A strange happening in an unknown town renders one neighborhood childless. Officials report nothing but several broken windows and the common testimony of a small boy in pajamas wandering the streets on that frigid night. Later inspection revealed a neatly arranged pile of bones and flesh under a weeping willow in the nearby forest.
The account is as follows of the being known only as The Man and his small helper:
"Come, Little Children"
In a small town neighborhood, the lights had gone out. The name of the town does not matter; the only detail of relevance is the story that follows.
It was a frigid, frosty night, and the electricity in the old houses had blown. On the night of October 19, Children suffered shivering spasms, cold sweats, and spectral dreams transfiguring themselves into tangible nightmares. On that very morning, a young boy was seen walking slowly along the street, clad in nothing but some striped pajamas despite the freezing temperatures. Though only early fall, the entire area was covered in a dense frost. Footsteps could be seen in the early hours. Those footsteps, however, disappeared soon after the sun rose. As did the children.
The following morning of October 20, a tremendous search was undergone. The only evidence of the children's disappearance was the disturbed sheets of over twenty child beds, the parental testimony of a small boy wandering along the street, and a pile of acrid flesh and bones piled underneath a weeping willow deep in the forest.
The following is an artist's rendering of the events which have passed.
I wanted a friend...I wanted...a friend. The Man said that he would help me...help me find what I wanted...if I walked the streets for him.
So that night, when the lights went out and I could walk unnoticed, I called them. I called the children from their homes to follow me. The Man had taught me to sing to them, to bring them from their homes without their parents noticing. They did so like my song that they flew through their windows, some head-first, others feet-first, but all bleeding as they flew as if dragged by spectral tentacles.
Pizzicato strings came to echo to my song, strumming slowly and deliberately as my voice harmonized with the screams surrounding me. Screams decorated the night as stars do the sky, but I paid them no mind. The promise of reward drowned out the cries of the others, my purpose definite and the end justifying the means used to achieve it.
As we walked slowly into the forest, out of the sight of any prowling person who would impede our advance, the tentacles pulled with less bone-breaking force. The Garden of Shadows was just beyond the wooded threshold, and The Man would be waiting in the fold betwixt and between the worlds for me and my company.
The frigid wind began to flow through the treetops, carrying on the screams below to some far off land where their origins would not be understood. The wind rustled the trees, making them twist and shake as if laughing at my playmates below.
The slithering black ropes which held the captives in place began to twist along the tree branches, latching on to a strong limb and hoisting each child up by the neck. I stood in the center of the small clearing, eager for my reward. As the ropes squeezed those soft vertebrae with increasing force, cracks began to form. I began to laugh- the crackling of those boys and girls resembled a door in my memory- the last sound I remembered from when I was alive. Shortly after that sound had run its course, I had met The Man, and he had sent me on this journey. The story had almost come full circle.
With the last staccato snap, the lifeless bodies dangled from the treetops, and my mission was complete. As promised, The Man allowed one of the captives to drop from the tree and into my small arms. This was a farce- a deal breached! I was furious; I wanted no corpse, I desired no lifeless plaything!
I yelled my complaints at The Man with no face, with the emaciated torso and the hunched back, at The Man who had tricked me with his deceptive and toothless smile, who had told me to do such terrible things as a spider made a web in his exposed chest cavity!
I cried out "No, no, this is not how it ends! I have done all of this for you, and you repay me with this?!" I held the deceased girl in my arms and screamed with all my might at The Man who had extinguished my life and stolen my innocence. He would hear none of it, ignoring me and turning his gaze toward one of the gently swaying children in the trees. He picked one of the bodies from the trees, uncurling the noose which jetted out from his spine and using his three talon-like fingers to snatch the boy from the air before he could fall.
"No. Not a farce." said he.
The Man with no mouth, "A present- a gateway, if you will." He made a slurping sound as his featureless face split in two to reveal a blood-red mouth and several rows of decaying teeth. His tongue, a tremendous leech-like worm, wriggled from his exposed abyss of teeth to capture the child in his immense claws and bring it slowly inside.
"Nothing could be better than what I have given you- what you have done with your own little hands. Play with your food, make it a friend, then when it doesn't expect you to move, devour it. There is no greater display of power than that of the eating of ones comrades.
Let me tell you, son, the taste and the surge of superiority never quite get old- you'll find that for yourself one day when that little girl in your hands becomes too much to handle. Just three quick chomps, one, two, three, and she'll be gone. Mark my words, kid, the drawing of another's blood is not a habit easily quelled."
To this day, it has never been determined exactly what happened in that unknown town, but the disappearance of those children had caused widespread terror across the Midwest, The Man and his little boy fading slowly into memory and legend. For now.