The following is an excerpt of the short story: The Hole Truth in the Yellow House by Tristan Drue Rogers and Sarah Anne Rogers, which you can find in the anthology The Hawthorne Project. Inside you’ll find ten dark and creepy stories written by them and other amazing authors. I hope you enjoy this little snippet. Oh, and click any of the links below to buy.
Debbie scanned through every room, unable to find her son, Choice. That mix of movement and breathing kept scratching at her eardrum and her heart. She was starting to panic.
Swinging the door open into the backyard, she winced at her inability to sneak up on whatever was going on. Debbie saw the old man next door in the beige house just standing there on his back porch, hardly moving at all, but definitely glaring at her.
He doesn’t wave back anyway. Maybe he doesn’t see me, she thought to herself. Or just old and pilled-out or whatever. She was ashamed of that thought, but kept on pursuing her son. No reason to let manners, or lack of, get in the way of finding Choice.
.Debbie turned her head back to her yard, still unable to see much of anything. She looked back at the old man, now realizing that he barely looked like himself. He was more a shadow now than her own silhouette against the pavement. She had seen the old man on many occasions. The old man seemed to frown while his sights were set on the tree on Debbie’s side of the fence. He turned just then, stepping through the backdoor, and disappearing for the rest of the night. She didn’t recall him opening the door, though, she thought, the night can play tricks on people.
Running to the tree—each footstep crunching into the dead leaves—Debbie tripped and fell onto the ground, but finally reached the other side as she slammed into the dirt through the piles of leaves where she discovered what those strange noises were and what they had to do with Choice.
Her son was digging rapidly. Silently, carefully. He created a hole that had gotten to be knee deep for any adult who stepped down into it, almost at the waist for Choice.
Debbie lay there on the dirt like a collection of chopped wood tossed about the yard. Her body was frozen, however, her intensions were to stand and hold her little boy. Nothing could stop that.
“Choice! What are you doing?”
She didn’t receive any kind of answer or acknowledgement. Debbie tried to lift herself up. She fell back down due to the pain that her arms and wrists felt when holding the weight of her body. She hadn’t thought her fall was that serious before, now she wasn’t so sure. Realizing that she was running out of time before something crazy happened, even though she didn’t know why her internal clock was counting down, or to what, the adrenaline kept her going enough to crawl into the hole.
Now that she was within arm’s reach of her son, Debbie grabbed him and pulled him in close. Half of her body was hanging down into the deepening hole with her son in her grasp and the other was uncomfortably set onto the high ground.
“Baby,” she said. “What are you doing?” Debbie saw little knickknacks and items that were lined up in a row from where she had pulled him. There was an old rusty pocket watch, a wooden fishing lure, and a knife with the blade out and ready to use.
She pulled Choice’s face to hers, attempting to align their eyes. Choice didn’t look like he was all there, more like sleep walking. Debbie had seen this exact face before on her brother, which is why she considered this likelihood, but that was so long ago and she wasn’t positive how her parents handled it, if at all. The one thing she was aware of was that she shouldn’t shake him awake or he could freak out.
“Mine,” said Choice.
Debbie’s heart sunk. “What—” She tried to ask a follow up question.
Choice interrupted. “My totems,” he said. “They’re mine. For safe keeping.”
Debbie stumbled to find her words, but pressed on until she found them. This time, she lessened her grip on her son, allowing him to go about whatever his sleepwalking compelled him to do. “Safe keeping for what?”
He started to dig again, only now he simply covered the items with the dirt, packing the ground with his palms. “To hide from mommy,” said Choice. “The Shadowy Man says she won’t understand and might take me away from him.”
Debbie was silent.
Choice kept going. “I’m scared that if I don’t keep quiet, I’d stop getting to see The Shadowy Man and then no more stuff to play with.”
The wind began blowing in the dead of night.
Debbie built up her strength, finally able to rise to a stand. “Choice,” she said. “Where is this shadowy man?”
“He was at home,” said her son, now climbing out of the hole.
“Where is he now?”
“He’s with us behind the tree,” he said.
You can find Tristan and Sarah’s story, along with nine additional ones, in The Hawthorne Project. Each creepy tale interweaves with the others for a week of terror on Hawthorne Drive, a small cul-de-sac in Greenfield, Wisconsin. Buy it at lulu, Amazon, or on your Kindle.