It was a calming August evening. The trees shifted with the nippy breeze, the rustling of leaves filling the air with a crinkling noise.
I sat outside on my front porch, holding a warm cup of tea. Mellowing down for the night.
“Teresa! Dinner is done!” I turn my head to the door and let out a sigh. Right. Dinner. My father had prepared us something “special” again, but it all tasted like pork to me. Nothing special about that right? That’s what I assumed too.
I was around nine years old at the time. It was 2002, and my father had always told me to never go into the barn. We lived on a small ranch, filled with cows and horses. It’s how we made our living, it’s how we kept our family fed and warm these cold August nights. The barn was decrepit, void of any light or noise for the most part. You could make out its shape during the day, but at night, it seemed to disappear.
Earlier that year, most of the cattle had come down with something awful, they were dying out. We couldn’t sell the meat, milk, not even hides at that point. My father, living only for us, began speaking of this amazing plan he had that would put us back in business. I didn’t understand at the time that we were out of business, but my mother scoffed at his ideas.
The early morning crows of our prized rooster awoke me from a deep slumber, that and my mother screaming at my father with an evil intent. I walked downstairs to see my mother holding bags upon bags of her items. Clothes messily packed into plastic bags and old backpacks I had used in the earlier years of elementary.
“What’s wrong?” I managed to sputter out, my mom looked a mess, tears streaming down her face, but, my father. My father had a grin ear to ear.
“This will save us Tanya! No one will even find out,” he shouted, his voice rising over her violent sobs, “People pay good money for this!”
My mother, with a look of disgust spread over her face, turned to me and sighed. She dropped her bags. I still believe I am the only reason she stayed around. She knew he was right, and while I didn’t understand at the time, I was confused as to why my mother would not stick around for something that would help us.
My father began going out every night, and while he was away, mother would speak to me of his crazy attitude, how he had gone mad due to all of our livestock dying out.
The next year, we didn’t even have cattle, or chickens. Just a field, covering the barn in a wave of crops. The corn had grown tall that year, so at this point, the barn was barely even visible.
I was ten years old, and I had gotten to the age where curiosity had taken over. My mother wouldn’t let me leave the house anymore, and she pulled me from public school out of the blue due to my father speaking of it being “dangerous” out there. My mother, believed him of course and became my teacher. Although, I missed so much of my education due to her never leaving bed, and when she did leave the bed I only received a few worksheets and crafts to focus on.
It was late October, and the air around me felt frigid. My father, every single night before he left, told me to never walk to the barn! I was sick of wondering what he was hiding. What was so special that I couldn’t see. I was his only daughter, and it infuriated me that I was basically no where in his life.
I opened the backdoor, making sure to be slow so the old, rusted parts didn’t creak as I made my way outside. I took a deep breath, for some reason, I felt scared. I brushed this off as being nervous that my mother would awake and get mad with me, and continued to slowly make my way down the wooden steps.
The steps creaked with every small amount of weight I rested with. It was dark, and the only light I had accompanying me was my father’s keychain flashlight. He was gone for the night once again, and probably wouldn’t be home until three in the morning.
I reached the high stalks of corn as quickly as I could, carefully stepping around the crops not to leave any trace of myself sneaking out here. If I was quiet, and quick, my mother wouldn’t even realise I have left the house.
As I got closed to the barn, a rancid smell began to fill the air around me, I recall it smelling like Bethany, one of the cows we had found dead near the watering hole last year. I brushed this off like I had done everything else though and pushed forward, eventually reaching the barn.
The stench began to sicken me, as I felt my stomach churn with every single breath I took. The doors to the barn were old and rusted, and they weren’t in nearly as good of shape as last year. I sat my flashlight down, and used all of my strength to slide open the left barn door. It creaked and rattled, and with one small push I could–
“Hello? Who’s there?” I heard my father shout, he was coming through the field. Heavy, fast footsteps began to approach me.
If they found out I was here, near the barn, this late at night they would kill me! I was to barely even venture that far into our own yard!
As his footsteps grew closer, and the crunching of stalks grew louder, I ran inside the barn and sinked down behind an old trowel.
God, it smelled putrid in here! I pulled my shirt over my nose, trying my best not to vomit or gag as the barn door slid open the rest of the way with a heavy thud.
I saw the faint glimmer of a light. S**t. My flashlight! I must have forgotten it when I darted inside. My father silently creeped around, but as the light fluttered around the room, I saw it.
Dozens, upon dozens of bodies. Human bodies. Ranging from elderly to young, the walls and tables were littered with them. I had recalled and massive amount of missing person reports coming on through the T.V. but never thought anything of it.
I peeked my head out, the small but bright glow of the flashlight illuminating the barn just enough to where I could see, but I was well hidden. And with a large thud I saw another body drop to the ground, throat slit. Her silky blonde hair reminded me of a scarf my mother had made me, and that made my stomach churn even more.
I froze up again, as the small light hit the trowel I was hiding behind. The light illuminated the inside of it, filled with guts, blood, and various other biological materials.
I couldn’t hold it anymore.
A horrendous gagging noised filled the barn as I proceeded to vomit whatever my father had fed me that morning. The walls, I can’t get that image out of my head. Body parts strewn onto tables, eyes missing from heads, skeletons, multiple bodies, all shapes and sizes.
My father’s heavy footsteps approached me, placing his wet hand on my back.
“There isn’t anything wrong with this.” Was all he could mutter out before grabbing me by the wrists and violently dragging me out of the barn.
The front door slammed open, as he dragged me behind him, his grip tightening as his boots trailed in a mixture of mud, plant matter, and blood. My mother, hearing the door slam ran downstairs as fast as she could.
Upon seeing me, the bloody hand print on my back, and the ring of blood around my wrists where my father had grasped me, she turned away and began to sob. My father laughed, an awful laugh. It was loud, violent.
“I have done my best to keep her safe!” I awake to hear my mother shouting the next morning. “I’ve done everything in my power to–”
“Shut up! The news is on.”
“Thomas please… listen to me!”
Silence fills the room as I walk downstairs. I don’t dare to say a word. I had nightmares last night about what I saw.
The next day I woke up to dead silence. My mother was gone, and my father explained that she wasn’t “strong” like us. Her clothes, her jewelry still sat in her room. Family portraits still hung on the wall. For once, he showed was seemed to be sorrow. Turns out she had tried to leave last night. Tried to turn to the police for help. But he couldn’t let that happen.
I walk inside, sitting my cup of tea on the table. My father sits across from me, chatting about how he’s pulling in quite the big deal soon, so he won’t be home for a couple weeks. I’m silent, taking my fork and poking around my food. A large slice of meat sits on my plate, adorned with vegetables and pasta. I sigh, thinking about if he would have just gotten take out again.
I wish I never would have gone into the barn.