The Present

James Stirling was an odd man.

He’d been married three times and fathered more than a dozen children. Yet, what love he’d shown at the outset of these relationships soon waned and went away.

He wasn’t an abusive man, no; he was an indifferent man. All he seemed to care for was to sow his seed before he’d return to his family home.

It was an old, secluded mansion deep in the mountains that had been in the Stirling family’s possession for centuries. Out there, James would spend most of his days, far away from civilization.

Only when his grandchildren were born did the old man return. His fierce interest and warm care surprised everyone.

His favorite was his grandson, Thomas.

The boy’s parents were reluctant to let old James back into their life. More than reluctant, for the old man’s obsession with their son, scared them.

Yet, Thomas adored his grandfather. The more his parents tried to cut their bond, the stronger it became.

The old man would teach Thomas many things and eventually afforded him a scholarship to enter a prestigious university.

As the years went by, James Stirling grew ever older and weaker.

One day, when Thomas visited him at his home, he bide the young man to come closer. Without another word, he handed him an old wooden box.

“What’s that grandpa?”

“A present, my dear boy,” the old man said with a weak smile.

“Thank you,” Thomas said and was about to open the box.

The old man stopped him.

“No, please wait, only open it when the day comes, when I’m about to-“

“Nonsense, grandpa! You’ll live another fifty years, I know it!”

James Stirling smiled, but he knew better than anyone.

Four months later he was admitted to a hospital, one, the doctors made clear, he wouldn’t leave again.

When Thomas visited, the old man reminded him of the present.

“I guess, my time has come,” he started. “When you get home today, you might open the box, Thomas. After all, it’s my last present.”

Tears were shed and goodbyes were whispered and the moment Thomas was home, he got a hold of the box.

“Thank you, grandpa,” he whispered as he opened it.

Inside was a gently glowing orb. As he stared at it, the warm light inside bide him to lean in closer. His eyes focused on it, and it almost seemed as if something was inside. Deeper and deeper he looked, was drawn in, and slowly faded away. A moment later, he passed out.

Hours later, the body of James Stirling drew his last breath, and at the same time, Thomas awoke.

With a wide grin on his face, Thomas closed the small box containing the orb.

“Thank you, Thomas,” he cackled.

Once more, the ritual had succeeded, and once more, the ghastly, centuries-old presence that had been James Stirling for the past seventy years would continue on, continue on for yet another lifetime.