The strangest things on Earth are not always legends from faraway lands or new discoveries from unexplored corners. The unbelievable can be found in the most ordinary of places, as unambiguous as our own back yards. They can range from the mere uncommon to the unimaginable, sublime to terrifying, and all of them secrets waiting to be found.
Somewhere amidst the rolling ocean of Kansas wheat there stood a modest two-story farmhouse. It was a lonely building not at all unlike others in the area that were built in the mid-nineteenth century. It might have been swallowed in the monotony of the great prairie, but this house had a strange aura about it. Alluring to some but repulsive and terrifying to most, the forlorn house seemed to hold a haunting secret. Some sinister mystery connected to the structure’s surroundings, centuries old and maddeningly out of place.
The old farmhouse was a Spartan, clapboard-sided building with few windows. Not graced with the charm of nineteenth century American gothic, it presented itself as little more than an abode for poor people of the land. It stood hidden in the center of, along with its assorted outbuildings, three large, evenly spaced, symmetrical hills that obscured it from view. Cloistered in this hollow, five cottonwood trees grew in a tight cluster around the house. Unnaturally large, they seemed to stand guard over house against the sprawling nakedness of the plain and at the same time to draw life from the antiquated structure as if it emanated an inexplicable sustenance. The entire sight suspended from the end of its narrow, gravel lane which snaked through the wheat like a frail umbilical to the world of oblivious routine.
For many years the property itself had belonged to Keziah Mason. She was a vigorous, old widow from parts east who rented out the surrounding farmland for her income. Not much was known about the old woman but that she shunned visitors, fiercely guarded her solitude, and rarely ventured outside the hollow. Many said the aged recluse was darkly insane. Others said she was a witch and had damned the place with dark spirits and daunting spells. Children brave enough to venture over the hills on dark summer nights traded stories about shrieks mixed with insane laughter, or lurid entreaties. Locals told of violent dark clouds that spun round and danced over the hollow on stormy nights. All manner of spooky tales and strange accounts were attributed to her and the house both before and after her death. When her body was found by the grocer’s delivery boy, lying naked on her bed in an upstairs room with the sheets torn and clutched tight in her fists, the speculation soared.
For many years the house sat empty but eventually passed to a bachelor farmer who never reported anything unusual about the place. He lived there peacefully and prosperously for years. He was a friendly sort of fellow and welcomed his neighbors warmly. People visited regularly and gradually the locals lost their fear of the old place. Within two generations, the stories were completely forgotten and the old legends died.
Kelly woke that morning to pleasant relief. In the early morning hours a tremendous thunderstorm had rolled in. It washed the parched earth clean and brought down a coolness that bathed the morning air. Kelly lay still under her sheets and lazily waited for the last remnant of drowsiness to crumble away. She hated being the first one up in the morning and listened for the telltale clatter of her aunt or cousin in the downstairs kitchen before she went down to greet the day.
She was spending the summer at her Aunt Helen’s house in the country, along with her daughter and Kelly’s favorite cousin, Lisa. This had always been her favorite part of summer vacation: three weeks of swimming, riding horses, and fun. Her aunt was the older sister of Kelly’s mother, and worked as a color and graphics writer for a far away ad agency; (her mother had always said that Helen was the brains in the family) and her talent afforded her the luxury to live wherever she wanted. Helen’s husband had been killed by a mugger when Lisa was 14 and she moved them to the open prairie to get away from the dangers of city life.
Kelly bounced out of bed and went rummaging through her clothes to find something appropriate to put on. She could not go downstairs with her boobs hanging out. She found a comfortable t-shirt and pulled it over her head and she plodded to the door. Luckily, the bathroom was still free and she ducked in for a quick pee. She sat on the toilet, mused about the day’s potentialities for a while, and then rose to splash some water on her face and dry off before joining everybody in the kitchen.
As she bounded down the stairs she caught the faint smell of cinnamon and knew her aunt must have baked rolls for breakfast. She could hardly wait. Turning the corner into the kitchen she found her cousin Lisa sitting at the table, lightly perusing the morning paper.
“Well look who fell out of bed. It’s that kid from the city who can’t ride horses,” said Lisa in her usual morning humor.
“Oh, shut up,” Kelly scolded. She hugged her cousin about the neck, gave her a peck on the top of the head, and slid around behind her to take a seat at the table.
Plopping down in a chair, she ventured an inquiry to what was foremost on her mind. “Where are the cinnamon rolls,” she eagerly asked?
“Www ... Cinnamon,” came her cousin’s reply? She looked up from her paper and glanced toward her mother’s room.
“The cinnamon rolls your mom just baked.”
“Uh, Mom’s still in bed,” Lisa retorted. “What cinnamon rolls?”
“I smelled cinnamon rolls when I came downstairs. Did you hog the cinnamon rolls?” She playfully swatted Lisa’s arm.
“I’m tellin’ ya, there’re no rolls. Of course, if you wanna make some, I won’t stop ya.”
“That’s just weird, I smelled cinnamon,” Kelly said. She could have sworn she smelled them and was worked up about the idea of her Aunt Helen’s homemade rolls fresh out of the oven. “So why’s your mom still sleeping,” she plied as she swiped a section of the paper Lisa was reading.
“‘ don’t know,” Lisa responded distractedly. “Sometimes ... she works late. Yeah, she works late. She’ll probably sleep most the morning.”
The room went quiet as the two young ladies scanned through the morning news. “‘ you wanna go riding again today,” Kelly lazily probed? The true beauty of summer vacation was not pressing to any great hurry or tight schedule of activities. She nudged her cousin under the table with her foot.
“Nmmm, too muddy,” came Lisa’s response as she read. “Why don’t we take Mom’s car and go into town? There’re some cute guys I want to look up.”
“If you left your bra at home, you wouldn’t regret it,” she winked at Kelly and Kelly’s face lit up at the thought of fresh game.
Kelly never understood why her sophisticated Aunt Helen would want to leave the city. It seemed to Kelly that an intelligent, energetic woman like her aunt would wither away to nothing in this vacant prairie. But she had not; in fact, if anything, she had grown more vibrant and aware. What ever. Kelly figured that it was not her problem; they lived well out here on the plains, and everyone seemed happy enough. Kelly was 18, and would be a freshman in college when she returned home in the fall. Lisa was a year older, and would be heading back to her school shortly; the three weeks of their annual summer vacation together would probably be the last time they would get to see each other until next summer.
They were not the little girls that played together in the sandbox anymore, Kelly had come to realize. They were now big girls with all the burgeoning sexuality that came with it. Their lives were changing; she was growing increasingly excited at the thought of new challenges and new opportunities, even though the idea of facing them frightened her. She was an active girl and had played on the volleyball team for years. She had cut back a bit recently, though. Her figure had changed; her sinewy frame had filled out into a quite pleasing woman-shape and the bouncing and jarring hurt her now ample sized breasts unless she took the precaution of tying the rogues down. She switched to swimming which gave her a thorough workout without the abusive physics. People could tell she was going to be taller and prettier than either her mother or her Aunt Helen. She got her robust build, thick red hair and deep blue eyes from her father and people were weary of a feisty temper to go with her physical traits but she really had none. Not to say she was not passionate; she was well tempered. Kelly always chose to wear her hair long. It was curly and she did her best to keep it from going frizzy. Lisa pried her to cut it and assume the freedom and practicality of a short and sassy look but Kelly firmly declined each time; she had long ago decided that she was more old-fashioned and preferred her classic look. She was not blind, more than once she had caught town boys from Lisa’s circle of friends nearby sizing up her long slim physique, her generous and shapely breasts, and her uncomplicated beauty; she had seen the looks on their faces before they turned away in embarrassed haste, when they realized they had been caught staring. But, they were only boys, and while they were eager and friendly enough, she simply was not interested.
.... There is more of this story ...