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They Come from Below

A Short Story

By Matthew FrommPublished 2 months ago 3 min read
Top Story - March 2024
They Come from Below
Photo by Sean Stratton on Unsplash

“Shhh, you can’t say anything, or the monsters will get you,” his sister Emily whispered in the pitch-black room. Joseph nodded, scared if he moved his head too much, it would hear his hair rustling, but he would be quiet. He always was.

They had left their farm the day before her fourteenth birthday; Joseph remembered because that meant it was six months to his sixth birthday, and he thought it was rather mean of his parents to leave without celebrating. Emily had been so excited, but their father spent their last moments on their farm trimming his beard instead of celebrating.

He missed his bed, and the farm. There had been an old castle downriver from their farm. Emily would lead him down so they could look at it when they weren’t supposed to. Joseph loved it. Seeing the red brick castle brought his toys to life, and Joseph imagined he was one of his little wooden knights running along those walls and fighting a dragon. Emily said there were lots of dragons around now.

Joseph didn’t quite understand what was going on. Always going from place to place was tiring, and sleeping on the floor was uncomfortable. Emily always told him not to make a sound, so Joseph would just fall asleep when they went from place to place. He didn’t understand why his parents and Emily couldn’t just sleep. It was easy! Instead, they always seemed like they were going to get in trouble.

Even if the dragons were around, there were still plenty of knights. Just that day, Joseph had seen them through the little window, which was the only way they got any light in. Dad wasn’t too happy about that when he saw him. He thought they were spectacular, though, Marching in lines with their big silver horses and black suits of armor. How could there be monsters with so many knights around?

There was a knock from below the floorboards that were his bed.

Joseph closed his eyes. He’d be quiet. He always was. He was a good boy. Next to him, Emily held her hand over her mouth. Their parents were in the small room across the attic. He hoped they were asleep. Being quiet was easy when you were asleep.

Then he heard the voices.

“Wo sind die Juden? Schnell!”

“Kein Juden! Nein!” The man below said in his broken, heavy accent. Joseph liked him.

More shouting followed.

There came a crack of thunder followed by what sounded like a bookcase falling. Joseph opened his eyes. These must be the monsters, or worse, maybe that thunder was a dragon. He prayed with all his might that the knights would come.

A scream pierced the attic.

At first, Joseph thought it was Emily. But no – he saw her lying there dead still with her hand over her mouth.

It must have been Mommy then. Dad really wouldn’t like that.



It's really important to read as writers. This was written for RM Stockton's 𝐅𝐞𝐛𝐫𝐮𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝐖𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐞 𝐂𝐥𝐮𝐛 𝐏𝐫𝐨𝐦𝐩𝐭 (𝐔𝐧𝐨𝐟𝐟𝐢𝐜𝐢𝐚𝐥 𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐧𝐠𝐞), until I went back and actually read the prompt....Anyway, it's a great challenge that you should participate in! This was a tough piece to write-sorry for the preweekend downer everyone.

Challenge info below:

If you've enjoyed this, please leave a like and an insight below. If you really enjoyed this, tips to fuel my coffee addiction are always appreciated. All formatting is designed for desktops. All my works can be found below:

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About the Creator

Matthew Fromm

Full-time nerd, history enthusiast, and proprietor of random knowledge. The best way to find your perfect story is to make it yourself.

Here there be dragons, and knights, and castles, and quests for entities not wished to be found.

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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    Writing reflected the title & theme

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    Well-structured & engaging content

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    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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Comments (28)

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  • Emos Sibu Poriei (Kaya)about a month ago

    Wow! Best! Congratulations on TS!

  • Sivaraman Mabout a month ago

    https://vocal.media/history/history-of-virudhunagar support me

  • Anna about a month ago

    Congrats on Top Story!🥳🥳🥳

  • John Charles Harmanabout a month ago

    Scary stories are fun! Good job. I think you would like my stories.

  • Rachel Deemingabout a month ago

    Oh man, Matthew. Seeing it through Joseph's eyes, the eyes of innocent whose only monsters are dragons and seeing soldiers as knights. This made me tight in my gut on reading it.

  • Kodahabout a month ago

    💓Congrats on top story! Love your story! 💓

  • Blake Boothabout a month ago

    Loved this one.

  • Idogho Oghaleabout a month ago

    I like how your story encapsulates sibling bravery in the face of uncertainty. Keep sharing your tales—they resonate with courage and hope.

  • JBazabout a month ago

    Matthew, you out did yourself on this piece. I was on edge wondering what was goi g on, and oh boy did this have a lot. So much in a short story. That ending was a cliff hanger. Congratulations

  • Pamela Walsh-Holteabout a month ago

    What a terrifying innocent view point of a horrendous injustice of crime against humanity. My heart aches for Joseph and his family. Very well written. Thank you

  • Kendall Defoe about a month ago

    Damn impressive!

  • Thavien Yliasterabout a month ago

    The worst monsters are the ones that live next to us, look like us, that are us, and that hate us just for being us. Then again, we've probably been monsters tl for hating them just for being them. Nobody can control the state of their birth and who they're born unto, it is what we do with being born that makes us good or bad. This gave me flashbacks to "Night" by Elie Wiesel, Schindler's List, and a story who's name I can't quite recall (the granddaughter ends up traveling back through time and meeting her grandmother, and her grandmother is against tattoos because of the number she had drilled into her arm, if I recall correctly the grandmother's name is Eva). I feel for how innocent Joseph is. Especially to lose his sibling like that, right in front of him. Some people, especially children, take a while to process death. For me, when a loved one of mine passed away it didn't hit me until a fee months later. Poor Joseph, I hope that they remain hidden and eventually reach freedom. May Emily be at rest and eternally at peace. It's sad that Joseph must learn about the fact that fairytale and make believe monsters don't exist and some will never be as terrible as we are. Think about it, the flames of a dragon, the toxic sting of a wyvern, the instanteous death from a basilisk's gaze, the gnashing fangs or a werewolf don't seem as bad as the torture that we put each other through when we dehumanizing one another. In a sense, those creatures have a lot more grace than we ever will, and that we will ever bestow unto our enemies.

  • Cathy holmesabout a month ago

    That wasa great entry. Congrats on the TS.

  • Testabout a month ago

    Terrific work! Keep it going—congratulations!

  • Melissa Ingoldsbyabout a month ago

    Ohhh god how truly torturous and confusing for a child to be in such a situation!! Very well written and thoughtful piece

  • I am so pleased to see this gem getting the recognition it deserves. Congrats on a well-deserved Top Story, Matthew!

  • Rick Henry Christopher about a month ago

    Excellent storytelling Matthew. You kept me intrigued through the end. I love this story. Joseph's imagination kept him feeling brave. He was able to remain brave even in the darkest recesses of his mind. Joseph's courage never falters as he holds on to hope for the arrival of his knights. The end threw me for a loop. It was sad yet at the same point hopeful.

  • Lamar Wigginsabout a month ago

    Nice short story, Matt. The ending packed a punch! I'm going through RM's list now. Read quite a few already.

  • K. Stockton2 months ago

    My father called me and read me this entry, and inspired me to finally join his silly writing group and submit a piece to his challenge. This is absolutely beautiful and heart-wrenching. I've been thinking about it since my dad read it to me and now I've read it three more times for myself. Really incredible work.

  • Catsidhe2 months ago

    This builds up so well to the climax. Well done!

  • J2 months ago

    I think this fits perfectly.

  • Cyrus2 months ago

    The last line was done so well...

  • Phil Flannery2 months ago

    Very powerful and very scary.

  • Frankie Martinelli2 months ago

    Outstanding storytelling here 🙂

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