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Author's note: This is my entry for the Trick or Treat, Short and Sweet Halloween Writing Challenge 2023.

It was during a weekend excursion, without grownup supervision, that me and my two classmates, Tod Winnokur and Bill Dobbins, came across a rather unusual sight.

In the center of a grassy headland was a spiral of driftwood and white stones, and at its heart was embedded a hobbyhorse.

For several long minutes, we just stood there, staring at this peculiar thing. A foreboding aura seemed to emanate from its desolate form as if it were a vessel of ill fortune, abandoned by the whim of fate.

The once vibrant colors had now faded, resembling the pallor of a corpse. The wooden frame, once sturdy and proud, now bore the weight of the elements, its joints creaking with each gust of the wind. The large eyes, once filled with painted life, now stared vacantly into the abyss, as if they had witnessed the darkest secret of the universe.

How this wretched thing came to be trapped in such a desolate place, we could only speculate. Perhaps it had been abandoned by a child who had unknowingly summoned up a malevolent force to possess this innocent plaything. Or maybe it was a prop in a sinister ritual, discarded by some malevolent cult that reveled in the suffering of others.

As we cautiously approached, a shiver ran down our spine, for we could not deny the palpable presence of a dark otherworldly energy. We dared not touch it, for fear that an unknown curse might latch onto our souls, forever binding us to its tragic spot.

Then the sky, which had been a murky gray, suddenly darkened. We quickly left as a sudden downpour began. With our long legs, Tod and I made it across the now swelling river mostly unscathed, but portly Bill took a soaking.

Days of grounding and revoked privileges followed, but still, the image of the cursed hobbyhorse continued to haunt me. Eventually, the unrelenting curiosity soon overtook my fear, and when Halloween night came, I snuck out, heading for the forest. This time, I brought with me a flashlight as well as a shovel, determined to uncover the reason behind its curse.

However, someone else had arrived long before me, for the hobbyhorse was now strewn all over the place. It appeared as though it had been trampled by large heavy boots after being broken by an ax. The surrounding spiral, which had originally been painstakingly crafted, now lay scattered in uneven fragments.

Still, I had to find out what was hiding at the very heart of the center . . . so I started digging. As I dug deeper, a sense of unease crept over me. The claylike soil seemed to resist my efforts as if it were protecting a deeply hidden object from my prying eyes. But I persisted, driven by a desire to unravel the mystery that lay before me.

And then, as if by some unseen force, the earth gave way, revealing a hole no bigger than a badger's burrow. Setting my shovel aside, I shone the flashlight down into the hole. The yellow beam revealed gleaming objects set in niches on the curved walls and on the packed earth floor below.

A chill crept up my arms as a faint acrid smell came from the opening. Nevertheless, I put one foot into the burrow–and slipped down into the earth.

With a bone-jarring thud and a shower of clods, I landed in a low chamber smelling of damp moldy earth and festooned with roots.

My hands shook as I stood up and shone the flashlight around. Lining the walls and floors was a vast collection of vintage circus toys. As I crept closer, I noticed that they were intricately crafted and each had a unique aura to it. A clown on a unicycle seemed to be grinning menacingly at me, while a nearby acrobat hanging from a trapeze looked like she was about to fall any second.

Then I noticed an old steamer trunk at the center of the room. Stepping in for a closer look, the bright beam revealed streaks of mildew and rust half obscuring circus and travel tags.

My foot nudged something that clinked. A chain? Eyes widening, I noticed two more chains lying nearby as well as several padlocks.

Then I noticed the locksmith tool set as well, rather familiar-looking too. Didn't Tod's dad own a similar sort of kit? Didn't he keep it locked up in a tool cabinet down in the garage?

And then I heard it. Faint rustling and then scratching. A sickening stench immediately hit my sinuses. Pressing one hand over my mouth and nose, I fought back the urge to vomit and then suddenly realized the sounds were coming from inside the trunk.

I leaped back, scattering toys as I flattened myself against the far wall.

The stagnant air around me was more heavy and oppressive as if the toys themselves were alive and watching me suffer. The painted grins seemed wider, and more ominous, while others were twisted into expressions of terror.

Meanwhile, the trunk rattled and shook as something large shifted about.

"Last lock better hold," I whispered.

The noises abruptly ceased.

All I could hear was my breath heaving in and out and my teeth chattering. Then the trunk lid cracked open with a grinding screak, revealing a crack of pitch darkness. Suffocating waves of the putrid stink soon washed over me, causing me to choke and gag.

That was when long white arms came out with bony hands feeling carefully about, finding the tool set, delicately selecting a suitable pick, and then the bony digits starting to work. Expertly inserting the pick into the heavy padlock, turning it this way and that.

After that, everything became a total blur, a runny mix of deepest dark, oozing muddy brown and deepest green–the prickly pine I was clinging to, the figures of my dad and two police officers in a cheery picker, trying to persuade me to let go of the trunk–trying their damndest to convince me that there were no monsters in old trunks and that I wasn’t still trapped in a dark pit somewhere surrounded by cursed toys, with cold white hands tightly clutching my throat.


The Hobby on the Headland - Creepypasta Narration-2

Written by Mmpratt99 deviantart
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