City unknown, New Hampshire, USA,
Submitted by horror editor & author,
To say I was irresponsible as a teen would be a gross understatement. Doing what was expected of me wasn’t high on my list of priorities, but if I was trusted with something, I took it seriously. Caring for animals and children was a common job for me, and I believe it kept me as grounded as someone with her head in the clouds could have been.
Our neighbors had a teenage daughter they weren’t comfortable leaving alone during a brief summer vacation, and left me in charge while they were gone. I was only a few years older than her, if that--but they left me the keys to their car, a few rules, and figured she’d be better off with some supervision. Not so much.
A few days into it, we fell into a groove and I thought it would be okay to hang out with my then boyfriend for a while before getting to the house. But when I arrived, she was gone. Rule number one was already broken: No leaving the house at night.
I dug through her things for her best friend’s phone number and discovered she was in New Hampshire for the night with no plans to come home. We broke two more rules between us as I drove her parents’ car out of state to get their daughter at an out of state address I had to find by street signs...this was long before iPhone maps guided my way. I stopped at several payphones as I made my way closer and became increasingly desperate to find her after learning she was alone with her friend’s older brother. There didn’t need to be a rule in place for that to know it wasn’t allowed.
I don’t know how I managed to get where I did, but I pulled into the driveway of an old house with no lights on and acres of dark, wooded land surrounding it. I sat in the silence for a while, letting my eyes adjust to the dark and trying to decide what to do.
That’s when I saw it. I stared at it for what felt like an eternity until the image fully formed before my eyes, and was struck with an instant sense of profound unease. A young boy in that what appeared to be 19th century clothing--knickers, suspenders, bib-front shirt, newsboy cap, worn out colonial style shoes--was crouched down by a tree, digging in the dirt with a stick. He was just shy of real...by that I mean that he was cast in a protean blue afterglow, and somewhat illusory in the sense that if my eyes wandered away from him, he became unclear.
He looked up and met my gaze, and it was enough to send me back the way I came with no hesitation whatsoever. I was so rattled that I have no memory of the ride home...only the fear and unquiet I felt in my bones.
To this day, his image haunts me...no pun intended. I could put a pen to paper and draw that little boy like he was sitting before me as we speak. The unearthly portrait of his blue-lit silhouette has not left my mind’s eye.
Upon their return, the parents were of course disturbed by their daughter’s overnight excursion, but were kind and gracious in shifting the blame off of me and onto her for putting me in such an uncomfortable position.
If they only knew.
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