Jacob gazed in amazement as they pulled up to the old farmhouse from the long, grass invaded gravel driveway. This was truly the biggest house he had ever seen in his life. Granted, he was only 8 years old, but that didn’t change the facts.
The white paint on the house was beginning to chip and the roof was missing some shingles. The grass in the yard would be better described as hay and it was clear to Jacob nobody had lived here in a long time. Off in the distance behind the house, Jacob noticed an old barn with one of the doors hanging open; attached only by one old hinge. The driveway made a loop around an old oak tree in the middle of the front yard. Hanging from one of the large protruding branches was an old tire swing gently spinning back and forth in the late afternoon breeze.
The car rolled to a stop in front of the old covered porch running the length of the house. Gleaming with awe from the back window, Jacob noticed a girl sadly looking back at him from one of the 2nd-floor windows.
“Mom, who lives here?” he queried, giving the girl a sheepish smile and a small wave. The girl backed away from the window and vanished from sight.
“Nobody dear,” replied the mother. “I don’t think anyone has lived here in a few years.”
Giving his mother a puzzled look, Jacob looked back up at the now empty window. “Then who is the little girl upstairs?”
“There’s no one up there silly,” smiled the mother. “We might be buying this house because it’s such a good deal. It hasn’t had anyone in it for some time, and that is why it’s such a good deal.”
“Okay,” replied Jacob. “Can I go play on the swing?”
“That sounds like an excellent idea,” the father chimed in. “You go play on the swing and let us have a good look at the house. You wouldn’t be interested in the house just yet anyway. It’s too empty and dusty. Nothing really to play with in there yet.”
The mother let Jacob out of the car and joined the father on the porch where they were greeted by the realtor. Jacob ran over to the swing and watched his parents shake the realtor’s hand and the three retreated inside.
The swing didn’t look as appealing up close as it did from the car. The brittle old rope was rough and prickly to the touch, the old faded rubber tire had steel strapping protruding from various sections, and the bottom part of the tire was filled with dirty, bug-infested water.
Giving up on the swing, Jacob began wandering through the waist-high grass. He made his way around the side of the house where the porch continued to run down most of the side. Continuing along the house, he picked up a stick and began swinging at the grass as he walked. He attempted to cut the grass like he was using a sickle, but the dull stick was no match for the tough weeds. He threw the stick up into the air, hoping it would stick in the ground when it returned. Instead of slowly coming to a stop after its ascent and beginning its decent, the stick abruptly shot off on a 90-degree angle, flew about 30 feet away, and landed in front of the barn door.
That was odd, Landon thought. Even though the wind was only a slight breeze, Jacob figured it must have been caused by that. He walked up to the large, two-story barn and stopped at his stick in front of the door. It was pitch black inside. Darker than anything he had every seen in the middle of the day. Jacob couldn’t make out anything beyond a small sliver of light reaching into the barn from broken barn door.
Suddenly, from deep inside the barn, Jacob could hear a deep, guttural sound. It was quiet at first and sounded like a cat or something getting ready for a fight. But then it started to get louder. The growl became louder and louder until it was as loud as an idling tractor engine. Jacob could feel the low, bassy growl rumbling through his chest. He glared into the darkness as a set of red, glowing eyes appeared from the darkness of the barn and seemed to stare right into Jacobs soul. They blinked twice and faded back into the blackness as the growl became even louder.
MAYBE IT’S A LION!
The quick thought running through his young imaginative mind was all the convincing he needed to turn and run back towards the house. Screaming as he scrambled to wade through the tall grass, he sensed he was being pulled at his legs like the grass was trying to do what it could to slow him down. It seemed like he was barely moving and by the time he made it the short 30 feet to the house, he was sweating profusely and could barely breathe. He burst through the front door where he was met by the three adults staring back at him, looks of shock on their faces from his abrupt entrance.
The front entranceway was a surprisingly open concept for an old farm house. There was a giant chandelier hanging at the top of a two-story opening. The stairs were directly in line with the front door and curved back around to an overlooking walkway on the second floor which looked back down at the entrance. Past the stairs on the left was a hallway that appeared to lead back to the kitchen and dining room area and there was a living room with a large fireplace to Jacobs right.
“Mom – there’s something – in the barn!” Landon gasped, doing what he could to catch his breath. “I was – exploring – and I – heard a loud – noise like a – a lion – or something.”
Hearing his son’s response, the father burst out laughing. “That imagination you have is really something,” he said. “Why don’t you stick in here with us then. No lions can get in here.”
Before Jacob could reply, a small cat toy with a little bell inside began spinning rapidly on the floor. The little bell inside jingled furiously as the small ball spun faster and faster in one spot; much faster than any living thing could have accomplished.
All four of them stared down at the strange sight in astonishment. No one spoke a word. They just watched the little ball spin on the spot, the little bell singing and jingling around inside. And then as quick as it began, it came to an abrupt stop. Completely motionless as if it hadn’t moved at all.
“What the f..”
Before the father could finish, Jacob felt something grab him by the ankle and lift him upside down. He was lifted right up to the chandelier and hung there in absolute shock. His young brain couldn’t compute what was happening and he couldn’t even scream. Hanging there upside down, he saw the girl he had seen when they first pulled up, staring at him from the walkway at the top of the stairs. Jacob realized this was not a normal girl. Her skin was a pale gray color and her eyes were completely black. The kind of pitch black that had stopped him from seeing in the barn earlier. She glared at Jacob as he hung there, tilted her head slightly to the right, gave him a creepy smile and a little wave and vanished.
The moment she was gone, Jacob was released and he fell like a ton of bricks to the floor, landing with a loud THUD. The blow caused him to lose consciousness as his parents rushed to his aid.
“Jacob! Jacob! Jacob! Wake Up! Jacob, Wake Up! WAKE UP!”
“Jacob, wake up! You’re having a bad dream!”
Jacob slowly opened his eyes and his mother was there, sitting with him on his bed.
“Mom, I dreamt we bought a new house,” Jacob began to explain. “There was a girl, and a lion in the barn, and I was picked up by my feet and dropped, and …”
“Shhhh now,” said the mother. “You were just having a bad dream. It’s just your imagination running wild because it’s your first night in your new home,” she explained.
Jacob’s eyes widened at his mother’s response. He looked around the room and didn’t recognize where he was. He looked out the window to the moonlit yard in a panic. He could see the large oak tree with the tire swing outside. Sitting on the swing was the little girl looking back up at him with those eyes as dark as the night. Jacob watched in horror as she sheepishly smiled and gave him a bashful little wave.