In every neighbourhood, on every street in North America there is that one person who just doesn’t fit in with the rest. Sometimes they are an elusive recluse that rarely ventures much further then the mailbox. Sometimes they are a grumpy senior citizen who seems to hate all things fun. On my street that person is Mr. Thomas. He is an elderly man who is always found either in his home or sitting on his back porch. He detests people even stepping a foot on his property and has been known to threaten civil action against those antagonize him. If you ever had the police show up on a noise complaint you can bet Mr. Thomas made that call. If your ball or Frisbee went over his fence then you might as well kiss it goodbye because you were never going to get it back. This caused all the children of our street to fear and despise him. He was the grumpy boogeyman of Wilson St. It is sad really because us older children remember a time when none of that was the case.
When I was a boy Mr. Thomas was the sweet old man from down the street. Whenever you walked by he was always on the front porch with a smile on his face, ready with a friendly wave and a pleasant hello. Mrs. Thomas would always have treats on hand and nothing could beat her home made gingerbread cookies. When it came to Halloween and Christmas no one went more all out then the Thomas house. They were the shining jewels of the neighbourhood and beloved by all. That was until 6 years ago, when everything changed.
It was a pleasant 4th of July evening and everyone was coming back from the fireworks. We could hear a series of loud cries coming from the Thomas house. My parents and I rushed over to find Mr. Thomas sitting on his back porch with his face covered in tears. My parents asked what was wrong multiple times and he just kept repeating the words “She’s gone!” It didn’t take them long to know who he was talking about and they rushed in expecting to find Mrs. Thomas on the floor having suffered a heart attack or stroke. However multiple searches of the house turned up empty. They asked him again and again where she was only to get the same answer of “gone”.
The police came and took over questioning from there however they received no better answers then my parents had. After days of questioning and investigation the police were forced to let him go having no evidence of foul play. The neighbourhood was a bustle with rumors and theories about what happened to Mrs. Thomas. The most rational one was that their marriage had been struggling for years until finally she snapped and abandoned him. The other theory that became popular among the children was that he had murdered his wife and buried her body in the woods behind their house. I didn’t know what theory to believe all I cared about was that the pleasant couple from down the street was truly gone forever.
My parents said it was just grieving but Mr. Thomas was never the same after that night. He became a hermit overnight not wanting to be seen by the public. His favorite chair on the porch became forever vacant and his garden withered from neglect. When October came you would not find so much as a rubber bat as a decoration on his door. The Thomas Christmas party that was once treasured tradition was now little more then a memory. It would seem that Mr. Thomas’ love of holidays had vanished with his wife. However the holiday he hated the most was of course the 4th of July. If he even heard so much as a fire cracker he would send a call to the police station. For several years he sent out a petition to ban all fireworks displays in town. Those petitions never saw more then his solitary signature lining it’s pages. Eventually he just stopped trying all together.
That was when the wind chimes started. Overnight he seemed to become an avid collector of every windchime on the market. At first it seemed promising, that perhaps picking up a hobby was the old Mr. Thomas coming back. This was however not the case as his smile never returned. He placed windchimes on every one of his doors and windows. Some people thought this was his way of getting revenge for the fireworks as when the wind blew even a big banger seemed quiet compared to the clangs coming from his home. A few people debated on making a petition of their own but in the end no one had the heart to do it. Whether from fear or pity everyone wanted to leave the old man alone.
All that changed this 4th of July. My parents found a movie in my room with X’s as the rating instead of PG-13 and as such I was forbidden to attend the fireworks display. I sat in my room blankly staring at the television when the strangest thought went through my brain. “This must be how Mr. Thomas feels all the time.” I grew sad remembering the man who once was. Today would be the hardest and loneliest day of the year for the old man. I could just picture him sitting all alone in his empty living room and I felt a great sense of pity for him. Then an idea that would make my younger peers faint entered my mind. I wanted to go and try to comfort him. My parents barred me from attending the show but that didn’t mean I had to remain in the house. I simply shrugged then made up my mind to go and at least try to visit him.
The streets were unnervingly dark and quiet. With everyone down at the park the neighbourhood felt more like a ghost town. The thought sent a strange chill down my back and I quickened my pace. Mr. Thomas’ house was the only one on the street with any lights on and I knew he was home (as if I had any doubt to begin with). I walked slowly up his driveway and knocked gently on his door. I thought he might storm out with a scowl on his face and a shotgun in his hand however something even stranger happened. The door slowly swung open at my gentle knock. The idea of his door being unlocked was surprising enough but to be left open was a complete anomaly.
“Mr. Thomas?” I asked well poking my head through the door. This was the first time I had entered their house since Mrs. Thomas’ birthday party over 6 years ago and at first glance it seemed like it hadn’t changed a bit. Their fall coats still hung waiting for their chance to be used again and one never would. The house was completly quiet and I considered leaving but with the door left open I became worried about Mr. Thomas’ safety. I tip toed though his foyer. “Mr. Thomas are you here? It’s Jimmy from down the street. I was just checking to see if you were ok.” I called out into the silence of the room. No sound met my call.
I stepped into the living room and was almost unnerved by what I saw. I was completly surrounded by images of Mrs. Thomas. Every inch of mantle and table space was covered with framed pictures of her smiling face. I felt sadness well up in me for it had been years since I had seen her and I had almost forgotten how radiant her smile was. I was then filled with a different feeling all together, confusion. This wasn’t the living room of a man who murdered his wife, nor one that was abandoned by her. What ever happened to Mrs. Thomas, her husband loved and missed her terribly.
I turned towards the dining room and was instantly assaulted by a very different series of images. Covering all the walls were drawings and paintings that I couldn’t quite make out. Some of them were of splashes of color in a spiral, others of tall black figures with no discernible features. The images that unnerved me the most were of a pair of black and purple orbs. It seemed to be that Mr. Thomas had drawn these the most. They ranged in quality with some looking like they were drawn with shaking hands and others looking like a master painter had drawn them. Those orbs seemed to drill right into me and I became uncomfortable in their presence. The drawings were so erratically placed on every inch of the walls that they radiated with a single word “madness.”
I considered leaving then and there but that was when I spotted the door. Laying on the hardwood floor was the door leading to the basement. It had been ripped clean off it’s hinges from the outside. I went over and tried to lift it only to discover that this door was made out of solid steel. This was the type of entryway that you might find on a bomb shelter. It possessed every type of lock known to man and yet someone or something had torn it off as if it were plastic. I felt fear like I had never known take hold of me and it was taking all my will not to run away screaming.
Leading away from the basement was a trail of scratch marks heading towards the back door. It looked as if someone was dragged across the floor fighting the whole way. A voice in my head was screaming for me to run, to go home and call the police but what if Mr. Thomas needed help now? I couldn’t abandon this old man when it seemed like his life was in danger. Against all logic I followed the trail of scratches leading to the back porch. The back yard showed even more signs of a struggle. The balcony rods were missing chunks of wood as if someone grabbed on with all of their might. In the lawn several patches of grass were pulled out by the root. I could see a clear imprint of a body being dragged right into the woods and it looked very fresh. My fear screamed at me but I could not let it control me now so I ran straight into the field of trees.
I stepped quickly and carefully through the foliage of the forest. I did not know who was taking Mr. Thomas but I knew that I could not let them hear me no matter what. The forest seemed far too quiet for a calm summer night. There were no creatures scurrying around, no owl looking for prey. They had all been smart enough to hide from the forests invaders. The moon shone overhead sending long shadows through the trees. I could feel my childhood fear of those shadows creeping up like a spider and I began to shake. Looking back it seemed to be so foolish to be afraid for I was about to find out that there were things much worse then shadows and trees to fear.
The trail ended in a small clearing and there I could see Mr. Thomas kneeling in the dirt. I was about to call out to him but that was when I noticed he was sobbing. I felt as if I had gone back in time for those were the same sobs we had all heard exactly 6 years prior. He looked up into the dark trees on the other side of the clearing and began to beg. “Please just give her back. I don’t care what happens to me, just give her back you bastards!” I thought for a moment that he may be suffering from a delusion for we were alone out here but that was when I saw them and I had to stifle a scream.
At the other end of the clearing what I initially mistook for shadowy trees were actually figures. The figures were pitch black and impossibly long. Their bodies were completly disproportionate with legs that were far too thick and arms that were far too thin. They had to stand at least 7 feet tall with elongated skulls. As my eye adjusted to the darkness I could see no mouth nor nose on their face. They seemed to be covered in a layer of thick ooze. That was when I got a whiff of their scent and almost gagged. Their odor was beyond horrible and completly indescribable. There was nothing on this Earth that matched their scent. It was at that moment that the thought occurred to me that these figures were just that, not of this Earth.
The thought had me gasping audibly before I could control myself. All of the figures heads snapped to me at once and I could see their eyes for the first time. My blood turned cold in my veins as I stared into those eyes and in an instant I understood what those orbs in the drawings were. Their eyes were as black as their skin and yet held a strange violet sheen to them. These were eyes that had seen countless worlds and galaxies. Eyes that held the secrets of the universe and now they were focused on me. A strange and nearly skeletal hand rose from the darkness. The hand bore only three fingers and each tipped with a bulbus frog like pad. Two of the fingers curled leaving one pointed directly at me. Mr. Thomas turned around and noticed me for the first time. His eyes held fear at first. Then the eyes turned to a look of pure guilt and sorrow. A single tear fell from his left eye and I knew he was apologising to me.
As if summoned by some invisible force Mr. Thomas was pulled into the forest so quickly a scream didn’t even have time to rise from his throat. The black figures seemed to dissolve into shadows as if they never were. For a second all was quiet then came a mighty force of wind. The blast sent every chime on the house shrieking into a crescendo of deafening music. I was forced to cover my ears to try and muffle the sound in vain. I looked up just in time to see a spiral of blinding color shooting into the sky. In what could only be the result of careful planning the color spiral reached it’s peak height just as the town’s fireworks began blasting into night. The anomaly was lost in a sea of colors and when all was finished nothing remained in the sky but a mass of smoke.
I don’t know how long I stood there simply staring at the night sky. Eventually my natural instincts kicked in and I slowly made my way home so my parent’s wouldn’t know I had left. I told them nothing when they came home. I debated on telling the authorities about what I saw but would they believe such an impossible tale from a boy of barely thirteen? I thought not, no more then they would believe an old man whose wife had just disappeared. I simply kept my mouth shut and let nature take it’s course.
It took the authorities 8 days to discover that Mr. Thomas was gone and even then it was only because the mailman noticed that his box hadn’t been emptied. The police were as clueless to his disappearance as they were with his wife. In the end most people believe that he left town and committed suicide. Mr. Thomas the so called boogeyman of Wilson St. was gone. He leaves behind no family and no next of kin. He only had two true pieces of inheritance of which I am the sole benefactor. These are madness and solitary knowledge that that these creatures will be back.
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