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Hovel

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They wouldn't let him leave for days for even the lightest offense. He could leave a streak of gravy on his plate and be locked in the old drafty shed for a week. After years, it became less a punishment and more a kind of coldly appointed stable.

The floor was earth, covered in debris and excrement. The chain on the flimsy door was a laughable, but stern means of keeping him confined, and it turned his bedroom/outhouse/prison cell into a sad majority of his hours since birth.

In the beginning, the tremors he'd feel as he slept in the slight depression in the dirt were dismissed as just that—light tremors. But as the years wore on, the trembling he'd feel just below himself would persist in an area known for its virtual lack of seismic activity. He'd become curious and ultimately begin digging at the bottom of his bedding area.

After about four feet of hacking away at the clay with an aluminum pipe, the ground gave way. He found himself in what seemed to be a tunnel of sorts, the bottom of which was stamped hard as concrete. It was damp and had a steady flow of cool air blowing through it. He thought, as it occurred to him almost immediately, that he could seize the opportunity and explore the hole. Since he was denied human contact, his fear of the unknown did an almost astonishing about-face and he became more curious than an off-balance wild kitten.

He crawled like a soldier into the hole, past the light and into the dark. He found nothing and became bored after he crawled thirty or so feet. He reversed himself and emerged from the hole, thoroughly disappointed.

That night, he slept across the shed from the hole. He fell asleep with relative ease as a result of his utter disappointment. His mind wasn't fixated on the matter, but rather he threw out all thoughts and forced himself into an early slumber. As he finally started to drift, he heard an odd sound. It was truly puzzling, as he hadn't heard anything quite like it before, and he frustratedly rose from his new spot of sleep.

The sun had just barely dipped below the treeline, so the scant amount of light provided a restrictive glimpse into the hole as he peered into the edge of his old slumber pit. The sound was faint, but prominent and growing in volume. He admitted to himself that he was afraid, but held his ground, seemingly rooted to the spot.

It was horror. Pure terror, if you will, that flowed through him as a large hand, ripe with livor mortis, creaking reached out of the hole and aided in pulling a naked, pungent, human-like figure from the tunnel.

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