The Witch

📅 Published on October 8, 2020

“The Witch”

Written by Sam Haysom
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: 9.50/10. From 6 votes.
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8Why would you tell a five-year-old kid such a fucked up tale?

Ever since the memory of my fifth birthday came back to me, this is the question I’ve kept asking myself. But I don’t have the answer.

I suppose I shouldn’t be that surprised. Given the other stories my grandma told me when I was little – the one about Mr. Long Fingers, for instance, and the secret of the special knock – I really shouldn’t be surprised at all.

What follows is a memory from the day I turned five. I must have been repressing that day for years, because it’s taken weeks of therapy for me to unlock it…

* * * * * *

“Grandma, will you tell me a story before bed?”

She was halfway to the bedroom door when my words stopped her. I didn’t want her to go. Grandma had just tucked me in and turned off my bedside lamp, and I suddenly felt afraid.

Partly it was the darkness of my bedroom – the shadows were so thick I could barely make out my stuffed toys, sitting in a row on top of my dresser – but mainly it was my new birthday present. The present Grandma had got me. It wasn’t my main present – that was the pack of Monsters in My Pocket toys I’d ripped open downstairs. No. This was an extra present. A secret present.

I hated it.

Even in the dark, I could see its shadowy outline on my bedside table. The thing gave me the creeps.

“A story? Well, what kind of story would you like to hear?”

It was a silly question, because Grandma only ever told me one kind of story. The scary kind. But because I was already a bit freaked out, I said something I wouldn’t normally have done.

“Nothing too scary, Grandma.”

Grandma raised her eyebrows at me. “Not too scary?”

I shook my head. She leaned over and switched my bedside light back on, then perched at the foot of my bed. Smiled down at me. Out of the corner of my eye, I could still see Grandma’s present. It was watching me from my bedside table. I did my best to ignore it.

“Okay,” said Grandma, making herself comfortable. “I think I’ll tell you a story about a witch.”

* * * * * *

Once upon a time, Grandma began, there was a young woman who lived in a cottage by the sea. She didn’t have a care in the world. She went to school, and she painted, and she read adventure books by the fire in the evening. This girl lived with her mother and her grandmother, and they were all very close. She loved her family very much.

One day in the early summer, the girl was coming home from school when she met a boy on the path. She’d never spoken to him before, but she recognized him well enough – he wore the same uniform she did, after all, and she guessed he must be in the year above her at school.

“Where are you off to?” said the boy. His shirt was untucked, and he was smoking a cigarette.

The girl hesitated. Her mother had told her cigarettes were bad. She’d also told her never to speak to strangers on her way home from school. But then again, thought the girl, was this boy actually a stranger? The headmaster at their school said they were all one big family. If this boy wore the same uniform as her, they couldn’t really be strangers, could they?

“I’m going home,” answered the girl. “My house is along this path.”

The boy finished his cigarette, then flicked it into the grass. He smiled at the girl. “Before you go home, don’t you want to see something cool?” he asked.

The girl was curious, but she also knew she couldn’t be late. Her mother would worry terribly if she was late. So she thanked the boy and told him she had to be on her way.

But just as she’d walked past him, he called out to her again. “It’s a puppy!” said the boy. “Our dog had a litter of puppies last week, and dad said I could keep one. It’s in this old barn near my house. Don’t you want to see the puppy?”

Now, the girl loved puppies. She’d wanted a dog for as long as she could remember, but her mother always said they couldn’t afford one. Right then she’d have given anything in the world to pet a cute little puppy. When she closed her eyes, she could just picture it: a happy little dog with a big, pink tongue and a wagging tail. Eager to meet her. The girl paused, and looked down the path that led back to her house. She thought about her mother. Then she looked back at the boy, who was smiling at her.

Was there really any harm, thought the girl, in taking a quick look?

So the girl followed the boy, and he led her over a stile and across a big, big field, and they kept going and going until the girl saw a large barn towering in the distance. And she was so excited that she walked as fast as she could, and the boy laughed and walked right along with her.

The girl only started to feel nervous when they were right outside the barn.

It had taken longer to get there than she’d thought it would, and the sun was a lot lower in the sky now. She was going to be late getting home. Her mother would be worried. She wanted to see the puppy quickly so she could hurry back, but the barn was dark and full of shadows and she couldn’t see any sign of it inside.

“It’s just over here at the back,” whispered the boy, as he took her hand and led her into the shadows. “He’s going to be so excited to see you.”

So the girl took his hand and followed him, and even though his palm was sweaty she held onto it tight, because she was suddenly starting to feel afraid.

It was only when she heard footsteps and laughter behind her, and turned to see two bigger boys emerging from the barn’s shadows, that the fear inside her turned to terror.

* * * * * *

When the girl finally got back home, the sun was setting over the ocean and the sea was the color of blood.

The girl made it through the door of the little cottage before she collapsed in a heap in the hallway, crying her eyes out.

It was her grandmother who found her like that.

Now, the girl’s grandmother was very old, and very wise. Mother used to tell her that Grandma had lived so long, and seen so much, that she knew all the world’s secrets. When she was little, the girl had been frightened of her grandmother.

But now the old lady took the young woman in her arms, and she comforted her. Told the girl her mother was working late, and she wouldn’t be home for a while. Told the girl she could tell her anything she wanted.

And in the hallway of their little cottage, the girl did.

She told her grandmother about the boy, and the barn, and all the horrible things those bigger boys had done to her in the shadows.

And her grandmother listened, and she grew very silent, and very still.

“Come with me,” she said.

* * * * * *

The girl had hardly ever been in her grandmother’s room before. When she was little, it always gave her the creeps. Her grandmother had lots of old, scary paintings on the walls, and strange little statues and carvings on her shelves.

But right then, as her grandmother led her to an old wooden chair and sat her down, the girl hardly even noticed them. Her grandmother was speaking to her in a soothing voice, and all she could do was listen.

She listened as her grandmother told her that there was a special trick she knew. A trick to protect against evil. A trick to protect her against those horrible boys, so that they’d never be able to hurt her again. So that she’d have control of them.

As grandmother spoke, she fetched an old wooden box from the bottom of her wardrobe and unlocked it. Inside the box were countless knitted dolls. All of the dolls were the same blank creme color, with no facial features at all save for the eyes. Every single doll had a pair of eyes that seemed to follow the girl.

As grandmother pulled three dolls out of the box, she closed her own eyes. Began to whisper. The sound made the girl’s skin itch, but it didn’t last long. Soon her grandmother had lined the dolls up on the carpet, and her eyes were open again. The last thing she pulled from the box was a pair of black knitting needles and some yarn.

“Those boys that hurt you, sweetheart,” she whispered. “I want you to describe them to me.”

And although she was still terrified and although it made her feel sick, the girl did. She described the boys as well as she could remember. She described them as her grandmother went to work with her needles.

And finally, with the blood-red sun disappearing below the sea outside the cottage window, the dolls were finished.

The girl’s grandmother took the girl by the hands and looked into her eyes.

“I want you to keep hold of these dolls, sweetheart,” she whispered. “As long as you have possession of them, those boys will never be able to hurt you again.”

And do you know what? Those boys never did.

* * * * * *

The girl was sitting in an armchair overlooking the sea when her grandmother burst through the door of the cottage.

It was two days after they’d made the dolls, and for the first time since she’d met the boy on the pathway, the girl was feeling calm again.

She was feeling calm, but her grandmother clearly wasn’t.

As the girl turned from the window and smiled in greeting, the old woman held a newspaper out to the girl with shaking hands. THREE BROTHERS TORTURED AND KILLED IN BRUTAL MASS SLAYING, read the headline.

“Agatha,” whispered her grandmother. “Oh, Agatha! What did you do?”

But the girl just kept smiling. She kept smiling as she took her grandmother by the hand, and led her upstairs to her bedroom.

She kept smiling as she opened her little cupboard, and pulled out a cardboard box.

And when the old lady cried out in shock and horror as she saw the three dolls inside, the girl kept smiling still.

“What did you do, Agatha?” whispered her grandmother again.

But it was pretty obvious what the girl had done.

Each of the dolls had been impaled with at least a dozen sewing pins, all of which had been pushed through their knitted heads. The area below each of their waists had been burned black with a flame.

The girl smiled down at her work, and took her grandmother’s shaking hands in her own.

“They won’t be hurting anyone now, will they?” she whispered.

* * * * * *

“You see, sweetheart?” said Grandma, as she stood up from my bed and switched off the light. “I gave you one with a happy ending.”

I lay in the dark, feeling sick. I don’t think I’d understood everything Grandma had told me – not right then, at least – but I’d understood enough. I’d understood enough to know I felt worse now than I had before the story started.

“Grandma, wait!” I said, my voice stopping her mid-turn. “Isn’t your name Agatha?”

Grandma looked back at me and smiled. She walked over and leaned down, kissing me on my forehead.

“Time to get some sleep, Christopher,” she whispered. “And remember – that present I got for you is always there, if you ever need it.”

She stood up and left my bedroom. I stared after her.

But a few moments later, my eyes were pulled back to the gift on my bedside table.

The knitted doll.

It gazed right back at me, its face featureless save for two blank, staring eyes.

Rating: 9.50/10. From 6 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Sam Haysom
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Sam Haysom

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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