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Sins of the Father: part 1

Five generations, two sisters, one name, and a family curse...

By Morgan Rhianna BlandPublished 2 years ago 8 min read
Sins of the Father: part 1
Photo by Mario Dobelmann on Unsplash

The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night, a candle burned in the window. The cabin had been in the family for generations, tucked deep within the woods behind our house like a dirty little secret. It came with the property when my great-great grandfather bought it over 125 years ago. All my life, the cabin had been off-limits. My parents wouldn’t tell me why. Whenever I asked, all they would say was that it was too dangerous. I never understood until the one time I decided to break that rule.

I was five years old when I was first drawn to the cabin. I still remember waking up in the middle of the night to an ominous red glow outside my window. The faintly glimmering light flickered tantalizingly in the distance, as if beckoning me to follow it. I pulled the covers over my head as a sudden chill rippled through the room, but I could still feel the wind ruffling my hair as a voice whispered in my ear. “Benedict… Benedict, come to me….”

I sat up in bed, lured by the voice. Nobody noticed me sneak down the stairs and out the back door. Mom was too busy nursing my little sister, Kate. Dad was in the shower, decompressing from a late night at work. And Grandma was asleep in front of the tv in the living room, having dozed off in the middle of an episode of The Golden Girls.

Armed with only a blanket and a dinosaur flashlight, I ventured into the woods. The trees creaked and groaned in the wind, their branches snagging my clothes like wooden arms grabbing me. A pair of yellow eyes glared at me, and an owl soared out of a nearby tree as suddenly as if it had materialized out of nowhere. I yelped, ducking as it dive bombed me with a cry. I’ll never forget that sound! It sounded like it said, Gooooo back!

The farther into the woods I went, the taller the grass got. It was almost as tall as me in some places, but I kept going, guided by the flickering red light and the voice calling my name. The light grew steadily brighter, the voice louder until I approached an electric fence. On the other side, the cabin stood derelict and overgrown with vines. A candle glowed in the windowsill, and for one wild moment, I thought I saw the shadow of a woman. It was gone as quickly as it came, but the voice urged me on. You’re almost there, my dear. Come to me, Benedict. Benedict…

“Benny!” A pair of strong arms grabbed me from behind, pulling me back before I could touch the latch on the gate. I screamed and struggled, wriggling with all my might to get away. When that didn’t work, I tried to make those arms let me go by hitting them as hard as I could with my dinosaur flashlight. “Benny, stop! Hey, look at me. It’s okay; it’s Dad.”

The candle in the window flickered one last time before it died, and in the dimming light of my broken dinosaur flashlight, I saw my father. His hands were bloodied from being hit so many times with the flashlight, and his eyes were wide and panicked. One look at him and I burst into tears, though I don’t know if it was because I was scared or because I knew he was. I felt his chest heaving as I hid against him, and although I couldn’t tell for sure, I think he was crying too.


Neither of us spoke until we got back to the house. Finally Dad cleared his throat, and I knew I was going to get it! I couldn’t imagine the trouble I was in for sneaking out at night, let alone for hitting him. “Benedict Barker…” he began, and I knew it was bad. He only used my full name when I was in big trouble!

Here it comes, I thought, bracing for whatever punishment was to come. But it didn’t. All he said about the subject was, “Don’t you ever go into those woods again. Understand?”

I nodded, sniffling. “Sorry,” I said, taking one of his bloodied-up hands in both of my own. “Sorry I hit you.”

“It’s okay. I’m just glad you’re safe.” He held me tighter, kissing my hair. I guess he thought I couldn’t hear what he said next, but I did. “Every family member who sets foot in that cabin dies…”

“Huh?” I looked at him, confused.

Dad sighed. “I think it’s time you learned the truth about our family.”

He took me upstairs to the study. The room, once a stately library, had been converted into a modern home office, although some signs of its former life remained. Among them, a giant oil painting hanging on the wall above the fireplace. The man in the painting was tall and dark-haired, dressed in the same style as the leading men in the historical romances Mom liked to watch. He would’ve been an intimidating figure, if it weren’t for his kind green eyes.

Dad lifted me up so I could get a better look, and I saw the gold plaque below the frame. Although I was still learning to read, I could read well enough to know that the man in the picture had the same name as me, the same name as my dad. Below the name were the numbers 1861-1901. “See him?” Dad said, pointing to the painting.

“Yeah, we have the same name!”

“That’s your great-great grandfather. Everything started with him.” That was when I learned about the family curse.


When my great-great grandpa, Benedict Barker I, bought the land on which the cabin was built, there were two sisters already living there, the McAllister twins. The elder, Virginia, was warm and outgoing; the younger, Victoria, was cold and reserved, Two sisters with identical looks and opposite personalities, two sisters who happened to fall in love with the same man. Great-great Grandpa loved both sisters too, each in a different way, but he could only marry one. So he chose the one he thought needed him most. Guess which one that was!

After the wedding, he allowed the other sister to keep her cabin in the woods. Although she lived there by herself, the two sisters visited each other often. Great-great Grandma and Grandpa would go to the cabin for dinner every Sunday, and the sister was free to visit the big house whenever she wanted. It seemed like one big happy family… until Great-great Grandpa murdered his wife.

They say the sister made him do it. Some say she blackmailed him into it. Some say she seduced him. Some say she was secretly a witch, and she put a spell on him. The story’s been so distorted over the years that nobody knows for sure, and it’s not like there’s anyone left alive who we could ask. Whatever happened, Great-great Grandpa took the fall for her.

The cops found the three of them inside the cabin, one sister in hysterics, the other dead, and Great-great grandpa sobbing over her lifeless body, a bloody knife on the ground beside him. All three were drenched in blood. It didn’t take long for people to draw conclusions. Great-great Grandpa was tried in a kangaroo court and sentenced to die. Some families get to brag about their relation to the first man to walk on the moon or the first man to climb Mount Everest; our claim to fame is the first man in our state to die in the electric chair.

Anyway, the surviving sister was banished to her cabin in the woods, where she slowly went mad. She died there alone and forgotten. It was several days later when a groundskeeper finally found her. Her body was unceremoniously buried in an unmarked grave near the cabin, but her spirit wouldn’t rest. The ghost of Victoria McAllister lingered in the old cabin, exacting her jealous revenge on the descendants of the two people who wronged her, the sister who upstaged her and the man who jilted her. So the family curse was born.

Since the murder, no man in our family has lived past the age of 55. All of the deaths happened under mysterious circumstances, and they all happened on the exact same date years apart. That date: October 29, the anniversary of Great-great Grandpa’s execution.

If you think that’s insane, it gets even weirder! We all had the same burn-like birthmark on the back of our neck, as if the universe had marked us for death. Kate didn’t have it. Neither did Dad’s sisters, or Mom or Grandma or anyone else who married into the family. It was only the men born into the family: me, Dad, and although I never met them, I assume Grandpa and Great-Grandpa.


I thought leaving home would leave the curse behind, so that’s what I did. I chose the farthest college that would accept me, and as soon as I graduated high school, I packed up and moved across the country. From then on, holidays were spent at my place, Kate’s, or some other venue that didn’t have a century-old curse on it. I refused to go back until years later when I got a call at work from my mother.

Between the spotty cell service and Mom’s hysterical sobbing, I hardly understand a word she said. All I could make out was two words: Dad died.

Finally Kate took the phone and offered some much needed information. Apparently Dad lasted longer than the rest. He was a couple of months shy of his 55th birthday when the curse got him. He was working in the cabin, fixing up the place so he could sell it when it happened. The authorities ruled it a freak accident, an electrical shock caused by faulty wiring. We all knew better. It was the family curse at play, and I’d just become its next target.


About the Creator

Morgan Rhianna Bland

I'm an aroace brain AVM survivor from Tennessee. My illness left me unable to live a normal life with a normal job, so I write stories to earn money.

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