Seth By Steve Stred
Exclusive Halloween Fiction
I killed my brother for the first time when he was four.
It told me I had to do it.
You see, we lived on a farm out in the middle of nowhere. Nice two-storey house painted white. Cozy deck that led out to a dusty driveway. It was what you’d picture a farm to look like. Red barn. Fields and fields of corn and grain. We even had horses and cows and occasionally pigs. Our chicken coop was around back, my job was to collect the eggs.
The fall of 1971 was like no other.
First, the snow came early. Second, the thing below my bed started to stroke my feet each night. Third, I killed my brother for the first time. He was only four.
I know Seth loved me, being his big brother, but I was only eight and I didn’t want to be taken.
After waking up on the morning of October 15th we found the ground covered in a thin layer of snow. Both of us were so excited, we immediately threw on our jackets and shoes, not taking the time to even search for our winter clothes.
We rushed outside, the crisp air forcing our already reddening hands into our pockets. We slushed around, pretending to skate on the white powder, smiles as wide as our anatomy would allow.
Seth was so wrapped up in his enthusiasm that he spun around fast, his feet slipping out from below him and he fell to the ground with a giggle and a thud.
I skated over to him, helping him up while wiping the snow that clung to him off. We laughed and howled, moving further away from the house.
It wasn’t until we’d moved by the red barn and were playing near the large, round hay bales out in the field that I spotted an extra set of tracks in the snow.
“What’s that?” Seth asked me, as I tried to follow where the tracks led, travelling off into the field.
“Someone was out here,” I replied.
“Don’t think so.”
“Should we follow them?”
“Better not. Might be a stranger or a hippy.”
Seth nodded, not sure what the second word was. But I did. My dad had long warned mom and me of the bra-burners and joint smokers who wanted to bring the country down with them.
We turned to head back to the house, my stomach reminding me that we’d skipped breakfast, when a noise caught my attention. I looked back towards the field, finding something odd at the nearest bale of hay. I took a step towards it when I saw movement and realized that it was someone or rather, something’s fingers rhythmically moving at the side of the hay, as though impatiently tapping its fingers.
“Seth, go. Go now, run! Run to the house!”
I pushed my brother ahead as the hand began to come around the bale, frantically searching to grab onto something with the darkened nails that grew haggardly from the ends.
We rushed to the house, our little legs carrying us away from the thing in the field as fast as they could. Our mother was startled when we burst into the kitchen, asking us what was wrong. She summoned our father when we told her something had chased us. He went looking and when he returned told our mother that he had found other tracks that had come back towards the house before turning away and disappearing back into the fields.
Being young, we’d long forgot about the thing in the field by that night.
A farmhouse at night is a scary place. The house creaks and groans as it settles from a long day of being a home for a family.
I had grown accustomed to the normal noises you’d hear as I drifted off to sleep each night. The water pipes, the floors, the stairs as father made his way from reading in front of the fire to the bedroom.
Sometime after I’d fallen asleep a new noise introduced itself to the nightly symphony.
It shook me from the dream I was having, so pervasive the sound was. At first, I thought it was mother slapping father’s wet jeans on the washing machine. A splattering sound. When I felt something pressing under me from below my mattress, I knew it wasn’t mother but the thing that had been out in the field.
I frantically tried to tuck my blankets around my feet, foolishly believing that this would prevent the thing from coming out from under the bed.
The wet noise stopped when I pulled my legs back. I moved as far away from the end of the bed as I could, wishing that I’d ran screaming from the room when I first heard the noise.
Thinking about screaming made my brain tell me to stay quiet. Maybe if I stayed motionless it would simply move on.
That thought flew from my young head as soon as the decaying fingers danced over the edge of the bed. What followed was the worst thing I’ve ever seen. Dirt matted hair caked with blood and gore sat on top of a rotting face. The things eyes were squeezed shut, black mold growing over the eyelids, keeping them closed.
No nose existed, the cartilage long ago having been eaten away. Cracked lips outlined yellow, plaque covered teeth. The leech-like tongue moving over the ends of the teeth as it pulled itself up to a sitting position.
“Boy, may I have a word?” It asked, its voice surprisingly musical.
I shook my head frantically, wanting this creature to leave.
Instead, it leaned forward so that our cheeks touched, and it whispered into my ear just what I needed to do.
I wasn’t myself for the next few days.
Seth wanted to play, which I tried, but he knew something was wrong.
My mother and father didn’t pay much attention to it, both were so busy preparing the farm for winter that neither said much as the weekend approached.
Each night I cried myself to sleep, only to wake when the thing’s fingers found my feet.
When Friday came, I was shaking, I was so scared.
The thing had said that dusk was when I needed to do it.
After dinner, I asked mother if me and Seth could play outside for a few minutes. She looked outside, her mind determining if it was too dark for her boys to play, but then nodded.
“A few minutes. It’s getting dark.”
A few minutes was all I would need.
I let Seth run ahead before me, the remnants of that first snow now melting away. The muddy mess that was left in its place made for difficulties running, but Seth did his best to sprint away, wanting to say he was faster than his older brother.
I trotted along, then sped up as we got closer to the hay.
When I saw the fingers of the creature indicate where it was hidden with a little wave, I pulled the knife from my pocket.
Seth’s eyes went wide seeing my deranged face, but before he could scream or run, I shoved the knife into his neck and turned and ran.
I heard his choking and gagging before a wet slapping sound silenced him.
My father found me a few hours later, crying behind the barn. They’d looked everywhere for us after we didn’t return when they called. I explained how something had chased us and I’d ran, thinking Seth had returned to the house. My father shook his head, the tears telling me they’d found his body.
I killed my brother for the first time when he was four.
It told me I had to do it.
After that night no noises came from under my bed, no fingers found the soles of my feet.
It wasn’t until five years later that I saw Seth again.
But maybe that’s a story for another time?
Steve Stred is the author of a number of novels, novellas and collections. He has appeared in anthologies with some of Horror’s heaviest hitters.
He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with his wife, son and their dog OJ.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
You can follow Steve on Instagram @stevestred
You can visit Steve’s Official website here
“Of Witches…” the newest collection by dark fiction author, Steve Stred, brings together eight stories all revolving around one of history’s great curiosities – the witch.
Steve Stred will once again take you into the deepest, darkest places.
Accompanied by fifteen stunning photographs/illustrations, as well as an amazing foreword from Miranda Crites, this collection is sure to quench your crone thirst.
Within this collection you’ll find tales about;
– A watery reunion
– A story shared in a bar
– Letters left after a family member dies
– A chance encounter while camping
– Three sisters who live on the outskirts of town
– The events that follow the loss of a loved one
– Strange occurrences at a property
– A teenager starting to work at the family business
“Of Witches…” is sure to become both a Halloween classic as well as a collection classic.
Pre-order Of Witches… from Amazon US, Amazon UK & Amazon CAN
That was fantastic! More now please, I need to know what happens next. 😊
Wow! Intense story. You nailed the opening!!!