On the 8th May 1944, my grandfather's little brother had disappeared without a trace. This is the exact story he recounted to me.
As I already stated, it happened on the 8th May 1944, the day after their father had taken flight as a pilot for the RAF. The Nazi's had sent another air raid on London and other major cities. We (I say 'we' as in my grandfather and his brother) were living in the country to get away from the death in the cities.
At around nine in the evening, our mother received a telegram. She knew exactly what it meant: either her husband was returning, was missing or was killed. My brother was too young to understand so my mother told me to keep him entertained while she read it on her own. After a few minutes, my mother beckoned me into the kitchen and she read the telegram aloud.
"At 04:17 on the 8th May, Flight Lieutenant Reginald Williamson was shot down by a Nazi Aircraft Carrier equipped with Surface to Air Guided Weapons. Pilots nearby could not see where the aircraft landed. For now, Flight Lieutenant Reginald Williamson has been declared Missing In Action (MIA)"
My mother broke into tears before strictly ordering me to not tell my brother. He was too young.
How foolish I was to go against what my mother had told me. Yes, I told my brother that "Daddy won't be home for a while."
My brother may have been young, but he wasn't stupid. He put two and two together and thought our father had died. He screamed "NO!" in my face before grabbing his helmet (one our father gave to him. It was way too big for him, though, and had a distinct red handprint on it.) He sprinted out the door and into the woods. I bellowed his name in horror. My mother ran in to see her own son running into the woods.
I joined her in searching for my brother. Everything had turned black. Our lanterns seemed weak compared to the dark of the night. We couldn't stay out too long; the nearest city was being air raided by the Nazi's.
We stayed up all night but to no avail. The only thing that happened which was out of the ordinary was a plane crashing into the woods (it later turned out to be a German bomber that had been shot out of the sky.)
The morning arrived and my mother and I, plus a search party, went out looking for my brother. We searched for several days but we never found my brother. I felt like it was my fault he had run off and, now thinking about it, it was.
The story, however, was not over.
My grandfather returned to his childhood home on the 8th May 2019 (the 74th anniversary of VE day and 75 years since his brother disappeared.) He took a stroll around the woods that evening before heading back to the house when it started getting dark. On his way back, he heard a stick or a branch snapping in front of him. The sun quickly disappeared behind the trees and he was left in darkness. He suddenly noticed a large, slender figure standing in front of him. The figure had unnaturally long legs and arms. The legs and arms were nearly twice the size of its actual body. The figure was as tall as the trees. My grandfather guessed that it was around fifteen feet tall. It had a single large eye located in the centre of its face that seemed to be glowing. Its chest was an exposed ribcage with no flesh at all, that was the same with the pelvis. Atop its head was something that made me grandfather tremble with fear. The thing was wearing a helmet (a classic, WWII style helmet) with a red hand print that reflected the last of the remaining sunlight. It held onto a tree and made a terrifying crackling sound, like the static of a radio.
A family member emerged from the house and called out for my grandfather. It sprinted deeper into the woods with tremendous speed and disappeared. My grandfather had no idea what would've happened to him if someone hadn't come out to get him.
The helmet, my grandfather told me, was a one of a kind. He believed that the thing was indeed his brother. That is why it only stared at me, he had said.
His Soldier Boy.