The Jackdaw

📅 Published on March 27, 2022

“The Jackdaw”

Written by Brandon Faircloth
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 — 9 minutes

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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My hands were wet and clammy as I looked through the binoculars (field glasses, my mother used to call them), making the subtly curved view of my house jump and shift as I tried to hold on.  It was inside with them, watching TV in the living room.  I could only see their silhouettes through the sheer curtain Amy had hung up years before, but I’d been watching for half an hour.  Long enough to see the thing passing by an open window.

Long enough to know it looked just like me.

I kept waiting for some reaction from my family.  For Amy to recoil in horror or Julie to run screaming through the house as she realized that something had replaced her daddy.  But there was no sign of disturbance or discord, fear or worry.  The shadow family I saw through the flickering lights of the TV looked normal, if far from whole.

And I needed to remember that, didn’t I?  Why I was doing this.  Why I was taking the risk and putting my family in harm’s way.

Not that I wasn’t watching for signs of danger from it too.  Sure, it was supposedly safe, but how did I know that for sure?  My stomach twisted in knots at the idea of it hurting them, and even the thought of it being in our house and being near my family made my skin crawl.  But there was no sign of it doing anything other than playing the role of…well, me…and if all went as she’d said, it would be over by morning.

But was it worth it?  It had seemed like it at the time, and in my heart, it still did, but did that justify putting what was left of my family at risk?  Letting this creature I couldn’t trust and didn’t understand into my home and…

Just then, I saw a new silhouette.

My heart and breath froze, terrified that the slightest beat or sigh might shatter such a delicate moment of miracle.  I knew that shadow.  The curve of its head and the slight slump of its small shoulders.  It was him.  Bobby was back with us, watching TV with the family.

I shuddered in the dark, watching and weeping as the shadows shifted with the dancing light.  She had been right.  It’d worked, and whatever my fears or misgivings, when the sun rose a second time I’d go back to my family and find it whole.

All thanks to my aunt and the strange creature she’d helped me call to our door.

“It’s called the Jackdaw.”  Aunt Bethany quirked an eyebrow at me.  “Or that’s what I was always told. I’ve tried finding out more about it, but all I’ve learned is that it shares its name with a little bird. Crow’s cousin, I think.”  She puffed out a breath.  “What I know is from my father and his father before him, going back a few hundred years to when our ancestors first found a way to call it in the first place.”

I felt angry confusion.  What the fuck was she talking about?  Some weird voodoo bullshit?  I’d been irritated when she suddenly showed up uninvited and wanted to chat, but if she was going to talk this crazy shit, she needed to go before Amy and Julie got home.  We were all stretched tight and threadbare as it was—we didn’t need a crazy aunt on top of everything else.  I was about to say a nicer version of what I was thinking when she held up her hand.

“You think I’m crazy.  I understand completely.  It’s part of the reason I’ve held off all these months. That, and because despite what I know it can do, I believe that most times it’s best to leave well enough alone.  Death is a part of life.  We all lose people and things we care about, and while it hurts terribly, it’s the natural order of things.” She shook her head slightly as she stared off.  “I’m not saying the Jackdaw is unnatural—I don’t know enough to say.  All I know is that it works.  That it can get you back your Bobby.”

I did stand up now, anger burning through any thought of politeness or concern.  “What the fuck, you fucking…get out.  Beth, get out now.  I don’t need this shit.”

She kept her seat, staring up at me with sad eyes.  “I know that anger and hurt.  But I’m telling you the truth.  And I’ve watched you and your family slowly dying this last year, tearing itself apart over something it can’t or won’t get over.  That’s why I’m here.  Why I’m begging you to listen to me before you decide.”

My mouth went slack.  What she was saying was insane, but I’d felt myself wandering deeper and deeper into strange thoughts and desperate dreams in the past few months.  Crazy as she was, she wasn’t wrong.  I could see my marriage, our entire family, slowly rotting away.  We’d lost a limb, but not cleanly, and the infection was setting in.  Was I really in the position to refuse any offer of help or hope?

I sat back down, and she began again.

“My Jack?  He died two years after we got married in an automobile accident.  He wasn’t buried a week before I had him back.  My daddy had told me about the Jackdaw the night of our wedding, had given me the calling stone and the clutch and told me what to do if I ever needed it.  Told me it would only work once for me, so I had to make it count.  And I did.”  Her eyes began to glimmer as she wiped at a stray tear.  “I had him for another forty years thanks to what I did.  What it did.”  She looked off for a moment before finding my eyes again.

“And those were good years.  This isn’t some horror tale where you get a living corpse or some evil thing masquerading as the person you lost.  I don’t know how it does it, but I know it doesn’t bring them back.  It makes it so they never died at all.”  Her gaze was steady and penetrating as she let that sink in.  “When I brought Jack back, I was the only one who remembered he’d died in that wreck.  I went to the graveyard, and his grave was gone.  It somehow…the way my daddy explained it was that sometimes a person’s thread gets cut too early—too early for those that love them at least.  And the Jackdaw can set that thread back to whole.”  She reached out and gripped my hand.  “It can give you your Bobby back.”

A few moments before, I would have recoiled at that touch, but now I found myself clutching her hand tightly, almost painfully.  My voice shook as I forced out a question that was against any common sense or better judgment.  I felt a little shame in the asking, but only a little.  The world had drained most of my common sense and judgment in the last year, leaving me only with deep reservoirs of pain and guilt and doubt.

And perhaps, insane as it was, some small amount of desperate hope.

“How does it work?”

Bethany smiled at me, but her eyes were still serious.  “There is a stone—I have it—and it has a place to put your hand.  The impression is strange—four fingers instead of five and terribly long, but your hand will still fit.  You just prick your palm…just a drop will do…and put your hand in the impression.  Hold it there while thinking about the person you’ve lost.  This has to be done at sunset.  The following day, at the next sunset, the Jackdaw will come.”

“It will look and act like you.  Take your place until the sun rises two days later.  Other people won’t know the difference other than maybe catching an odd smell they can’t quite place.  And it doesn’t hurt anyone—Daddy told me it’s just curious.  Wants to see other lives and ways of being.  That the only danger comes from it being discovered as false, which is why you can’t be around when it is.”

Licking her lips, she went on.  “He said that it’s a trickster of sorts, though not a mean one.  But it enjoys being clever and fooling others and will get angry if it gets caught.  So you leave, let it have its fun, and on that second morning, you’ll have your boy back like he was never gone.”

She raised her finger.  “That’s the best part of it, in a way.  All that suffering from the last year?  You can take that from your wife and little girl.  It’ll be like it never happened.  And if you choose to use the clutch, it can be the same for you.” Bethany held her hand out, palm up and fingers curled.  “The clutch is a small sack made from some kind of strange skin and drawn tight with a thin chain that I think might be silver.  In the sack, there are always two eggs.  Always, meaning that as soon as you take one or both out, there are eggs back inside just like they were never taken.  There are always two.”

“The first egg must be planted in the soil of your home on the day you return to it and see your loved one restored.  This finishes your bargain and shows thanks for what the Jackdaw has done.  The other egg can be used or not.  If you choose to get the same forgetfulness of the past pain that your wife and child will have, you just eat the other egg, and in a matter of hours you won’t remember anything about your son ever dying.” She shrugged.  “I never ate my second egg.  It hurt to keep those memories, sure, but like I said, I think the pain is meant to be there.  And it made me appreciate my life, my Jack, more to know that I’d lost him for a time.” Bethany flapped her hand.  “But that’s not to say you should do the same.  That’s your choice.  All of this is.” Her hand was still between us, open in invitation now.  “I know you have no way of knowing that this will work or if it does, work out well.  I could ask you to trust me that you will get your Bobby back whole, but it’s not for me to convince you, even if I could.  You have to choose it.” She moved her hand toward me in offering.  “Do you?”

I took the offered hand like a man on the verge of drowning, which maybe wasn’t far from the truth. And when I said yes, my voice was steady and sure.

On the third day, I crept back into my house a few minutes after the sun was full in the sky.  The downstairs was still, the only sound my pounding heart as I crept upstairs.  I went first to my own bedroom, peering in on where Amy slept alone in our bed.  A wave of disgust at the thought of her sharing it with that thing the last two nights swept through me, but I fought it down.  It’d be worth it if it had worked.

I moved past Julie’s door to Bobby’s, and even before I pushed it open, I could hear him softly snoring inside.  I stood there for nearly half an hour, just watching him sleep and silently weeping.  When I noticed the sounds of Julie waking up, I crept back to my room and slid into bed.  Amy stirred slightly, turning to bury her head in my chest as I pulled her close.  In spite of everything, I soon fell into an exhausted and dreamless sleep.

I woke to the sounds of my family laughing.  They were in the living room, playing some kind of racing game, Bobby and Amy shoving each other off the road as they raced to the finish.  They smiled at me when I came in before going back to their fierce competition, and I had to fight from gathering them all up and holding them tight.  But there would be time for that, and I didn’t want to disturb them or seem strange.  It was enough to see them together and happy, and besides, I had work to do.

Slipping outside, I went to my trunk and pulled the small black sack Bethany had called “the clutch” and the calling stone from beneath the spare tire well.  I’d figure out what to do with them permanently later on, but for now I just needed an egg for burying.  When I tugged at the silver chain securing the pouch, a puff of air came out, filling my nostrils with a smell that reminded me a bit of ash in a cold fireplace.  Sniffing, I peered in, trying to see inside and failing.  Turning it toward the sunlight, I glimpsed two small speckled eggs against the midnight lining of the bag.

It only took a garden spade and few minutes of soft digging to bury the egg.  I still hadn’t decided if I wanted to eat the second one, though as Bethany had said, there were already two eggs back where one had been lost.  There really were always two.  This was all so strange and magical, but it was wonderful too.  More wonderful than I thought this world was capable of.  And maybe Beth was right.  I might appreciate this all more if I remembered what I had lo…

I jumped as my phone buzzed in my pocket.  Looking down, I felt a moment of confusion when I saw it was a text from Amy.  Didn’t she know I’d just gone outside?  Then I started to read.

Steven, Jeff told me not to say anything, to just leave for a couple of days and let this thing work its magic, but I couldn’t sleep last night.  I believe my brother that it will work, but I’m still terrified. Leaving you and Julie with that thing…This will not make sense to you, but you need to trust me.  Do not mention this text to me.  Do not act weird.  PLEASE.  This is very important.  Telling you may be a mistake, but I’m scared of what might happen if I don’t.  So just watch me today and tonight.  Watch me close until sunrise tomorrow and don’t trust me until then.  I’ll explain everything after that, or if it works like I think it might, maybe I won’t have to.  Just trust me now and act normal, but keep an eye on me and don’t leave me alone with Julie.  Love you so much.

I read it again as blood began to thunder in my ears.  What was she talking about?  It sounded like what I’d done, but how?  And who did she mean?

Amy doesn’t have a brother.

I ran to the front door, forcing myself to slow down as I went through it.  I had to stay calm.  Get in and get Julie and Bobby away before that thing realized, and then…

I turned as I saw Amy coming up to me, a smile on her face.  I tried to smile back, but I couldn’t hide the fear in my eyes.

Her own eyes narrowed as the smile fell from her face, the expression running like putty as her gaze grew sharp and grey.  I had a moment to think of what to do or say to fool it or placate it.  To tell it that I still thought it was Amy.  To reassure it how clever it was.

But then it began to caw, and the thunder of that sound broke the world.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Written by Brandon Faircloth
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Brandon Faircloth


Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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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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