives me chills. I hate the way he’s just pointing at you with that messed up smile…anyways, good luck. I’ll see you later.” he answered, fighting off another beer soaked burp.
I closed the door behind him and locked it. I began turning off the lights in the house one by one, starting with downstairs. I decided to leave the empty bottles of beer on the sitting room table until tomorrow morning when I would have the energy to clean. I saw from the lack of light under the doorway to the spare room that the light had already been switched off and I flicked the switch in the living room before making my way up to bed. One by one I turned the lights off. The one in the downstairs hall, the one on the stairs, bit by bit the house was succumbing to the darkness of the winter night, culminating in the final switch for the landing at the top of the stairs. Then I entered my bedroom, took my clothes off, apart from my T-shirt and my boxer shorts, turned off the final light in my room and then got into bed. I decided to even leave brushing my teeth until the morning, after all, I had been drinking and didn’t care about my dental hygiene. I just wanted to sleep more than anything.
I lay there in the darkness for a few minutes waiting for the grip of my dreams to hoist me to sleep when a thought struck me. I felt that tingling down my spine so much worse than before and for the first time in years I panicked as a thought of pure horror made me recoil under the covers like a child. Did Matt say that the figure in the painting pointed outwards?
The thought swam around my mind like a hungry shark. The figure in the painting, the Ragman, pointed towards the plantation house. That much I was certain. I had spent some time earlier studying every inch of that artistry and was convinced that that’s what I saw. Yet Matt said, clear as day, “…I hate that way he’s just pointing at you with that messed up smile…”
My mind flooded with rational thoughts to explain how he must have been mistaken. How, perhaps the alcohol he had consumed had gotten the upper hand on his better judgement. I composed myself as I lay half under the covers. I laughed to myself quietly at that moment, dismissing my fears as flights of fantasy. Dreams of an old horror fan, looking for the attention his imaginary counterparts had received in the stories he had read his whole life. I lay there, still, for a time. All I could do was see the image of the picture in my mind. I studied it again and again in my head and every time I regarded the painting, the figure near the woods, the Ragman, pointed at the plantation house. I knew that I would not get sleep with this notion itching at the back of my mind so I decided to go downstairs to check the damnable picture myself.
What’s the worst that could happen? I have a haunted painting in my house, I thought to myself. Maybe it could be worth something. With this thought I sat up and turned on the bedside lamp which lay on the locker next to me. I uncovered myself and walked over to the light switch on the other end of the room, near the door. I flicked it on and proceeded out into the landing. The cold air in the house tickled my skin in my dishevelled state of undress but that was the least of my concerns. I made my way downstairs turning on all the other switches again in reverse order from before until I was in the living room. I stood there for a few seconds, staring at the spare room door. It was strange but I felt uneasy at that moment. All the experience I had with true terror, whether it was in the words of an author or the celluloid of the silver screen were now working against me, giving me a million reasons not to open the door. Perhaps there was a demonic entity on the other side. Perhaps there was a monstrous creature ready to devour my very soul and take me, screaming into the pits of hell. Perhaps it was just a picture. I took a deep breath and opened the door.
I was greeted with the dark room, on the wall on the opposite end hung the painting, its features fogged and jaded, a mere silhouette in the pitch black. I flicked on the light expecting the outstretched arms of the devil himself to reach from the framed menace on the wall but instead it was just the opposite. A simple picture. I looked at it, squinting to capture all the details, and because of the sudden introduction of light into the room and saw that the figure indeed did point towards the front of the painting. Maybe I was wrong, I thought. It was hours ago and I didn’t really look for that long. I must’ve simply been mistaken. I took one last glance as I switched off the light. It was more than at the front of the painting that his long, bony, disproportionate fingers were pointing. They were pointing at me. I closed the door.
Mere hours later is when things began to get….interesting.
I awoke from a deep sleep at 3:07 to the distant, rhythmic sound of tapping.
My eyes weren’t heavy. I wasn’t still fighting the compunction to drift back to my dreams. I was fully aware, as if I hadn’t slept at all. The tapping sound took all of my focus. With the lack of light in the room it seemed as though the strange sound was all that existed. Even in my state of complete awareness it took several seconds to register the intrusion of my thoughts. I looked over at the time on the alarm clock on my bedside locker and notice that it was just after three. My mind studied the sound, which came every two seconds or so in increments of three light sounding knocks and determined that whatever was tapping was hitting against something wooden. It sounded too far away to be coming from my within bedroom too. If I cared to guess I would’ve said that it came from downstairs. I sat up in bed and turned on the bedside lamp. I sat there for a time, in my tiny kingdom of light as I listened studiously to the tapping sound. I made my way downstairs against my instincts in an attempt to find the source.
By the time I had made it to the base of the stairs the tapping stopped. I checked the whole floor meticulously after turning on all the lights, leaving the spare room to last but I could not find where it had come from. I was somewhat hoping to confront a rational reason for the sound but could not decide whether it was more frightening to let my imagination create the cause or find it the cause of something else that was supernatural. I eventually went back to sleep, my answers unfulfilled.
This happened to me at the same time for the next few days. I would awaken to the tapping sound from my sleep into a state of complete awareness, and it was always at the same time. Always at 3:07. Most nights I wouldn’t even get out of bed, because I never found where it came from, but I knew. I didn’t want to believe it but deep in the depths of my soul I knew where it came from. After a while I eventually had to admit defeat with the painting. I decided to devote myself to investigating its origins in great detail and I took the sheet from the bed in the spare room and draped it over the picture. It had declared war now and I was going to delve into the rabbit hole and see what I could find. I decided that I wouldn’t tell my friends about what foulness had befallen me. The last thing I wanted was them mocking me. They would just say that I was getting what I deserve, searching for ghosts and other entities, only to find one. Not exactly a surprise. I could already hear their jeers.
I spent the next two weeks looking for some clues to the origin of the painting and for a history behind the story of the Ragman to no avail. Then something really strange happened.
I awoke from a deep sleep at 3:07 to the distant, rhythmic sound of tapping.
It was early morning of November 28th, Sunday. I lay there in my bed, as usual. The sound of tapping goading me to come search for it, attempting to spur me to action. As I lay there, observing the thin rays of moonlight that breached the confines of the otherwise dreary, dark bedroom my eyes began to become accustom to the lack of light. More and more of the room came into focus. The tapping in the distant corner of the house mocking my attempts at rest. I was getting agitated with the unwelcome disturbances and they seemed tame at this point. I mean, a horror story about a man who is annoyed by a tapping sound was not enough in itself. I was starting to get bored with the antics at this point.
Then I heard a loud crash. The unmistakable sound of falling wood from downstairs. The sudden, thundering ruction echoed within the entire house and caused me to sit bolt upright, the adrenaline took control and prepared my body to flee as fast as my muscles would physically allow. The bone chilling thunderclap was followed by a slightly quieter sound of a similar nature, indicating that something had indeed fallen downstairs. It was obvious that it was the painting. That was the way my mind worked now, something went wrong, it was the painting.
I composed myself momentarily and got up out of bed to confront whatever the sound maker was. It was becoming second nature now, turning on the lights in the house to check the darkened corners. To peer into the hidden vestiges of my house of horrors. It was a nerve wrecking time indeed, but this night was different. The tapping was low and agitating, much like the noise didn’t want to wake me, rather just to know that something was there. This was different, this was aggressive and violent. I made my way into the living room and stared at the spare room door. I gathered the courage that I had inside me and I opened it.
As I stood there I gazed into the gloom and noticed that the window next to the bed was opened. The wind from outside was blowing the curtains wildly, their fabric fighting against the gust as if desperate to stay attached to the window frame. I felt the cold breeze, since I was only in my boxer shorts and T-shirt again I shuddered for a moment. The painting was lying on the floor underneath its designated hanging place, it’s back facing me and the sheet was lying on the ground next to it. I uttered my annoyance at the open window thinking that in my lack of sleep I left it open at some point. I was making a habit these days of going into the room occasionally to check that the sheet still covered the picture and some ominous force hadn‘t removed it.
I walked over to the window and made an attempt to close it, jamming the wooden frame down hard. It stuck half way and required more force but eventually I got it closed. I stepped over the sheet strewn across the floor and I picked up the picture, turning it over in the process. My eyes widened as a sickening shot of fear ran all the way down my spine, causing all the hairs to stand up on the back of my neck, making my limbs go numb and my whole mind shut down out of terror. I dropped the painting and fell straight backwards into a seated position, forgetting the pain of falling as my arms lay behind me to keep me up, staring at the picture intently with a new-found horror I could barely keep contained. I was afraid to break eye contact from the picture which lay diagonally, facing me, in all its malice, empty of the Ragman. I lay there motionless as I realised that everything about the painting was just as it had always been, but in place of the figure on the left side was an empty mound. My eyes took a few seconds to process this earth shattering information. The mound on the left of the picture, where the Ragman had been standing, watching the door to the spare room was no longer in the picture. How had this happened? Was the picture truly haunted? How could this be?….Where was he? That last question was the most disturbing. After looking at the void in the painting for this extended time I noticed something else that was equally disturbing. One of the trees that lay on the outskirt of the wood, more specifically the tree that the Ragmans right hand was on as he pointed outwards had another feature. Scratches of some kind. No, not scratches. Etchings, from weeks of tapping against it every night. At least that’s how I perceived it.
I got up from the floor with the unbalanced flair of a man running for his life. I left the room, leaving the painting lying where it had fallen and closed the door behind me. I flew into the living room, desperate to get away, to go anywhere but here. I bumped into the table in the living room with force and fell in a heap on the floor, pain searing through my leg as I caught my shin bone off the edge of the table. I was only down for seconds before I staggered upwards heading straight for the living room door. A loud, powerful, devilish cackle filled the air, coming straight from the room that I had left in such a terrified hurry. My senses were in full alert as I ran into the hallway, screaming in white knuckle terror. The laugh began to die off as I got further from the spare room. I didn’t dare look back, instead running for the front door. I fumbled with the handle as I attempted to open it, the cackle then started to get progressively louder as whatever was making the sound was seemingly getting closer to me. I was too afraid to look back, too scared that it may be my last time if I did. My mind attempted to prompt me to my terrible thoughts, feigning the feeling of something touching the back of my neck, causing my muscles to tense at the thought and my mouth to emit a horrified scream. I realised in that moment that the door was locked, as it always had been and that the keys were upstairs. I slumped to the ground, sobbing and with as much courage as I could scrape from inside me I turned to look down the hall, down in the direction of the living room door. Down towards the ever increasing laugh. Then nothing.
No evil demon, no wretched, horrible creature. No Ragman.
Needless to say, I didn’t sleep that night. I certainly didn’t try in that house. I went to a motel, leaving the place locked up, just the way that it was when all that happened. I didn’t even put the painting back up. That night I just stayed in the motel with my laptop checking my friends Facebook profile to see if anyone mentioned anything similar happening to them, but there was nothing.
I returned to the house the next day, under the protection of the daylight. I decided to take another sick day off work. The restless nights meant that I didn’t have the energy some days to go in. I had nearly used up all of my payable sick days at this point but it was for a worthy cause.
I unlocked the front door and walked into the house. On outside inspection you would not have thought that anything had gone wrong in the house at all. I walked down the hall towards the sitting room and entered. I felt a sudden chill at the sight of the open spare room door and the fallen picture that lay opposite. I could see, even from the sitting room doorway that the figure of the Ragman had returned to the painting. I walked over for a closer inspection. It seemed as though it was all there, as it was the day I received it. The figure was there, the trees had returned to normal. I was both relieved and confused. I made my decision that I would stay in the house again that night but this time I was going to set up cameras around the house. If horror movies had thought me anything it’s that you need proof, lest you be branded a lunatic.
I spent most of that day procuring all the equipment I could to record anything that would happen in the house that night. I had some of it already, being an avid fan of films. I can’t say that the rest didn’t cost me a pretty penny but I was eager to catch that ‘thing’ inside my house. I felt a little safer at the thought of all the corners being watched, but still the more time that past that day, the darker it got as it reached night, the more I felt uneasy. The longer that I spent in that house the more I felt supernatural eyes watching my every move, waiting for me to fall asleep. At roughly midnight I did.
I awoke from a deep sleep at 3:07 to the distant, rhythmic sound of tapping.
This time I was ready though. I was already dressed before the clock turned to 3:08. I had already had the lights in the house on, so that the cameras could catch everything, no matter how brief or small. I went down the stairs and into the living room. As I reached the door the tapping sound disappeared. I opened the door to look in. The spare room had been left open, the picture returned to where it had been these last few weeks. The sheet had even been removed just to see if what happened before would repeat itself. There was a mounted camera on a tripod behind the living room table, facing the open spare room door. A light at the side of the camera shone into the direction of the room and the light in the sitting room was still on to catch whatever would be there. When I opened the door and looked in I saw the painting was hung up where I had left it after I prepared the cameras, absent ‘The Ragman’. It stood there staring at me. The mound empty, the plantation house alone, the trees free of their friend who had been terrorizing me.
I let out a quiet wail, out of shock. I began to cower, reaching for a wall behind me so that I could not be ambushed. The tapping sound returned, this time accompanied by the sound of laughter. I don’t know how I knew, there was no way, but I felt that the laughter was sarcastic, as if I had angered him and he was laughing at my failed attempt, my attempt to make him look the fool. The laughter resonated throughout the house but I was close enough to discern its origin. It was coming from the kitchen. I mustered up all my available courage and slowly moved towards the dining room and then the kitchen. I could hear the sound of pots and cups banging against the counters as if someone was having a tantrum. The laughter was sickeningly twisted.
As I reached the side of the open kitchen I closed my eyes and reached out with my fingers so that I could drag the rest of my barely willing body to look inside the room. I peered around the corner and saw it. The Ragman stood in the kitchen throwing dishes around as it flailed. Its long limbs I determined to be about three times the length of mine and with its thin frame it towered at least twelve feet tall. It was hunched over and its knees were bent as it couldn’t stand upright in the room. It moved energetically but violently, knocking over all the cutlery it could see in an anarchistic, trashing frenzy. Its laugh occasionally turned into a growl as it moved its arms in a feral motion. Then it turned and looked straight at me. I was frozen in terror and for just a second I didn’t realize that almost half of me was visible as I was peeking around the corner. It looked into my eyes and I stuttered in dumbfounded disbelief. It was only when the hunched figure frantically ran towards me that my instincts took over and I attempted to flee, my voice uttering an automatic howl of desperate fear.
There were crashing sounds as furniture was tossed around the dining room and its excessively long legs made running meaningless. I felt an icy cold hand grip my shoulder and spin me around. My eyes were jammed shut as long, nimble fingers wrapped around my throat and I was hoisted up against the wall like a rag doll. I heard the laughter mere inches from my face and felt its breath against my cheeks. I opened my eyes and looked at it then, noticing its unnaturally large face, pale skin and its deeply disturbing, incomprehensibly evil eyes. Its smile was extended to impossible proportions and it spoke in a loud, gravely, guttural voice which shook me to my core.
“iT iS rUdE oF yOu NoT tO aNsWeR mE”.
I simply stared, dumbstruck by its immense stature and the ease at which it was holding me off the ground. My arms held its hand as it kept me against the wall. My attempts to break the grip were futile. Then it spoke again.
“yOu ArE mEaNt To AsK wHo’S tHeRe”.
I stared at it. For a moment I had forgotten that it was pinning me against the wall and with the greatest of ease it could snap my neck. I pondered what it was saying to me and although the words together made sense, I still didn’t understand what in the world it was talking about. I simply looked at it, puzzled.
“aFtErALL I’vE bEeN kNoCk – KnOcKiNg fOr WeEkS nOw…”
Then it laughed with a raging force that shook my whole body and I screamed loud and hard. The room began to spin and I became dizzy as the overflow of impossible information started to weigh my thoughts down and I slipped into unconsciousness. The laughter echoed in my mind until a darkness swept over me and I was consumed by nothingness.
Sounds flooded my skull, faded and distant and I opened my eyes. It took me a moment to realise that I was lying on the dining room floor. There was no sign of the Ragman. I sat up against the wall. My attention was caught by shards of plastic strewn across the floor and bent sticks of metal. It took me a few moments to figure out that the shrapnel that was lying on the dining room floor sharing the space with me was the remnants of the camera equipment that I had set up. I knew without thorough examination that there was nothing left that could be construed as tangible evidence of the supernatural. I felt alone and defeated. I felt that there was nothing that I could do. I gripped my knees as I sat there, leaning against the wall. I cried for just a moment.
I stood up and gathered my will. I marched into the spare room beyond the living room and I grabbed the painting off the wall. I couldn’t tell you if the figure was back or not because quite frankly at that moment I simply didn’t care. Without a second thought I broke the frame and tore the canvas within into pieces. The pieces I placed in the fire and then burned them. I then walked upstairs and got dressed to leave the house. I had the eerie suspicion that I was being watched. More than that, it felt that there was always something in my peripherals just shy of sight waiting to grab me. That there was a thousand eyes on me at all times but that I was alone. I grabbed my keys and my laptop. I left the house, lights on and all. I had had enough of that place.
I got in my car and drove away. I didn’t know where I was going, only that I was going as far away as I could. The entire journey I spotted things in the shadows. Things that weren’t there. I was jumping at every sound just waiting to be ambushed. I had passed through the looking glass and now existed in a world where everything was possible. I felt that everything that we knew as a species was meaningless and that there was an entire multitude of worlds beneath the surface of ours. I knew that I would never be the same after that night.
Now that we’re at the end of our story I can tell you the conclusion. This is where you come in. You see, I went to a motel room that night again and I spent hours, and I mean hours searching for any details on the Ragman. I needed to know what it wanted and what I should do to rid myself of its torment. Well the good news is that I eventually did find it. I stumbled across the old Grimms Brothers tale of ‘The Ragman’. As it turns out there was a very simple way to escape his clutches and save yourself from becoming one of his victims. You see the Ragman is a tale of an entity that thrives on the fears of young children. If you want to rid yourself of the fear of the Ragman you simply tell one of your friends. You tell them every detail of the horror that the Ragman puts you through and let it fester within them. The Ragman is effectively a tale of ‘Ghost story tag’. Until eventually the last one cannot find someone new to tell and the Ragman reaches out to them in the depths of their nightly slumbers to make them his. That’s what the painting was about. Someone must have had some problem with me or just knew that I would be attracted to horror material like that and purged themselves of the horror of the Ragman. It didn’t work on my friends either because I can’t passed on someone else’s story. You need to tell it yourself. That must have been why it did not appreciate the cameras in the house. So I have stayed up for as long is I could in this motel room writing out this story. Trying to put in all the details that I can. Trying to paint you a picture of what the Ragman was like for me. I have deliberately tried to terrify you, frighten you, even intrigue you slightly. That’s all that I need. Just enough for you to think about him for a brief moment.
Tag. You’re it.
Credit: Paul Breen Jnr