My Little Brother Is a Table, and He’s Started Talking

📅 Published on July 21, 2021

“My Little Brother Is a Table, and He’s Started Talking”

Written by T.J. Lea
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on 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


Rating: 9.67/10. From 3 votes.
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It is as it sounds. Incredulous as it may be, I promise there is an explanation within.

I’ve been the Sheriff of a little town called Sturgeon for nearly 23 years. In that time, I’ve seen many a horrific incident descend upon our town, fall out of my jurisdiction and get passed to the higher-ups faster than you can say “nightmare scenario”. It’s frustrating and there’s damn sure plenty of days where I feel that I’m just a prop with a fucking toy badge. But I’m still needed for the wet work, the ugly jobs and the things that stick with you no matter what your poison of choice may be.

There’s a saying about gazing into the void and it gazes into you… but what do you do when the void follows you wherever you go?

Nobody is making me share this report. This account of the events that unfolded over at Castor Oil Creek deserves the light of day.

Even if it haunts me with every waking moment. A negative to my every positive.

For example; While 89% of missing persons are found, that includes dead or alive.

People go missing. Frequently. Put enough folks in one place and you’re bound to have bad apples, rotten apples and things that wear the skin of apples to lure in precocious prey.

So when people began vanishing in quick succession in Sturgeon, it was something we took notice of. I’d long suspected that it was one perpetrator, targeting seemingly at random. They left no evidence, no bodies were ever recovered, and it was always a situation where the overwhelming emotion we were left with was helplessness.

If I never have to look a grieving family in the eyes and tell them I’ve done all I can again, it’ll be too goddamn soon. But we’re a small Sheriff’s office and our resources are limited. This land is old and full of places we simply cannot search. Eventually, it either is open but privately declared closed… or the “higher-ups” take interest and we’re left fielding apologies left, right and center.

Not this time, no. This time, it started with us and ended with us.

I need another drink. I can’t face sharing this without a couple in me. Hell, y’all have no clue who I am and you’re already wise to the fact I’m stalling. Sorry, context matters.

Fliers started appearing over town back in the Winter of 2019. Simple, bespoke tables made by “master crafter Waylon Moseley”, looking for an apprentice, a muse and a varnisher to help him. Sales must be inquired further. When prompted, he’d brag about how his craft was passed down to him from his father and his father’s father. Something about “old blood, sweat and tears” poured into every creation.

In those early days, I asked him if he kept any of his furniture or if he sold on most of his pieces. He bristled at the response before saying something that forever was etched into my mind:

“Only the ones that I connect with.”

We were already dealing with a situation at the time; It was decided that a two-part sting operation; first would be to entice him with a purchase he couldn’t refuse, the next would be to catch him in the act as soon as he got to his “workshop”. Truth be told, we didn’t know what exactly we’d find, but we knew something shady was going on. We suspected human trafficking.

We were wrong. We were so, so fucking wrong.

My hands are still shaking. Another drink should help, right? God, I hope so.

Deputy Willis eagerly volunteered for the job. He was young. Fast became my best friend. My last deputy went on maternity leave and wasn’t planning on coming back, so Willis, being the happy helper, stepped up. 25 years old and wise beyond his years, he was the best little brother I could ask for, the age gap made him feel more like a son. I’d lost mine many years ago to a strange cult. Willis and my parents died young and he was painfully shy, so I felt the need to protect him.

Still, when someone steps to the plate to do their duty and to impress you… well, it’s hard to say no to that. I made him promise me he’d contact us on the transmitter the second he sensed danger. I promised him in return we’d never let anything happen to him.

I have lied many times. I have lied to my wife, to my friends and to myself. But lying without realizing it at the time is the worst thing imaginable. It is a lie that will haunt me forever.

We set up shop at the Sturgeon Flea Market. A place we had very little jurisdiction within. It was decreed long ago that for things to run smoothly and with as little bloodshed as possible, compromises had to be made with the higher-ups. Deals were cut, and we promised to look the other way so long as the trouble wasn’t brought to our doorstep. We were up to our chests in filth and the people were either none the wiser or simply did as we did.

I hated it. Knowing that as I donned an unassuming outfit and grew out my beard for the occasion, setting up this small curio stand in the middle of a slew of entrepreneurs who dabbled in the occult, the vile and the unspeakable; I was no different from them.

After all; I was selling Willis. Perhaps he didn’t see it that way, but I sure as hell did.

Once Waylon paid for him, Willis was his to do with as he wished.

He strolled up around noon. He was a lot more well-kempt than I pictured. Maybe two decades of dealing with the ugliest of criminals gave me a biased impression of someone who I thought dabbled in human trafficking, but this guy looked… normal. About 5’8, 155 lbs, nice clothes if a little eccentric. His short red hair was gelled and parted to the side, his freckled smile giving off a disarming sensation. He stopped in his tracks and looked at what I had on offer; a mixture of antiques, curiosities, and Willis sat in a leather chair with his best poker face. He was told to look like he had been “broken” and he certainly gave off that impression.

The moment he laid his eyes on Willis, something clicked in him.

“He’s magnificent…” he breathed, running his hands across his legs and thighs, as if inspecting a priceless artifact. I had to hold down bile as I forced a smile, remembering my training.

“You like him, kid?” I walked offer, slapping his shoulder with pride. “Well, this one was a hell of work to make, but I’m damn proud of how he turned out!”

I laughed, but my eyes fixated on Waylon, who bristled as I put force on Willis’ shoulder. I couldn’t figure out why at the time, but he brushed it off and reached for his wallet.

“How much?” I saw his lip quiver ever so slightly… what did he have planned for him? I wanted to tackle this fucker to the ground right there and then, but the trained words spilled out of me before I could stop myself.

“For Willis? Hm… he’s a model, after all. How much ya got?” I put on my best salesman face and leaned in, disgusted at myself for how far I’d go to secure the arrest, telling myself it’s for the victims past, present & future: “He’s a keeper, you know.”

Waylon fumbled and pulled out 60 bucks, saying something about rent and stimulus checks not being in. I was taken aback; if he was a human trafficker… where was his cut? I stared, trying to formulate a response, but he pulled something out of his pocket before I could reply and held it in front of me.

“There’s also this… it was my grandmas, it’s a warding talisman. It’s supposed to keep bad spirits away, it’s priceless.”

So this was why we never found him.

The fucker was handing me the one thing that was keeping him hidden.

I realize to many of you, this is hokum and I don’t blame you. But where I come from, this sorta old practice does what it says on the tin; it keeps the wearer obscured. Not invisible or any kind of shit like that, but it hides them from prying eyes.

And either he didn’t know what it truly did, or he simply didn’t care when faced with a new model to take home.

Didn’t matter, this was what I wanted.

There was nothing more to do. I took the talisman and inspected it, nodding as he took Willis by the hand and walked away.

Willis took one last look back at me, his eyes glowing with pride. He knew he was going to be the one to call it in and we’d be heroes for capturing one of Sturgeon’s worst human traffickers.

As I smiled back, a chill ran through the air and practically froze my blood.

An omen.

* * * * * *

I realize to those of you following along, there’s been no pause in this account. But for me, I had to stop and drink myself to sleep. The closer we get to the moment it all came to a head, the more I want to put a bullet between my eyes and make it all go away.

But I recognize the public interest in what happened and I have a duty to tell it, so we continue.

Willis’ tracker was supposed to allow us to follow him no matter where he went, even if Waylon stripped him bare and gave him new clothes. It was under his skin, after all. We didn’t expect Waylon to check that.

And yet, once their signal went towards The Kartuk Woods, it simply died.

16 hours had passed, and we were beginning to get antsy. It was decided we would look at the area surrounding the woods and see who lived in the area. It didn’t take us long to find Castor Oil Creek and the small set of lodges out there. While Old Man Mathers was immediately ruled out, the same couldn’t be said for his neighbor across the creek.

“Been in this area a long, long time.” He told us on the drive up there “All of ‘em. Settled here before my family did. Helped us build this here lodge for a time until my great-great-Grandpappy Obadiah asked them to leave. Never told us why, simply said it weren’t right what they were doing over there… And now there’s just one. Don’t see him much, he’s a solitary type… he’s so involved in his woodworking, he don’t even notice what’s going on in this here creek.”

We pressed him on the creek, but all he’d say was “Bad water.” And refused to comment further, instead pausing and replying with; “Looks like a storms brewing. Better be ready.”

We arrived at the old lodge within 20 minutes. A quiet night with the moon reflecting over the creek. Not a sound of nature or insects whatsoever as we made our approach.

You’d think with three cars and five trained servicemen, we’d be less intimidated.

But nothing prepares you for what we saw.

Breaking down the door, we were greeted with an almost ancient and rustic living room; dust littered everything, and the furniture looked so decrepit and worn down that it’d break if so much as anything touched it. The smell of rotting wood and mothballs was overpowering, I’m sure mold was a factor too, but there was something… iron-like in the air that I couldn’t place.

A quick sweep of the home showed us the only non-dusty area; the large rug. Moving that aside led to a trapdoor that, with great effort, came open and lead down a large set of stairs.

As we descended, the smell of death began to grow in intensity. Our less experienced servicemen opting to hang back and cover the entrance, leaving me and two colleagues to continue.

Fuck, I need another drink. My hands won’t stop shaking.

We approached what I can only describe as a leathery, undulating door. It shook in place and felt like the hide of a cow to touch; it was warm when I placed my hand against it and something… moved underneath my palm. I pushed without much force, and the door gave way.

The stench was unbearable, and my eyes watered as my stomach threatened to eject everything within it. I felt my knees begin to buckle but my resolve kept them upright; I was grateful all three of us had masks on; I don’t know I’d have been able to cope otherwise. The room was stained in red, it’d been transformed into a living area with odd furniture lining each section of the sizeable room. A large, hairy wardrobe in the corner next to a bed that seemed to sway in place. A small chest of drawers with bizarre shelves holding a spiked lamp on top of it.

A TV sat in the center of the room, some strange mesh coating its entire frame and a screen blaring out static that partially illuminated the room, the yellow couch with purple spots seeming to dance in the light.

To the right, however, sat cages. Some rusted over and others covered in filth and blood, but they were unmistakable.

“Got you.”

There, right in the center, clad in a stained apron and humming to himself, was Waylon, busying himself over a table with a slew of tools cast to the side.

“Waylon Moseley, you’re under arrest for human trafficking,” I called, trying to push authority into my voice as best I could, trying not to gag.

He put a thick tarp over the table and turned, as if in a daze, arms spread out and smiling.

“Have you come to check out my furniture, Officer?”

He laid his eyes on me, and one of my colleagues moved in to arrest him. His smile faded.

“Were you expecting someone else? A client for your illicit practices, perhaps?” I scoffed, the stains on his apron and hands telling an ugly tale.

“What is the meaning of this? What’s going on? I’ll have your badges, all of you!” He cried, genuinely upset that we’d barged in, as if what he was doing was perfectly normal. I took a couple of steps closer, his current project still obscured from view.

“Waylon Moseley, you’re going away for a long, long time. We met a little while ago. I’m Sheriff Erickson. We did a little trade, and you gave up something you shouldn’t have.” I held out the talisman and saw his eyes glimmer. “This town might have some odd practices, but criminals are always the same when it comes to getting what they want; predictable…” I leaned down and grabbed his jaw with my hand, wanting him to feel the power I had. That I could break his jaw, rip out his tongue or snap his neck if I so wished. “Now, where is my deputy? Where is Willis?”

He wrestled against the officers, but was no match and simply grunted before looking back at me, confused and angry.

“What deputy? You sold me a pristine table.”

I felt my grip on his mouth tighten and I let go, slapping him as hard as I could.

“Don’t play with me, son. You inspected him, you paid for him and took him away by hand. I watched you do it. Now I ain’t gonna ask you nicely again; where is he?”

I will never forget the sequence of events that followed. Even if I would give anything to do so.

His pupils dilated, and the eyes moved to the table hidden under the tarp. As I followed them, I felt the world fall away as a single question came into my mind. One I knew the answer to already;

*”Why were all the cages empty?”*

I repeated that question over and over as I slowly walked to the tarp. Another officer finding the light switch at the same time and illuminating the whole room. Screams and guttural retches filled the space as we saw what was in this room of nightmares. What was under the tarp.

Something did indeed sit here, but it wasn’t pristine. It wasn’t a table.

It was Willis.

His skin was stretched to the point that a single tap or scratch and I knew it’d split open. Translucent and thick veins visible like a macabre pattern you’d find on a mahogany table, his limbs acting as horrible legs, the bones broken and re-set to fit, his feet and hands turned into malformed stumps. The sockets where his eyes lay now nothing more than cup holders, his mouth agape and air escaping it. I don’t know how Waylon did it; I don’t want to know how he did it, but I swear to god I felt life within Willis. Something in him was still conscious.

A soft wheeze escaped him, faint but defiant;

“Mercy…. Mercy…”

My baby brother. I couldn’t imagine his suffering. I just sobbed and screamed.

As we took in the surrounding room, it was apparent the rest of the furniture wasn’t swaying, twitching or undulating. It was all still alive. It was people. Poor, unfortunate people Waylon had entrapped and re-designed using his “master craftsman” technique, making them into his living, bespoke furniture of horrors.

And that was the part that terrified me the most.

* * * * * *

We hauled him away. The entire time he protested his innocence, that he was simply acquiring old furniture and restoring it. He also insisted someone had set fire to the building, and he was outside when we apprehended him. I don’t know if he was mentally trying to distance himself from what he’d done, removing his past deeds somehow, but I don’t fucking care.

I had to tell Willis’ wife what happened to him. I lied and said Waylon simply killed him and dumped his body when he found out he wasn’t useful. I couldn’t bear them knowing he was a part of Waylon’s furniture, not even after the news got out.

We’d find out as time went on who some of the victims were. An ex-girlfriend here, an old dorm room buddy there, a couple of travelers he’d taken in and several missing persons from the entertainment district. All in all, we found nearly a dozen missing persons in his home. A lot of families would get both closure and add new nightmares to their suffering at the same time.

We interrogated Waylon for three straight days, but not once did he break his mentality that what he’d done was wrong. He genuinely did not see any of his victims as people, but as furniture for him to save.

After that final interrogation, I wanted to hand in my badge after Waylon’s sentencing, leave Sturgeon and settle down somewhere quiet. I couldn’t face both his last words and the recollection of our first call with him, what it meant for the wider consequences. But it was that feeling that made me stay, to catch the next embodiment of evil before he or she strikes.

You see, Waylon was very forthright with his business, explaining that he in fact did sell on most of his pieces to wealthy clients. Never asked details, just that they took care of his pieces and paid him appropriately so he could “live his dream.” He told us in that call he only kept the “ones he connected with.”  Like a true fucking freak.

But it was that final response he gave before he was taken away that keeps me drinking, keeps my hands shaking and a lifelong hatred of the evil this world houses. I will never forget the way his eyes lit up, the curling of his lips, or the way his tongue caressed his teeth when he replied.

We’d asked him if he was concerned about the fact that not only had one of his victims had gotten away before being twisted beyond recognition, ready to testify against him in an already ironclad case, but that Willis was able to speak in short, pain-wracked sentences and give his own account. That, if and when found guilty, he’d be given one of the worst punishments imaginable.

I can still hear his response in my ears every time I lay my head down, joining Willis’ pain-riddled wheezes as a chorus of hatred and pain.

It will haunt me for the rest of my fucking life:

“No, because furniture doesn’t talk.”

Rating: 9.67/10. From 3 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by T.J. Lea
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: T.J. Lea

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on 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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