by Martin Villiagra-Riquelme '20
I remember it as if it were yesterday. It was a cool day in Kansas. My family and I drove over to pack up my grandfather’s belongings because he had passed and we wanted to sell his house. I was about 5 or 6 years old, too young to understand the concept of death, so I always asked why grandpa wasn’t home, why we were packing up his stuff. Nobody had the heart to tell me. Tired, bored, and cold, I came back in from the house’s abandoned backyard and decided to head into the guest room in the basement. The only memories I had of my grandfather were down there and I figured maybe I could find him in the basement and he’d tell me a story. I remembered his warm smile when he told me bedtime stories, all the while tucking me into bed and closing the door behind him when he finished. In some vain hope of seeing him again, I lay down in that dark room and called out to him; to my surprise, he responded, but his warm and welcoming voice sounded gravelly and cold. “My grandfather” walked into the room and I felt so happy, but I asked him why he didn’t say hello to everyone; no answer. His lack of response to this question and his change of voice made me uneasy, but I shrugged it off and thought how great it was that he was here. I asked “my grandfather” to tell me my favorite bedtime story; he told me he’d do it, but not here. The man who I thought was my grandfather told me he’d tell me all the bedtime stories I’d want if I snuck out the house with him. My grandfather would never ask me to do something this weird and so I asked him only something he would know: what my favorite bedtime story was. The man said it was “Robin Hood,” but it was actually “Pinocchio.” Even at this young age, I realized that whoever this man was, he was not my grandfather. I turned on the light in the room and instead of seeing his warm face I saw a balding, decrepit, 60-something-year-old who only resembled my grandfather in size and figure. He was unshaved, with scars all over his face, and his eyes were a soulless gray. I ran out of the room and sprinted towards the stairs, but before I could make it to the top step and slam the door behind me, he grabbed my leg and started dragging me down. His sickening and yellowing smile widened and I couldn’t even scream; the only thing I could hear was his demented laughter. Flight turned to fight, however, as I used every bit of strength I to kick him square in the face with my free leg. I broke free and looked back before I slammed the door behind me; his two front teeth were knocked out and his mouth and nose were bleeding, his horrid smile transformed into an even more terrifying look of pure anger. My parents called the cops as soon as I told them what happened, but he escaped before the police even got to the house. Even 10 years later, I don’t know whether or not he’s been caught, but sometimes I can hear that demented laughter and see that same dark figure in my room as if he were still waiting for me to leave the house with him.