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The other night, I was reading my oldest daughter a story at bedtime from one of her favorite books of ghost stories, and afterward she asked me, “That story wasn’t true, was it, Daddy?”

“No, of course not.” I told her.

“Because things like ghosts and monsters don’t exist, do they?” she hugged me goodnight.

“No, they’re not real.” I lied and petted her head.

After making sure both girls were tucked in good and tight, I left their room while my wife kissed them each, and stood for a while looking out the living room window to the darkened street below. I could feel my body tensing up instinctively, like it knew something was coming, but nothing ever did. Still, I looked out the window for far too long, remembering the terrible October of my 15th year.

I worked as a cashier at Klein’s Pharmacy in the center of town, and had just finished up my shift. Home was miles away, but I enjoyed walking it and having some time to myself and my thoughts. The days were getting colder though, forcing me to bundle up tighter on my walk to keep the chill out.

Normally I just followed Main Street until it came to Loop Road which winded through woods and crop fields, but on a whim, I decided to take a shortcut through some of the farms that bordered the town.

After a few minutes of hiking, I reached a stone wall on the edge of the Pierson’s lot, and I hopped it to cut through their one of their fields that seemed to be unused. The dirt was hard and crunched beneath my weight. Leaves covered much of the area, blown off a thicket of nearby trees. Across the field, I could just make out the Pierson’s farmhouse in the distance, quiet and cozy looking. I stayed clear of it though, as Mr. Pierson was known to chase trespassers off his land with a shotgun.

On the other end of the field, just before another stone wall, I spotted a ring of set rocks surrounding a hole in the ground. If I hadn’t been watching my step to avoid stumbling over the uneven terrain, I might very well have not noticed it, and wouldn’t be telling you this story now.

It was an old well hole, probably dug many years ago. A lot of the farms in the area had them, often abandoned and boarded over when the well went dry or the owners built a new house on another section of the land. This one, however, was not covered. Propped up against the stone wall was what looked like a wood lid that had probably been laid over it at some point, but for some reason it was not that day.

As I got closer and my shoes crunched in the frozen soil, I heard a voice echo from the depths of the well.

“Hello?” called a small voice reverberating out of the darkness.

Jesus, I thought, somebody’s down there.

“Please! Help me!” the voice started sobbing. It sounded like a kid, and I immediately thought of Robbie Pierson, son of the people who owned the farm. He was 8 or 9 years old, had he fallen in the well?

I ran over to the edge of the hole, catching myself at the ridge of set rocks and cautiously peering over into it, half expecting to see Robbie standing just a few feet down looking up at me, but the well was deep, and it dropped straight off into an foreboding blackness. I couldn’t make out anything in there. “Robbie?” I called down, “Is that you?”

“Yes! Help me! I think my leg is broken!” he started crying again.

“Hang on!” I called to him, and started looking around like maybe there was a rope or something I could drop down and have him tie around himself, but I couldn’t find anything, and it occurred to me that I was probably not strong enough to go hauling an 8 or 9 year old out of a well on my own anyway.

“Robbie, hang in there! I’m gonna go get your parents!”

“No! Please! Don’t leave me here!” I could hear splashing coming from somewhere way down there with him, like he was frantically trying to get out.

“I gotta get somebody, Robbie!” I yelled down, hearing my voice echoing back up to me. “Don’t panic! Just hang on!”

For the briefest moment, I didn’t move. Something seemed to keep me looking down into the hole and the unrelenting darkness, a dizzying sense that I was already falling into it, and somewhere far down below I heard a sound like something digging desperately at the earth. But then the wind whipped a bunch of leaves up at my face and I snapped out of my trance and, turning on my heel, I started sprinting for the Pierson homestead. I could hear Robbie’s cries echoing up behind me, yelling for me to stay.

The sun was setting and it was starting to get gray out and colder. I was afraid if I didn’t do something fast, it’d be too dark before anyone could do anything. When I got to the farmhouse, I was out of breath, but I didn’t pause before pounding on the door. Raised voices came from inside, and then Mrs. Pierson, a middle-aged lady with her hair done up in a bun and an unpleasant look on her face appeared, glaring at me.

“Who are you?” she asked in an unfriendly tone. Behind her, I saw Mr. Pierson in his blue overalls getting what looked like a shotgun out of their hall closet. He had the same expression of displeasure on his face as his wife, and for a second my confidence in the situation waned, but then I remembered that it was their son who needed help, and I started talking fast and gesticulating wildly at her.


Mrs. Pierson scrunched up her face. “What are you yammerin’ about?”

I took a deep breath and then tried again, steadying myself against the door frame. “Your son, Robbie, he’s fallen down a well!”

Mr. Pierson set the shotgun down by the foot of the stairs behind his wife and looked at me crossly. “Nonsense! Robbie’s upstairs taking a bath.”

They looked at each other for a moment, and I caught a glimpse of some unspoken thought pass between them. Then, Mrs. Pierson stepped back from the door and called up the stairs.


Mr. Pierson stood in front of me, blocking the door. He was going on in his years, but he was still built like an ox, big and sturdy and very imposing. I cringed uncontrollably away from him like a dog afraid of being swatted with a rolled-up newspaper.

From somewhere upstairs, I heard a voice call back down to the three of us. “What is it?” It was not the same voice I heard echoing out of the well, and yet it was similar in the way that a lot of young kids sound alike.

“Nothing! Finish up!” Mrs. Pierson yelled up the stairs, then turned to me and crossed her arms, satisfied. “See? He’s fine.”

“But… But I heard…” I stammered, feeling at a loss for words.

Mr. Pierson looked down at me. “What well hole you talkin’ about? The one in the North field?”

I nodded. “Someone’s in there. I heard them.”

“Stay away from the North field,” he said grimly. “That well’s gone bad.”

“But–” My voice was a whisper.

“Stay away. Don’t come on this property again, ya hear? Go home.” And then with nothing more to say, he shut the door in my face, leaving me stunned and confused.

I stood there on their front porch and wondered just what the hell had happened as the sun set and everything took on a shade of blue. I had not imagined that voice, and yet– Something inside nagged at me, urging me to investigate.

I walked down the front steps and started heading back toward the field, determined to prove to myself I wasn’t crazy. Looking back over my shoulder at the farmhouse for a brief moment, I saw Mrs. Pierson peeking out the window at me and shaking her head. A shiver ran through me, but maybe that was just from the quickly dropping temperature.

At the stone wall, the well hole seemed bigger, more ominous. I felt threatened by its presence, as if it could move of its own accord and would slide under my feet and swallow me up. The wind picked up as I stared at it and the wood cover creaked, rocking gently against the stone wall. It was the only sound I could hear. No voice emanated out of the hole.

“Hello?” I said softly, not really wanting to hear a response, and grateful when none came.

I stood there staring at it in the diminishing light, wondering if my eyes were going to start doing pinwheels in my head. The sound of crunching leaves from the nearby copse of trees made me jump, and suddenly I felt really exposed and vulnerable, like a rabbit sitting out in a field surrounded by the eyes of a hundred foxes as they licked their lips and converged on it. I wanted to be anywhere but there, and I took off running in the direction of home until I couldn’t run anymore and had to hobble the rest of the way, tired and sweaty.

When I got home, I told my parents what had happened, and they suggested that maybe Robbie Pierson had played a trick on me with a walkie-talkie or something.

“I don’t see how that’s possible.” I grumbled.

“So you’re saying there’s someone in the well?” my mother asked.

“Well, not… I mean…” I didn’t really have an answer to the question.

She smiled in that sympathetic way that says, “You poor, sad, little fool.” and I clammed up and went to wash my hands for dinner, determined to tell somebody who would listen to me tomorrow.

The next day, I went over to my friend Jasper Higgins’ house and shared my tale with him. Jasper’s a bit of a jerk, but the kind of jerk who’ll listen to even the most ridiculous of stories and accept them as fact if you say they are. Still, he made a point of spending the rest of the afternoon teasing me about getting spooked when I went back to the well. So I asked him, if he was so brave, why didn’t he go himself and see that old well hole?

“I’ll go if you come with me.”

“Hell no!”

Jasper started clucking like a chicken so finally I relented. After all, I told myself, maybe it really was just Robbie Pierson playing a prank. And with Jasper there with me, there was less likelihood of something bad happening.

At least, I prayed that.

So we went together out to the Piersons’ farm the following afternoon after I got off work. Jasper met me at the store and we took our bicycles because he didn’t want to walk. It didn’t take as long for us to get there on our bikes, but in order to reach the field, we had to abandon them down the road and hike a bit through corn. I also advised Jasper to avoid getting spotted by any of the Piersons. We had a good hour til dusk, but it was cloudy and gray that day and everything was darker because of it.

As we neared the stone wall, I eased back, letting Jasper take the lead. “Watch your step,” I whispered.

There, ahead of us, was the well, with only the low ring of set rocks visible as a marker before it dropped down into nothingness. Standing a good distance away, I felt a strange tugging sensation, almost physical, but no actual presence seemed to be doing it. My foot lifted as if to step forward, but I willed it back down.

Ahead of me, Jasper paused, then seemed to lurch slightly forward, as if pulled by the same invisible string that was tugging at me. Unlike me though, he yielded to it, walking slowly toward the well. I reached out to grab him, but he was already ten steps ahead and out of my reach. Despite the cold Autumn air, I felt myself starting to sweat.

Maybe nothing was going to–

As if in response to my unfinished thought, a quiet sobbing echoed up from down in that dark hole. Jasper stopped with his foot out in front of him and turned to look at me. His face was a mask of white and his eyes seemed to be bugging out of his head for a moment, then he regained his composure and stepped closer to the well.

“Is somebody up there?” called the voice. But… no, it wasn’t the same voice. This time it sounded feminine. A girl’s voice.

I continued to stare at Jasper, to see what he would do. He seemed suddenly less cocksure, more nervous, and he hesitated from making another move, seeming to listen and test the situation with silence.

“Hello?” came the voice again from the well.

Jasper looked back at me and I shook my head. No. No, we need to leave.

“Who is that down in that thar well?” Jasper called. He put his foot down, crunching in the packed dirt and stood by the well, leaning slightly over to look down into it.

“Please, help me!” called the girl’s voice. If I had never been by that well before, that voice would almost sound beautiful, but in my ears that day, there was something unpleasant about it, a gurgling wetness to it that filled me with dread. Did Jasper hear that too?

I could see in his eyes that he didn’t. “I repeat, who are you?” he looked at me again and raised his hand, ushering at me as if to say, “come here.”

I shook my head in return, not embarrassed to show him how frightened I was.

“Please! Don’t go! I’m so scared!” called the girl in the well.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Jasper said confidently, “Who are you? How’d you get down there?”

My stomach was bunching into a big knot. “Jasper!” I hissed at him harshly. “Let’s go!” Why did it seem to be getting darker faster than it should have? The sun wasn’t supposed to set for a good half hour, and yet it felt like the entire world was being covered in a long, blanketing shadow.

I realized I was trembling. Jasper was too, I could see it, and yet he refused to step back from that damned hole. We both stood there as the world dimmed around us and that girl kept calling from down in the well as the sound of water echoed up with her.

He held a finger up to silence me. “I say again, how’d you get down in that well?”

She didn’t answer him. Instead came a noise I will never in my life forget: hands, fingers, scratching at the sides of the hole, digging into the dirt and earth and scrambling…


Whoever– whatever it was, whatever pretended to be Robbie, pretending to be this girl, it was climbing out of that hole, and it was doing it incredibly fast.

Lord forgive me, I ran. I don’t think Jasper even noticed me bolt. I glanced back for a split second, and he was just standing there at the edge of the hole, looking down into it, his mouth hanging open slightly, and then I almost tripped over my own feet and had to watch where I was going and never looked back again.

As the well and Jasper swiftly fell behind, I heard the briefest of reports, a shout– Jasper shouting… no, Jasper screaming– cut short as quickly as it began. Just a split second of his voice, shrill and terrified, and then nothing; enough to send a flock of crows in one of the nearby fields to flight. If anything more was to be heard, the panicked caws of the birds drowned it out.

When I got to the bikes, I grabbed mine and pedalled until I reached home, falling at the front gate and tumbling head over heels up the sidewalk, before bolting inside and locking the door behind me. My parents sat in the living room, look startled by my frightened and disheveled appearance. I started babbling and gesticulating wildly, trying to explain to them what had happened, but it took several minutes for my mother to calm me down enough for them to make any sense of what I was saying.

My father got on the phone with Jasper’s dad, then the two of them drove out together to the Pierson farm where from what I was told later, Mr. Pierson met them at his door with his shotgun and scowl at the ready.

I tried to wait for my father to return with news of Jasper, but I was exhausted mentally, and my mother insisted on giving me something to calm me down and told me to go rest in bed until he got back. Before I knew it, I was fast asleep.

I dreamed I was back at the Pierson’s farm, standing in that barren field, only now the well was as big as a house. As I stood looking down into its bottomless depths, I heard Jasper screaming from somewhere far below me. Screaming and blaming me for everything. I wanted to run, but I couldn’t. I just stood there, rooted to the spot and watched as long, twisted, inhuman arms reached up out of the darkness, pulling the thing in the well out to say hello to me and Jasper’s screams began to bubble with that same sick wetness that the girl’s voice had been filled with.

I woke up unsure what time it was. Had my father come home? My heart was racing in my chest from the nightmare. Climbing out of bed, I stood there in the dark of my room, looking out the window and feeling suddenly afraid. That sense of the hundreds of eyes watching me was back, but this time I had nowhere to run to.

Outside, a streetlamp illuminated the sidewalk in front of my house. There, at the edge of my yard, was Jasper. He looked pale. He looked tired. And he just stood there, arms hanging at his sides, staring up at me in my bedroom window.

We looked at each other for what felt like an eternity, then, like before by the well, he raised his hand and gestured to me. “Come here.”

I shook my head. “No.”

Somewhere far off, I heard a sound like the wind whistling through the trees. But there weren’t any trees, and there was no wind, just a strange, rising howl.

I stood there in my window, watching Jasper on the sidewalk at the edge of my yard, continue to silently beckon me to come to him. I was afraid if I looked away, he’d be in my room with me, afraid he was behind me even as I stood there watching him. My mind struggled with the need to keep looking at him as it conflicted with the escalating fear that he was right behind me and I should turn around to check.

I never want to live a night like that ever again.

The morning came and I woke up in a pile on my floor. I had collapsed from sheer exhaustion, and only barely recalled the sight of Jasper outside that night. But it all came crashing back down on me when I went downstairs and my father was eating breakfast. When he saw me, his expression grew concerned and the bottom dropped out of my stomach.

“Dad, Jasper… I–”

“I’m sorry.” That was all he had to say.

Mr. Pierson had led them out to the well that night, where Jasper’s shoe was found by the hole. They tried to see if they could spot him, but it was too dark and deep for even their flashlights to see anything. An emergency rescue team flew out from the city to help try to find him, but what they discovered was that the well didn’t have a bottom. It opened into a subterranean cave system, hundreds of yards deep, and dark as an abyss. It could take weeks for them to locate and retrieve his body, if it was even down there.

After three months they called off the search at the request of Jasper’s parents. The hole was sealed with a concrete slab and a truckload of cement. I watched from the road, and Mr. Pierson stopped nearby on his tractor and strode over to me with a harsh, accusatory stare.

“I told ya that well went bad.”

“You knew something was down there.”

He spat on the ground. “Ain’t nothin’ down there.”

“Jasper’s down there.” I whispered. Our eyes met and I held his stare with a chilling one of my own.

“You sure a’ that?” he walked off to leave me with that thought.

He was right though… Jasper’s not down there.

I saw him outside my house that first night, pale like an apparition. Or maybe I saw the thing that from the well, the thing from deeper than the well… the thing from that Stygian abyss the well broke into. Maybe both, I don’t know. I’ll never forget the look of it though, or the fact that it came for me and tried to get me to go with it.

Or the fact that such things exist.


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