My name is Irene, and I’ve begun collecting various local legends from the town of Lenoresfield, where I worked as a police officer for a few years before quitting after a case involving a young girl and an old house known to the locals as “The Feind House”. The following is from an interview with an older woman named Victoria Cornel. She is a first-hand witness to the story of “The Boy Who Cried Sheep”.
Victoria was only 15 at the time, and like most girls her age, she took a summer job as babysitter. The boy in question, one Timothy Madison, vanished without a trace under her watch. It was the last job she took as a babysitter and it has haunted her ever since. Nobody believed her story, but nobody also believed she was the one who let little Timmy vanish either. But, that didn’t stop them from not returning her calls and looking for a babysitter elsewhere in the town. If our spaceships flew half as fast as small-town gossip, we would have private trips to the moon.
I remember the interview well – she had just celebrated her 55th birthday. When she first heard about my project gathering the legends and myths of our little town, she invited me to her home to hear her story. Victoria’s house was a single-story brick house with a wooden deck on the outskirts of the town, near the woods. It was the same house she grew up in. She was sitting outside her house with a cup of tea when I pulled up for her interview.
“Hello Miss Stark,” she greeted me with a warm smile. She had a grandmotherly face, with warm kind brown eyes. Her white hair was wiry but pulled tight into a ponytail. She wore a long baby blue dress with small pink flowers dotting it. On her lap was a quilt.
“Hi Miss Cornell,” I responded, giving her my own smile. “Thank you so much for letting me come out here and hear your story.”
“Call me Victoria. It’s not a problem, Doctor Phillips said it’s a good idea to talk to other people about the event,” she said. “Please, do come on inside. It’s a bit more comfortable.”
“Do you want me to help you up?” I asked, offering her my hand.
“Yes please,” she said as she took the offered hand. I helped her up and we headed inside the house. The walls were painted beige, and Victoria guided me to the dark brown couch that dominated the living room. On the small oak coffee table sat a teapot and a plate of assorted cookies. I could see a door that led out to the kitchen. There was also a window that gave a decent view of the woods.
“Would you like some tea and cookies?” Victoria offered as she sat down on the couch.
“Yes please,” I sat down as well. Victoria poured a cup of tea.
“You don’t mind Earl Grey, do you?” she asked, “And did you want any sugar or cream?”
“I enjoy it actually,” I replied, “and, no thank you, on the sugar and cream.”
“Suit yourself,” she said with a smile. She passed me a cup of tea, and then gestured towards the cookies. “Help yourself to any cookie you want.”
I picked a sugar cookie and then asked, “Are you ready to talk about it, Victoria?”
She looked towards the window facing the woods, and said, “I’m not really sure I’ll ever truly be ready for it, but… I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.”
I poured her another cup of tea and waited for her to begin. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath to collect herself.
“I remember back in '62 the boy who cried sheep,” she began, sipping at her tea, “It was late in the summer, almost fall, in Lenoresfield and it was in that sleepy time between the final days of summer vacation and the start of school. I was a teenager at that time, and the boy's name was Timothy Madison, and he didn't have many friends, beyond those in his overactive five-year-old mind. He enjoyed playing just outside of the town, often chasing butterflies or wrestling with his imagination in an open field near the woods. I was babysitting him the first time he cried that he saw a sheep in the field. That was a week before his disappearance you see.
“‘Look Vicky!’ he called to me, pointing towards an empty open field, ‘Look at all the fluffy white sheep!’
“I smiled and looked at him before I ruffled his hair. I thought that he was referring to the clouds on the horizon, which were vaguely sheep-like, and said to him, ‘I see them, Timmy.’ He beamed and watched ‘them’ with an unnerving fascination. I checked the time, it was about noon, time for his nap.
"‘Timmy, it's time for your nap,’ I told him. He began to protest, but then something strange happened. Timmy tilted his head, as if he was listening to something, and then turned to me and nodded. He offered me his hand, and walked with me back to his home for a nap. I didn't wonder what he was listening to, I just assumed it was one of his many imaginary friends. I smiled and tucked him in to his bed and then went to watch The Andy Griffith Show until his parents got home.
When the first episode was over, I turned off the TV and went to check in on Timmy. He was sitting at his window, bleating like a sheep. It was so bizarre, seeing that. I didn’t understand it, so I again, figured it must have been part of his childish imagination.
"‘Timmy, what are you doing?’ I asked.
“‘Talking to the sheep,’ he replied innocently looking over his shoulder at me with naïve eyes.
“I smiled and shook my head, thinking to myself, ah the joys of being a child.
"‘Alright, do you want to go play with the sheep?" I asked him, deciding to indulge in what I thought was a harmless fantasy at the time. He nodded and grew this wide toothy grin and scrambled down from his perch. He hurriedly put his socks on and barely waited for me to get his shoes on to go and play outside with his imaginary friends, and of course the sheep.” Victoria paused here for a moment and looked outside the window regretfully before adding, “I still wonder if it was all my fault. I wonder if I had actually been paying attention, could I have saved little Timmy?” She cleared her throat and then looked back to me, before saying, “I’m sorry, it’s just – I haven’t had anybody to talk to about this in a long time. They put me in the James Allen Asylum for a while after this – but I’m getting ahead of myself. Where were we?”
“You and Timmy had just gone out to play again in the field,” I replied with a sip my own tea.
“Oh, right, yes, we went back out to the field to play again,” Victoria continued, idly stirring her tea with a spoon, “We went back out to the field to play again. Timmy romped around, like any kid. Chased butterflies around, and occasionally he would stop to ‘baa’ like a sheep. Talking to his imaginary friends, I guessed. I thought it was just a cute little idiosyncrasy. I had an imaginary friend you know at his age, I called him Mr. Raven. God how I wish it was so. Around 4:00 PM his mother came home, and I got paid as usual. I was another ten dollars closer to my goal of owning my own car.
“This went on for about another week. It was on the last day before school started that he cried sheep for the last time. I will never, ever forget that day. Nor will I forgive myself for that. Maybe if I had just paid more attention to him, it wouldn’t have happened.
“Timmy and I sat in the field as per usual and I was reading my Ray Bradbury novel, R is for Rocket, when I heard what sounded like a twisted, distorted bleating of a sheep. I looked up, thinking that it was Timmy doing it, and was surprised to see at first what appeared to be an actual, real sheep about one hundred feet away. Timmy let out a shout of joy and hurried to hug the sheep around the neck. I slowly approached the two and froze in horror at what I saw. The sheep had a woman’s face with luscious red lips and a delicate nose. She had thin arching blonde eyebrows, however, where her eyes should have been there were two, tiny mouths complete with their own set of miniature teeth and tongues. The mouths opened and closed randomly and when they were opened I could see a glowing red sheep eye staring back at me from the back of the mouth.” Victoria shuddered before continuing, “‘Timmy,’ the creature’s larger mouth crooned in a soft, almost motherly way, ‘Timmy, come closer, don’t you want to be a sheep too?’
“Timmy looked at the ‘sheep’ and grinned. ‘Of course, I do,’ he replied, as he moved to begin petting the ‘sheep’.” Victoria set her tea cup down, with the clink of china. I could see tears welling in her eyes and I reached out to gently pat her on the shoulder.
“You don’t have to continue, Miss Cornel,” I said, not entirely sure how to comfort the woman. Victoria looked at me and shook her head.
“No, I’m sorry, I need to finish it. Somebody has got to know about my side of the story. Somebody other than Doctor Phillips. It’s the only regret I have in my life, you know,” Victoria replied. She looked down at her now empty tea cup and then looked back up at me before continuing her story.
“I was still staring at the sheep paralyzed in fear when the two of them began walking away, towards the woods. I wanted to shout to Timmy to stop, to not go with her – it – whatever. Timmy stopped and looked at me over his shoulder in that naïve innocent way of his, and he told me, ‘Don’t worry, Vicky, I get to be a sheep! I’ll be okay. The Aezir says she’ll help me learn how to be a good one. She said I’m special.’ I should’ve grabbed Timmy and ran away with him then and there. But… I was too scared, especially when he mentioned the word ‘Aezir.’”
“What do you mean?” I asked, “What is ’Aezir’? I feel like I’ve heard the term before.”
“There’s an old wooden statue out in the woods,” Victoria said, “The statue is carved in the likeness of a man with his arms spread out wide. His eyes are closed, as if he is in bliss, yet, there are several gouges in his chest, and what appears to be blood seeping from the wounds. The artist also carefully rendered a few rib bones poking from some of the wounds. Nobody knows who carved the wooden effigy or why. The only clue is a single word carved on the man's forehead, ‘Aezir’. People do visit the statue to try to find its secrets. None of them have been successful so far. Sometimes, however, there are reports of fresh blood and small animals left at the foot of the statue, leading folks to believe that the statue is a shrine of some sort to who, or what, Aezir is.”
I remembered then, where I had heard the word before – one of my first cases involved a missing dog. Nothing too big, until we found the poor thing in the woods at the foot of the statue that Victoria described. My partner at the time, Detective Harry Truman, had told me it was nothing to worry about. Kids liked to play pranks there all the time, and that occasionally took the form of dead animals left in the woods.
“I’ve seen that statue before,” I said, shaking my head, “It was weird. I didn’t know that’s how you pronounced that word.” I moved to refill her tea cup for her. She politely stopped me.
“Yes, so, you can understand why I was afraid when Timmy said it,” Victoria said, playing with her tea cup in her hands, “He was only five years old, he shouldn’t have known about the Aezir yet, much less treated it as a friend. I couldn’t stop them from walking off into the woods. I was too terrified. But that isn’t the worst part. I’ll never forget the worst part of it. You see, before Timmy and the sheep entered the forest, I watched the sheep turn to Timmy and then it stood on its hind legs and kissed the boy on the forehead. Then Timmy fell over and he began to change. His body began to sprout tufts of a wool-like substance across his back and legs. Soon, he looked like a lamb. He looked over his shoulder back at me, and I could see like the other one, he had retained a human face. His eyes were the only thing that had been changed. Unlike the other sheep, Timmy’s eyes had transformed into two toothless maws. I started screaming, and screaming, and screaming. Then, I remember nothing.
“That is, until I awoke a few days later in the James Allen Asylum. Doctor Phillips had just began working there – I was one of his first patients. I told him the whole story. He believed that I had a mental breakdown when I couldn’t find Timmy and that I hallucinated the whole ordeal as a way of coping with the guilt. In time, I came to believe him myself. It made so much sense, after all. Except for the part where they never found Timmy’s body. They scoured every inch of those woods, and could not find a single shred of proof that Timmy had ever been there.” Victoria sighed heavily and looked out the window of her home towards the woods.
I sat my teacup down and shivered. It was such a strange story, but I could see Victoria believed it whole heartedly, no matter what she said. As far as she was concerned, Timothy Madison had turned into… something. I almost didn't believe her myself when I left her home that evening, her story was incredibly absurd by itself, but then I replayed the recording I had made. I paused the recorder long enough to pull up a new file on my computer, and began transcribing her story.
I was well into the night, clacking away at my keyboard when I thought I heard a very faint “baa” from the direction of the woods. I shivered and told myself it was just my mind playing tricks on me, but deep down, I was afraid it was more than just that.
Written by Irenestark2k17