Long ago when men travelled between towns on foot, horse or carriage; there used to be a small town nearby a long barren road that led to the city. The town wasn’t so populated, and it seemed dim and deprived of warmth for the sun would often hide between the surrounding massive mountain range or behind the gray clouds. It was quiet in the town and around it only ominous silence and wind.
The town was to the right of the road as you head to the city. To the left of the road, a small rock wall of about a foot tall. This wall has been here for as far as the town has been, and even the towns folk don’t remember who built it. What they do remember is the stories of children who wonder beyond it. Stories of parents who go searching for them and never return.
This is where our little tale begins, with a traveling man who sees a child jumping the wall and running to the forest. He does not know of the stories that haunt the wall and the forest behind it. So, he minds it no thought and goes on to the market for supplies and the inn for rest before setting off the next day.
It was few hours before sunset nearby the inn when he was looking for a place to eat, when he sees a child of brown cotton pants, a black wool shirt and a red hat. The kid was talking with other two kids at the time.
“Let’s go catch fireflies in jars by the wall before sundown.” – said the boy of the red hat.
“Momma told me not to go near the wall. Said to keep away cus it no safe.” Replied one of the kids with a white shirt.
“My mum lets me play there. Told me that there was nothing there but grass.” – replied the kid
The traveler didn’t care much at the conversation, so he kept on walking. He stopped by a dried meats vendor and then saw in the corner of his eyes as the kids walked towards the edge of the town and out of it towards the wall.
An hour later after dark the child with the red hat comes running at the pub where most of the town is currently.
“Help! Help! They are lost! Someone help!” – said the kid with the red hat from before.
“They went into the forest to catch fireflies and haven’t come back! “– cried the kid
But the town after initially being jolted up by the child, now sat back down quiet and pay him no thought.
The traveler spoke with the child and he told him that his friends got lost and need someone to bring light to find the way out.
“Please sir, please! Help me bring them back!”- said the child with tears running down his dirty cheeks.
So, the man stands, grabs a torch and heads to the wall. When he gets there the child grabs his hand and pulls him closer to the forest.
“This way sir, this way. They went in here.”
The man walks into the forest with the child and after walking a few minutes in the dense flora, a fog surrounds him. The child lets go of his hand and runs ahead in the bleak, thick fog.
“Wait! Stay close! “- yelled the man, but it was too late.
He quickly begins to chase after the kid and by doing so comes across a big wooden cabin with its door open. The child on the floor and a hooded person, skinny and pale hands by the door.
He rushes to the child to check on him. The person just stood there and seemingly looking at him, it was hard to tell because the face was concealed in shadow and the light from the torch was not bright enough.
It was then that the child with the red hat turned around as the man kneeled to help him and stabbed the man with a long rusty knife. His skin began to turn pale, eyes became red and his teeth became fangs. What ever the kid was now, it was drooling and smiling happy to have his hands covered in warm tasty blood. He licked his hands while watching the man bleed out. It was then that the tall person by the door got closer too.
They all had fangs and pale skin. They dragged him inside where the still conscious man could see two kids chained and gutted.
“This one is a big one, good, good. You did well. Its better than a scrawny human child. The big ones don’t fall for those tricks much anymore.” – said the tall one with a scrappy, gargling voice.
“I saw him coming into town today, he is new. He doesn’t know. Fell for the tricks like a child.” – said the small one with the red hat.
They close the door to the cabin and begin their feast. They finished the small ones and left him half alive for later meals.
In the morning, after the big one went to town to sell dried meats they carved out of the kids, the small one takes his hat and goes to the half dead man. He then paints the red hat where it was fading and brown with his blood. After making his hat all red again, the thing heads out. Shifting his face back to human just like the big one did before it left.
When arriving at the town, the tall one hears the uncontrollable cries of a woman in the direction of the church. The streets now with a light fog creeping in. He then goes to his usual corner by the corner of the inn in front of the tavern and sets up his dried meats to sell.
Not long after, you could see the child with the red hat lurking back into town. Waiting on the dark and foggy alley between the houses and store waiting for someone else to fallow him beyond the wall.
The stories of the town folk tell are told only to themselves. To those who live there and are born there. Because if they were to warn someone who doesn’t know about the kid with the red hat, well, everyone and everything needs to eat, and no one wants to be the next meal.
By Andrew Arzuaga
*3rd place of the BB Horror Story Contest
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Boricua Beauty.