By: J.J. Cheesman
When I was little, we had a well that sat about twenty feet from the side of my house. We lived out in the country where the city water didn’t run, so the well was our means for running water in the home. The well was capped off by a great cement slab that prevented anyone or anything from falling in. I spent so many days playing near that well. I would stand on top of the slab and bow as if I were a magician at a show, or have ‘epic’ imaginary sword fights with goblins who tried to take my great stone monument for themselves. I would play for hours and hours near that well, despite my parents warning about what could happen. I was admittedly, pretty stupid. One day, I found myself fighting a new group of evil goblins who had invaded the kingdom of my front yard. When I stepped back on the cement slab to defend my monument once again, the stone cracked.
At first I didn’t even know what was happening, and then I falling through the darkness of the well. I fell a long way but I fell fast; and before a second even passed, I splashed down into the dark water that filled the well. I choked and gagged as I frantically splashed trying tread water and keep my head above the surface. I was only a child, and I was so frightened. I thought for sure in that moment that I would drown there in the darkness. But finally, I regained some composure and I put my hands on the cold stone wall. I began kicking my feet and I was able to keep my head above water with the support that my hands on the wall gave me. As soon as I caught my breath I began screaming for help. I knew my dad was working in the garage and my mom was inside the house, so the likelihood of my parents hearing me was slim. I screamed and I screamed and I screamed, but no one came. The well must have been too deep for anyone to hear me. I gave one final scream as loud as I could and looked up to the sunlight that was spilling in from the opening of the well. The dark water was cold, and I began shivering and thinking that if I didn’t get out of there soon, the cold would force my legs to stop moving and… then… what? Through the opening of the well I could make out nothing but blue sky. I was about to call out again but a voice behind me cut me off,
“Finally someone to play with.”
I froze in place; staring straight ahead at the grey stone wall of the well, refusing to turn around and see the source of the voice. A moment passed, and the voice spoke again.
“I have been watching you for so long, unable to leave this awful prison.”
The voice came out as a low hissing gurgle, as if whoever was speaking had a mouth that was partially submerged in water.
“But now, you’re here, and I won’t be alone anymore.” The hissing gurgle echoed and bounced off of the gray walls of the well making it seem as if the voice was coming from all around. After several moments of silence passed, I somehow found the courage to turn my neck slowly to the left and look behind my shoulder, my eyes straining in the dark of the well and scanning the walls. What I saw WAS terrifying, but it was only terrifying because I saw nothing at all. I then snapped my head to the right and once again there was nothing. When a couple more moments went by I finally felt brave enough to speak.
“Where are you?” I called out. There were two or three dreadfully long moments of silence, but then the gurgling spoke once more.
“I’m right here”, the voice whispered in my left ear, and I screamed as a hand wrapped around my leg and pulled me under the water. I coughed and gagged and called for help as my head was repeatedly pulled under the water, and then back to the surface again when I fought against whatever was dragging me under. I kicked my free leg out in the dark water to hit whatever was pulling me, but I couldn’t find my mark. It was as if there was no one there at all in that well with me. I kicked and screamed and struggled with all my might, but the cold water made me weak. Try as I might, I couldn’t fight the exhaustion and was pulled under. As the cold water entered my lungs I started to close my eyes, and soon I began to lose consciousness.
Then a miracle happened. All at once the hand let go and I heard a muffled voice calling out. My eyes shot open, the voice filling me with renewed energy, and I could see up through the dark water. I saw someone standing at the opening of the well and hope swelled within me as I kicked my feet hard until I reached the surface. As soon as my head broke water I could hear my father calling out over my coughing and sputtering.
My father called down,
“Grab the rope son, I’ll pull you up!” My hands shot out searching for the rope and as soon as they found it, my father’s strong hands went to work pulling me out of the well. Once I was out, my father scooped me up in his arms, and ran into the house to run a hot shower while he hollered for my mom to get some towels. After I was warmed up and put into bed, Mom brought me warm chicken soup, and soon after I was asleep due to pure exhaustion.
The next day my father scolded me severely for my stunt, but he didn’t spank me or ground me. I guess he knew I had learned my lesson, and I did. On top of the horrific experience, I had a wicked cold for about a week after the incident. The next day, my father went to work as quickly as he could to board up the well, and then he erected a small wire fence around it to be safe.
He really didn’t have to go through all the trouble, I never said anything to either of my parents about the voice in the well, but I never forgot it. That was enough to keep me far away from the well, even well into my teenage years.
It’s been about six years since my fall into that dark water, and I now have a four-year-old brother. Just yesterday, I was watching over him while my Father was at work, and Mom was at the grocery store. I was reading a book while sitting on an easy chair and my brother was on the living room floor playing with his toys, and talking to himself as he did. Then all of a sudden, I noticed the room was silent. I lifted my head from my book and saw my brother standing at the tall living room window with one hand on the sill, and the other waving out at something beyond the glass. I looked outside expecting to see that my mother had come home, and my brother had noticed her out in the yard. But all that lay beyond that window, was a small fence around a boarded up well.