“Your parents are crazy. Did they really tell you that?” Patricia said and laughed at her best friend.
“Yes,” Amy said. She felt defensive at her friend’s mocking attitude.
“Come on. You expect me to believe that your parents made up a whole person to make you and your brother behave?”
Amy shook her head and thought, not for the first time, she wished she hadn’t told Patricia. They were friends, but sometimes, like now, Patricia took everything as a joke. “It wasn’t just my parents. Everyone, where I grew up, knew about him. They told us that if we misbehaved after dark, Arthur Abbott would come and take us.”
Patricia laughed harder and shook her head in disbelief. “Your parents were mean.”
“No, they weren’t. It wasn’t just my family. This whole area knows about him. You can ask anyone, even Jack grew up with the legend.”
“The spooky man comes to your bed at night and snatches you up? Does he eat you? Did they make him terrifying-looking? Was he in a hockey mask like Jason Voorhees, or perhaps in a William Shatner mask Michael Myers?”
Shawn, Patricia’s husband snorted with laughter at that. He and Jack had walked back into the room and caught only the tail end of the conversation. “Those movies aren’t scary unless you’re a kid.”
Amy’s face was very serious and Jack wrapped an arm around his wife. “Don’t make fun of it Patricia. You might call him up if you make fun of him.”
“Oooh, Arthur’s going to get meee,” Patricia said and sounded a lot like the brother at the beginning of Night of The Living Dead.
“You told her about him?” Jack asked looking from his wife to Patricia.
“I knew I shouldn’t have told her.”
“No, you shouldn’t have.” It was obvious that Jack was not happy. “I’m sorry, guys we need to go.”
“Oh come on, I’m sorry. I was just teasing you.”
Amy stood and grabbed her coat. “I know, I just wish you wouldn’t.”
Once the door was shut Shawn turned to Patricia. “What did you do? What was that all about?”
“Nothing. I offended her by not believing her superstitious nonsense. Help me do these dishes up.”
Two nights later Patricia and Shawn were sitting on the couch when a preview for yet another Bogeyman movie came on. Patricia thought of Amy’s story. “Hey, do you remember the other day when Amy and Jack came over for dinner?”
“Yeah, you never did tell me what all that stuff at the end was about.”
“She got mad at me for laughing at this story she told me. Something her parents told her when she was little. I guess Jack’s parents did too. Heck, she tried saying this whole town tells their little kids the same story.”
He muted the TV. “What was it?”
“Amy said there was a man named Arthur Abbott and if they were bad little children he would come and get them while they lie sleeping in their beds.”
“BS, no parent would tell that to their kids.”
Patricia crossed her heart, “Swear to God, cross my heart, that is what she told me. It was a form of the bogeyman in order to scare them into listening.”
“That is crazy, I’m glad we didn’t grow up here.”
“Me too, you know my dad, he would have love to use this to scare me all the time.”
“Why would a parent do that to their child? Jack’s family told him this too?”
“I guess,” she replied with a shrug.
“I wonder if Arthur Abbott was a real person or if they just named the bogeyman some random name?”
“You mean real like he was the town drunk or the creepy old man that lives in everyone’s neighborhood?”
“Yeah, what better way to make the story more believable than to use someone that the kids are already creeped out over?”
“I don’t know let’s look it up,” Patricia said with a grin and ran to their room to grab her laptop. She sat at her desk and eagerly began her search.
At first, there was nothing in the man or any legends matching the story Amy had told her. She was searching the town’s history, past news articles, and was on the verge of giving up when Patricia slowly turned to face Shawn. “Holy crap. You are not going to believe this. Come here.”
Shawn leaned over her shoulder and began to read the legend of Arthur Abbott.
In 1943 there was a rash of missing children in the small town of Enoch, Pennsylvania. Everyone was a suspect and by the time the fourteenth child had been taken the town was falling apart. The once quiet town was a bomb ready to explode. Everyone was blaming everyone and families had decided to move. No one let their children outside anymore.
The last child taken was Kathy Williams. It was just after dark and Kathy’s father was in the front yard when he heard her scream. Elmer ran into the house and saw that the back door was open. He called for Kathy over and over. He went upstairs still calling for her. That’s when he heard his dog barking. He ran out the back door and to the dog. His neighbors had heard him screaming and came running to see if he was okay. Elmer told them that Kathy was gone so they grabbed their guns to hunt for her. Elmer untied the dog and it ran towards the woods. The dog trailed Kathy’s scent all the way to old man Abbott’s house.
Inside laid a horror that no one could have ever believed. Inside the house were the dead bodies of all fourteen children. Arthur Abbott had set them out on display throughout his house. Some were in the dining room having a tea party and others were in the living room reading. Poor Kathy Williams was already dead by the time they got there. She was found laid out on the kitchen table presumably where Abbott prepared them. According to police reports, the images in that house would haunt them forever.
Two days later in the town square, they had Arthur Abbott in the gallows. According to witnesses, his final words were, “The children are mine. Those that misbehave or those that mock me will be mine come nightfall. Your children will run from me forever!” His laughter rang out along the square, cut short as the lever was pulled hanging him for all to see. After his death, they burned his house down so it would no longer stand as a reminder of the horrors that happened in the normally sleepy town of Enoch. Although they never forgot. The warning has been passed down from one generation to the next. And to this day whenever a person vanishes, it is whispered that it might be the work of Arthur Abbott.
“Oh my God Patricia he was real,” Shawn whispered. “This is horrible. Those poor kids.”
Patricia laughed, “Oooh I guess that means scary Arthur Abbott is going to get me for making fun of him. Then I will be running from him forever and ever and ever.”
“Patricia stop it. It’s no longer funny now that we know that it’s true and all those children died.”
“Come on, it’s not like he’s still around.” She rolled her eyes. “Do you think Amy actually knows he was real?”
“Well, you have to tell her tomorrow that he was.”
“I guess,” Patricia said and closed the laptop.
Shawn stood and headed for bed. “Are you coming?”
“Not yet. I want to wait up for Arthur,” she said.
Shawn shook his head and went to bed leaving Patricia on the couch laughing.
Patricia was startled awake. She looked around feeling a bit disoriented because she didn’t remember falling asleep. The house was dark except for the soft glow of the nightlight in her bathroom that illuminated parts of the hallway and the muted TV in front of her.
She felt a little uneasy, and couldn’t quite say why. Nothing in her living room looked out of place, there was no reason to feel alarmed. “Thanks for waking me, Shawn. You could take the time to turn the lights off, but not get me up? Rude,” she grumbled out loud to feel the silence.
All she wanted was to be safely in the bed beside Shawn. She turned the TV off and that is when she noticed the reflection of a man standing behind the couch.
“Oh Jesus, Shawn!” she squealed and turned to face him. “I’m gonna put a freaking bell on you!”
Her eyes took a second to adjust to the darkness and that’s when she noticed the subtle difference. The man in the hallway was a lot taller than her husband, broader, blocking out too much of the light. “Shawn?” she asked in a wavering voice.
His head shook slowly in response.
Fear slid down her back. “Who are you? How did you get in my house?”
She stumbled backward to put more space between them, but he stepped closer towards her.
“Shawn!” Patricia screamed and flicked on the light switch.
The older man standing in front of her shook his head and grinned, exposing yellowish stained teeth. There were brown rust color stains on his overalls. He took another step and she screamed for Shawn again but he never came.
“Who are you?” Patricia asked again; afraid she knew the answer.
His head tilted to the side and there was a slight twinkle in his big blue eyes. “Come now, you know who I am.”
“Arthur Abbott,” she breathed.
“Patricia you were warned.” His voice was low and gravelly.
“No, this is just a dream. I’m going to wake up.”
He took a step closer and brought his hand around from behind his back. In it was a rusted sickle. “Come now Patricia, don’t be foolish. I am very real and you brought me here.”
Patricia’s hand touched the cool door handle and managed to get it open before he could grab her. She ran out of her house and into the night screaming. She banged on doors, but no one answered. No one came to help.
He was right behind her, never giving up the chase. Her bare feet burned from stepping on twigs and rocks, but she could stop to inspect the damage.
‘This can’t be real,’ she moaned to herself, but with each silent darken house and with each new stabbing pain she knew it was.
There was a white house up ahead that had a light on and she ran for it. Arthur was right behind her laughing. Patricia banged on the door and no one came. She tried the handle and it was unlocked. With a sob of relief, she opened it and she ran inside, locking the door behind her.
“Hello! Hello anyone?” No one answered so she moved deeper into the house. There was strange music coming from the family room.
No one could have prepared themselves for the horror that she found in there.
Six kids were sitting around an old radio. Their clothes were grey and old, all from another decade. They all turned to look at her. Patricia screamed and ran from the room.
Around another corner was the dining room. In there the horrors continued. There were five kids at the dining room table having a tea party. They turned to look at her and one little blonde girl raised her cup and asked in a gurgly yet delicate voice, “Would you like some tea?”
Patricia screamed again and backed out of the room and into the kitchen. I women ran in through the backdoor scream, her clothes were tattered. She didn’t seem to notice Patricia as she ran past and out of the room.
There was a little girl huddled in the corner and when she looked up, Patricia recognized her as little Kathy Williams, the last victim. Her hand came to her mouth in horror. “Oh dear God no.”
That’s when she heard Arthur Abbott’s laughter floating towards her. “Welcome home Patricia,” he said in that low grave voice.
She ran out of the kitchen and up the stairs in an attempt to escape him. There were three children playing jacks at the top of the stairs. The one little girl smiled. Thick black liquid dripped down her chin as she said, “Stop running. It only hurts more when you run.”
There were no words to describe the terror she felt at this moment. Each room held a nightmare. She began to step around the children when she heard blood-curdling screams coming from one of the bedrooms upstairs.
Patricia’s body shook with fright and she took a step back down the stairs. Through her fear, she didn’t notice Arthur was behind her until it was too late. His sickle was raised high above his head. It swished through the air catching her in the neck.
Patricia awoke with a jump and a scream. She grabbed at her neck and looked around the room to make sure nothing was out of place. The lights were still on and everything was locked.
With a sigh of relief, she laughed at herself, sat back on the couch, and took a few deep breaths to settle her pulse.
“Damn you, Arthur Abbott. You got me that time.” She laughed a little harder.
“Stupid scary stories,” she mumbled and turned the TV off. That is when she noticed the man standing behind her in the darkened reflection of the TV.
“No,” she whimpered.
His laughter rang through her ears. “You will run forever.”