More of a dark fairy tale than a horror story, but I think it turned out okay. This story has been narrated by TroveofTerror. Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nq6rl2sJnSs
Summer has always been my favorite season. I’m glad it’s coming around again. I just love lounging by the pool with a glass of iced tea.
I remember that when I was a kid, my parents would send me to my grandmother’s house every summer. She lived way out in the boonies, so it was kind of an adventure. She had a huge house too, at least I remember it being huge, everything seems bigger when you’re a kid. I would spend hours playing in the big empty rooms, or crawling through the cupboards. It was kind creepy to though. The house was old, and sometimes at night, you could hear the sounds of a rabbit being caught by predators in the out in the woods. Those things can scream just like a human child.
My grandmother was kind of creepy too. I think she was already turning a bit senile. She tended to drift off in the middle of sentences, and she spent long periods of time looking out the window, or just staring the pictures hung on the wall.
She had great stories though, fairy tales and fables, stuff like that. I could listen to her for hours. She told long sagas of mischievous trolls, wise old spirits, and brave warriors. She never needed read from a book or anything, they were all just stored up there in her head. I don’t know how she remembered them all, especially considered she was probably experiencing the early stages of dementia.
There was one story though, that kind of bothered me as a kid. In fact, it still bothers me as an adult. She told me the story late one evening as the sun was going down. She was sitting in her old rocking chair, and I was cross-legged on the floor. I will recount this story to the best of my abilities.
Many years ago, there was a puppeteer named Heinrich. He lived in a small mountain town, and his house beside the woods. He carved each one of his puppets by hand. His puppets were like his children. Whenever he felt inspired to add a new member to his family, we would go to the forest to gather wood, and then spend hours in his little house, carving until the new puppet was perfect.
Aside from his wooden children, Heinrich had one real child, a teenage boy named Johan. Johan, as you can imagine, resented how much time his father spent on his puppets. Heinrich was too frail to do any real work, which meant Johan had to provide for the both of them. He worked as a farmhand, spending every day in the cold and the heat to make ends meet.
While Johan toiled all day long, Heinrich just sat at home, playing and talking with his puppets like they were real. Overtime, Johan’s resentment off his father grew into a slow boiling rage. But he reminded himself off all the good times he and his father had when they were both younger. The memory he treasured most was the day Heinrich built a swing for him, in the tree beside their house. Those memories kept him from ever taking his anger out on his father.
One day, while working the fields, Johan cut himself badly on his scythe. The wound bled heavily, and Johan had to spend all his savings having it treated and stitched by the town doctor. That evening, when Johan made it home, he finally told his father how he felt about him. He told him how angry he was, how much he resented working so hard to feed his worthless father, how he hated the way his father ignored his flesh-and-blood son for a bunch of puppets. Heinrich just sat there silently, and then he fell, producing only a slight “thud” as he hit the floor. He was dead.
The whole town attended the funeral. A few cried, for Heinrich had been well liked by everyone. Johan didn’t cry though, he just stood by the grave, silent, barely moving. The townspeople were mortified by his lack of emotions.
A while later, people noticed that they hadn’t seen Johan since the funeral. One of Johan’s fellow farmhands, Bram, went to see if he was okay. As he approached the house, he noticed the old tree, the one Heinrich had built a swing for his son in, had been chopped down. When Bram entered the house, his heart froze. Sitting in front of the fireplace Johan, and next to him, a life size, wooden puppet of Heinrich. Surrounding them were all the puppets Heinrich had made over the years. Johan chatted happily to his wooden father, and his wooden siblings, controlling their strings to make them respond.
The townspeople had to drag the utterly mad Johan out off his house. He screamed all the way. During the struggle, Bram accidentally knocked over the puppet Heinrich. His wooden head shattered on the floor, and out poured real, human blood.
I was the one who found my Grandmother, after she died. I had gone to her house to deliver her some groceries. I found her dead, in the same room where she told me that story as a child. It took me ten minutes to call the police. It was just, as she laid there on the floor, in the early stages of rigor mortis, I couldn’t help but notice how wooden she looked.