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Old Scaggy

A curse shall fall, death to all

By E MPublished 2 years ago 8 min read

The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night, a candle burned in the window.

Then I woke up.

My reoccurring dream. Or should I say nightmare. Always the same. A cabin in the woods. Abandoned. Night has fallen, a crow caws and then I wake up. It was different this time though. A new addition. A single candle in the window. Just like mother had said. She told me the candle would burn. That was how I knew it was my turn. I know what’s coming. I must stay awake. I can not go inside the cabin.


I'm sitting here again, in Doctor Tate's office. A sleep specialist in my local town who likes to think he helps people. Maybe he does, but he can't help me. Old Scaggy won't let him. She berates me every time I come here. Gets angrier and angrier. I know what she's doing. She's trying to win, trying to break me down so that I give in to her. It's working you know. Last time she nearly got me inside the cabin which means I'm coming undone.

"So Mara, are you still taking your medication?", Doctor Tate asks me. I can only see greying eyebrows and a crinkled forehead as the rest of his face is covered by the large piece of paper he's holding in his hands. My latest report. He doesn't even want to look at me anymore. He can probably see her in my eyes. Old Scaggy, ever present, ever ready to swipe. I nod in response as I know my silence will force him to look at me. A quick glance is all it takes and he's behind the paper again.

"What about the sleeping aids? Are they helpful?". I nod again and he looks at me once more. I feel like a toddler playing peek-a-boo. I want to rip the paper out of his hands and scream at him but I don't. Because that's what Old Scaggy wants me to do and I don't want her to win.

She haunts me. Not just at night but even during the day now. Every time I close my eyes, even when I blink, I see her. Am I becoming her? Maybe she is me? That's what the stories say, that's what the rumours whisper. Doctor Tate sighs and finally lays the paper down. He leans his elbows on his desk and rests his hands under his chin. He is concerned. I can tell because his brows have furrowed together and the folded skin between them look like an ‘11’.

"Mara, there's no doubt you've suffered some trauma. I need you to keep taking the pills and using the sleeping aids we've provided you and come back in a month for reassessment". He speaks with authority, as if I should trust him, as if he knows what's going on. But he doesn't. I’ll be dead within a month. Old Scaggy hates him, I can feel her churning in my stomach, her twisted thoughts want to make me lash out at him and scratch his eyes out or disembowel his belly. He should die because she must live.

I nod for the third time and leave with my prescription. I will not fill it. Old Scaggy wont let me take medication to make her go away. She'll grab me as soon as I close my eyes and I'll be in the cabin this time and who knows if I'll get out. I walk slowly to deter going home to sleep. I look like the walking dead, a zombie. People avoid me on the street. Can they see her too? I cannot stay awake forever and she knows it. I get home and slump in a chair, light on of course and TV blaring. It can't be dark in here, it can't be too quiet. My eyelids want to close. The heaviness is unbearable until it gets to the point that they are closed more than they are open. Old Scaggy is pulling them shut and eventually I let her. Then everything goes black.

It’s only black for a second though. I open my eyes again and before I can clamour out of sleep back to the safety of my brightly lit lounge room, she grabs me and pulls me in to the nightmare, the fourth dimension or wherever the hell it is.

My mother knew Old Scaggy too. That’s how she got to me. Through my mother. That’s how she’ll get you too, now that you’re reading this. You know her name. Old Scaggy. You’ll try to forget it and never say it again but you can’t forget it. It’s like a seed burying so deep inside your phsyche that you won’t think it’s there anymore. You’re saying it now aren’t you? But wait. Once she’s finished with me, which will be soon, she’ll come for you.

My mother is dead now. I watched her slowly deteriorate, go crazy. Well that’s what outsiders thought, the doctors and the specialists. I watched her pull out her own eyelashes before starting on her fingernails. That was two days before she died. It’s was Old Scaggy who did it. My mother told me she was coming and sure enough, she did.

I stand at the rickety gate in front of the path that leads to the cabin. It’s dark, very dark. A green candle flame flickers in the window but as always, the cabin looks abandoned. I open the gate and walk to the door. Old Scaggy is behind me or in me, I don’t know which but I can feel her. I want to shake violently like a wet dog to remove her presence but I am distracted by the door opening, seemingly by itself. I can see the green flame cast a wedge of light across the wooden floor of the room inside and as I cross the threshold the door bangs shut behind me, snuffing the candle out. It ignites again almost immediately and the eery green glow is returned to the room. I look around. It is truly abandoned. She does not live here. There are cobwebs across almost every part of the ceiling and their is a mustiness in the air. How am I smelling if I’m asleep? I ask myself over and over but it doesn’t matter. Maybe I’m not asleep after all. My thoughts stop when I hear her voice loudly in my ears, it is deafening.

“A curse shall fall, death to all”.

She cackles at me and it sounds as if she is spinning around the room. I cover my ears with my hands but it does not help. The door behind me opens again and a hooded figure walks in. The cloak is brown and worn and where a face should be is the darkest black shadow. There are no features at all which is terrifying, but I know it’s her. She points to the table and chairs in the middle of the room and says “sit”. As she does, a chair moves out by itself for me to sit down. I move towards it. Not because I want to but because there is a force pushing me.

There is a knife in front of me on the table. She wants my fingers. Tells me to chop them off. It’s just the start. She says she shall have all of me. First my eternal soul and then my earthly body. She will eat my meat and use my bones for the cabin. She needs me - us - to stay alive.

I look at the walls and they are made of bones. Human bones. The whole structure of the cabin is built with them. Spines and long femurs piled on top of one another, hundreds of them, possibly thousands to make the whole cabin. Finger bones make up window sills and cupboard doors and toe bones the door handles. The skulls are sculpted into the furniture and I notice the table legs where I sit, are made of six skulls stacked on top of each other on all four corners. I look at her as she stands at the opposite end of the table. She cackles loudly again and propels herself forwards towards me as quick as a flash. I instinctively close my eyes and prepare for a collision, but she stops right at my face and for the first time, as I peer into the darkest shadow of where a face should be, I see them. Her eyes, glowing distantly at first but the longer I look, the more intense they become. Illuminating out of the black abyss within the hooded cloak. A muddy green colour, the pupils large and black. The whites widen until they are as round as golf balls. Her stare is intense and I want to look away but I can not. She draws me in and I can feel a rattling in my chest. Like something wanting to come out. Is it my soul? I shut my mouth tight and close my eyes tighter. I am scared. A deep, primal scared. There is nothing I can do. She picks up the knife on the table and chops my little finger. It pings to the floor and a searing pain rushes up the outside of my arm. I recoil and cradle my hand within my other hand across my chest. She cackles and repeats loudly;

“A Curse shall fall,

Death to All.

Flesh and bone,

Shall all be gone.

All that’s left?

Everlasting death.

Eternal drift,

The Curse won’t lift”.

I jump back in fright and she drops the knife. It clatters loudly on the wooden floor and suddenly I am awake. I cover my eyes with my forearm from the instant brightness of the room and take a second to come round. She has lost me. For tonight. I sigh in relief and lower my arm. I am not in my lounge room. I am not even in my home. I’m back in Doctor Tate’s office but something is wrong. He is slumped in his chair, blood on his shirt. It is torn at his lower abdomen. I can see his bowel hanging over his belt. I look down at my hands and I am holding Old Scaggy’s knife, the one that was on the table, the one she chopped my finger with. There is blood everywhere. Did I do this? I couldn’t have, could I? She hates him, not me. I run out, close the door and keep running all the way home. I cannot sleep. She will be there waiting for me. In the cabin with the candle in the window, calling me to come home. It is my time. I cannot go back. I lie on my bed, still holding the knife. I have no choice. I plunge it deep into my own heart until it won’t go any further. I feel unimaginable pain. I splutter and squirm and know death is near. Relief fills me, I can sleep peacefully for eternity. My eyelids close and there is blackness. But only for a second. My eyes open and I am outside of the cabin. The flame burns green in the window. Old Scaggy stands in the doorway, beckoning me. Taunting me. I turn to run away but my mother is standing behind me. She has no eyes in her sockets. She speaks, "It's your turn, she is waiting for you". She turns me around by my shoulders and pushes me towards Old Scaggy. Her cackle fills the silence of the night and she repeats over and over again;

“A Curse shall fall,

Death to All.

Flesh and bone,

Shall all be gone.

All that’s left?

Everlasting death.

Eternal drift,

The Curse won’t lift”.

There is a cabin in the woods, abandoned for years. If this is your dream do not sleep. Do not go inside. Do not utter Old Scaggy. My time is up. It's your turn now. We must die so she can live.


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Comments (1)

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  • Jyme Pride2 years ago

    I really felt sorry for Mara. Old Scaggy i frightful! EM, this is exactly the kind of scary campfire story I remember hearing when I was a kid. Like each story of yours I'm reading, they flow like a gentle stream, your storytelling skills being most refined and polished. I've gotta read more! Thanks!!!!

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