The Well

πŸ“… Published on April 1, 2023

β€œThe Well”

Written by Braedan Hafichuk
Edited by N.M. Brown
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by Erik Peabody

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: 8.00/10. From 3 votes.
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“A bit of a lemon, isn’t it?” Sheila asked as she hefted the first box out of the moving van. A short, high chuckle responded to her question as she turned around to see Matt, her husband, striking a superhero pose with his fists at his waist while staring at their new home.

“Lemon is a car term, darling,” he said. “I don’t think it quite applies to a house. Especially not one with this much…character.” Sheila couldn’t help but laugh. Character.

Turning her back to the moving truck and looking up the brick steps and rolling lawn, Sheila felt a cold shock run down her spine as she gazed at Matt’s latest investment. Sitting on the bump of land in the middle of this flat prairie stood Eckhart manor – a three-story Georgian manor with a faded black exterior and a profile far too thin for Sheila’s liking.

“Look, I’m no fan of it either,” Matt assured her as he placed his hand on her shoulder, “but it’s the only lot in this county cheap enough for our budget and also close enough to the office that I won’t have to make any overnight trips. Besides, with the money I’ll be making, we can knock this lemon over and build up whatever dream house your heart desires.” Sheila felt her grimace disappear at Matt’s words, and a smile fully replaced it as Matt grinned at her with the usual shit-eating grin and hefted the box out of her hands.

“I like that plan, especially the lack of nights away from me,” she responded in her seductive tone that was always Matt’s favorite.

“Don’t you know it, baby!” Matt turned around towards the house and began making his way up the stone steps, shaking his butt back at her with each step. Sheila laughed to herself, and her worries disappeared as she turned back into the moving van and grabbed the next box.


“I don’t understand! The bank said that we would insure any property repairs by purchasing the home?” Sitting across the table from Matt and engrossed with his calculations, the accountant shook his head without raising his eyes at Matt.

“That was a part of your contract, but there is a ceiling for the amount our firm will cover, Mr. Swann.”

Matt hunched over the table and ran his fingers through his hair as the thunder rumbled miles away. It was a good thing Sheila wasn’t around to hear this right now, he thought. His wife had made the trip into town a few hours ago to consult their new doctor about a missed period. Even without a uterus in his body, Matt knew that stress was the last thing a potentially pregnant woman needed, which is why he told her he would handle the home inspector meeting himself. A meeting he was starting to realize was way beyond his own calming abilities.

“While the roof repairs, upstairs bathroom plumbing, and staircase termite damage have already exceeded our coverage amount, we should still continue the inspection further down the property, just so we can give you peace of mind on the state of your new home.”

“Yeah, peace of mind…” Matt muttered, lifting himself up from the kitchen table as the accountant gathered his paperwork.

“Your main floor at least seems to be in proper shape. Shall we continue to the basement?”

“Basement?” The term made him forget about his worries and replaced them with confusion. “The real estate agent didn’t mention a basement.” He answered.

“That is strange,” said the accountant. “These blueprints are over a century old, but they discuss a basement that should be accessible…here.” Matt watched as the well-dressed man circled his kitchen and approached a blank, black wall the couple had yet to decorate. The accountant inspected the wall for a few seconds, knocking his knuckles every few feet and listening for any sounds. Before Matt could ask the man what the hell he was doing, a swoosh filled his ears as a section of the wall swung in, causing a breeze of old, stale air to rush into the kitchen.

“There’s… been a secret door in this house the whole month we’ve been here?” The accountant turned around to answer Matt’s question, a self-satisfied smile pushing his flabby cheeks against his thick black glasses.

“Quite so! You see, this county saw many skirmishes for the Civil War. To protect their families and belongings, the local well-to-do began refashioning their doorways into flat, undetailed wall panels they could hide behind during battles or raids. A proto-panic room, if you will.”

“I can’t tell if we overpaid or underpaid for this shack,” Matt said, rising from the kitchen table and following the accountant as he descended the shadowy passage.

After a few steps into the darkness, while clasping the railing, Matt heard the accountant scoff as he fumbled for a flashlight, and what he saw as the bank employee flipped the switch and illuminated the passage took his breath away.

The staircase they stood descended for what looked to be two to three stories, sticking to the walls and twisting with each angle as it sank deeper and deeper into the earth. The entire chamber was one large room that seemed to equal the size of the rest of the house, and at the bottom of those grimy and creaking stairs, a single object rested in the center of the chamber: a stone well some six feet across.

“Careful on these steps. The railing may be our only saving grace. Who knows how long this room has remained unopened.” The accountant muttered.

“‘Unopened’? I thought this home had a previous owner?” Matt asked, gripping the railing for dear life.

“It did. The Parson family mortgaged this property from the bank some ten years ago. They were good clients and paid their mortgage on time for a year until they stopped paying their bills one day, and all attempts to contact them failed. I came here to investigate what was happening and found the property completely empty. I guess some trouble with the locals caused them to pack up and leave. Never did find out where else they may have gone.”

The thunder, closer and louder, boomed outside as if to punctuate the ending of the banker’s tale. By the time the accountant had finished his story, the pair had reached the bottom of the chamber and began approaching the well. Although he knew he was back on solid ground, Matt felt a fear taking hold as he slowly placed his hands on the well. Peering over the ledge, Matt stared down the pit, but nothing, not even any water reflection from the accountant’s flashlight, returned his gaze.

“Hmmm, seems to have been long dried out. I can have a contractor come by tomorrow to chase the hole down if you like. See if there are any nests or gas leaks?”

“No, it’s fine,” Matt sighed as he pulled away from the well. He would honestly have laughed at himself if he didn’t have a multi-thousand-dollar repair bill about to be dropped on him. “Anything else you need to look at? Want to check my closet and charge me for the hanging bar not being level?”

The accountant laughed at the response while signing some documents by flashlight. “No, Mr. Swann, that pretty much does it. Once we go back upstairs and I get your signature, I’ll be out of your-“

Before the man could finish, a clap of thunder was so loud it sounded like a jet taking off, crashing against the house and shaking Matt to his bones. As he gathered his wits and steadied himself against the well, Matt could feel the water rushing against his feet, rising so quickly that it was halfway up his shins before the accountant realized the issue.

“Flash flood!” the accountant yelled out, putting that earlier fear back in Matt’s spirit as both men raced back to the stairs, the sloshing of the water slowing their progress with each step. Matt was the first one to make it to the stairs, the accountant having stepped in his tracks to return to the well and grab his documents.

“Come on!” he shouted, holding out his hands to hoist the bank worker up the stairs.

The water was now up to where Matt’s waist would have been, rising faster each second. The thunder was booming louder and louder, so loud that Matt couldn’t even hear his own jumbled thoughts as he reached out blindly for the rail. The distant light of the kitchen far up the chamber wall was his only source of hope right now.

Behind him, Matt heard a slam against the wooden steps. The accountant had tripped, and Matt saw out of the corner of his eye the flashlight turning end over end through the air before splashing into the water and plunging the pair into darkness. Matt turned his attention back up the stairs to the distant, dim light of the kitchen behind the secret door before racing as a child on the creaking steps towards it on all fours.

The sloshing was only getting louder now, and Matt knew that even though they were halfway towards the top, the water was keeping a frightening pace. Another clap of thunder, this one as if an i-beam was smashing into the ground a foot away from Matt’s ear, but this was the least of his fears.

His heart sinking into his bowels, Matt watched the lights of the kitchen flicker and die, plunging him and the accountant into total darkness.

“I don’t want to die! I don’t want to die!” Matt felt his bladder give way as warm urine poured down his leg. The bank manager wept behind him.

“Matt?! Matt, where are you?!” The familiar voice of his wife restored his soul like nothing ever before.

“We’re here!” He screamed out as loud as he could. The water was now beneath his hands, but the small light of his wife’s smartphone shone down on the pair. Before he could rise to his feet, Matt was knocked to his side against the stone wall and railing as the accountant barrelled up past him and towards the small, white light.

The creaking of the wood step beneath him was the only warning for what came next. While the weight of one man earlier wasn’t enough to break the centuries-old planks, the stress of two at once was far too much. The cracking of old wood and the sudden drop caused Matt’s heart to skip, and the sudden shock of the cold water nearly killed him right then and there. As he rose to the pitch-black surface, Matt heard the flailing of the accountant beside him.

“Sheila! Help us!” Matt screamed out as cold, disgusting water poured into his mouth.

“I see you! I see you!” She responded, flashing the light of her phone into his eyes like a sailor lost at sea. As he gathered his wits and could see slightly better than not at all, he saw the steps above the broken one and reached out, holding on for dear life but not climbing up so as not to risk breaking this one and dooming him for certain. With his body now stabilized, Matt felt and heard something he wasn’t expecting- the water level slowly lowering against his body. A great sucking noise grew so loud as to even eclipse the booming thunder.

The well! The well must have gotten unclogged and was now draining the water! The rapid decrease of the water level was so great that Matt could feel his knees and legs feeling dry air, but the sudden grasping of the accountant’s hands more than made up for the sense of danger.

“Don’t leave me!” he screamed, gripping Matt’s legs so hard that he felt the man’s nails slicing into his skin. “Please! I can’t swim!” the accountant kept screaming as Matt held on for dear life. The sound of the draining water was still the loudest in the room, but Matt could near hear the plank he was gripping break and creak if he didn’t lose the weight. Both men would be dead.

“Get off me!” He screamed down, shaking his body as much as he could. The accountant fought for dear life against the shaking, but it would only kill them both. The buoyancy of the water was nearly gone from their legs, and the pair would soon be without any support below them.

Matt wouldn’t die, and he would do anything to make sure. Letting his right hand go from the plank, he reached down around his waist until he felt the bald, flabby head of the accountant, then the thick glasses frames, and then the man’s eye socket. Matt drove his thumb in. It felt as if he were pushing his thumb into a cup of Jell-O, an innocent image he focused on as he drove deeper and deeper. The screams of the accountant had changed from those of terror to those of unimaginable pain, but it was doing the job. Matt felt the other man’s grip loosen before vanishing completely as the draining of the well overcame his screams.

The dawn that followed was cold, as even though the storm had slowly faded away from the valley, the clouds crushed down on the community like a divine weight.

Matt and Sheila sat in their kitchen, neither of them saying anything. Sheila was sitting with her knees brought up to her chin, Matt rubbing his thumbs with a kitchen cloth in a daze, as he had done for hours since climbing out of the chamber.

“Do you think the water is cleared?” Sheila asked, bringing Matt back to the present.

“The draining sound stopped a while ago. Must be at least below the surface of the well.” He muttered. The two sat in silence for what felt like an eternity before the sun’s rays returned to the kitchen.

Dragging himself up, Matt walked over to Sheila and gently but firmly pulled her phone out of her hands before reopening the door to the basement. His phone had fallen into the water during their- escape, and hers was the only tool they had to discover the extent of the nightmare.

He took a few shaky steps past the hidden door and onto the first few planks of the stairs, and Matt could see that he was right. The water level had fallen below the well’s lip, and he could see the slimy walls and smashed pieces of wood from the broken steps. But it was what he didn’t see that shocked Matt the most – that being the body of the accountant.

No body, no torn clothing, no blood in the water. Even the papers he had risked his life going back to the wall for were nowhere to be seen. Matt felt his skin going cold, colder than it had been when thrashing around in the water a few hours ago. Slowly, he worked his way down the twisting stairs of the chamber, listening for any sign that another step would break under him, but none did. When he finally reached the base of the room, Matt crept through the water towards the well and stared down into the empty void as he had hours earlier. No water, no accountant, no nothing.

Why was there nothing? Why was there even a well in this room? Who the hell builds a chamber this large? These questions and a thousand more poured into Matt’s mind as the sheer horror of that gnawing emptiness cut up from the darkness and into his very being.

He dragged himself back up the stairs, past Sheila in the kitchen without a word, and dropped himself on the loveseat in the living room, his hands shaking as he reached for the pack of Captain Blacks on the coffee table.

“What are we going to do?” Sheila asked as she walked to the threshold between the rooms, but not crossing it. Matt was quiet for a few seconds as he lit the cigar and took a deep drag.

“The accountant came and left before the flash flood. The last we saw of him was him driving up the road and back to town. His keys are on the table. I’ll drive the car up the road and leave it on the shoulder of the highway.” Matt stated in a flat tone.

“And what about the basement?”

“Close it up. We didn’t notice that secret door after a month of living here, and I’m sure as shit that no visitor will figure it out either.” Silence returned to the room as Sheila stood like a statue in the kitchen, and Matt lay like a corpse on the couch.

“I’m pregnant, Matt,” Sheila announced with barely more than a whisper. Matt didn’t respond as he exhaled a cloud of smoke. His mind couldn’t do anything more. It was full of the terror of the water, the screams of the accountant, and the consuming horror of whatever waited within the darkness of the well.

Rating: 8.00/10. From 3 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Braedan Hafichuk
Edited by N.M. Brown
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by Erik Peabody

πŸ”” More stories from author: Braedan Hafichuk

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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