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Appalachian Grandpa The Bone Collector Prologue

by Joshua Campbell 2 months ago in urban legend / supernatural / slasher / psychological / monster / fiction
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By J Campbell

"I almost expected I would see him again tonight."

I looked at Grandpa, Glimmer's hand very warm in mine, as we walked back to the house. Grandpa had noticed, but if he felt anything about it, he didn't voice it. Glimmer, for her part, had explained that she simply didn't want me getting lost, so she thought she might help me get home.

After the night I'd had, I was glad for the steadying throb it made in my chest when my heartbeat.

"Who?" I asked, keeping pace with Grandpa as we walked.

"The Snake Handler," he clarified, "I thought he might show up again when I needed him again. Silly, huh? He'd be even older than I am. A shriveled mummy of a man."

I considered asking him about why the Welder Gheist had shown up, but the answer was pretty obvious. We had been at our most vulnerable, our most likely to make a deal, and he had known that. Grandpa didn't need to worry about his old benefactor and more than he had to today. He was still bouncing from the victory over an old foe, and I was still flying high as Glimmer's soft skin pressed against the sweaty hand she had taken hold of. We could talk more about that old devil another day. Today, we were victorious, and that was all that mattered.

"What did you do after he helped you defeat the Bone Collector the first time?"

Grandpa laughed, and it was good to hear him chuckle. Our days had been filled with uncertainty, and the last two days had felt like a lifetime. We had lived under the shadow of that hulking beast, and now we were coming back out into the sun again, so to speak.

As the canopy of stars opened above us, I sighed in relief as I let the sounds of the Appalachian Mountains by night waft over me.

"I collapsed after I had finished with my warding, my energy gone. The Snake Handler came to check on me after checking that his bag was closed, and as he loomed over me, I wasn't sure if he was going to kill me or help me? He was a rough customer, but I guess he was more rugged than rough, looking back. He helped me up, asked if I was okay, and told me I was lucky to be alive. I asked if he was the same one who had helped my Grandmother and I four years ago, and he said that it had been him. He was sorry to hear about Grandma, but he was glad to see that I was keeping up the family business. He told me, next time, to know my limits before taking on something like that. He claimed he had just been passing by at the right time, but I think he might have been waiting for the Bone Collector or something like it. He knew he would be needed, and he stayed close all these years so he could help when the time was right. That always stuck with me, and I knew then that I had some growing to do. When I got home and found my draft order from the government, I knew this was the chance I'd been waiting for. I returned from war a much better man, and I strove to learn as much as possible so I would never need to lean on anyone again."

Glimmer squeezed my hand, giggling a little but keeping her silence as we walked towards the house.

It was clear that this hadn't been the last time Grandpa had to lean on someone, but Glimmer was okay with letting him have his moment.

The house was much the same as we had left it, but the front porch looked like a tree had fallen on it. The roof had fallen in, and the left wall was a mass of splintered wood. The whole thing had spilled into the yard, and it was a sad sight at the end of such a long day. Grandpa's house had always seemed like a rock in the middle of an ocean of uncertainty. I had never thought that it, too, might be damaged in our struggles.

Grandpa put a hand on the wall, stroking the wood as if it were a loved one he'd watched suffer. He didn't cry, but the look of abject sadness that stretched his face was awful to see. How many nights had I sat out here with him and drank as we listened to the crickets? How many stories had I heard from the chairs that now lay beneath so much rubble?

Glimmer and I watched him as he mourned until I just couldn't take it anymore.

"We'll fix it, Gramps."

He turned to look at me as though he didn't quite understand what I'd said.

"We can fix it. We can rebuild the porch. It'll be good as new. We can start tomorrow; we can start tonight if you want. It'll be okay, Gramps."

Grampa looked at me for a few seconds, his agony splitting into a smile that made his wrinkled face look almost normal again.

He nodded, his eyes shining in the moonlight, "Sure, kid. We can make it even bigger than it was before if we want. Since this is your home too, you can put your own mark on something for the house."

We started making plans that very night, Glimmer staying until well past midnight. She let me walk her to the woods this time. I wasn't gone long, but we definitely took a few minutes for ourselves, and I promised I'd meet her the next night for a late-night stroll.

When I returned, I found Grandpa asleep on the couch and helped him to bed.

We could start working on the porch tomorrow.

It took us four weeks, but it was ready just in time for Halloween. Grandpa and I built, sanded, painted, and put the finishing touches on before the first trick-or-treater ever wandered up. Glimmer came to help sometimes, mostly just showing up at sunset to spend time with Grandpa and me. We had taken several walks after sunset, and though she still called me Hunter, she often used my real name when we were together.

As Grandpa sat on the porch and handed out candy to smiling superheroes and laughing princesses, he had the biggest smile I had ever seen him wear.

Grandpa was in his element, and there was no question whether he liked the additions to the house.

"This reminds me of a Halloween after I'd come back from the war. I was sitting out here handing out candy when I looked up to see a little boy in a ghost costume. He was shaking his bag at me, silent as the grave, as he begged for sweets, but I was really focused on how my bottle tree was shivering. I looked around for the boy's parents, but he was alone. That wasn't uncommon. Lots of parents let their kids roam during Halloween. The difference in this kid was the blood I saw drying on the hem of his costume."

Some of the kids had stopped to listen to his story, but they all jumped when a voice from behind them gave Grandpa pause.

"Are you telling the story about the little ghost boy again?"

Glimmer stepped out of the woods, her silver hair in a long braid, her dress a silvery sparkle of moonlight as she came to sit beside me on the porch.

She looked otherworldly as she sparkled.

"What a costume," said one of the mothers, "I'd love to know where you got it from."

As Glimmer explained how she had made it herself, I reflected again on my year with Grandpa.

As Glimmer laid her head against my shoulder, I wondered what sort of surprises next year would bring with them and what sort of adventures Grandpa and I might find ourselves in next time?

Who knew how much more I might discover by next Halloween?

urban legendsupernaturalslasherpsychologicalmonsterfiction

About the author

Joshua Campbell

Writer, reader, game crafter, screen writer, comedian, playwright, aging hipster, and writer of fine horror.

Reddit- Erutious

YouTube-https://youtube.com/channel/UCN5qXJa0Vv4LSPECdyPftqQ

Tiktok and Instagram- Doctorplaguesworld

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