I awoke to the feel of a gentle caressing touch on my upper back from what felt like tiny and incredibly cold fingertips. It took me a second to pull myself out of the deep sleep I had been in due to the overpowering sleeping pill I had taken only a short few hours ago. As I let my eyes adjust to the dark and regain focus again, I felt those tiny cold fingers glide across my bare shoulder again. I realized my sweet little four-year-old daughter, Tracey, must be up and trying to get my attention.
“Tracey must have had another bad dream,” I thought to myself. Yes, as I rolled over, my head swooned from the sleeping pill, but I was still able make out the shape of a small child.
“What’s wrong Love, did you have a bad dream?”
Even as I asked the question, it dawned on me that this wasn’t the silhouette of my long-haired beautiful daughter standing next to me, but rather, a short haired little boy. Suddenly startled, I jerked fully awake and pushed myself up on one rubbery feeling elbow.
In a panicked and harsh whisper, I asked the boy, “How did you get in here? Where are your parents? Are you alright?”
The young child rapidly turned on his heels and the way his bare feet pitter pattered to the doorway of my bedroom sent chills down my spine as his movements were rapid and eerie.
“Follow meeee,” The boy spoke with a sinister giggle that made my blood run cold, and it became abundantly clear that this was no ordinary child.
Although my fear told me to stay put and wake up my husband, I felt oddly compelled to follow him as he requested. As a stood and began my first steps towards the doorway of my bedroom, the boy’s bare feet pitter pattered down the hallway, impossibly fast and eerie once again. I stood in my doorway reluctant to follow as the boy motioned for me to go with him. I peered over my shoulder at my husband sleeping soundly in the bed. Tempted to wake him up and ask him to come with me, I opened my mouth to call to him, but before I could get one word out the boy spoke again.
“Follow meee, follow meee, follow meee,” He repeated in that same sinister giggle until I began moving slowing toward him.
As I inched nearer, he bolted around the corner, and I had to quicken my pace in order to catch up to him, but his rapid speed left me a distance behind. I heard the front door creek open. As I rounded the corner from the kitchen into the front porch, this strange boy stood in the doorway with his back turned to me, and spoke nothing more than the same to words, “Follow meee,” once again dragging out his last word.
As I approached the doorway, the cold winter chill began to creep from the bottom of my feet throughout the rest of my body, but rather than stopping for at least a pair of boots, a strange pull kept me moving in the direction the boy had gone. Fear coursed through me, but that invisible pull was too strong to break free. Onto the deck, down the steps, through the yard, and around the corner of the house, I followed him. There, just around the corner, he stood with his back to me. I reached out with a hand that trembled as much with fear as it did with cold, in an attempt to touch the boy’s shoulder, but just before my fingertips made contact, he darted away. I watched, transfixed, as he ran in the winter moonlight toward the large weeping willow tree that stood in the middle of the yard. He stood, his back to me, with both his hands laid on the trunk of the tree as I walked toward him.
I stood only a foot behind him and asked, “Little boy, do you need help?”
He spun around with impossible speed and faced me. I stumbled back a ways, almost tripping over my own heels. The bitter cold bit into my bare feet and puffs of winter air escaped as my heart pounded and my breath became rapid. I stared in awe as he stared back at me with two black holes where his eyes once resided. My stomach wretched at the sight of the dried, almost black, crusted blood that lay thick from his empty eyes down to his ghost white cheeks. My body screamed at me to turn and run back into the house and away from this… creature, yet I stood frozen in place, too terrified to move as he spun on his heels again and began clawing at the trunk of the tree with both of his tiny hands. Grunting with effort, he sounded more like a beast than a boy. With the bark scratched off the trunk, the boy suddenly stopped scratching, and snapped his head back toward me and stared at me a few seconds more with those black sockets. Panting heavily, the corners of his dry blood-spattered mouth turned up into a grimace, and he repeated the only words I had heard him speak, “Follow meee.”
The compelling pull I felt from him, like a rope being reigned in, had me moving toward him again, even though I tried to will myself to resist. As I approached, he reached out and roughly snatched my hand in his. In an instant, the blink of an eye, he had turned and disappeared into the tree through the bark he had clawed away. The scream that had been stuck in my throat ever since the moment I saw his gruesome face, finally escaped my throat. My body that had been pulled to him finally resisted, and I pulled away with all my might just as my hand had begun to disappear into the tree along with him. The thin drooping branches overhead began to sway, as a heavy wind whipped through them and seemed to whisper.
“I’ll be back.”