Author: Craig Groshek
Narrator: Keenon Brevik
Sound Design: Craig Groshek
Post-Production: Craig Groshek
Story © Craig Groshek
Audio production © Chilling Entertainment, LLC
Keenon Brevik voices this tale written by author Craig Groshek, about a hopelessly stubborn man whose very stubbornness leads to his untimely disappearance. The story was produced as an entry into the Wisconsin Public Radio “flash fiction” horror writing contest in October 2012.Craig Groshek is the creator of Chilling Tales for Dark Nights, as well as an executive producer, narrator, author, webmaster, web developer, and graphic designer. To see more of Craig Groshek's narrations and story adaptations on Chilling Tales for Dark Nights, click here: http://www.chillingtalesfordarknights.com/tag/Craig-Groshek/ To see/hear more of Keenon Brevik, visit his YouTube channel here: http://www.youtube.com/user/CreeperOfPasta/ See more of Keenon Brevik's narrations on Chilling Tales for Dark Nights: http://www.chillingtalesfordarknights.com/tag/Keenon-Brevik/
Author: Craig Groshek
There was once a small village, home to several hundred men, women and children. In many ways the people of the village were like those of any other. They woke at dawn, cooked breakfast and finished chores. They went to work, returned for dinner and retired to bed. The inhabitants of the village were ordinary; similar to anyone else you’ve met, save one distinguishing feature. Every single person in the village was terrified – all of them of the same thing. And each night because of it, every last one of them made certain they were in bed, their windows fastened and their doors locked, by eleven o’clock.
The reason for their fear? A fieldstone bell tower, erected in the center of the village so long ago no one could recall its construction. Every night, at exactly the eleventh hour, the bell inexplicably tolled eleven times, struck by unseen hands. It rang clearly, regardless of the season or the weather, and legend had it that tragedy befell anyone who remained outdoors while it tolled. For this reason everyone in the village feared the tower. Everyone, that was, but Jacob Pearson.
Jacob, haggard and eager to escape the noise and crime of a large nearby city, took up residence in the village with his young wife. Jacob was a stern and impertinent man, and within days of his arrival he had grown intolerant of the village superstitions. Each night, Jacob scoffed at the villagers as they scrambled, like mice pursued by ravenous cats, to the safety of their homes.
One night Jacob decided that he would put an end to everyone’s ridiculous beliefs. He bragged to his wife that he would climb the tower the next night and remove the clapper from the bell and stop it from tolling. To make a point, he would do it at eleven o’clock.
The following night, as promised, Jacob approached the tower, threw open its rotting wooden door and ascended its twisting stone staircase, brushing aside cobwebs along the way. At the top he found a small space and, as expected, an iron bell and clapper. He waited.
The other villagers huddled indoors near their windows. They watched and waited, their eyes fixed upon the tower. No one knew what would happen, or if anything would happen at all.
Suddenly, from atop the bell tower, Jacob’s voice sounded. “Look at you!” he shouted down to his neighbors, “scared of your shadows! There’s nothing here but an old bell!”
Suddenly the bell tolled. Once. Twice. Three times. The villagers gasped.
The bell continued to toll. Four, five, six times. The villagers expected to hear Jacob shouting at any moment, but no one said a word.
The bell tolled again. Seven, eight, nine times. The onlookers were very concerned indeed.
Then, from within the tower, Jacob’s voice rose again. “A-ha!” he shouted, “I’ve got you!”
The bell tolled a tenth time. Several moments passed in silence; the bell remained still.
One hour later, Jacob had still not returned. Yet no villagers dared to investigate, not even his wife.
Finally, at dawn, several villagers approached the tower. They peered inside and shouted, to no reply. Jacob’s wife pushed past the villagers and climbed the staircase, frantically shouting, “Jacob! Jacob! Answer me, Jacob!” There was a moment of silence as she reached the top of the stairs.
Then, suddenly, she screamed.
In the small space atop the tower, she found the iron bell and its clapper. Gripping it tightly was her husband’s left hand, roughly severed at the wrist, and nothing else.
© Craig Groshek