"Old father long-Legs
Can't say his prayers.
Take him by the left leg
And throw him down the stairs.
And when he's at the bottom,
Before he long has lain,
Take him by the right leg
And throw him up again."
~ Nursery rhyme
It's been about three months after my experience. Since that dreadful day, nightmares festered my dreams depriving me of sleep. My life is gradually getting back into order, but I still feel that I am forever tainted. My town was strictly religious, so you'd have difficulty hearing stories about supernatural phenomenon like ghosts, demons, and the like. I lived with a roommate at an apartment. Every night at 3 AM, I would take a nightly jog for exercise. It was always a pleasure of feeling the chill of the cold air on my skin when I ran.
That all changed one night. I left the apartment as usual and I began my jog. I raced down the pavement and stopped at the stop sign. As I began my sprint back, I stopped suddenly when I heard a low hum. I looked around for the site of the odd humming and followed the path to a dark alley. The humming became louder. Listening closely to the humming, I realized it was of a nursery rhyme. There were two disembodied voices singing in unison. They were of two children, both boys. The light from my cellphone illuminated the dark alley revealing the two boys skipping around. I have seen several children at the apartment, and I knew them all off the top of my head, but these two kids I failed to recognize. They wore outdated clothing; the patchwork of the clothing was mix-matched and varied in coloration. They were both roughly around 10-years-old, but their clothes were far too large for their frames.
They must've felt my glare because they suddenly ceased their humming and skipping. Without a word, the two boys dropped their heads, at first from apparent embarrassment, or so I had thought. The tension was suffocating. I decided to talk to them so to break the ice as one would say.
"What are you two boys doing out here this late?" I said, "where are your parents?"
They didn't respond. I further pushed them to explain their reasons for playing outside at 3, mentioning how it was especially dangerous for people their age. Instead, they remained glued there, still as stone statues. Finally, I asked them if they felt okay. It was then that the once static children reanimated. Their movements were awkward and robotic. I looked more closely at their physical features. Their skin was pale and chalky. Whiter than the raggedy clothes they were wearing. One had brown hair while the other had light blonde hair. For simplicity's sake, I'll call them Blondie and Brunette.
"Hey, there, mister," Brunette said. He spoke in a bizarrely monotonous tone. It was…unnerving to say the least.
"Why are you and your friend out here so late?" I asked again.
"Take us to your apartment," Brunette answered completely ignoring my inquiry.
It was an odd request. I had just met these two boys, and yet he spoke as if we knew each other for years. Blondie didn't respond and merely stood by Brunette. Brunette had a flair of confidence to him that was admirable but disturbing. His toothy smirk didn't help matters.
"Are your parents there, boy?"
He ignored me once again. "Just take us with you; it won't be that long. We'll go to your apartment and we'll be gone."
I was becoming more distraught at his assertiveness. "No. I'm sorry, b-but I'm not going to. I feel…threatened."
Brunette's smirk transformed into a scowl with his movements stiffening. Blondie stared at Brunette then at me. It was then that I saw what they were hiding. They both had solid, coal-black eyes. There was no sign of whiteness of the sclera in their eyes. The light from my phone reflected on their eyes showing off a hollow appearance. Apparently, looking directly at their eyes was enough to enrage Brunette.
"Just let us go with you," he said. He repeated the same demand over and over. He attempted to speak in a reassuring manner that he and his "friend" were unarmed and that they were just kids. Blondie remained silent during the whole tirade. If I wasn't completely overlooking it, Blondie appeared to be terrified of Brunette's bouts of anger.
I'm a grown man. I've seen things that don't even phase me anymore. I've seen old, frail men get robbed on the streets, hit and runs, accidents. And yet, these two boys – if they even were boys – were sending me up the wall and getting under my skin. Worse, that little Brunette, I sensed he understood fully that he was making me uncomfortable and was relishing at the fact. I kept staring hypnotically into the endless void that was his eyes. Those dark, mysterious pools that lacked all light.
"I-I'm warning you boys," I said, "One more step and…"
That little brown-haired freak grabbed my arm. It wasn't a firm grip, but the boy nevertheless had some strength in it. His touch was cold. Deathly cold. Then the itchiness started; my arm felt as if it had caught on fire and was burning underneath Brunette's grasp. Blondie stood by with a befuddled daze.
"Let go, boy!" I managed to scream out. He shook his head and pressed his fingers further down on my arm. The pain seared through my body. My strength was flowing out of my body. This boy – nay, creature – hungrily stared at me. His skin also transformed. His olive-colored tone took on a lively appearance. Enough was enough. While I would never do this to a child, I knew on a subconscious level that this was no child. Just a crude parody of one. I gathered up enough force in my fist and slammed it into Brunette's face. He fell backward, but Blondie caught him. He glared at me with that same, deathly expression. It felt like hours until he gathered himself and walked away with Blondie.
Freed from his hold, I hesitatingly stared at the path that the two children took, but to my relief, they were gone. I wasted no time to understand why they had suddenly vanished, nor did I remotely care to know. I raced back to my apartment after repeatedly looking behind my back to ensure that they weren't following me. My roommate stirred awake from me slamming the door.
"Dude, what's all the noise about?"
I was breathing heavily, nearly collapsing from my shortness of breath. "Sorry, man, just got into a little trouble while out on my jog."
His eyes shot open at that. "Trouble? Are you okay?"
I nodded my head. "Don't worry. It was nothing really."
He shrugged his shoulders and resumed his sleeping. As I got into my bed, I noticed his pet dog Buster sleeping next to his bed. He was an old pug whose hind legs were broken in a vehicular accident. As I was nearing sleep, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was being watched. That fire was still active in my body. I found myself catching what I assumed were glimpses of Brunette staring at me with his heated glare. His rage invaded my dreams as my dreams were primarily about him repeatedly demanding entry into my apartment room.
One dream felt the most real. My eyes were heavy from a day's worth of work. As I was nearing sleep, I smelled a putrid scent fill my nostrils. I can best compare it to the smell of months' old diapers burnt to a crisp with sulfuric acid. When forcing myself awake, I saw him: there, at the of my bed was Brunette. He wordlessly stood there as a statue before walking towards me, stopping at my face. He bent down at the side of my bed his amusement never-ending. He tentatively tapped my forehead with his lifeless fingers. His fingers were clawing into my forehead before I was immediately woken up by my roommate's screaming.
"What, what's wrong?" I asked.
He was desperately looking around the room under his bed and in the bathroom. He was always cool and collected, but now he was acting in utter lunacy. He grabbed me by the shirt collar and pulled me to his face. "Buster's missing!"
I was slow to react because he was still being illogical. "Maybe he walked out of the door last night?"
My roommate fumed. "Not in his condition he wouldn't!"
We agreed to pitch in some money to make missing posters featuring the elderly canine and we spread them around the block. He also talked me into combining the money he had with mine to promise anyone who found the dog a reward for their cooperation. Some greedy con artists did try to pass off any dog as being my friend's, but we turned them down without issue.
That wasn't the only odd circumstances that transpired. When I returned home after work, I found my roommate sprawled on the ground. I called for an ambulance as he was going into throes. Somehow, my roommate had developed a curious illness with some traces of the common cold and high fever. Besides that, the exact ailment was unknown. It was unfortunate to see a man like my roommate become stricken overnight by illness because of how better off he was, but here he was. He screamed miserably from his suffering and remained that way for weeks. His body mass melted away until he got into a coughing fit and succumbed shortly after.
After my roommate's funeral, notes began to appear in my room. They were written on paper that I never had in my room before, and I was quite certain that my roommate also didn't use it. The first note was deplorable:
"I have been watching you for a good while from afar. That moment I touched you, I sensed that there was something special about you."
It was from Brunette, of course. On the back of the note was an arrow pointing in a straight path towards my door. It felt as though Brunette was beckoning me to follow it. I tried to fight that urge, but the note was an extension of Brunette and it had that same hypnotic feel to it. I walked outside of my door only to see more notes on the ground. They too were a series of arrows pointing straight. I picked each one up and walked down the path. Some of my neighbors saw me collecting the notes but didn't say anything on them let alone if they were the ones who wrote them down.
Eventually, I made my way to the laundry room downstairs. To my horror, Buster was pinned to the wall, his hind legs bent so far, they were barely held together by their joints. A vertical cut was made along with a horizontal one. They were crudely held back by nails. His lungs, heart, and other body parts were exposed. The dog had a look of fear on his face. As I tried to regain composure, I found a note on one of the tables' flat surfaces. It read:
"I have played with doggy, and the big man. Now I want to play with you."
My suspicions were proven to be true: Brunette, that black-eyed boy, was responsible for Buster's disappearance and the sudden illness and demise of his friend. But what was I to do about it? It's not like I could advise the police that there was some supernatural demon masquerading as a kid and killed my best friend and his dog.
My nightmares worsened the more I felt that Brunette and Blondie were staring at me. My sanity was being tested daily. I had since ceased my nightly jog because of my fear of seeing those two boys again. I was developing insomnia from my severe lack of sleep because every time I closed my eyes, I could only see Brunette's staring back at me. It all reached its boiling point one day when I was fired from my job for coming in late because of my insomnia. Going to the store or out with my friends was out of the question because I almost swore, I heard the two black-eyed boys resuming their humming of that nursery rhyme.
Despite my remaining at home nearly 24/7, a series of accidents started to occur in the apartment. More of my neighbors reported on strings of bad luck. A window washer fell two stories to his death when his rope broke under mysterious circumstances. More pets were disappearing from the building. It started with my elderly neighbor Melissa and how one day her pet Persian cat vanished from her apartment room. Brunette would leave me notes showing where he had placed the mutilated bodies of the pets some found at the back of the building, others in the owner's office.
The sickness that took my roommate's life also began manifesting throughout the building with no possible cure being achievable. It first appeared in the elderly residents starting with Melissa and gradually 5 elderly residents succumbed to the disease with high fevers that were incapable of being lowered. But then the "BEK sickness" as I called it was transferred to the children of the apartment. The worst-case involved a young, single mother whose infant son contracted it and despite her enlisting doctors to help her son, he faded away the next day.
I received more notes from Brunette each day about the various people he had "played with." He was a busy boy because I raked up 30 notes detailing his many endeavors. It became clear to me that I was cursed by Brunette because of my incessant refusal to fall to his commands and my curse was bringing bad luck to my neighbors. If I didn't do anything immediately, I was afraid that Brunette's influence would then transfer over to my family. I did not know if I could live with myself if something happened to my nieces or nephews or my aging parents.
The most disgusting message I received from Brunette, however, was regarding Blondie's fate. When I managed to leave my apartment room to buy groceries, Brunette left a note on by floormat simply saying "Look inside your cupboard." I did what the boy ordered and was given the shock of my life: inside was Blondie's head bloody and still. Those black eyes still unnerved me greatly, but that was mostly because they were truly devoid of life. Inside of his mouth was a message.
"He tried to come between you and me. He tried to ruin my fun, so I had to make him go away."
Reading the letter sent a chill down my spine. To think he was so bent on getting back at me that he'd kill his only semblance of a friend was horrible. From there, I became more determined to stop Brunette from tormenting me and infecting the other apartment neighbors with the BEK sickness. Researching the cases involving the black-eyed kids was tenuous at best because most of them consisted of the same basic rhetoric: these entities knocking on people's doors or car windows and demanding entry only to become enraged when they are denied. No case resembled mine in the slightest. I then decided to look up good luck charms that could act as a barrier against Brunette.
I visited a shaman outside of my town who told me that he was very familiar with beings like Brunette. He stated that he saw them every time he went into a trance induced by a cocktail of hallucinogens. Despite my devotion to not being a drug user, I was desperate to try anything to rid myself of the BEK sickness. I took a deep whiff of the drug and before I even knew it, I was walking on a path that was unwinding. I trudged forward endlessly until I saw Brunette standing there in his typically lifeless stance. His head was bowed, but he sensed that I was there.
"You finally came to play with me?" he said in that same dull, monotonous voice.
"After tormenting me for weeks, killing my roommate and his dog, your own friend, and then cursing me, all I want to know is what you are."
Brunette casually brushed my request aside. He walked closer to me and readied his hand. Like the first time we met, he had a look of hunger on his face. Whatever it was, it was made clear that what was motivating Brunette was to feed on my soul. He was back to his olive skin tone and skinnier than I remembered. Did he really decide that playing with me was more important than acquiring sustenance? Whatever the motivation, I grabbed his arm and clamped down on it.
"Let me go!" Brunette hissed.
I refused and applied more pressure to his arm. His bones were surprisingly fragile no doubt from not harvesting souls for a long time. He wiggled around under my hand certainly feeling the bones in his hand breaking like twigs. I took my other hand and I hit him with it. Before I could strike him again, he hypnotized me with his eyes. I felt myself slipping into a dark abyss with my strength weakening.
"That was no fair," Brunette muttered. "No fair."
There I was sprawled on my back looking up at the black-eyed boy. He bent down to my face and a smile flared. His lips formed into an O shape which he forcefully began to inhale air. Vapor escaped my open mouth and entered his. My soul was rejuvenating him once more, his skin regaining a healthy peachy hue. My body grew weaker; if I didn't do anything, Brunette would leave me as a hollow husk and continue to ensnare and terrorize more innocent victims. With the last of my strength, I shot my hand out and seized him by his lips.
He immediately knew what I was trying to do and doubled down on me. I fought back pushing his face away from mine. Brunette groaned in pain and his chest began to descend. I took that opportunity to hit him in his ribcage a couple of times until he was forced to let me go. Purple blood was seeping out of his mouth in a wheeze. He looked up at me like I was the most disgusting thing in the room.
"You'll die in here, you know," he smirked, "like your buddy and his dog and all the others."
He laughed in a haze. I was becoming more enraged by the minute. I wasn't willing to give this little brat anymore of my time. With one more punch, I directly hit Brunette in his demonic face, and he was sent of the path. The path acted as a bridge between the conscious and subconscious world; underneath was a heavy mist. I wasn't even sure if it led to anywhere in particular. Brunette plummeted off the path disappearing into the mist. His small frame fluttered in the wind and vanished into the mist. I woke up from my trance not too long afterward.
I never saw Brunette again. I couldn't even begin to explain to anyone else what happened let alone that there was a head of a black-eyed boy in my cupboard (which also mysteriously disappeared). But with his disappearance, my curse began to vanish. It didn't disappear overnight, mind you, but nevertheless, the BEK sickness ended and no one else in my apartment was struck with an incurable disease.
But with Brunette, I could never be too careful. While I hope that he was still falling, I investigated collecting good luck charms of any kind to prevent him from returning. I have also acquired a new job and I saw to it that I only worked during the dayshift. With my suspicions that Brunette was still watching me somewhere out there and waiting for his next move, I could never be too careful.