An old man and a little girl were walking along a dirty street. Usually called the bad side of town but with how hard it was raining no one wanted to be outside. The old man struggled to hold his umbrella while the little girl grippe his hand. They turned down an alley with nothing but trash and an overflowing dumpster.
“Where are we going?” the little girl said.
“You’ll see soon enough. It’s a place where I go to feel better.”
“Will I feel better?”
“Oh, I think you will; I’ll make sure of that. Now be quiet; no one can know we’re here. It’s a secret.”
“Okay.” The girl said.
The old man opened a door near the end of the alley to an abandoned building. The little girl was getting more frightened with each step. Down the end of the hall was a door with a dim light shining through the cracks. The old man opened the door to reveal a room with candles and pieces of cloth all over the floor. Mountains of stuffed animals filled the room. Each one was something different, but they all looked similar. An animal smiling, looking pleasant.
“Everyone looks so happy here, don’t they?” The old man said.
“Well, let me show you something.”
The old man picked up and took the outside of the animal off to reveal a white ghost version of the animal with a frown.
“They’re sad. They pretend to be happy on the outside because they’re scared to tell anyone how sad they are. Do you know what that’s like?”
The little girl nodded again as she wiped the tears from her eyes.
“Would you like to help all the animals not be sad anymore?”
She nodded and got very excited.
“If you help my friends here than I can help you not be sad. Would you like that?”
The old man held the little girl’s chin as she smiled in agreement.
“I don’t want to be sad anymore.” The little girl said.
“Well, to help our friends, we have to let their ghosts out. We have to set them free so they can’t get hurt anymore. There is only one way to let the Ghost inside out; to kill it.”
The old man took a knife and offered it to the little girl. She was reluctant.
“Isn’t killing wrong?”
The old man thought for a moment and then smiled.
“Killing is terrible, but if we don’t take their life then they’ll go back home to their daddy. A daddy that hurts them and touches them when their mommy’s not around.”
The little girl cried again.
“They don’t want to go back to their daddy.”
She sat down on her knees and continued to weep.
The old man kneeled down next to her.
“Everything will be all right my child.”
He picked her head up and cut her throat with one fast swipe.
“No one can hurt you anymore. I’ve saved you.”
Despite the heavy rain, the next day was sunny and clear. The old man walked for quite a while. He smiled at everyone he passed. He made small talk with comments like “Beautiful day!” or “Trying to stay active.” No one knew his true purpose. He walked past schools and parks, looking for the one child off away from the other children.
He saw one in a school playground. The other children were making fun of the little girl. She looked at the old man. He smiled through the fence and told the little girl, “Don’t listen to them. They’re only jealous because you’re so pretty.”
The little girl gave him a dirty look and ran inside. A little disappointed, he returned to his walk.
His next stop, a few blocks later, was a small park. These children were much younger than children usually spoke with; the ones too young to be in school. He saw a young boy poking at the ground with a stick. He was older than the other children. Remaining by the fence, the old man called to him.
“Young man? You there, young man?”
The little boy looked up at him confused. The old man continued.
“Hello. Shouldn’t you be in school?”
The little boy shook his head still looking confused.
“Oh! Well you’re almost a man; I thought you’d be in school.”
“I was but my mommy didn’t like me being in the special classes. She said I don’t need special classes because I’m like all the other kids.”
The child seemed unhappy with his mother’s claim.
“Well, I agree you look special.”
The old man thought this was a strange reply.
“Hey mister? Why do you walk funny?”
“Oh, that’s from an old injury I had many years ago.”
The little boy’s mother called him.
“There you are. Have you been behind this tree the whole time? I’m sorry; I hope he wasn’t bothering you.”
“Not at all, he was asking about why I limp.”
The old man smiled.
“Come one sweetie, it’s time to go home.”
The little boy looked disinterested.
The old man walked slower watching the mom and the little boy. He saw them get into a dark green sedan and memorized the license plate number. He was curious about the boy. He differed from the other children.
The old man was clever. With a description of the green sedan and the license plate number, all he needed to do was ask around. He developed the ruse that the little boy had left a stuffed animal at the park and wished to return it. With a reputation as a polite old man, everyone was happy to help him. It did not take long before he knew where the boy lived. He learned the boy’s name and the mother’s name. He even heard about the dispute the mother had with the local school.
He made his way to the boy’s home to verify it was the correct place. As he passed, he heard raised voices. The boy seemed to shout, and the mother was trying to quiet him. The front door opened, and the boy shouted back inside.
“I’m playing outside; I’ll stay in the front yard.”
He slammed the door and sat on the porch, holding his head in his hands.
He watched the boy for a moment. He looked in the window and saw the mother standing with a blank expression. There was a phone ring, and the mother went to answer. The old man took his opportunity.
“Hello young man.”
The boy looked up. The old man waved at him.
The boy looked confused.
“You forgot something at the park.”
The old man revealed a stuffed animal. It was a platypus.
“This is Paul.” The old man said.
The boy looked disinterested.
“Well, you can have him. Do you want him?”
“My mommy won’t let me keep him. She won’t let me have things I want.”
“You’ll like him. Let me show you something.”
The old man pulled material off the platypus. The inside was white, and the face was dark and sad. It was a ghostly-looking platypus.
“You see? Paul’s sad too.”
“Why is he sad?” The boy said.
“Paul’s mother doesn’t love him, and he has no friends. Would you like to be his friend?”
The boy looked at Paul for a moment. He glanced back at his house to see if his mother was watching.
“You don’t have to tell your mom about him. Then you can keep him as long as you want, okay?”
The old man covered up the platypus and handed it to the boy.
“You take good care of him now and I’ll come and see you tomorrow, okay?”
The boy hid the stuffed toy under his shirt and ran back inside. The mother was still on the phone as the old man made his way down the sidewalk whistling a cheerful tune.
The old man was patient. He observed his prey from across the street, hiding in the bushes. He felt accustomed to this. Watching and waiting several days for the right opportunity. He did not expect the opportunity to come too soon.
He watched the boy go out into the yard. The boy sulked and dragged his feet. He was unhappy about something and the old man wondered what was bothering him. The mother walked out with her purse on her shoulder and keys in her hand. The old man listened.
“Make sure you pick up all your toys in the yard and wash up for dinner. I’ll be back in about ten minutes; I need to pick up butter from the store.”
The mother stroked the little boy’s hair, but he pulled away. She held her hand in the air for a moment and took a deep breath. She turned towards the car.
“I’ll be right back, sweetie.”
The old man had moved out of the bushes by now, acting as if he were walking down the sidewalk. He knew no one would think it was unusual for him to be walking two streets down from his own. He waved to the mother as she waved back. He wondered if she remembered seeing him in the park. As the green sedan turned the corner, the old man crossed the street to the little boy.
“Would you like help with that, young man?”
The little boy continued his task and did not look up to answer.
“No, thank you.”
“Well, you got a lot of toys to pick up. You and your friends must’ve had fun.”
“I have no friends.” The little boy said.
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. Well, you still have Paul, don’t you? Isn’t he your friend?”
“My mom took him away.”
“Why’d she do that?”
“She was mad at me.”
“Why was she mad?”
The boy shrugged his shoulders. He had stopped picking up toys.
“Would you like to go on a walk with me? I thought we could be friends.”
“My mom would get mad again.”
“I’ll speak to your mom when she comes back. It’ll be okay.”
The boy stared for a moment.
The old man considered reaching to hold the boy’s hand but thought it best not to. The boy walked alongside him with his hands in his pockets. He watched his feet as they trampled over the discolored wet leaves on the sidewalk.
“What’s your name, young man?”
The old man tried to remain causal and friendly. It was too soon to enact his true desires.
“Jason. What’s your name?”
“You can call me Mr. Noone. Jason’s a good name. I had a nephew named Jason.”
“Had? You mean he died.”
“Yes, a long time ago. He drowned in his family’s swimming pool. It was a tough time for everyone. He was about your age. And like you, he didn’t get along with his parents. I gave him a stuffed bear the day before he died. I’m sorry; I’d rather not talk about this.”
“What do you want to talk about?”
“Well, what sort of things do you like to talk about?”
“I don’t know. I don’t talk much.” Jason said.
“It seems like you have lots of things to say.”
“Yeah but many people don’t listen because I’m only a kid.”
“Nonsense. I’m listening right now.”
Jason’s response confused Mr. Noone. What an unusual child. He saw a bus rattling down the street. This was the right time.
“Would you like to go to my shop and pick out another toy? I have too many. You can have as many as you want. You can even get one for your mom.”
The old man was anxious. He did not want to miss the bus.
Jason’s response sounded melancholy, but he did not hesitate to get on the bus with Mr. Noone.
“If we leave now, we can go where we want and get you back home in time for supper.”
“What’s supper?” Jason said.
“I suppose you call it dinner.”
The bus ride seemed longer than it was. After only fifteen minutes, they had arrived where Mr. Noone looked out the window and sat back down. He didn’t want to get off the bus.
“Shouldn’t be much longer now.” Mr. Noone said.
Read More. Read the ending or the extended version in the eBook Dollar Tales from the Morbid Museum: The Ghosts Inside. Download Free on Amazon Kindle July 26 Only. Read the extended version in The Morbid Museum eBook and Paperback coming September 17, 2019.