07 Jun Scratching
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Estimated reading time — 24 minutes
When I was 12 years old, my parents finally decided to split me and my younger brother up and give us our own rooms. I was a couple of years older than Alex so I got the bigger space, while he stayed in the box-room. My dad wasn’t too happy about having to move all of his junk down into the garage, but times change and I needed a room for myself.
The four of us lived in a bungalow on a quiet suburban street – a rather reclusive area. Me and Alex would get bored sometimes as there wasn’t much to do, but for the most part, all we needed was each other. Being two young boys with no one else to play with in such a huge neighbourhood, we were as close as two brothers could be.
One day after school, we arrived home to find that all of my belongings had been moved into the the room next to Alex’s. I didn’t expect to feel sad about it at the time, but deep down I knew that sharing a room gave us a stronger bond. After the realisation that we could no longer talk to each other at night, we had to come up with a plan. I devised a childish kind of morse code – a series of taps and scratches that we’d relay to each other on the wall behind our beds. I knew that this way, we wouldn’t get caught talking in the hallway or become bored during the night. After about three months, we had become experts at our secret talking and had managed to learn just over a hundred words. In our few months of doing this, there was one night in particular that stood out amongst the rest.
In the early hours of the morning, I was awoken by the familiar taps and scratches – this was confusing because Alex had never woken me up like this before. I sat up and listened intently to the words etched into the wall. It was vicious; it didn’t sound like Alex and some of it I couldn’t even understand. At that moment, I noticed Alex stood in my doorway: “What are you doing Jack?”. I stared at Alex in horror as the morse code upon the wall continued. Slowly realising what was happening, he began to tip-toe towards his bedroom door. Peering into the dark room, he could see that his window had been opened; somebody was in there. Alex slowly back-tracked, making his way into my room and closing the door. We didn’t speak, we just listened. The taps and scratches continued getting louder and more ferocious with every second; becoming violently intense until the persistent scratching built up into a loud bang. We couldn’t take it any longer. We screamed as loud as possible and our parents came rushing in.
In a fit of panic, we tried our best to explain to them what had happened. Mum sat and comforted us in my room while Dad went and checked Alex’s room. Seeing the open window, he sprinted into the garden to investigate, only to find that there was nothing there. After that, our parents tried their best to convince us that it was just our imaginations; but we know what we heard. After we had finally calmed down, we were put back to bed and all of the windows were locked. An hour or so later, I heard more tapping at the wall:
“I’m awake Alex.”
“Me too, I can’t –“
“Me neither, there was definitely something there, something wrong.”
“I know, I know… Jack he’s here. He’s looking at me.”
“What? Don’t joke Alex, It’s not funny.”
“Jack, he’s staring at me through the window right now. I’ve got to move.”
The tapping ceased and Alex came stumbling into my room with a look of unconsciousness in his eyes. I shut the bedroom door and we sat on the bed shivering. We knew that there was no point in shouting our parents as they wouldn’t believe us; there would be no evidence of anybody being outside and we would most likely end up in trouble. Then we heard footsteps; they were accompanied by scratching that seemed to be leading from the outside of Alex’s room and inching towards my room. The heavy stepping stopped and a shadow blocked the moonlight behind the curtains. The window began to move a little as if it was being unlocked. We held our breath as it shook and creaked but luckily, it stayed closed. The figure leaned up against my window – almost completely shrouded by the shadows – and stared in to my room for what felt like an eternity. After a while, the shadow disappeared and never came back.
I asked Alex the next morning what the man by the window looked like; he told me he couldn’t remember – but it wasn’t a man. After the incident, we both seemed to block it out of our memory. We got back to our normal lives and completely forgot about it. Alex got the worst of it but he was doing fine and that was the main thing. It wasn’t until three years later that I realised it was never really over.
I was 15 years old and freedom-bound during the summer of 2003. I had just finished school for the holidays and earned a three month break to do whatever I pleased. Me and my friend Paul had originally planned to stay at home playing video games the entire time but those plans were soon shot down when I was told that Paul had to stay with his grandparents for a month. Paul spent a good hour or two expressing his love for the farm house his relatives owned; speaking highly of the lakes and fields that surrounded the family home. Eventually I gave in – it was clear I was to be joining him on his visit.
After packing my bags and saying goodbye to my parents, I headed down the road to Paul’s house with Alex helping me on my way. Me and Alex were still pretty close, but the older we got, the more we would drift apart. There were no more late night talks or playing out in the street together and I missed that. Once we had arrived at the house, Alex said goodbye, dropped my bag and ran off towards the direction of our local sweet shop. Me and Paul hopped inside the car and we were on our way.
We arrived safely at the farm within an hour or so. It wasn’t too far away, but it looked completely different from where we lived. – just a huge house isolated in the middle of nowhere with only hills and trees for company. After we arrived, time seemed to fly by and before I knew it we had already been there for a fortnight. The area was beautiful and his grandparents were lovely so I had no complaints.
One particular day after we’d eaten our dinner, me and Paul headed out to explore some more and somehow managed to venture too far. We’d usually spend the evening playing around in the fields or climb tress; but this time, we’d ended up a mile into the maze of bark. Eventually we reached a small stream and decided to have a rest. The sun lay low and twilight was fast approaching, but we couldn’t head back without having time to relax first.
After a while, I began to feel as if somebody was watching us from the surrounding trees. I looked around countless times but didn’t seem to find anything. I was on the brink of paranoia, when Paul frantically pointed out a small wooden box that he’d noticed floating downstream. All too excited to discover what was inside, I hurriedly made my way in the same direction until I was running so fast that I’d overtaken the box completely. I leaned over the bank as far as I could and managed to fish it out from the torrent. I looked back in Paul’s direction expecting him to be nearby but he was a mile away. “I can’t have run that far.” I said to myself.
I sat down and slowly opened the box. Inside, I found a small photograph and a scruffy, hand-drawn picture. The photo seemed to be of a small boy on his birthday; he was wearing a party hat and stood surrounded by torn wrapping paper – the biggest smile plastered on his face. Once I had managed to dry the picture off, I could easily make out a drawing of a family. There were three children and two parents stood outside of a dirty two-storey home. One of the children looked very sad and was separated from the rest of the family. Upon further inspection, I could see another person in the background; a much bigger man with an expressionless face staring from the corner of the house. It took a minute to register with my mind, but the events I’d hidden away from 3 years prior all came rushing back. A shiver ran up my spine and I picked myself up off the floor. I began to walk back towards Paul but my legs had gone weak. Then, in the quiet of the darkness I heard a noise from the trees behind me: tap, tap, scratch. My legs suddenly worked.
I ran towards Paul as we hurriedly made our way back to his grandparents cabin. Soon after we had arrived home, I managed to settle down. There were still doubts in my mind of who that drawing was of but the noises that followed my discovery kept leading me back to my original fear. Was that me and my family in the drawing? Who was the sad child standing on his own? What does the photograph have to do with anything? I went over the same questions in my mind, over and over and over – until the phone rang.
Paul’s grandma handed me the phone and told me it was my brother:
“Yeah Alex it’s me, what do you want?”
“I have something I need to tell you.”
“Okay, I’m listening.”
“You know my friend from school… Tom?”
“I think so. I think I’ve met him once or twice. Why?”
“Well that day after I said goodbye to you, I bumped into him down at the shop.”
“Well it turns out, he lives on the same street as us. Always has.”
“So, why is that unusual?”
“Well, it’s not really I suppose… It’s just, why didn’t we ever see him playing in the street?”
“Maybe he wasn’t allowed to play out when he was younger.”
“Yeah maybe, I don’t know it’s just strange.”
“It is a bit but some parents are like that.”
“I guess so. That’s not really the main reason I called anyway; I just found that unusual. I have something else I have to tell you, but it’s a big deal. We’ve never really spoken about it.”
“Okay, go on.”
“Well today I was at Tom’s house and ended up staying over for dinner. It got dark pretty early so we decided to tell some creepy stories. For some reason, I suddenly remembered that night, you know, the night a few years back. I got the courage to tell him about ‘the man’ and what he looked like.”
“Well he freaked out, he forced his fingers into his ears and started shouting. He kept repeating “Don’t talk about the man, forget the man”. I didn’t know what to do. His mum came running upstairs and told me I had to leave. I’m back at home now anyway, I think I’m safe. So you should never come back okay?”
That’s when the phone cut off. I immediately rang back, only to be greeted by the sound of white noise. I stood there, shocked at what I had heard Alex say. A moment later, he called me back:
“Sorry about that, the phone cut off.”
“It’s… fine. Don’t worry about it. I think we should talk when I get back – talk properly. I’ll be home in a week. See you then.”
“Cool, see you then Jack.”
After I hung up the phone, Paul questioned me rigourously. I didn’t tell him much of anything – there was no need to – and I barely spoke a word for the rest of the time there. After all, I didn’t want to sound crazy. But all I could think to myself during that week, was that Paul has always lived on the same street as me too; so why didn’t I ever see him playing outside when he was younger? Maybe I was thinking too much.
I arrived home feeling worse for wear and noticed that Alex was waiting for me by the door. I was told that Tom’s mum had disappeared and left him on his own; all she’d taken with her was her jewellery box. Poor Tom went into foster care not long after his mum went missing; it wouldn’t be until a couple of years later that I’d meet him again.
Way back in 2005, I was invited to my first high school party. All I’d wanted since I turned 16 years old was to experience alcohol, friends and stupidity all in the same place; and after a long, boring year, I was finally able to.
I arrived at the party with Paul at 8pm and immediately got to drinking. We danced, laughed and avoided vomiting but after being there for a few hours or so, we began to get bored and realised that we hadn’t been missing much at all over the past year. We finished the last of our drinks and headed towards the front door. However, just as we were leaving, I heard somebody shout my name from the corner of the room. I turned around to see Tom standing there – swaying from side to side and happily slurring his words. I decided to stay a little longer.
After talking for a while, I felt as if I’d known Tom my whole life. He was only a year older than Alex, but he seemed much more mature. He was very open about everything that had happened and didn’t seem to mind talking about it. He told me that his foster family were not the nicest of people and never seemed to care about anything he did – they made him feel like an outcast and treated him like a stranger rather than a son. He told me that he hadn’t heard from his mother since she disappeared and doesn’t know whether she is dead or alive. He even mentioned that he was failing in school, but he just didn’t care anymore. His life was slowly falling apart.
When the party was over, I told Tom that he could sleep at my house so he didn’t have to make his way to the home he hates so much. I set the futon for him and watched as he collapsed into a drunken slumber. When I woke up the next morning, Tom was already awake and holding something in his hands that I hadn’t seen in over 2 years:
“Where did you find this?” he said.
“I haven’t seen that in a long time – forgot I still had it.”
“Yeah okay, but where did you find it?” he spoke urgently.
“I found it a couple of years ago. It was floating down a stream in Oakshale and I managed to fish it out of the water. Why?”
“This is my mum’s jewellery box. That photo was taken on my 7th birthday – the day my Dad left.”
“Are you being serious?”
“Did you find this box before my mum left me?”
“I did actually. When I got home a week later, Alex told me that your mum was gone.”
“This is so fucked up. Look at this drawing. That’s me and my foster family, I’m sure of it. Even the house looks the same.”
At this point, neither of us knew what to think. This all seemed impossible. I pointed to the man drawn hidden into the background and watched as Tom’s face lost all colour. I had no choice but to ask him about ‘the man’. I told him everything that Alex and I had been a part of back when I was 12. About Alex seeing him but me being spared. I mentioned to him about the scratching and the strange conversation with Alex back in Paul’s grandparents house. He listened to what I had to say and it seemed to give him comfort. Maybe knowing that he wasn’t the only one to experience the things he had made him feel a little better.
After a long silence, Tom began to speak:
“When I was younger, I would see him all the time. He would come to my window, find me at school, watch me as I tried to sleep; he was everywhere. As I’ve gotten older I’ve been seeing him less and less. But I do still see him. He usually appears at night; a tall, scraggly looking old man. His eyes are the thing I remember most. Pure black, with the most intimate glow behind them that almost seems relaxing. Yet, you’re full of sheer terror, it’s strange.”
Before I could say anything to Tom, he picked up the photograph from the box and showed me something that was written on the back of it: “Follow the stream to 66”. I had never noticed that written on the photograph before. Tom asked me if I would take him back to where I found the jewellery box in Oakshale. The way I saw it, I had no other choice than to say yes.
We set off walking to the stream with the hope of finding something – anything – to do with Tom’s mother but I don’t think either of us really knew what to expect. We had been walking for around half an hour when Tom stopped and pointed to a sign in the bushes for a shortcut to Oakshale. Upon seeing the sign, I was filled with a sense of fear that I’d never felt before; I really didn’t want to take that shortcut. I told Tom that I had a strange feeling – almost like deja vu or an extremely vivid dream – but he told me not to worry. As we were nearing the sign, I noticed a white, spotted bow on the floor. It was playing out exactly as I had seen it. I made my way back on to the main road and refused to go anywhere near the trees by the sign. I don’t like to think of what might of happened in those woods.
Eventually, we arrived at Oakshale and began to follow the stream. As we neared an old wooden bridge, Tom pointed to a small house on the opposite side from us. We headed towards the front door but there didn’t seem to be a house number anywhere. “This must be 66.” Tom said quietly. We made our way along the front path and knocked on the door. To this day, I still find it difficult to explain what happened when that door opened.
Tom’s mum answered the door and stared at both of us:
“Can I help you?”
“I’m sorry, I think you’re mistaken.”
I stood silently as Tom exchanged words with the woman who was once his mother.
“Mum it’s me, Tom. Are you okay? What happened to you?”
“I am not your mother. I don’t have any children, so will you stop saying otherwise.”
At this moment, a man I had never seen before approached the door and chimed in on the conversation.
“What’s going on here? What do you kids want?”
“Dad? It’s me. Where have you been? Where has mum been? I don’t understand.”
We must have stood there – shocked and confused – for twenty minutes before Tom’s dad ended the conversation.
“Look, we couldn’t take it anymore. It’s your turn to deal with it now. We like it here and I think we’re safe. So you should never come back okay?”
The door slammed shut and Tom began to cry. We left that house and made our way home in silence. As we were heading back through the trees to reach the main road, I turned around to look at the house one last time. Standing on the bridge, as clear as day and staring right at me was a tall, black-eyed man pointing at the stream. I tensed up, feeling sick and dizzy, but I didn’t mention what I’d seen to Tom. That was the first time I’d seen my worst fear. I wish I could say it was the last.
A month or so after going back to Oakshale, I was given a school report to do on local history. I had been doing research, working my way through the years and was going through hundreds of old newspapers. I stumbled across a paper that was dated August 17th 1958. The main headline was detailing the death of a young boy who had drowned near his family home. A headline from a paper dated May 8th 1960 was of another young boy who had drowned whilst playing near a local brook. Over the next 6 years, five more child deaths graced the front page of local newspapers. Then, in the winter of ’66, the killer was caught.
On November 12th 1966, the front page headline boasted the quote: “It’s the only thing I’m good at”.
Solomon Wallace had killed seven children over the course of 8 years and had finally been brought to justice. His final victim was 7 year old Kimberly Matthews. She was lured away from her back garden where she was playing and had been drowned in the brook running along the back of her house on Kershall Street – the same street that I live on. Her body was found nearby after an elderly woman noticed the white, spotted bow she often worn, tangled up in the weeds. During the final court hearing of the brutal killing spree, a disgruntled father of one of the children shot Solomon Wallace three times in the back. After being taken to the hospital and placed in the intensive care unit, his nurse returned to his room only to find out that it was empty.
After weeks of intense searching, Solomon Wallace was never found. Most people believe that he died from the gunshot wounds; some believe that he got away with it scot-free. However, some people like me are still unsure to this very day. Things gradually got worse after our visit to that house. The occurrences became more common and sleepless nights were a part of our lives. But it wasn’t until meeting Michael three years later that things would become worse than ever.
It was the day of my 20th birthday and I had been persuaded to go for a meal with my family. I was never one for family events – being forced into spending time with relatives you barely know doesn’t really feel like a present – but it made my mum happy so I agreed. This happened to be my worst birthday yet; I hadn’t exactly been feeling great for the past year or so and neither had Alex. The experiences involving Solomon had become more frequent and were really starting to take their toll on all of us. Well, except for Paul, he seemed to be doing fine.
About half way through the meal, I excused myself from the table so I could go to the bathroom. I had just finished washing my hands when somebody approached me:
“You’re Jack aren’t you?” he said.
“Yeah I am. Do I know you?”
“I don’t think so. I’m Michael, I live down the road from you.”
“Oh yeah, another kid who hid away for his whole life.” I said snidely under my breath.
“Ha, I guess so. I actually used to see you playing out when I was younger. I was never allowed out, you know, because of him. You and your brother were pretty gutsy.”
“Him? So you know too then. Same shit, different story.”
“I know about it, so does my mum. We’ve never seen him but my dad has. Him and a couple of his friends were a part of it back in the late 70’s. He gets to people you know, fucks them up – drives people crazy. That’s what he did to my dad’s friends. Either you or one of your little friends will be gone soon.”
“Shut your damn mouth. We’ll be fine. We have been for the past eight years and we will be when it’s all over. We just have to ride it out.”
“Sure you will. Just make sure you keep in touch with your buddies daily. Those most tortured usually suffer in silence.”
For the next few days, I took the advice of Michael. I made sure to keep in contact with Tom while me and Alex looked out for each other. Tom seemed to be doing pretty well, considering he’d had it the worst out of the three of us but Paul wasn’t doing so well. He told me that something bad had happened and that things were worse than ever. Up until this point, Paul had never mentioned to me that he’d experienced anything out of the ordinary, so this was a complete surprise – I’d asked him once but he denied ever seeing anything. I guess he was suffering in silence…
Paul was looking worse than ever when he told me the story; very thin, pale and evidently tired. He told me that it was around 3am when he was woken up by a breeze coming in through the window – he expressed bewilderment at how the window had been opened because he keeps it locked at all times. He got out of bed, ran over to the window straight away and tried to lock it but the latch was snapped. After closing it shut, he slowly walked back to his bed and sat down. That’s when he appeared. Paul had seen him at his window before, but not like this. His face was not as distorted as usual; he could make out his black eyes and a look of sick happiness on his twisted face. The window slowly opened and Solomon’s tall figure began to jerk in through the opening. Crawling and wheezing heavily, he kept his eyes locked on to Paul and he couldn’t look away. Creeping over to where Paul was sat, he pointed his finger towards Paul’s wrist and marked a cross into his skin using his fingernail. In doing so, he stared at Paul and smiled. After that, Paul told me that he passed out – the mixture of pain and fear had become too much for him – and woke up the next day with his window latch still broken. It wasn’t a dream and he had the scar to prove it.
A few days had gone by and we were all terrified by Paul’s story; we had no idea what to do. We couldn’t hide, we couldn’t tell anybody because they’d react the same way Tom’s parents did and we definitely couldn’t stop him ourselves. We were being tortured nightly by someone or something, and it was made that much worse by not knowing what we were dealing with. After a surprisingly good night’s sleep, I awoke to a knock at the door – it was Michael.
After getting dressed, he took me on to the brook along the back of my house:
“There’s something you need to see. It’s only about a mile away from here.” he said nervously.
When we finally reached our destination, I was confronted by an old, abandoned house. I immediately knew where we were, but I didn’t know why:
“Why did you bring me here?” I asked angrily.
“I thought you should see it. I thought maybe you’d like to know that it’s still here.”
“Well I didn’t know that it was still here, that’s for sure. But I really don’t want to be anywhere near this house.”
“You need more answers and if there’s even a slight possibility that you’ll find some here, we should go inside.”
I hated to admit it but he was right. I had nothing. Some history on Solomon and the colour of his eyes wasn’t going to get me anywhere. I had to go inside; for all of us.
“Okay. Fine. Let’s go then.” I said with an infinite sickness in my stomach.
Upon going inside, we could see that it was completely abandoned and destroyed. The stairs leading up to the second floor had collapsed into a pile of wooden rubble, the living room and kitchen looked as if they had been lit alight and there was nothing left in the house that indicated that anyone had ever lived there. The only thing that looked to be in shape was the basement door. Michael was the first of us to grab the door handle. He anxiously turned the knob and began to walk down the rotting wooden steps. I nervously followed as the light from the living room slowly lessened, the further I stepped into the dark hollow.
As I turned the corner, I was greeted by an entire wall of photographs lit solely by a large candle on a dirty, old table. Hundreds upon hundreds of images scattered all over the place. Some looked as if they were from the 60’s, some from the 70’s, the 80’s – then there were the more recent ones. After looking through them, we had found pictures of everyone we knew. There had been crosses drawn on random pictures, while other pictures were clear of such markings. Tom’s photo had a cross on it, Alex’s photo had a cross on it, Paul’s boasted the same scribble and mine did too – but Michael’s was clear. There were even pictures of our parents from when they were younger. Tom and Paul’s parents had been crossed out, as had Michael’s Dad; but my parents and Michael’s mum were clear. None of this made any sense. What did the crosses mean? It didn’t mean death because all of our parents were still alive; so what did it mean? I was wracking my brains in confusion. Then we heard footsteps.
We froze on the spot, too scared to move. The bangs were getting louder as they approached the basement door. That’s when I realised that I’d left it open – it was clear that we were downstairs. The final bit of light hitting the basement turned to black and it became apparent that there was somebody standing at the top of the stairs. Michael and I tip-toed and hid beneath the steps as Solomon began making his way down from above our heads. He gasped for air as he reached the bottom stair. His lanky frame hobbled over to the table and took a look around at the photographs. The fear I was feeling didn’t scare me still; it compelled me to run. I nudged Michael and urged him to follow me. Right before we were about to run, Solomon turned around a let out an angry croak. We ran. We were running as fast as we could but he could somehow keep up. All I could hear was the panting, the morphed laughing, the hunger. He was only a foot behind us when we reached the top of the stairs. Michael slammed the door shut behind him as we reached the living room and headed straight back out onto the brook.
We followed the trail urgently and made our way towards our homes. I now had even more questions than ever and no answers to accompany them. When I arrived at my front door, it was already open. I walked inside the house to find my mum, dad, Alex and Tom sat in the living room. My mum and Tom had been crying; the air suddenly felt cold. Paul had been found dead in his room. He had slit his wrists during the night – the night I had been having a good night’s sleep. It seems that Michael was right and now one of us was gone; I just didn’t expect it to be Paul. He drives you insane and there’s no escape when you suffer in silence. I’ll never forgive myself for not giving Paul more of my time, I can’t help but feel that maybe I could have saved him.
I know one thing for sure; I lost a great friend that day and I’ll never forget him.
Four years have gone by since Paul ended his life. I’m now 24 years of age and living in my own apartment, far away from my old neighbourhood. Alex and Tom have their own place and spend their time studying in university, while I attained a simple retail job; barely managing to scrape enough money together to live off. Our lives had been scare-free for the past few years and we were just beginning to get back to normal. There was the odd nightmare of course, but aside from that, the three of us were doing good. Well, that’s what we thought.
About six months ago, I was over at Alex and Tom’s place having a few drinks and watching a couple of movies. The talk of the intoxicated soon began and before we knew it, we were discussing everything that had happened. None of us liked to even think about the events, never mind talk about it – but I suppose that’s what alcohol does to you. We found ourselves dissecting Kershall Street, remembering the people who used to live there and all the people who left. Tom’s parents were long gone – losing their minds down in Oakshale. Not long after Paul died, his parents left too. Then Michael was forced to leave with his mum and dad, as well as other neighbours just up and leaving. The street seemed so empty when we left.
When me and Alex moved out, our mum and dad decided to stay put. They liked the street, the area, their jobs and they had never been part of anything that had happened. It didn’t take me and Alex too long to figure out that the reason we were the only kids allowed out to play in the street was our parents lack of experiences with Solomon. Most of the other parents happened to be part of the strange history in some way. I suppose he chooses his fixations.
After a few drinks and some intense talking, the three of us fell into a drunken slumber. It wasn’t until the early hours of the morning that we were disturbed by a bang at the door. Me and Alex opened our eyes and attempted to focus our vision. Tom was nowhere to be seen. A feeling of pure sickness hit my stomach that wasn’t drink-related – I immediately knew what was happening. Alex wasn’t as fast to react to the situation we were in, after all it had been four years. We stood up and made our way towards the front door. Just as Alex turned the handle, his face changed. It was almost as if at that moment, he had the realisation of what could be outside. He slowly opened the door, but there was nothing there. Just a small white, spotted bow on the ground.
We slammed the door shut and made our way back to the living room. It didn’t take me long to realise that I knew where we had to go. The article, my deja vu, the bow; it all added up. The shortcut through the woods to get to Oakshale – the place I refused to enter – was where Solomon would be. During my history research, I read that he would hide the dead bodies of all the children he drowned in that area because Oakshale was locally known for it’s beautiful scenic route – there was no way anybody would tread those woods and miss out on the wonderful sights. If Tom was going to be anywhere, it would be there. I still had the fear and didn’t want to be anywhere near Oakshale at this moment in time, but we had to find Tom.
We eventually made it to the woods and stopped on the road. Everything seemed so surreal. I took a few deep breaths and stepped on to the grass. At that moment, Alex pulled the bow out from his pocket, as a brisk wind blew it from his hand and on to the floor where it had been once before. I shouted at him, grabbing him by the shirt; I questioned him as to why he brought it? The only answer he could muster was: “I feel like it’s a big part of our whole story”. As true as that may be, I didn’t want to be reminded of what I once saw in my mind. We slowly made our way into the woods and walked for a good ten minutes, but nothing happened. Maybe it was just a dream or deja vu or whatever you want to call it. Then the smell hit us.
We turned a corner, cut through some trees and there it was. My nightmare.
The moonlight shone brightly through the crooked branches of the trees. It bounced off the stream and seeped through every gap in sight. The tall, skinny figure of Solomon Wallace had his hands on Tom and seemed to be leading him to the water. The figures of Paul’s parents hanging in the trees, spun slowly, drenched in blood and smiling like kids on christmas. Tom’s mum and dad were sat slouched against the bark opposite Tom. They were disfigured – maimed. Cut apart and sewn back together to seem smaller and younger. They all looked so happy.
The look on Tom’s face however was indescribable – a fear once thought impossible to feel. It surely matched the horror that me and Alex were feeling inside. Solomon stopped and looked at us with his black eyes. He banged and scratched on the tree next to him but we couldn’t understand. He took a few more steps towards the stream and stepped into the water with Tom. The torrent only reached Solomon’s waist but it had completely submerged Tom. We didn’t know what to do. We stood there, stunned and useless. Then Tom fought back. He kicked and tussled until he relinquished Solomon’s grasp. Me and Alex snapped out of our trance and ran towards the water. Tom slowly crawled out of the stream as his fear was replaced by anger. Solomon let out a deafening scream and marched towards us. The three of us muscled a large rock along the floor and rolled it towards his boney structure. The stone knocked him over into the stream; landing on his chest as he failed to move it from on top of him. We couldn’t stay to see the damage done.
We ran home as fast as we could and called the police. We told them everything. The story of Solomon, the dead bodies in the woods, the suicides; we didn’t miss anything out. The police didn’t seem to care. It was as if everybody knew but never spoke of it – an entire town built on silence. They sent a team out to the woods and found everything that we’d described. All of the disfigured corpses and even the body in the stream. It was finally all over. Nothing was written in the local paper the next day and the three of us were barely questioned on what happened that night. I guess everybody was still unsure on the whereabouts of Solomon Wallace and whether he really did die that night.
Two days ago, I got a phone call from the police down in my old hometown. The autopsy had finally been completed and the officers thought that I should know the results. The body belonged to that of a man named Mr Ted Bradley – Michael’s dad. I hung up the phone, called Tom and Alex and told them to get over to my place the next day so that we could talk. They arrived as I’d asked and I erupted – rambling in fear, screaming that he was still out there, sobbing like a baby. Then they interrupted me:
“We just found this in the lobby downstairs.”
They handed me a small box. We opened it up to find a broken window latch and a small drawing of my apartment. The picture was dated 4th April 2013 and had a small cross next to it. On second glance, Tom noticed it and pointed out the scribbled image of Solomon in the corner of the page. That’s when we heard the scratching. The three of us ran into the bathroom and locked the door; that was almost 24 hours ago and the noise has barely ceased since. It seems as though nobody escapes, not even us. So here we are, terrified in our final moments, razors at the ready...
Credit: Jacob Newell
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