I grew up in a small rural town in the American South East. Growing up here has its perks. It’s quiet and everyone has always been friendly. The downside is there was never a lot to do other than play around outside with the other neighborhood kids. We would stay out all day long playing Cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, tag and all those other fun kids’ games. But none of us were allowed to stay outside after dark. We were always forced to come inside and not allowed back out 'til day break.

The reason for that (or at least I thought it was at the time) was to keep us from hurting ourselves or getting lost. But the adults in the town would always tell us a story of “The Small Town Slasher” and how he stalks small towns in the south to kidnap children. Once he captures the children, they said, he keeps them locked up and gets them all good and fat; then, he eats them. Of course, growing up, this always scared me into thinking it was true.

The story went like this:

"Long ago, there was an old man who worked as a blacksmith in a small town. One year he started to get deathly sick. He had a wife and son that he dared not get sick as well, so he crawled out into the woods to die. While out there, he laid against a tree and a bright light flashed from the sky. He thought it was an angel coming to take him to heaven, but in fact, it was three demons. These demons offered the blacksmith eternal youth and the ability to live forever and be free of any illnesses- all he had to do in return is sacrifice one human to them in a year. Any human would do, they said, as long as they were worthy of being a great feast.

The blacksmith, against his moral judgment, agreed and the demons healed him. When he returned home his wife and son had fallen ill of the same illness he had before. The blacksmith was heartbroken, but suddenly something came over him. Something dark. He picked up his son and traveled into the woods. He tried questioning what his father was doing, but he was too weak. The blacksmith pulled a knife and told his son to close his eyes. It would be over soon. The blacksmith killed his son and consumed him. This pleased the demons, so as part of their deal, they made the blacksmith young again. The blacksmith with his newfound youth said to hell with his wife and set out on his own. Ever since then, once a year, the Small Town Slasher lures a child to the woods and consumes them for the demons that give him eternal youth."

The parents then give a warning about why their kids should never go outside at night, as if the bone-chilling story wasn't enough.

As time passed on and I grew older, the neighborhood kids and I stopped playing outside and slowly migrated into the relaxed life of the modern day teenager. You know, things like playing video games, getting on the Internet, and all that good stuff. Well, when I was about sixteen years old, our town had our first missing person in over thirty years. A young boy by the name of Thomas Green; I grew up with his brother, Dillon. I never really got to know Thomas but he seemed like a really nice kid and never seemed to be the type to run away. Apparently he and another kid had been out playing on the railroad tracks that day and as it started to get dark, something in the woods caught their attention.

The boy that was with Thomas said it was a flashing light and some music playing, kind of like what you would hear from an ice-cream truck, and they also heard what sounded like kids laughing. They rushed over to tell the kids that they needed to get inside when a child began to speak, then something roared like a bear and smacked him. The boy was so scared, he ran back home and he was bleeding across the chest. He said he thought that Thomas was behind him as he was running, but when he got home, Thomas was gone.

The cops were called and all the parents in the neighborhood mounted a search party. I joined up since I was deemed “old enough” to go out after dark, I decided to finally use that privilege. The cops said that from what the kid described, we could be dealing with a bear, so everyone was armed. Including me, although all I had was the shotgun I use for bird hunting; if it was a bear, I would be completely underpowered. But nonetheless, we started scouring the woods.

My dad, three others, one cop and I were in one group and we were headed directly north from where the kid said he last saw Thomas. We were beginning to think this was some sort of hoax and that the kid just cut himself on a branch because we had not seen any tracks other than where the kids had run across the field. There was no indication of there being any bears around, which really wasn’t a surprise since our town wasn’t really known for having bears. Nonetheless, we kept going onward.

After a while, we got to an open meadow where we saw three different sets of kid sized tracks leading off in different directions. We split up into three teams and set off following the paths.

Once my dad and I got deeper into the woods, I stopped to take a leak and when I finished, I looked up and my dad was out of sight. I yelled for him, but got no reply. I kept walking in the direction we were headed before, but that lead to a long chain link fence. The fence had been cut open, I thought about going through, but I had never been out this far alone at night by myself. However, against my better judgment I crawled through the gap. I walked for what seemed like a good fifteen minutes until I stumbled over a fallen tree branch and hit the ground. I started to push myself up, but my hands landed in something goopy and warm.

“Please don’t be a pile of shit,” I said to myself as I sat up.

When I shined the light on my hand I realized that it was covered in blood. This made me jump because at first I thought it was my blood until I looked down and saw a large pool of blood on the ground. There was a trail of blood leading in the direction I was walking. I didn’t dare walk it but I did shine my flashlight along it. I wished I hadn’t. It wasn’t long before I saw my father, hanging from the tree. His throat had been slit open and his eyes gouged out and his shirt had been torn off. He was tied by his wrist up between two trees and in his chest the words “LEAVE NOW” were carved. In the distance, music played that sounded like it was coming from an ice-cream truck.

So I did, I ran as hard and as fast as I could until I was back in the meadow. I didn’t see anyone. I ran back through the woods until I reached the area where our search started. I saw everyone was headed back to town so I screamed for help. Everyone turned and rushed to me and I told them what happened. I can’t remember much after that, everyone said I passed out but I don’t know for sure. All I know is that I woke up the next morning and I was home and had been cleaned up.

That was ten years ag., I’m twenty-six now, and I’ve gotten over the events of that night. In fact, I chose for a while not to remember what I had seen and went with what the police filed it as, my father committing suicide. But something has happened recently that made it all come flooding back to me.

See, after high school, I moved south to a town that’s about thirty minutes away from my college. This town is about the same population-wise as the town I grew up in only this one has the added benefit of a small park with a baseball field on the side of town where an old school used to stand. At the baseball field are some bleachers that a lot of the older people in town walk to sometimes at night just to socialize. It’s sort of like the town center in a way when it comes to socializing.

One night I happened to get curious and mosey over to see what the deal was with the town. I showed up and I was greeted by Bill (everyone called him Pop), the owner of the local tobacco store. He was with his wife; he introduced me to her and I said my hellos and just walked along listening to everyone’s idle chit-chat. Suddenly, a scream came from the woods on the far side of the field and a little girl came running out with a slash across her chest, bleeding. The cut wasn’t deep, just enough to make her bleed some. She was crying and saying some man jumped out and took her brother. She said he had a knife for a hand and a gun in the other and threatened to kill her if she didn’t leave. Everyone started to panic; the men ran to their homes and grabbed their guns and the women all flocked to the church with the preacher and called the cops.

When the men returned, Pop gave me a pistol and told me to stick close to him. One man, who I assumed to be the father of the missing boy, yelled for us to follow him. Going through the woods, it was eerily quiet. It was like in those Slenderman videos just before the camera goes static and you see him appear from the shadows. After several minutes of walking, I heard another scream and started to run towards it. I heard Pop say something, but it was at a low level and the crunching of the dead leaves below me was drowning out the noise. I reached an open meadow that looked oddly like the one from ten years ago.

I was dizzied for a moment but I heard the screaming again and followed it. It led me into the woods and I wasn’t far until I saw him. The Small Town Slasher. He was on top of the kid threatening to gut him wide open. I stopped and crouched down, I should have rushed in then but he was humming a tune that sent a chill down to my bones. He was humming the very same tune I heard that night my father died.

“Little child, don’t be scared, for where I’m taking you is better than the world out there. I will give you candy and all the toys you can imagine. But if you don’t shut your little fucking mouth I’ll send you to heaven!

The Slasher sang, sounding like a demented Dr. Seuss. The Slasher stood and began dragging the kid who was now sobbing softly to himself.

I wasn’t going to let this kid die like my father. I took a deep breath and ran from the bushes. I pointed my gun at the Slasher and told him to let the kid go or I’d shoot. The Slasher stopped, peeked over his shoulder, and gave a grim dark smile as he turned around.

“So if it isn’t the one that ran away. Do tell me did you ever fully recover from that fateful day? Are you still afraid of the dark? Do you jump every time your dog lets out a bark? Oh yes, I’ve been keeping tabs on you. Since you were the oldest one to ever get close to me and survive, I decided to show a small bit of virtue. So I let you live to see another day. But I wanted to keep track and study what makes you cry, shout and exclaim HURRAY!”

He sang as he let go of the kid and walked closer to me.

“Now, dear boy, the stories your parents told you about me were not just minor hearsay; for it is true that once a year I feast on a child as if it were fine gourmet.”

He continued singing and walking closer. I pulled the trigger on the pistol and hit the Slasher in the shoulder, then I tackled him. I yelled at the kid to run away.

I started wrestling with the Slasher until he knocked me over the head. I woke up what felt like hours later but must have only been a few minutes because the Slasher was still panting from our bout. He stood and popped his neck and pointed his gun at me.

“See, boy, you don’t understand what is going on here,” the killer said in a clearly angered voice. He stood over me with pure hatred in his eyes, then smiled.

“They give me youth, they let me be free and wild. All they ask in return is the sacrifice of a child. Once a year I set out this evil plan; but since you ruined that. I’ll have your head!” The slasher sang as he crouched over me and grabbed my shirt collar.

“What you don’t understand, boy, is that children are young and weak. They are easy to replace unlike you who could be considered an antique. But children, they are easy to replace, once the parents get over the loss it won’t take long before they decide to once again replicate.

It’s always tragic when a child goes. But whether they are from small towns or ghettos, city streets or nearby meadows; children are sort of like sideshows, they come and go. But, since you ruined this year’s feast, it is my wrath that you have unleashed. For I can eat you and please them, and they would be just as happy if I were to eat him.”

The Slasher pointed to where the kid used to be sitting. As the Slasher was going on with his demonic nursery rhyme I had slipped my hand into my pocket and grabbed my cell phone. When the Slasher turned to face me I pulled out my phone and took a picture. After the flash went off, it temporarily blinded him and I jumped up and knocked him to the ground.

I took his gun and started running. I turned and saw that he stood, so I fired blindly until the gun was empty and I dropped it and ran. Amazingly, I had made it back to the baseball field where the boy had returned and the men were speaking with the cops.

Small-town-massacre-1981-a-slash-above std.original

I rushed over to the cops and told them what happened. They called in backup from the state police who brought in a helicopter and they did a sweep of the woods but nothing was found. No trace of anything, not even the gun he was using, they did find the pistol that Pop gave me, but that didn’t help me any. I remembered my phone and looked at the picture I had taken of the slasher. The image was all distorted and it was impossible to make out any details.

The cops told me it was best I stopped playing games and let them do their job. But I know what I saw and this picture proves it, the Slasher is real, and I think he may try to come for me again. I live on campus now, I have two roommates; the company makes coping with all this easier, but I’m still paranoid. Every time an ice-cream truck rides by, the music reminds me of that terrible night. Also, when I’m lying in bed at night, I swear sometimes out of the corner of my eye I see what looks like the light shining from a blade.

You can choose to not believe me, but I know what happened that night. This story is true and if you don’t believe me, drive to a small town and go sit by the railroad track or near the woods and just sit and listen. If it’s the right time of year, you will hear that haunting music he plays to lure children to him for his sacrifice.