“Thank you, Gary. As you can see I am standing in front of the Connelly farm where hundreds of volunteers are gathered for a second day of search and rescue of the two Connelly children.” Julie Stanton, news reporter, held her microphone with one hand while trying to brush her windblown blonde hair from her face with the other. “They disappeared yesterday morning after telling their mother they were going to play soccer in the back yard. Parents, Mr and Mrs John Connelly, called police after the children missed lunch and couldn’t be found. Now, there has been a report of a sighting of a black van in the area shortly before their disappearance.” The TV reporter looked over her shoulder. “It looks like the search is getting under way, Gary, and I will keep you posted during the course of the search. This is Julie Stanton, WXIX, channel 6 news”


*        *        *



“Come on, Catty, don’t cry, they will find us.” Ten-year-old Sean hugged and patted his younger sister in an attempt to quiet her sobs.

“How do you know?” her small voice whimpered. She looked up at the opening of the old abandoned well to see a hint of sunrise coming down, throwing a small golden beacon on two carrot topped children.

“I just know.” He wanted to cry himself, but knew he had to be strong for his sister. His hand throbbed, broken when they fell into the well. Catty was lucky, no broken bones, but she looked so pale and she couldn’t stop her teeth from chattering.

They had spent a long, cold, and scary night in the dark water-soaked well.

Catty stiffened. “What’s that?”

Sean listened, hoping that Catty heard someone coming to get them out. The noise didn’t come from the top but rather from underneath their feet. The side of the well rumbled while the ground vibrated. One side of the wall gave way and water rushed in. Catty screamed and felt her brother throw her onto the small ledge of stones that jutted out from the side; the ledge they took turns on during the night to stay out of the two feet of water on the bottom.



*        *        *



Two young women were scrutinizing the menus outside a quaint New York sidewalk Bistro. One had flaming red hair, the other short-cropped black hair.

The dark haired woman folded and laid down her menu. “Well, Katherine, how do you like your new job so far?”

Katherine smiled at her friend and roommate.

“I love it! Who would have thought that we would end up in New York working for the same law firm?”

Katherine had met Brenda Seagal in college. Both were going for law degrees, but Katherine dropped out. An alcoholic mother demanded so much of her time she couldn’t keep up with her studies. She opted for a Paralegal certificate instead.

One night Brenda called her and told her about an opening for a paralegal in the law firm she was working at. Katherine jumped at the chance. Only with Brenda's help and encouragement did she break the dysfunctional tie that bound mother and daughter. Christina Connelly begged and pleaded for her only daughter to stay. Katherine, armed with determination, went to New York and now she sat across from her friend at a real New York sidewalk bistro.

The waiter took their order and they involved themselves in office gossip.

“What about Bob Crusher? Isn’t he just tooooo sexy?” Brenda was always talking about whom she could get into the sack with.

A small tinkling version of “Days of Wine and Roses” emanated from Katherine’s purse.

Brenda looked up from the salad she was attacking. “You really need to get with the times, Katherine.”

Katherine pulled her cell phone from her purse and looked at the ID in puzzlement. The light was on but the screen was blank.


The pause was ominous.

“Catty, why did you leave me? It’s cold and dark and I’m scared.”

Katherine gasped. An icy wave shot through her body.

It couldn’t be! Sean was dead! He had disappeared through the opening in the well when the water had rushed in. His body was never found.

“Come on, Catty, Come back for me.” The voice of a ten-year-old boy brought all the horror of that chilling day back. NO! This has to be a prank.

“Who is this?” She tried to sound stern, but her voice shivered.

Click. Buzz. Connection terminated.

Katherine stared at the blank screen.

“Katherine. Katherine!” Her friends’ voice broke Katherine’s daze.

Concern filled Brenda’s’ face. “What the hell was that? You are three shades from pale.”

Katherine closed her cell phone and placed it on the table gingerly.

“Oh, it’s a prank call, that’s all it is, a prank.”

Katherine’s unconvincing, hesitant tone told Brenda otherwise.

“Well, you should report it to your cell provider.” Brenda decided to leave it alone.



*        *        *



Katherine opened the door to her apartment glad to be home from a long, distracting day. Her mind whirled constantly with the mysterious phone call earlier. She turned on the TV, pushed the button on the answering machine out of habit, and went to the refrigerator. She pulled the door open and peered inside. Her choices were few; a sandwich or a piece of cake.

“Sorry, hon.” Brenda’s’ voice blared from the answering machine. She sounded excited. “I have to work late. Bob needs some legwork for a case, if you know what I mean.” She giggled. “Don’t wait up.”

Katherine was glad. She really didn’t feel like going to the theater tonight. She would have a piece of cake, a glass of milk and vegetate in front of the TV.

The answering machine moved to the next message while Katherine cut a large piece of cake.

“Hey, Baby, got the tickets. Call me.”

A strong mans voice relayed his message curtly and hung up. Katherine smiled to herself a little. She wondered if Brad, Brenda’s current boyfriend, knew about her wandering ways.

The answering machine announced no more messages as Katherine plopped on the couch with a sigh and started flipping through the channels.

The phone rang.

Damn, she thought, always happens.

Remembering the other phone call, she rose and looked at the ID caller screen. Her mothers’ number. She stood and let it ring two mores times, contemplating whether to answer or not.

She sighed and picked up the receiver.

“Hello, Mama.”

There was silence and her heart jumped.

“Katherine?” Relief washed over her, it was her mother.

“Yes, Mama.”

You would think a mother would recognize her own daughters’ voice.

Another pause. Katherine waited patiently. Her mother would do that frequently.

“I saw Sean.” Her mothers voice was so matter-of-fact and calm that Katherine wasn’t sure she heard right.


“I saw Sean today. Right in front of me. And he spoke to me.”

Katherine placed her hand over her heart in an attempt to keep it from exploding out of her chest.

“Mama.” Katherine had become the parent and was prepared to reason with her mother.

Her mothers voice became more excited and higher-pitched.

“I saw him. Just like he was fifteen years ago and he said that he’s scared and cold and that we need to help him. Katherine, you need to come home, you need to come home and help Sean.” Her mothers voice verged on hysteria.

“I can’t come home. Mama. I’ve only had this job for two weeks.”

“You have to, you have to. We have to help Sean!”

All the old resentment came flooding back to Katherine, the accusing glances from her mothers’ blood-shot alcoholic eyes and the innuendos. Why was Katherine saved and not Sean?

“You’ve been drinking.” What a stupid statement. Her mother was always drinking. And Katherine always gave in.

“All right, all right, mama,” Her mother was sobbing uncontrollably now, “mama… mama… stop crying, I’ll come. I’ll catch a flight in the morning.” She sighed as she placed the phone into the cradle. An overwhelming feeling of doom engulfed her. Why is this happening? Does insanity run in the family? She couldn’t very well accuse her mother of imagining Sean when she herself had received a phone call from her dead brother.



*        *        *



A heavy dread filled her stomach like a ball of lead as she looked at the once pretty white and red one-story farmhouse skirted with a wrap-around porch. The paint peeled from the weather-beaten gray boards in long slivers. Patches of crabgrass dotted the mostly dirt yard.

She vividly remembered the night her father had gone out for milk two years after the “rescue” and never returned. Katherine wondered in despair why her father never took her with him. That’s when her mother turned to the bottle for comfort. And a lifelong vigil for Sean began.

She hefted her overnight bag to her shoulder after the taxi drove away and walked hesitantly up the creaking porch steps.

The house seemed unusually quiet. She opened the screen door and knocked soundly on the secondary door. No answer, no sounds of rustling, nothing. She walked to one of the windows on the porch and peered in. Somewhat comforted by the sight of her mother lying on the couch with an empty vodka bottle on the floor, she searched for the key in her purse.

She entered the house, threw her bag on the floor and began helping her mother from the couch.

“Come on, Mama, let’s get you to bed." Katherine pulled on her mother's arms. Her mother moaned as her head rolled to one side.

“Sean…” Her mother hoarsely slurred, still semi-conscious.

Tightening her lips, Katherine struggled to get her mother up. “It’s all right, Mama, It’s me, Katherine, I’m going to put you to bed now.” This same scenario had played hundreds of times in Katherine’s young life.

Katherine removed her mother's clothes and covered her up with a quilt. She walked back to the living room and looked at the disarray. She surveyed the dingy curtains, the once bright floral couch that had faded to an unrecognizable red stained lump of dirty, dusty piece of furniture and the cobwebs that splayed every corner of the ceiling. Much darker than she remembered. Liquor bottles, glasses, various packages of half eaten food was strewn everywhere. The dark wooden stairs that climbed to a quaint attic room with small dormer windows looked neglected and dusty. He had claimed the room as his secret place and never allowed anyone to enter. Katherine doubted anyone had been up there since Sean's death. Three bedrooms, a guest room or as it was called in the old days, a parlour, two baths, a living room and a country kitchen occupied the main floor. Tying back her hair and rolling up her sleeves, she commenced to clean.



*        *        *



She stood in front of the closed door of the last room to clean. She could hear her mother's deep, elongated snores from the room next door.

She didn’t want to go into Sean’s room. The horrific memories would creep and coil around her brain like a snake. She beat the snake back and reached for the door. It’s just another room, she told herself. She had her hand almost to the knob when a piercing chirping noise split the air causing her to jump. The noise rang through the stillness again. Relieved when she realized it was the phone, she ran to answer.


A pause. Her heart skipped a beat.

“Catty, you shouldn’t have left me.” Sean’s child-like voice echoed through the earpiece, but different somehow, lower, raspier, almost…evil. “Why did you do that to me? I never hurt you…yet.”

Her heart racing in stark fear, she slammed the phone down into its cradle.

“Who was that?”

Katherine whirled fast to see her mother leaning against the door jam of her room. Katherine stared at her, unconsciously taking in the disheveled, torn pink housecoat, and frizzed, messy red hair.

“Uh, nobody, wrong number.” Katherine was sweating. She took her kerchief from her head and wiped her face and neck.

“Why do you keep it so hot in here, Mama?”

Her mother moved from her leaning post and walked across the room past Katherine, her flip-flops making a slapping noise against her feet.

“It’s not hot, it’s the humidity. Don’t you have humidity in New York?” Her sarcastic tone wasn’t lost on Katherine.

Her mother hadn’t even noticed how clean everything was. She just doggedly made her way to the kitchen and busied herself searching for a bottle of vodka and a glass. Katherine followed, staring disapprovingly at her mother as she poured a glass full of vodka.

“You really should eat something. I’ll make dinner, and we can talk.”

She grunted, and with bottle and glass in each hand, said almost laughingly.

“Good luck with that.” She schlepped back to the living room.

Katherine sighed and opened the refrigerator. Nothing but liquor, beer, mixers for the liquor, a few take out containers with half-eaten food and a jar of pickles. The pantry held two cans of tomatoes, a box of noodles and a canister of Christmas cookies. She didn’t even want to look in that, this was August, and they were probably green by now.

Her mother sat in the living room, smoked, drank and watched TV.

“Where’s your car key, Mama? I’ll go to the grocery store and get a few things for dinner.”

Her mother said nothing as she continued to stare at the TV screen.


“I saw him on TV.” She was still staring at the screen.

“Who?” Katherine tried to stay nonchalant, but knew the answer.

“Sean. He was right there on TV.”

Katherine sat beside her mother. Maybe, just maybe, this is a figment of both our imaginations. But she couldn’t shake a feeling of dread and doom.

“Were you watching some family videos?”

“No. I was watching Jerry Springer. Sean just appeared. Told me I shouldn’t have left him. That we should have found him.” Christina turned to her daughter, tears welling in her eyes, bottom lip trembling. “We looked, we looked for weeks, we tried so hard to find him, so hard.” She placed her face in her hands and sobbed.

Katherine placed her arm around her mother and hugged.

“I think we both need some help, Mama.”

The phone rang. Both women jumped.

Christina pulled a dingy handkerchief from the pocket of her housecoat and dabbed at her eyes. Her mother stuffed the handkerchief back into her pocket and reached for the phone as Katherine held her breath.


“Oh, hi, Lydia.”

Katherine released her breath.

“No, not today, I don’t feel too well.”

“Thank you, Lydia, some other time, ok?”

Christina hung up and mother and daughter sat in silence for a long time.




*        *        *



After searching in every nook and cranny the car keys were finally found.

Katherine’s cell rang twice on the way to the grocery store but she ignored it. Driving through Dawson’s one main street with three red lights brought back memories of cruising on Saturday nights looking for any kind of action.

Dawson was a small farming community in the sloping hills of Georgia. Population was 4,567 at last count. Dawson was the type of town where the population count went down every year. She pulled into the parking lot of Herndon’s grocery, the only grocer in town. If you wanted a bigger variety, the drive to a larger town was only twenty-five miles. But Katherine didn’t want to take the chance with her mother's old 78 Oldsmobile.

“Kathy! Kathy Connelly!” A voice yelled from behind her as she walked into the store. She turned to face a large dark-haired flushed-faced young man. He grinned from ear to ear. He looked very familiar, but she couldn’t remember his name. She smiled back at him hoping he would give a clue to his identity.

“Hi.” He extended his hand.

She took it hesitantly, furiously wracking her brain for his identity.

“You don’t remember me, do you?”

She continued to smile.

“Second year lit at Georgia State. Bill Dawson.”

Yes, the great-great-great-grandson of the founding father of Dawson, she reveled in her sudden insight.

“Of course I remember you, Bill. Nice to see you. But what are you doing in Dawson? I thought you moved north to go to Penn State.”

“Well, I finally decided what I wanted to do with my life. I am a veterinarian. Plenty of farm animals around here.” He laughed, as he followed her into the store.

They both grabbed shopping carts and Katherine looked at him with a subtle quick questioning.

“Buying groceries for my Aunt. Something I do every week. She’s ninety-three and feisty as hell.” He laughed.

Katherine smiled, a very pleasant young man, she thought. But she couldn’t remember much of him. He had gone to the same high school and college she had, but he was two years older than her and she only knew him by sight.

As they both rolled through the aisles, chatting and laughing, Katherine felt a lightness in her heart that had been absent for years.

“So, how long you here for?” Bill asked while Katherine was paying for her food. He had gone through the line and was waiting for her at the end of the checkout, cradling two bags of groceries in his arms.

“Oh, um, I'm leaving to go back to New York tomorrow evening. This was really only a short visit.”

She paid the clerk and proceeded to push the cart full of bagged groceries through the doors to her car. Bill Dawson followed eagerly, like a puppy expecting a treat.

She opened her trunk to the battered old car and started packing the groceries in.

“Look, I know you have plans tonight, but would you join me for breakfast in the morning? We could meet at Rosie’s, catch up on some old times.”

Katherine looked up into his eager flushed face. Yes, a very pleasant man, and thought, why not? It was only an hour out of her day, an hour that promised to be enjoyable.

“All right, Bill, it’s a date.”

“Great, about 9 o’clock?”

“See you there.”

He walked away thoroughly satisfied, whistling some non-descript tune.


Katherine smiled, closed the trunk and drove home.



*        *        *



Dinner was uneventful. Her mother held a glass of whiskey, straight up, in one hand and a cigarette in the other, taking a bite of food here and there.

“I ran into Bill Dawson today.” Katherine started the conversation with a safe subject. “We’re going to meet at Rosie’s in the morning for breakfast. Would you like to join us?”

Christina leaned back, took a puff of cigarette, then a gulp of whiskey. She was still in her ragged, faded housecoat.

“Bill Dawson. Yes, I remember him. Used to walk you to school when you were little, after…” Her mother's voice trailed off into silence. They both knew what she was going to say. Katherine had forgotten about the shy, dark-haired boy walking her to school a year after Sean's death.

The silence pressed on for several moments, each in their own thoughts.

Her mother rose, and carrying her security drink and cigarette in hand, started toward the living room. “Let’s watch some TV.”

They sat in front of the TV for a couple of hours. Her mother poured one drink after another and chain-smoked, then finally succumbed by falling asleep. After putting her mother to bed, Katherine found herself once again standing in front of her brothers’ room.

She felt compelled to go in, but hesitated with an unexplainable dread slithering through her body. Taking a deep breath, she turned the knob and threw open the door, to be greeted only by darkness. She fumbled for the light switch and turned it on. She stood on the threshold and gazed around in astonishment. The room was exactly as it had been fifteen years ago, except clean, very clean. Baseball banners hung on every inch of the wall. Several baseball caps were lined up neatly on the dresser and various toys and action figures stood stoically on a shelving unit in one corner.

Katherine walked in, rubbing her arms from the chill. The rest of the house was hot, but this room seemed chilly, or maybe it was just a shock reaction, Katherine thought. Her eyes fell on the picture of her brother on his nightstand. A very cute redheaded freckled-face boy stared at her with that crooked smile Katherine remembered the most about him. Candles and fake rose-garland surrounded the picture. Her mother had turned this room into a shrine!

“Catty.” An almost inaudible whisper caused Katherine to whirl around toward the door. Her stomach wrenched.

“Catty!” Louder, from the window. She turned.

“Catty, Catty, Catty!” Louder, louder, louder, emanating from different parts of the room. Katherine felt like a whirling ballerina on top of a music box.

“Catty, Catty, Catty, Catty, Catty, Catty, Catty,”

Katherine became terrified. The voice became exceedingly louder and deeper, infusing her body, until she placed her hands over her ears in an attempt to quiet the voice.

She ran from the room but the voice followed. It seemed to be right over her head.

The voice stopped so abruptly and the dead silence that followed made Katherine doubt her sanity.

Slowly, ordinary night sounds drifted through the air. The clock ticked steadily, a muffled dog bark from far away, and the whirring of the air conditioner brought Katherine back to reality.

Katherine shook her head and started toward the kitchen. She would make herself a cup of tea. That should calm her down. She ran water into a teakettle, put it on the stove and turned the knob to ignite the gas flame. While she was looking in the cabinets for the box of tea she had bought at the store today, an almost imperceptible scratch on the window over the sink caught her attention.

Jerking her head toward the sound, she walked gingerly to the window and gazed out. The wind was picking up. Maybe something blew across the window. Without warning, Sean’s gray menacing face appeared in the window. Katherine gasped, dropped the box of tea, and stumbled back almost falling over a kitchen chair. And then it was gone. Clutching her chest as if to keep her heart from tearing through, she heard another sound. A thud, as if something heavy had been dropped on the porch. Her heart was pounding so loud she thought it would wake her mother.

Wanting to run and hide under the covers she was overcome by a stronger emotion; curiosity. Another emotion started coursing through her, anger. If she found out one of the kids in this area was playing a trick on her, there would be hell to pay. Expecting to see a bunch of kids running away across the yard laughing and giggling, she walked to the door and flung it open. The cold blast of wind that struck her face was surprising. Catching her breath, she peered across the yard. Seeing nothing she stepped out onto the porch. A full moon and the light from the kitchen window illuminated the porch quite well. There was nothing on the porch to indicate something had fallen.

Hugging herself against the chill she stepped out a little further. She squinted into the white-gray moonlit darkness across the yard toward the open fields. Is that a person standing out there? Or were her eyes just playing tricks on her? Her questions were answered almost immediately when the figure turned and moved away from her.

In an almost trance-like state she followed. Ignoring the rocks and ground roughness on her bare feet she concentrated on keeping the figure in sight. She hadn’t even noticed the kitchen door slamming shut from the wind or the gas eye blowing out underneath the teakettle.

Losing the figure at times, she followed doggedly, not realizing what direction she was going. Her only thought was to find out who the figure was and put this insanity to rest forever.

Surprised to find herself standing in front of the well she and her brother had fallen into fifteen years ago, she stood and stared at the cement cap that had been placed over it soon after the incident. Only something was different. The cement cap was askew, leaning to one side, exposing a hole about three feet wide.

She looked all around, no sign of the child. Could the child have fallen in? Hesitantly she approached the opening and gazed down.

“Hello? Is anybody there?” She thought she heard a slight rustling in the dark bowels of the well. She settled on her knees, placed her hands on the topsides of the short cement wall that held the cap in place.

“Hello?” She yelled again into the darkness.

Something slithered around her neck. She screamed and tried to back away, but the grip of the thing tightened and pulled. Using her hands on the walls to brace herself she tried to pull away again. She couldn’t scream now as the thing had found its way to the front of her throat and choked the life out of her twitching, kicking body. More slimy, black tentacles came from below and pulled her body silently down the well. If someone had been standing nearby they would have heard a distant mocking laughter of a little boy echoing from the abyss.




*        *        *



“Come on, Bill, its starting.”

A small white-haired woman of about ninety years of age was flipping through channels with a remote. Bill Dawson came in carrying two cups of tea and sat them down on the coffee table. The old woman couldn’t seem to find the channel she was looking for. Bill took the remote from her.

“It's on Channel 6.”

Finding the station he placed the remote on the table and handed his aunt her cup of tea.

They both remained silent as they suffered though several minutes of weather and uninteresting stories of local fluff.

“Shhh. Here it is.” His aunt perked up.

“There was a gas explosion in Dawson early this morning that completely devastated a farm house. It is believed to be one fatality in that explosion.” A bland looking newsman related his story with no emotion. “Rick Carlton is on the scene now with more details, Rick.”

“Thank you, Gary.”
Another bland looking newsman. They all looked alike.

“There has been no cause established yet. Neighbors report hearing the explosion about twelve-thirty this morning. There are reports that the explosion could be felt as far away as Conyers. As you can see behind me there are still fire trucks and police cars on the scene. They did find one body that is believed to be Mrs Christina Connelly. An autopsy will be performed to determine the exact identity of the body. The only other relative that Mrs Connelly had was a daughter, who was visiting. The police are still trying to locate her daughter, Katherine Connelly. Here is a picture of Katherine Connelly.”
He held up an 8x10 photograph. “If anyone has seen her please call the number you see on the screen.”

“Rick, Rick. Let me interrupt you for a moment.”

“Yes, Gary.”

“Is there any indication of foul play here, since the daughter was there and is now missing”?

“The police aren’t saying much on that issue; the investigation is ongoing and has described Katherine Connelly as a person of interest.”

“Ok, thank you Rick.”
The anchorman turned back toward the camera. “We will continue with this story as more information becomes available.”

Bill took the remote and turned the TV off.

His aunt shook her head. “So, so sad. You know, there was a rumor that John Connelly didn’t leave, but that Christina killed him, threw him down the well, and that the farm is haunted. Yep, blamed him and Katherine for the death of her son, Sean. Never was the same after that, never the same.”

Bill nodded. “I was to meet Katherine this morning at Rosie’s, but she never showed up. I just thought she had changed her mind. Never thought something could have happened to her.” He reached for the phone to call the police, they needed to know he had seen her last night.

“Yep, haunted.” His aunt nodded with undeniable certainty



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