Before I begin, I must stress that the events I write down in this entry are ones I dared utter for many many years now. I came to terms with my fears as a wish of my little sister as she was affected more than I. Nobody speaks about what happened back then and I’ve not found any evidence to deny that fact. Please read this with caution of what this knowledge may bring you.
A fresh new start.
That’s what my Father called it as he calmly drove me and my little sister to the desert little town of Plimmerton. After a furious divorce with my Mother, “A fresh new start was just what we needed!”. My Father tried to convince us both of that but we both seldom see how that meant we needed to move halfway around the world. New Zealand seemed to be a bit extreme however we had no say in the matter. Not anymore.
I had done my research, as I do most things, and a recent census confirmed the town had barely over 2000 residents. It was small. It was minute. It was simply cramped. After living in the busy city of New York most of my life, this was a massive change especially for me.
I glanced through the window to try and spy some of the people who lived here. In my 15 minute drive to find our cottage, I only spotted five people. Perhaps it was my populated upbringing but even for me that seemed strange. Even with such a small number living here, surely there would be more people outdoors at least?
My Father came to a gradual halt as he stationed the car on the driveway at the entrance to the garage. My face was still and expressionless as I exited the car to stare at our new ‘home’. It looked like it was as old as the village and poorly insulated to boot. The windows were single glazed, extremely dirty and looked unkept. At first glance, I didn’t like it but I daren’t tell my father lest he say you’ll get used to it.
I took my sister’s hand and lead her towards the door, still staring at the cottage with certain disbelief and… Dare I say slight fear? “Casey… I don’t like this place. It looks scary…” my little sister whispered only to me. She hadn’t talked to my Dad ever since Mom left. Steadily and almost instinctively, I took the 5 year old into my arms and cradled her softly. “I know, Gem, neither do I.”
As we reached the door, my Father had all five small bags in his hands, leaving the two suitcases in the car’s boot. “Hey, why don’t you go next door and see if anyone’s in? I heard there’s a nice lady who lives there and she bakes every day.” Without looking at him, I nodded and took my sister down the drive, around the corner to pace up the neighbour’s pathway.
Never putting her down, Gem knocked softly on the door and for a moment after, I was afraid the woman had not heard her gentle greeting. Yet soon after, a frail elderly woman drew back the door with a delicate smile.
“Why hello there,” I recall she said, “Who are you two lovely young girls?” Now this wasn’t an unusual confusion for me. When I was younger, I had longer hair than most boys my age so such pretenses didn’t bother me anymore.
“My name is Casey and this is my younger sister Gemma. And actually, I’m a boy...”
“Oh my, how dreadfully rude of me,” she chuckled, “Well, what do I owe the pleasure from such a fine young BOY and his younger sister?” She finished with a now wider grin, as though she might have not been all there in the head. Nothing seemed to faze her, at least I had assumed in my first moments of meeting her.
“We just moved here with my father… We’re getting to know the neighbours.” I looked up at her with both respect and slight sympathy. “Are there any other children around?” I asked.
“I know what you’d like.” She had completely disregarded my question. “I bet you would like a nice, warm cookie.” Glancing sideways to my sibling, she beamed, “Would you like a cookie, young miss?”
Gem nodded slowly, unsure at first whether she was allowed to accept the offer. We had been taught quite strictly never to talk to strangers. In my presence however, she let her guard down slightly, knowing full well with help from my encouragement I would protect her.
“Yes please, we’d like that very much.” I politely accepted on both of our accounts. The woman waved her hand to usher us in and, with a very worn and authentic walking stick, shuffled to the kitchen softly.
We followed down the hallway, taking in our surroundings with subtle judgment. The hall had a lot of photos of different men and women. There was a recurring face that grew old alongside a woman and in more recent pictures, I made out the elderly woman we were following so I assumed he was her husband. The other faces in the pictures began to disappear as the pair got older. I made out about twelve different faces all together. So I assumed she had children or younger brothers and sisters.
My analysis came to an end as we had reached the kitchen. The woman was already plating up two cookies – must have been a custom here- and shuffling back over to hand them to us. For the first time, I put my sister down so she could take a plate and so I could take mine. Gem looked up at the woman, slowly curled her lip, and let out a childlike “Thank you.”
“You’re most welcome dearie…” She chortled to herself mainly before settling down in a chair in the kitchen. Whilst my sister was enjoying her cookie, I once again questioned the woman, “Are there any other children in this neighbourhood?”
The woman stared at me for quite some time -- a little uncomfortably for me -- and her face began to fall. Her smile had dropped and her eyebrows began to furrow. She looked almost angry as if I had just accused her mother of being a hooker. Though as I once again began analysis, I realised it was more confusion than anger. It was like she had only just realised that we were children.
From confusion, she became panicked and leant forward slightly in her chair. “What is your father doing bringing you to a place like this?! Did nobody stop him when he realised he had children?!” I found her deluded ranting to be quite personal and downright disturbing.
“No, ma’am… Why? Aren’t children allowed in this village?”
The old woman shook her head frantically until the curled of grey on her head began bouncing to life again. “Not ALLOWED, dearie, ADVICED. This village hasn’t had children around for over fifty years. Children shouldn’t come here. It’s dangerous.” She stared at me as if all her heart and soul were pouring in to the words she was telling me.
I feebly and quietly choked out the next words in growing fear, “What’s so dangerous?”
Never blinking, all she said to me was, “IT’S here.”
That night at dinner, my Father had ordered us pizza and that was hard to find in such a small village. We all ate quietly, never making a sound nor sparking conversation. We didn’t look at each other except for me looking over at Gem from time to time. As I finished my own, I pushed my chair from the table, excused myself and left. My sister followed shortly behind despite still having half her pizza left.
I took her down the hall to her bedroom, sitting her on the bed to play with her. In the middle of playing, she looked up and uttered, “Do you believe what that lady said?”
I gazed up and smiled at her, shaking my head and placing my hand on her shoulder. “No Gem. She was just trying to scare us… She was just a mean old lady. Don’t worry.”
“But if it is real… You’ll protect me right?” She seemed more scared than ever.
“Of course I will Gem… I’ll always protect you.” I reassured her. Eventually, it was Gem’s bedtime and I tucked her into bed, settling down next to her to tell her a story.
She leaned over and picked out her favourite book that she had unpacked earlier. It was ‘Cinderella’. She said that she couldn’t wait for her prince to come take her away and marry her, to look after her for the rest of her life. But for now, and quite cheekily so, she said I would do as her prince.
I took the book from her tiny hands and opened the first page, beginning to read it to her dramatically. “Cinderella, you may not go to the ball!” I roared in a tremendously theatrical voice. She giggled like she always did. And then things got strange.
I turned the page and what met my eyes caught me off guard. What was usually a picture of Cinderella crying in her room, her face had been scratched into, almost like a child had done it with a pen. In place of the mice, a dark grey had coloured them over, as if trying to hide them. Most disturbing of all was what had been scrawled in behind Cinderella. A large, four legged beast loomed over her, white in fur with a deadly grin, eyes red and two short but slender horns just above its ears.
My prolonged silence had worried Gem as she shook me and whispered, “Casey?”
I tore my eyes away to look at her and forced a smirk, “Umm she leant over her dressing table, crying into the top with her mouse friends surrounding her…” I continued as normal.
I turned the page again and the sight horrified me enough to make me shriek. The beast appeared again, this time in place of the close up of Cinderella’s weeping face. She had been completely blocked out with a strong black marker, the same grin staring into me. However, on the page next to it, the mice that were there had no pen marks or scratches on them. Instead, the picture had been completely changed so the mice struck dead rodent poses on the floor, surrounding by blood and maggots. I touched the page with my finger, to confirm it wasn’t just drawn over, but it was printed onto the page. Someone – or something – had actually changed the printed image.
Again, my sister touched my arm, now with more distress. “Casey, you’re scaring me…” She whimpered. I closed the book abruptly before she could see and set it down. “And she married the prince and lived happily ever after. The end. Alright, time to go to sleep.”
“You didn’t read it all… I can’t sleep…” She pouted. I couldn’t bear to see her like this but I also couldn’t bring myself to carry on. I had seen two horrific scenes, I didn’t want to find out if there were more.
“Come on, you’ve heard it so many times, you know how it goes. It’s time to sleep Gem.” I began to stand before I was stopped by her hand clasped on my arm. “Wait! Casey… Will you sleep in here with me tonight?”
As much as it pained me, I shook my head. “No Gem, I’ll be right across the hall, don’t worry, nothing will happen.” I slowly pried her hand off my arm and backed up to the door. She stared at me, trying to guilt trip me to stay. I stayed firm and exited the room, leaving the door open ajar so some light could break into her view.
Entering my own room, I too left the door open, and settled down onto my bed. Trying to forget what I had just seen, I glared at the ceiling, hoping I could relax. Could that be the It the old lady was talking about? It was terrifying. Its eyes bore into my mind just as deadly as its grin had. What creature was that? How did it get into my sister’s book?
Many questions plagued my mind as I lay in this new unfamiliar bed, just thinking about what the old woman kept saying. Surely what she was saying was just an urban legend, a myth. I needn’t think about it too long unless I started to believe it too. That scared me the most I think.
I pulled the covers over me and cuddled into it, closing my eyes to prepare myself to go sleep. Everything would be better in the morning.
A loud clatter woke me up in the middle of the night, making me jump awake sweating all over. My heart was beating like a jack hammer as I sat bolt upright and stared around the room. I glanced over at the clock to catch the time. 3:27 am. Who would be making this noise so early in the morning?
Despite my fear, and because I had a role to show to Gem, I stepped out of bed to place my feet in my slippers. Clambering around in the dark, I fumbled on the desk to find my lamp and quickly flicked the switch.
But in my horror, the light didn’t turn on. I flicked it a couple of times but no light illuminated the room. I pulled my shaky hand away from the switch and reached for the next thing closest to me; a scientific clamp I got off my mother. Clutching it into my hands, I stepped quickly towards the door and pulled the handle to open it.
Stepping out into the dark, I stared ahead of me to look at Gem’s room. The door was shut. That worried me. I took in my surroundings as best as I could to analyse any change to the hall. There was no evidence of anyone being around or anything stolen to suggest a burglary. Everything was in place, old and decrepit as it had been before. The only change since I had entered my room last night was Gem’s door being closed.
“Gem?” I called out in the dark, gliding swiftly to the closed door and pushing it gently. It didn’t budge. My own fears had completely drained now to make way for new fears for my precious sister. I pushed it harder, handled turned, to try and open it. No movement. I stepped back, tensing myself, and ran at the door, bursting it open and making me tumble into a pile of glass.
My arm felt the brunt of the shards, starting to pulsate with pain and pour blood. I let out a sharp hiss and whimpered continuously as I stood to look around. I examined my arm and found a few long pieces of glass coming out my arm. It was aching and throbbing now that I had given it attention. Taking off my pyjama top, I gradually began to pull the glass out, whimpering louder than ever. I was determined not to scream. Pulling the first and largest shard out, I did the same with the other three and wrapped the shirt tightly around my arm until I could continuously feel my heart beat in my forearm.
I reached my unharmed arm to flick the light switch. Yet again, no light. Had the electric gone off? Again, I had to analyse the room as best as I could with no light. I didn’t know if I was just seeing things but I swore that her room had been ransacked, her sheets on the floor and her toys shrewd everywhere. The only thing missing was Gem.
Another loud clatter shocked me from my stupor and I turned to enter the hallway again. Looking around, I tried to identify the source of the noise but nothing. Nowhere. It was too quiet. Too settled.
Cautiously, I tip toed into the living room, peering around the corner of the wall carefully. What met my eyes would never leave my mind, even now.
The creature from my sister’s book was there, standing over my Gem. At first glance, I thought it was just staring at her, looming over her. But at closer glance, I realised its jaw was clamped down over her neck. She was lying flat on her stomach, appearing to have the life literally sucked out of her. I remained frozen on the spot, staring at the monstrosity taking over my sister.
In the instance, I let go of the adult persona I had become to look after my little sister, and screamed out for the first time. “DAAAAAAAD!”
The beast ripped its jaws from Gem’s neck, taking a portion of her flesh and muscle with it. He stared his never blinking eyes towards me, his grin intact. I stayed solidly in place, staring back at the creature that remained unnamed. Yet it didn’t move. It just stared, grimacing at me as it remained guarding over my sister.
When I came back to my senses and realised that Father hadn't come to my rescue. I yelled and lifted the steel clamp over my head, tossing it at the beast. Of course, the clamp was far too heavy and hit the ground before it hit the creature. The beast’s eyes averted to the clamp then back at me. Again, no movement. We simply stared at each other.
Determined to save my sister, I ran at the clamp to retrieve it. Just as I had reached for it, the beast leapt at me sideways and knocked me to the ground. Kicking and screaming, I flailed my arms and glanced at the creatures salivating mouth as he drew closer to me. I looked around me to search for a weapon. Something. Anything.
I glanced at my pure silver second place science trophy on the table near me, but it was too far to reach. I wretched with agony and fear, writhing to reach my goal. The creature thudded one of its giant feet onto my arm to prevent me from grabbing the trophy and I heard the snap of my bones crushing echoing in my ear. With one final shriek -- before I knew my death was imminent -- a gunshot caught my attention and the beast hit the wall.
Without hesitation, I dragged myself away as quickly as I could with one arm. I stood and retrieved the trophy, smashing it against the beast’s head as it came at me one last time. It fell near the door all twisted and mangled; I was sure it was dead. In my horror, I watched as it began to rise, twisting its waist around into the right position and swinging its head to crack it into place. It stared at me, then stared behind me, then back at me and slumped its weight down like a dog being told to sit. Its muzzle never changed from that sickly grin.
I turned my head around to spy the old lady from next door, holding a heavy duty shot gun shakily in her hands. She glanced back at me and smiled, “Didn’t I tell you it was dangerous..? Go.”
I didn’t need to be told twice, I sprinted to my sister and picked her up with one arm, resting her on my hip. She was limp but she was breathing faintly. I lifted my head to stare at the beast. Its grin still stayed prominent, boring its eyes into mine. It had accepted defeat; but it wasn’t over.
I made my way sharply to the back door and ran out into the night and when I had gotten far enough away, I heard a shrill wail before a crunch echoed the street. I stopped to release a tear from my eye, making a silent prayer for the unknown old lady and ran as fast as I could.
After that, I found a police station but I was only just too late. They took Gem to a hospital and I was informed that she had had her spine severed and she’d lost a lot of blood plus a good portion of her flesh that wouldn’t heal. When I tried to tell them what happened, they thought that I was telling tall tales because I was only eleven years old. My father was never found. My Mother flew over to see Gem but a few days before, Gem had already passed away.