The year is 1793 October 29th, almost a year since my older brother Ichabod went missing in the small town of Sleepy Hollow. After I stopped getting letters from him at least once or twice a week, I heard rumors that he found a woman and settled down but I knew my brother, he wasn’t the type to just stop communicating with me. He was a man of his word and he would tell me if he was going to stop communicating. I got worried when the letters stopped because I knew something was amiss, so I gathered up my things and loaded up the carriage to make my way to Sleepy Hollow in order to find out exactly what happened to my brother.
As my carriage drove through the countryside, I started to reminisce about the past. Back to the time where my brother and I would play in the garden outside of our home and how he would get scared by the frogs in our pond that we found to play with. How he used to come into my room to comfort me whenever there was a terrible storm and I was too frightened to move. He was everything a little sister could ever ask for. That was until the day came when he got a teaching job out in the middle of nowhere; a quaint little town known as Sleepy Hollow. This saddened me, but I knew making him stay home with me would only make him miserable, so I encouraged him to go even though I didn’t want him to. If only I had made him stay he would be with me now.
So here I am in a carriage on my way to find out exactly what happened to him; to see if the rumors were true. If he found love and had a reason to never come back. My drifting off into space was abruptly interrupted when I heard the carriage driver inform me that we had arrived. That’s when I looked out the carriage window and saw the infamous town that my brother came to. As we crossed the bridge that was leading to the town, I had an uneasy feeling; a feeling of dread and fear filled my heart, something was telling me this place was evil, that I shouldn’t have come here. I forced myself to think it was a little too late to turn back now for I was determined to find answers and find my dear older brother.
My carriage pulled into a quaint little inn. As I stepped out of my carriage and moved towards the door, I was greeted by the owner of the place. She smiled big and welcomed me with open arms. “Come in, make yourself at home!” she said without changing her tone or smile. So I took her up on the offer and came inside. When I stepped through the door, I was promptly welcomed by the smell of fresh baked goods and the sensation of a mother’s love; something that I hadn’t felt in a very long time. My poor mother passed away a year after my brother disappeared. So I grabbed my things and headed up to my room, where I settled in for the night. I would begin my search for answers in a few days so that I could rest up. That night I laid in my bed thinking about the past once more.
As I lay in bed, lost in my memories, I was interrupted by something, something unworldly. At first I thought it was the wind, but the wind doesn’t scream like someone being murdered. But I didn’t let this frighten me, I went straight to sleep until the next morning. That morning as I got up and got dressed to head downstairs for breakfast in the main dining room, I was greeted by two constables who said there was a murder last night. A woman was found with her head missing. My eyes widened as I heard this, because I learned that the woman who was beheaded was the daughter of the Inn Keeper. The old woman sat there in shock, trying to comprehend what happened to her daughter.
I overheard one of the young officers say, “It’s back after so many years! It’s back!” The second officer nudged the young man on the shoulder and cleared his throat in a superior manor, quieting the first officer. I was curious so I asked one of them, “What do you mean by ‘it’s back’ may I ask?” The officer said, “That’s nothing to concern yourself with ma’am, it’s just an old urban legend around these parts. People get superstitious at the mentioning of the Headless Horseman.” I was curious about this mysterious entity called The Headless Horseman so I try to get more answers. “Please tell me more about this headless man of which you speak.” Thankfully, the officer sat down and told me the story of the headless man. “The Headless Horseman was sent to be an assassin for the British army back during the first war. He was hired to kill General Washington but he met his end one night. As he was getting on his horse, an American soldier snuck up behind him and took off his head. He buried the body, but took the head as a trophy to show his superiors proof of his success. The story goes that the spirit of the headless man rises from the grave once every few years to search for his head. Until he is reunited with his stolen head, he decapitates others to use their heads as a substitute.”
I sat there in shock after hearing the story. I couldn’t believe it; an evil spirit killing people and cutting off their heads just so they would know the pain of him losing his head. It seemed almost laughable as I thought about it for a minute. I asked the officer if he ever heard the name, Ichabod Crane. The man went silent for a moment, as if he was hesitant to answer my question. Until he let out a long sigh. “No, I haven’t heard that name before.” But I knew he was lying to me; I knew my brother was here in this town. So after my talk with the authorities, I went on a walkabout around town to talk to more people and they too said they’d never heard of Ichabod. But they seemed like they were also hesitant to answer my question as soon as I mentioned his name.
I felt that all might truly be lost until I finally found a solid lead; a woman outside of town met me at the market and told me to come with her to her cottage, where she would explain everything to me about my brother and why he went missing. As we got to her house, we sat in the parlor sipping tea. I started to ask her the questions that had been burning inside my mind. “How do you know my brother and why are people lying about him being here?” She looked at me as all expression left her face and tears started to well up in her eyes. She told me Ichabod was a lovely man who she fell in love with the first day she met him. She was going to a cantina with him the night of October 31st. But she never got the chance for he rushed out early due to the town’s local bully and tough guy who made fun of Ichabod’s appearance. She apologized and told me that was the last time she’d seen my brother. Maybe if she’d gone after him instead of letting him go, he’d still be in Sleepy Hollow.
I thanked her for telling me what I needed to hear, even though it led me to what felt like another dead end. We sat and talked for a while until dusk. Seeing the time, I told her I had to head back to the inn before it got too late. I thanked her again, both for the tea and the information before I started to walk all the way back into town. As it started to get dark, it got eerily quiet, even the crickets stopped chirping and there was no wind to be heard. The silence the type of silence you would only get in a graveyard. Feeling uneasy and a little frightened, I sped up my pace and that’s when I heard clacking of hooves meeting the cobblestones behind me. I just kept walking, trying to ignore the sounds that were drawing closer towards me, thinking it was another resident of the town until I heard a horrible laugh that sent one hell of a chill down my spine. As I turned around, what I saw made me regret that decision as I came face to, well torso, with the Headless Horseman from the urban legend. He was dressed in black from neck to foot while his horse was white and pale as a ghost with red, fiery eyes like rubies shining in the night and in the Horseman’s hand, was a freshly severed head. I could tell it was fresh because of the blood dripping onto the ground beneath it. I nearly vomited at the sight and that’s when I started to run.
I heard the horse behind me racing to catch up with me so I didn’t stop out of fear that I’d be the next victim. I had to make it across that bridge; the same bridge that made me feel uneasy when I came to that town now was my only hope for escaping the nightmare that I had found myself in. As The Horseman got closer, I almost felt the horse’s breath on the back of my neck and swore I could feel the cold blade of the Horseman against my skin until I finally made it cross the bridge. When I dared to turn around, I noticed the Horseman on the other side stopped dead in his tracks looking back at me as his horse danced with impatience before turning and disappearing into the woods. I ran the rest of the way to the Inn, too afraid to look back this time. As I got there, tears started to fall down my face. These were tears of pure terror, as I realized just how close I had come to death. So that night in my room I didn’t sleep, all I could do was cry until morning.
I didn’t leave until I felt like it was safe, heading immediately to the police station to report what I’d seen. When I got there, there were people there ahead of me in a panic; a few more people were found dead with their heads missing. That’s when I spoke up over a crowd of people saying, “I’ve seen him! I have seen the Headless Horseman! It was like seeing the devil incarnate!” I had come here to look for my missing brother but apparently I had stumbled across something deeper than that. I blushed in embarrassment as people stopped and stared at me with amazement and shock. They seemed as if they were surprised that I saw the demon and lived to tell about it. Quite frankly I was surprised myself, feeling brave enough to talk about my encounter with the Horsemen when someone suddenly shouted. “It’s you! You’re the one who brought it back! Everything was fine until you showed up and brought that curse back to this town!” As the person said this I tried to defend myself and tell them I was here to look for my brother. The person who shouted earlier responded back to me, “You are related to that damn teacher?! He was the one who brought the thing with him the last time and after it got what it wanted it disappeared and now another f*****g Crane brought it back! Now either you are going to get rid of it or we are going to get rid of you!” as he said this and more people started to rumble in agreement. I once again tried to tell them I didn’t know what they’re talking about; I had never heard of the Headless Horsemen until I got there and now they want me to get rid of it. What had I stumbled into? Why did they insist my presence was the trigger for the curse? I was very confused and more than a little upset by this. Would I never find out what happened to my brother? Perhaps this Horseman was the key to the answers I searched so desperately for.
I stood there for a moment trying to come up with a plan to finally find answers about my brother and rid this town of its curse at the same time. Then it hit me: if it was a Crane who brought it here then maybe a Crane was the only one who could get rid of it. So later that night, I got on a horse and headed across the bridge to start heading up and down the trail waiting for the demon to appear to me again. As I waited what had to be hours for the thing to show itself and just when I thought my plan was a bust, that’s when it happened. Everything went quiet like it did the night before and I heard the sound of hooves trampling across the cobblestone road followed by an unworldly laugh. I knew that’s when the Horseman had revealed himself once more. I yelled out to the Horseman. “Is it me you want your monster?!” The demonic being galloped toward me, sword raised to take my head.
That’s when I turned around and kicked my horse’s sides making it run as the Horseman chased me. We ran for a long while, him remaining right on my tail. I couldn’t let him catch me for I had to stay alive. Nothing was going to stop me from finding either my brother or the answers of where he was now; not even an unworldly phantom. Frightened but determined, I just ran until I finally got to the outskirts of Sleepy Hollow which made the Horseman that much more determined to catch me. But because he was too preoccupied focused on me, he didn’t realize he’d followed me across the bridge until his horse became distressed starting to catch fire, the Horseman along with him. The Horseman screamed almost like he was in pain and I realized he couldn’t cross the bridge because the bridge had no connection with him therefore he had no business being on it. Due to this, both Horseman and horse began to burn away until there was nothing but ash left to scatter in the wind that suddenly picked up.
Before he burned, the Horseman reached out to me, almost begging me to help him as his form seared away. All I could do was watch that monster get what it deserved. He let out one last vengeful cry and finally went back to hell where it came from. Suddenly something miraculous happened; the spirits of the Horseman were free and able to move on. As I watched all the spirits go to their homes to say their final goodbyes to the loved ones they’d been cruelly ripped away from, my eyes started to light up with joy and sadness; a spirit formed in front of me. It was my long lost brother Ichabod. He looked at me and smiled, gently wiping the tears from my eyes. He then hugged me and kissed me on the forehead. I knew that smile anywhere, it was the same warm smile from my childhood. As he started to fade away, Ichabod told me he loved me, missed me, and that I was the best little sister that he could ever imagine and hope for. I begged him not to go but he told me that his time here was done. I had done my part and freed him from the Horseman. He smiled at me one last time, as he vanished into particles of light blown away by the wind.
I finally had gotten the answers I was desperately looking for, finally knew what happened to my brother; his life had been cruelly cut short due to a damn curse. But I was happy knowing that I’d finally seen him again and knowing I’d see him again one day through the Gates of Heaven. So that’s my story, Now you know what happened that night many years ago October 31st, 1790; the night my brother Ichabod Crane had disappeared and was now finally set free from his prison along with all the others who suffered with him.
The moral of this story is if you have a loved one who has gone missing and you wish to look for them, be careful when you do, because sometimes truth is far more terrifying than fiction…