A Gift From Below

📅 Published on May 8, 2020

“A Gift From Below”

Written by Felix Blackwell
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

ESTIMATED READING TIME — 7 minutes

Rating: 10.00/10. From 2 votes.
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Tom Strand had to pee. Sixty-four ounces of gas station root beer sloshed in his gut, disrupting the constant thoughts of his mother. The problem was Tom hadn’t seen a rest stop for nearly an hour, and dusk was beginning to settle over the Louisiana marshland. Huge trees rushed by the window, casting their black shadows over the one-lane highway. The gathering darkness only made the drive more eerie, so Tom let his foot rest a little heavier on the pedal, and his gaze wandered to where the road disappeared in the distance.

After another fifteen minutes, he couldn’t take it anymore. He saw the last bit of light in the sky as an opportunity and pulled the car onto the side of the road. Nobody came or went; Tom hadn’t seen another soul in what felt like hours.

A wall of cicada-songs hit him as he stepped out of the car. The noise filled the air, leaving space for nothing else but the moldy stink of the bog. As he drained himself, Tom glanced around the forest, his eyes following the wisps of fog that drifted about like hungry ghosts.

A wet branch cracked somewhere in the distance, reminding Tom to get back in the car and leave. As he sank into the driver’s seat, his hand fell on the ignition but found no keys dangling from it. He searched his pockets and felt around on the floor but could not find them. He even got out and retraced his steps to the edge of the swamp. It was as if the keys had simply fluttered away into darkness like a jingly little butterfly.

Panic rushed over Tom. He tried to phone his mother, but it went straight to voicemail.

“Mom, uh, hi, it’s me… I’m held up. I’ll be there as soon as I can. Hope you’re feeling alright.”

Tom’s second call was equally unproductive.

“You’ve reached John and Jeremiah’s Tow Service, sorry we missed you. We open tomorrow at six.”

After a half-hour of stumbling through the dark with his suitcase dragging behind him, Tom noticed a light glowing in the swamp up ahead. As he drew nearer, he saw an old wooden sign swinging on rusty hooks: “Mudhollow Inn.

The ancient house had been converted for the public, now run by an elderly couple. The old woman at the check-in desk seemed to expect Tom and dropped an antique key in his hand.

“Enjoy your stay.”

The room was big and warm. It even had a little balcony that overlooked the swamp. Tom went out to that balcony for a smoke and noticed the old woman from downstairs. She knelt down in the dirt behind the house, whispering prayers before a weathered headstone. Tom snuffed out his cigarette and retreated to the room to give the woman her privacy.

As he lay in bed, his thoughts kept returning to the grave. Was somebody actually buried there? After a while, he got up and crept outside, trying to get a better look. Soft yellow light poured out of the windows downstairs, illuminating the headstone and a few dozen yards of the land around the inn.

Something moved in the distance. A gentle splashing sound drew Tom’s attention to the edge of the swamp, a hundred feet away, where a figure rose in the gloom. It had the shape of a man, but its frame looked gaunt and mangled. A set of wet rags swaddled its torso, flopping and dribbling with the creature’s jerky movements.

The thing lurched out of the knee-deep water, its bony arms hugging a large box to its chest. It shambled a few feet through the moonlight and knelt down to place the box on the ground. Tom gasped at the sight of the wretched thing, and its head snapped toward him. Darkness obscured the details of its face, but Tom felt an otherworldly gaze fall upon him.

The figure stood up again, the crackle of brushfire issuing from its legs as it did. It retreated into the mist, and after a moment, the water settled.

Whatever it was, Tom imagined the thing slumbering beneath the earth for a thousand years, emerging now to deliver some terrible omen. But who was it for? He looked around and saw that no one else had witnessed the event. Tom retreated to his room and locked the balcony door, reasoning that it was best to leave the box alone.

Sleep came quickly, but with it a sequence of terrible dreams. In them, Tom opened the box out there in the swamp and found his mother’s clothes. He heard her cries in the distance, heard her choking on the brackish water. He found the body of his childhood dog in the box. He found his wife’s ring.

The nightmares wrenched Tom from his sleep and compelled him to investigate the box. Against his better judgment, he crept through the quiet inn and stepped into the night.

The wail of crickets and cicadas masked his footsteps. He approached the edge of the swamp, keeping an eye out for any sign of movement. A handcrafted wooden box waited for him there, its surface adorned with elaborate carvings. Tom tried to open it, but a rusty lock impeded him.

His heart racing with fear and excitement, Tom carried the box back to his room, swiping a letter opener from the check-in desk as he passed. It took several minutes of prying but the lock eventually popped off. Timeworn hinges squealed in protest as the box came open. A stale odor rose from it, something like almonds and the smell of old books. He looked inside.

Bones.

Definitely from a human, but not a whole set. Tom reflexively dropped the lid, and the box slammed shut. He’d read about this sort of thing somewhere long ago. It was an ossuary — a receptacle for human remains. His skin crawled at the revelation. He scooped up the box and made his way to the balcony door, intent on tossing the thing back into the night where he’d found it. But as he turned the knob, a pair of milky eyes met his from the other side of the glass.

A pallid, stiffened face peered in at him, its frayed lips peeling back in a wicked sneer. Reddened flesh glistened from between the tatters of wet cloth, all of it stretched over a hideous form and heaped in places like the wax of a melted candle. Limbs approximating human arms dangled at either side, too many fingers squirming at the ends of each one.

The being reached a sticky hand out and tapped on the glass:

Tic-tic-tic.

Choking back a vomit-scream, Tom yanked the curtains shut and staggered to the hallway door. He wanted to run downstairs and wake the innkeepers, but the same three knocks met him at that door too:

Tic-tic-tic.

Trapped, Tom realized. He slid the box to the far side of the room and cowered between the bed and the wall, praying that the monster would return to the swamp.

After an hour or so, Tom noticed a stench in his room, much fouler than before. He remained hidden in his little corner until the smell became so awful he couldn’t bear it. He followed his nose to the box, and opened it once more.

This time he could not choke back the vomit.

Gobs of rancid gore spilled out as he lifted the lid. Brown and gray clumps of meat were piled high inside, clinging to the now-slick bones. Tom ran to the door to escape, but it wouldn’t budge, and the knocks came louder from the other side:

TIC-TIC-TIC.

He squeezed himself back into his corner once more, covering his nose with a shirt and trying not to cry. He prayed again, this time more frantically, and hid his eyes from the wretched box.

More time passed, but Tom couldn’t tell how much. He ran a million possibilities through his head, trying to explain what was happening, but none of them made sense.

At some point he realized the stench had vanished.

Tom risked another glance into the box.

Though it didn’t smell nearly as bad, the contents were much worse. Human parts, freshly butchered, now filled the ossuary — eyes, fingers, organs, sinew. Tom slammed the lid shut, now certain he’d lost his mind. He paced around the room, trying to remember what he’d eaten today, if he’d taken any medicine, if he’d hit his head. He inspected the room for vents, wondering if there was a gas leak.

The box moved. Tom wasn’t sure he actually saw it at first, but it moved again. Something pounded and scratched on the wood from inside. Then the lid creaked open.

Tom recoiled in horror as a leg emerged from the box, followed by an arm. The joints crackled like fireworks. More limbs felt their way to freedom, and finally, a head. A boy stood up before Tom, no older than ten or eleven, but conquered by the pallor of death. Untold decades had grayed and stiffened his flesh; saltwater had yellowed his eyes. The boy smiled and whispered something, but the mud dribbling from his lips muffled the words.

Tom scrambled to the corner of the room, trying to disappear into the wall. But the boy did not come for him. Instead, he opened the door and shuffled into the hallway, leaving wet footprints behind him.

Sensing his chance to escape, Tom snuck to the door and peered down the hall. The boy had disappeared, and no creature blocked the exit. Tom made his way to the staircase.

As he neared the bottom stair, Tom saw the boy walking stiffly through the welcome area. He approached the old woman innkeeper, who was carrying a glass of water. The moment she saw the boy, she gasped. Her drink shattered against the floor, splashing water over them both.

“Lord Jesus — Jesus Christ — my God in Heaven,” she sputtered, clasping her hands together in prayer and falling to her knees before the child.

Hearing his wife’s hysterics, the old man burst from the bedroom and hurried to her. But when his eyes fell on the boy, his face went as pale as the mist on the bog.

“…David?” he said breathlessly.

Tom crept along the far side of the room, eyeing the door. As he passed in front of a large window, something drew his attention to it. The creature stood there, looking in on the scene, its crooked teeth glistening from behind a vicious grin. It reached a fist up and smashed the window to shards, then hoisted itself into the room and shoved Tom out of the way.

The old man didn’t see it coming. Despite his wife’s terrified shrieks, his eyes remained fixed on the boy. Little David grabbed his father’s wrist and motioned toward the swamp. The creature lunged at the old man, seizing him by what little hair remained on his head, and pulled him to the floor. The man finally found his wits and joined his wife in a chorus of screams, but he could do nothing to save himself. The monster dragged his prey across the room and over the jagged windowsill, shredding the man’s torso to ribbons as he did. They disappeared into the night, the boy following slowly behind. The man’s screams slowly died away to the symphony of crickets.

* * * * * *

After a lengthy police interview in which he played dumb, Tom saw the first rays of sunlight gleaming through the trees. He hurried upstairs to collect his suitcase, intent on hitching a ride into town with the cops. When he entered his room, he saw the ossuary resting on the bed, lid wide open, illuminated by a single beam of light from the nearby window. Tom approached it cautiously. The wood was no longer stained with blood and gore; the box looked clean and new.

And resting inside it were Tom’s keys.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 2 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Written by Felix Blackwell
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Felix Blackwell


Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

More Stories from Author Felix Blackwell:

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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