In this scary story, a bullied high school student discovers that something very evil lurking beneath the surface of his family’s old farm.
People in my small town tend to disappear when they venture too far out past the city limits – the abandoned farm land that sits between our town and the Florida Everglades to be exact. This farmland, haunted farmland some would tell you, has been off limits for the past fifteen years. The official story goes that a little over fifteen years ago, a farmer disturbed an ancient aquifer while drilling a well. The water in the aquifer broke free, and opened a sinkhole that swallowed him and his wife. The unofficial story, the one told late at night in hushed tones, goes that the farmer disturbed an ancient Native American burial ground while digging this well, and brought down a curse down upon himself, his family, and the entire town.
Most people in the town know someone who vanished after traveling too close to the old farm. Curiosity is dangerous; over the past fifteen years our small town has learned to mind our own business. It is common knowledge that you stay off the old farmland, and no one gets hurt. Every so often the state police will roll through, usually asking about hunters or campers that disappeared near the abandoned farm. They never find anything, and eventually lose interest.
By the time they were sixteen, most guys in my town claimed to have spent a night out on the old farm. Most lied about it, but no sixteen-year-old boy would admit that they were terrified of the old farm. So, the charade continued through the years. Guys would gang up and bully those who they suspected had never been onto the farm. It usually ended up being me, the one that the other guys would gang up on like a pack of wolves.
I was the only guy in my high school that was upfront about never visiting the abandoned farm. It was my family that used to own the old farm; my father who disappeared along with my mother. Only three years old at the time, I moved in with my grandmother afterwards. I have always been regarded by the town as an outsider; someone to be pitied. Though they would never say it aloud, the town viewed me as somehow responsible for the disappearances, despite me being only three at the time of the original incident.
High school was hell. The students, even the teachers, treated me as if I were a leper. Taunts, jibes, and occasionally pushes and punches followed me throughout the school day. By my senior year of high school, the cruelest bullies had perfected their art. A group of them would see me approaching, and loudly discuss the last time they had snuck out onto the abandoned farm. They would talk about how easy it was to get onto the farm, and that only a true coward would be afraid of the farm. Then they would all turn to me and ask why I had not been out there. Their taunts had no limits, their cruelty only constrained by their creativity.
Everything changed Halloween night of my senior year of High School. Junior Ravner, the captain of the baseball team, rounded up his buddies and hatched a plan. They had a Halloween prank that would go down in town history. Well, they were right – this town will never forget what happened that night.
As usual, I was their target of choice. I can understand why. I had no friends to back me up, the teachers, hell, pretty much the whole town hated my family. No one would come to my defense, in fact, they all enjoyed a good laugh at my expense. The baseball team went to state finals last year, so Junior and his cronies could get away with anything.
I must give them credit, they put a lot of effort into planning their “prank.” They had the audacity to kidnap me from the front steps of my grandmother’s house on Halloween night. I answered the door, expecting to see a few kids in costumes their parents had bought from Walmart. Instead I was greeted by three giants wearing grotesque clown masks.
The tallest clown, whose clown mask was done up to look like Pennywise from the movie It, pulled me out of my house and pushed me down the front stoop and onto the grass. My fight or flight instincts kicked in, and of course I tried to run, but there is no running from Junior Ravner, a top University of Florida recruit. He caught up to me easily and knocked me over, giving me a good kick in the stomach as he taunted me, “Cowering like the dog you are”, before bending down to put a burlap sack over my head.
I could smell the beer on their breath as they shoved me into the trunk of their Ford SUV.
“We’re gonna scare the coward out of you tonight, boy.” said one of Junior’s cronies. Probably Todd Ripper, judging from the Mississippi drawl.
The others in the car snickered, and Junior said, “Todd, pass me a beer.” A cooler opened somewhere in the front of the SUV, and soon the SUV was filled with the sickly-sweet smell of cheap beer.
It didn’t take a genius to guess where we were going. Life in this town revolves around the old abandoned farm, even though no was talks about it and rarely ventures close to it. The bumpiness of the ride told me that the SUV had turned off the main road and onto the neglected farm road that lead to the main farm house. After another five minutes the SUV had pulled to a stop, and Junior and his friend jumped out of the SUV whooping and hollering.
“Git ‘im outta there boys”, yelled Junior.
The trunk opened and a pair of strong hands grabbed me by the shoulders and yanked me out of the trunk and onto the soft ground. I slowly stood up, and started to take my hood off, but was interrupted with a swift punch in the stomach.
“What the hell you think you’re doin’, ya yella bellied prick.” chuckled Todd as he pulled me to my feet again.
“Do what you’re told, and maybe we won’t post the video of this on youtube.” said Junior.
Well, my reputation in this town cannot get any worse, so that’s an idle threat. I did find it a little funny, though, that bullying has gone high tech.
I stood as still as possible, hoping to avoid giving them another reason to hit me. I resigned myself to a night of humiliation and discomfort. “Do what they say, don’t make them angry.” I thought to myself. Maybe I could run away if they got too drunk or became distracted.
Junior said, “Okay let’s get going, don’t have all night here.” and roughly pushed me forward.
I obliged, and slowly put one foot forward, and then the other, carefully taking each step so as not to trip and fall.
“C’mon, ya wuss. Walk faster.” said a new voice that I didn’t recognize.
“Can’t see where I’m going. I’d be able to go faster if I didn’t have this hood on.” I said softly so as not to give any of them a reason to punch me again.
Someone grabbed the hood and ripped it off, taking a few of my hairs with it. I looked up to see Chris Heply, my next-door neighbor and my best friend throughout elementary school, holding the hood. He had stopped talking to me in eighth grade, an age when popularity and girls win out over childhood friendships.
Just as I had suspected, they had taken me to the old abandoned farm. The abandoned farmhouse stood in front of us, creepily illuminated by the fog lights of Junior’s SUV. Graffiti covered the walls of the house, and broken glass lay below shattered windows. Decades of trash and debris lay strewn about the overgrown lawn.
Chris dropped the hood and said, “What the hell are you looking at, punk.”
My nose wrinkled at the smell of his beer soaked breath. Chris bent over and opened the cooler that Todd had taken out of the truck.
Chris picked out a beer and handed it to me, “Here, drink one of these, there still might be hope for you.” he said.
They all laughed, and Todd held up his phone. “Let me get this on video – baby’s first beer. Chug it, now!”.
I obliged them, cracking open the can, tilting it up, and slowly drinking down the watery beer.
“Amateur hour, let us show you how it’s done.” said Todd. They all picked two beers each, and chugged them in quick succession.
Todd picked up another beer, and was about to hand it to me when Junior cursed and said, “Why the hell are we letting this clown drink with us. What happened to the plan? We can’t let him get off this easy.”
Chris shifted uneasily and said, “I didn’t think you were serious, man. He could get hurt… or worse.”
Todd giggled and said with a slur in his voice, “Oooo you trying to protect your Kindergarten bestie now?”
“Man up or go home – the road is that way.” said Junior as he pointed over his shoulder with his thumb.
Chris looked down at the ground, but didn’t say anything. I knew I was in trouble, and that I didn’t want to stick around to find out what Junior had planned for me.
“Todd, get the rope out of the truck. Let’s get going. I don’t wanna be here all night. I wanna get over to that party before the keg runs out.” said Junior.
Todd stumbled over to the back of the SUV in a drunken stupor, but couldn’t figure out how to open the trunk.
“Damnit.” muttered Junior through clenched teeth as he stomped over to the back of the SUV.
I knew that was my only chance. I didn’t want to stick around and find out what Junior had in store for me. I slowly began to back away from Chris, who looked at me but said nothing. I silently thanked him, spun around, and sprinted off into the darkness.
Thirty second later I heard a loud curse and knew that Junior had learned about my escape. I had to find someplace to hide since there was no way I could outrun them. The problem is, there isn’t any place to hide on a farm. Wide, open land surrounded the farmhouse, which I was running away from.
Junior tackled me two minutes later, at the edge of the small pond where my father had tried to dig the well so many years ago. Junior pushed my face into soft ground, and twisted my arms behind my back.
“Gimme that rope now, Todd.” said Junior.
Todd, breathing heavily from the run, looked like he was going to throw up. All that beer sloshing around in his stomach I guess. Junior tied my hands behind my back tightly, the nylon rope digging into my wrists and cutting off circulation to my hands. He held the other end of the rope in his hand.
He gave the rope a jerk and said, “You’re not going anywhere now. Got you on a leash like the yellow-bellied dog you are.”
I stood facing Junior and Todd, and saw Chris walking up from behind them. He was about fifteen feet away, when the earth beneath his feet dropped a few inches, and a pale hand with blackened fingernails reached up through the damp soil and grabbed onto Chris’s ankle and jerked downwards. Chris screamed and jumped forwards, managing to free his ankle from the grasp of whatever lay beneath him.
Junior looked back and said, “What the hell is wrong with you?”
“Something grabbed my foot back there. I think my ankle’s sprained.” Said Chris, wincing as he gingerly prodded his ankle.
Junior said, “You’re starting to sound more and more like this coward. You snagged your foot on a root. You’ve had too many beers – ya lightweight.”
Chris began to respond, but stopped when two grotesque hands again emerged from the ground, and grabbed both of Chris’s ankles and slowly pulled Chris down into a widening hole. Chris screamed and tried to rip his legs free, all the while sinking deeper into the soil. Junior and Todd sprinted forward, and each grabbed one of Chris’s hands.
“Pull!” yelled Junior.
Chris’s screams intensified, now waist deep in the ground, his eyes bulged as blood began to dribble from his mouth.
“Todd! Pull, damnit!” screamed Junior with a crazed look in his eye.
Together they pulled, and brought Chris back out of the narrow whole that had formed. His left leg was broken, and his right leg had what looked like jagged bite marks running up and down it. I stood up and took a few steps forward. They had pulled Chris out of a small tunnel with smooth, oily walls that went down about four feet before taking a ninety degree turn towards the old farmhouse.
“Use this rope to stop the bleeding from his legs.” I said
Chris, with eyes glazed over, lay moaning on the ground, and Junior looked at me for a moment before untying my hands and wrapping the rope tightly around Chris’s legs.
“Todd, you got your phone on you?” asked Junior.
“Uhh, think it’s back in the truck.” Slurred Todd.
“Mine too. Run back and get them. Bring them back to me. I’ll wait here and watch over Chris.”
Todd hesitated for moment, looking down at Chris, and then off at the SUV in the distance. Junior cursed and threw his empty beer can at Todd, “What the hell you waitin’ for? Get going!”
Todd zigzagged across the open field, hopping, skipping and doubling back every few feet, trying to avoid whatever horror lurked beneath him. He finally reached the SUV, and a few minutes later began hopping and skipping his way back towards us. Todd was about ten feet away when he abruptly disappeared.
Junior, his face ghost white, said to me, “Go see what happened.”
I took three long strides forward, and saw that Todd had disappeared into a hole that looked identical to the hole that they had pulled Chris out of. It went down about four feet, and then veered off towards the old farmhouse.
Junior looked down at Chris lying on the ground, and took two long steps to look into the hole that Todd has disappeared into. He said to me, “Walk towards the truck, slowly. I’ll follow behind you. I’ll break your leg if you try to run and leave you here. You hear me?”
“Sure” I murmur, and then a little more loudly, “What about Chris?”
Chris had regained consciousness, and began to plead with Junior to take him with us.
Junior refused, saying to Chris, “You’re safer here, trust me on this, man.”
“No, No, No” screamed Chris, and then looked at me and said with a look of pure terror on his face, “You have to listen to me. They’re coming back for me. I can hear them slithering underneath us, listening, waiting until I am alone again.”
Junior looked at Chris, and then turned to me and shoved me towards the SUV. “Start walking, slowly.”
I began to walk forwards, concentrating on each step. I could hear Chris behind us, begging for us to come back, and then nothing. I didn’t dare to turn around to look, but heard Junior curse, and knew that Chris was now four feet beneath us.
“Hurry up, get to the truck, and we can get out of here together.” Junior said as he gave a hard shove.
I doubted that Junior would take me with him, would probably leave me here to suffer the same fate as Chris and Todd. He would likely find a way to blame me for their disappearances. I knew, though, that running off on my own was the worst thing I could do, so I decided to go along with Junior, and hoped that an opportunity for escape would present itself.
We were a few steps away from the SUV when I felt the ground beneath my feet shift, rise half an inch, and then rapidly sink. I jumped backward, away from the SUV, just as a huge hole formed that swallowed the entire vehicle into a bottomless pit thirty feet across.
“My truck, it got my goddamn truck!” screamed Junior with more emotion than when Chris and Todd had disappeared.
He turned on me, and punched me in the side of the head. “This is all your fault, if you hadn’t run away from us, this never would have happened. You are going to pay for this.” He grunted as he punched me in the mouth, this time knocking me to the ground. I turned over, spitting blood out of my mouth, and kicked him as hard as I could in the groin, and immediately sprinted into the old farmhouse.
“I am going to kill you.” Junior screamed after me with a hysterical laugh.
I knew that he would kill me, if he got a hold of me, so I sprinted through the abandoned house, looking for the door to the basement. Memories from my early childhood came rushing back as I sprinted through the farm house. If I could find someplace to hide, to wait him out, then I might be able to get out of this alive. The first door I tried led into a closet, but the second one opened into the pitch-black basement. I hurtled down the wooden steps, hoping that rotten wood would hold up under my weight, and heard Junior crash through the front door of the farmhouse.
I felt around the basement, searching for a good place to hide myself. I found a small alcove near the old coal chute, and draped an old canvas over my body as I sat huddled in the corner of the damp basement. The footsteps above me stopped, and I knew that Junior had found the door to the basement. The steps to the basement began to groan under the weight of Junior, and a sharp crack accompanied by a loud curse told me that one of the rotten steps had buckled under Junior’s weight.
My eyes adjusted to the small amount of moonlight shining into the basement through the boarded-up windows. The faint outline of a limping Junior came into sight, one hand out in front of him as he blindly felt around. In the other hand, he held what looked like a crowbar.
He called out, “Why are you hiding, I just wanna talk. I know how we can get out of here, if we work together.”
I watched Junior hobble across the basement, and kept deathly silent, looking for a chance to sprint up the stairs and out of the farm house. My heart missed a beat when I saw movement out of the corner of my eye, on the other side of the basement. In the darkness, I could see two black figures crawl out a hole in the wall, and pull two bodies out of the hole behind them which hit the floor like a bag of concrete.
Junior twirled around towards the sound, crowbar raised high overhead. “I know that’s you, you goddamn coward.”
One of the bodies on the floor moaned, and gasped, “Junior, they ate my eyes. They ate them. Help me please, please…”
I ripped the canvas off, and sprinted up the stairs, careful to avoid the broken step and praying that the others would hold up. I reached the top of the staircase, slammed the door behind me and locked the door.
I soon heard footsteps crashing up the stairs, and watched as the doorknob rattled. I knew I should run away while the creatures below were occupied, but morbid curiosity kept my eyes glued to the door.
“Hey, open the door! They’re at the bottom of the stairs, oh god, they’re horrible, disgusting, you should have seen what they did to Chris and Todd. PLEASE!”
I stood there, silent.
Junior cursed, and drove the crowbar through the wooden door again and again until there was a hole large enough to fit his hand through. He reached through, and twisted the lock open. His hand spasmed, and a sickening crunch was followed by an earsplitting scream. The door swung open slowly, and Junior came into view.
Blood gushed down one side of his face, a large bite mark where his left eye had been. He took a step forward, looking at me with remaining eye, until a rotting hand with sharp, black fingernails wrapped around his ankle and pulled him back into the black basement. The door closed with a loud bang, which awoke me from my trance. I sprinted out of the farmhouse and back towards the main road, blocking out the shrill screaming rising out of the basement, and ignoring the fact that the grotesque hand that had grabbed Junior’s ankle wore the same turquoise ring that I had seen my father’s old photographs.