I built a shrine for the good spirits of the land…

There are things out there, much older and many times smarter than men.

Oh, the farm life. It is a hard, but satisfactory life. There is something about working your own land and seeing it bear fruit.

I’ve been a farmer all my life. I grew up on the family farm and ever since I could walk I helped wherever I could.

After my grandparents died, my mother and father took over the farm. Once I finished my nine years of school, I started working with them.

As a young man, I often wondered if that was all that life had to offer. Many of my childhood friends left the small village community behind and moved to the big cities. The thought, what such a different life held in store for me was a constant companion those first years on the farm.

When I met Maria all that changed. She was a village girl and had started to work on our farm. It didn’t take long for the two of us to get close. A few years later we married and Maria moved into our farmhouse. She bore me two sons, Daniel and Jan.

Life was good, but as everyone knows, it seldom lasts forever.

My mother withered away due to an aggressive type of cancer. It changed my father forever. He used to be jolly and happy but turned into a cynical old man, who spent all his time working the farm.

An old man can only work from morning to evening for so long. Four years after my mother’s death he collapsed and got himself into a terrible accident. He shattered one of his hips, leaving him permanently crippled and barely able to walk.

From that time on, it was only me who could work the farm. Maria helped here and there, but spent the majority of her time taking care of the kids.

I worked hard during that time. We had to sell some of the livestock and couldn’t work all the fields, but we somehow made it through and adapted.

As they say though, when it rains it pours.

Our personal misfortunes should only be the beginning. It started with new trends and technological improvements. What made it even worse though, was the ever-rising popularity of all organic crops.

Our farm wasn’t solely organic. There was no way we could afford it. We used traditional methods and relied mostly on cheaper, traditional fertilizer.

It wouldn’t have been too big a deal. The problem was the young and hip people that swarmed the local farmers’ markets. Following these new trends, they wanted cheap fresh and, most important, organic crops. They wouldn’t even look twice at our market stand. Often Marie returned, having barely soled anything.

Sure we had our regulars, but few of them came to the farm. Most bought from us at the farmers’ markets. Many of the older people started to avoid them though. They’d become a gathering place for millennials. We considered shipping, but it would shrink our narrow profit margins even more.

The last straw was the new big organic farmers. They started dumping their products at nearby grocery stores at discount prices. There was no way we could compete anymore.

It was in 2016 that I grudgingly made the adjustments to go fully organic. This made investments for modern equipment and organic fertilizers necessary. It brought down our bank account even further.

I kept quiet about this in front of Maria, but I talked to dad. Being the old cynic he had become, he said as things looked now, the farm was as good as done for. I could do nothing but agree with him. Another year like this and we were finished.

The next year, 2017, started off fine, but it soon became clear that luck wasn’t on our side. While I worked as hard as I could, dad had lost hope already. It was no use, he said shaking his head, not this year.

He proved to be right. The weather was either too cold or too hot. At times the fields were almost flooded, then came long dry periods. It didn’t matter how much I worked with the new fertilizer and field equipment, things barely grew.

As I went over the books, again and again, I had to face the sad reality. There was no hope to break even, let alone make a profit.

One night in late spring I finally confessed everything to Maria. She was furious, understandably so. Why hadn’t I told her earlier? What had I been thinking? We’d have to sell the farm? What would the two of us even do? Neither she nor I had learned a trade. Where would we even live? She bombarded me with more and more of those questions. When I couldn’t answer, she went to bed, with tears of frustration streaming down her cheeks.

After that, I was much too agitated to sleep. Instead, I went for a walk around the farm.

I followed the path along the fields and let my eyes wander over the place that had been my home for more than four decades. Over to the right was the very field of my first harvest. I smiled as I saw the meadows further ahead. Each summer, as a kid, I’d led the cows there to graze. The path I walked on right now was the one I took Maria out on our very first date.

Was that really it? I couldn’t believe it. Would I have to leave this place and all my memories behind? Wasn’t there anything I could do?

As I stood there, reminiscing about life and staring at the night sky, I remembered a story my grandpa had told me as a boy.

Back in the day, he’d said, when farmers were in dire need, they built small shrines. They filled them with offerings for the good spirits of the land, hoping to get their help.

I smiled at his little story. I can’t say why I did it, but desperation works in strange ways. The farm was lost either way, I told myself.

I spent the next hour building a small, wooden shrine behind the farmhouse. It wasn’t much, just a wooden overhang with a small table below. On this table, I placed two candles and an ornamented plate with a few vegetables as offerings.

After that, not sure what I should be doing, I went down on my knees. I put my hands together in prayer and closed my eyes.

“If you help me, oh spirits of the land,” I started but wasn’t sure how to continue.

What the hell was I even doing? After a little while I came up with something: “I give you a share of the fruits of my land.”

I repeated the whole thing again:

“If you help this farm oh spirits of the land, I give you a share of all the fruits of my land.”

For a long time, I stayed in this praying position. While repeating the line a few more times, I noticed how exhausted and tired I was. I felt myself drifting off to sleep.

I had a strange dream. It was hazy, disjoint and confusing. I was in front of the little table in the shrine, but it was also different. I seemed to be surrounded by thick darkness as if I’d been transported to a different realm.

Then, one by one, a number of tiny creatures appeared all around me. Some looked like people. Some had fluorescent wings. Others reminded me of dwarfs or gnomes and yet others were strange mixtures of men and beast.

At first, I only saw a handful, but then hundreds appeared, shuffling against each other all around me.

Things seemed to shift, some of them were there, then gone again. All of a sudden a small but stout man appeared on the other side of the table. He was bald and had shiny eyes that reminded me of buttons. His face showed a big, jolly smile. I remember laughing at how silly he looked.

In the next moment, I was holding a document in my hands. Strange symbols filled it, but they soon shifted and changed to something I could read. Or maybe they stayed the same, and my mind learned how to understand them?

“For my help, a share of all the fruits of thy land belongs to me.”

All the beings around me started to jubilate. I was smiling, confused at what was happening. The world around me seemed to be spinning.

Then I held a quill in my hand.

“What is this,” I asked the dream being, “a contract?”

The stout man only smiled at me. Finally, without much thinking, I moved the quill towards the document and signed it.

The stout man beamed at me and gave me a happy nod. For a moment his button eyes started to glow in radiant light and his smile grew huge.

Then I woke up on the ground in front of the small shrine. I checked my watch and saw that it was past three in the morning already. I had fallen asleep and dreamed about the little people.

Once I finally made it to bed, I sighed knowing that at the most I could hope for two hours of sleep.

Around noon on the next day I had the chance to take a look at the shrine. I’d told no one about it yet, but to my surprise, the offerings were gone.

For a moment I remembered the dream, but then I shook my head. Must have been some wild animals, maybe a fox or a badger, I thought.

“Well, at least someone is profiting off this whole thing.”

In the evening, after dinner, I went out again and put a few more vegetables there. Why? I can’t tell anymore.

When I checked the next day, I found the offering gone again.

I don’t know why I kept it up. I guess I was in a state of apathy.

My parents had always been devoted Christians, but I never shared their belief. So when it came to earth spirits, fertility deities or little people, I regarded it as humbug, nothing but wishful thinking and weird dreams.

I stuck to my story about wild animals.

It was after two weeks that I noticed that the crops started to improve.

At first, I told myself my hard work must have paid off, but soon I couldn’t deny that something else was at work here. The crops improved at a level that shouldn’t be possible. It was not natural. Two weeks ago most of the plants were tiny, withered things. Now they were full and healthy.

Each week Maria and I were able to pick fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchinis of the plants. The potatoes and the rest of the crops grew to sizes I’d never thought possible.

Maria told me that more and more people got attracted to our crops each week. Sure, our prices were higher than those of the big corporate farmers, but our quality was much better. At least that’s what people said.

I’d never dreamed things would go this well.

When the harvest was over, things had made a complete turnaround. We had so much surplus we almost didn’t know what to do with it.

As summer turned to autumn and we’d sold most of the crops. To my surprise, we’d not only broke even but had made a handsome profit.

It was that same night that I went to the little shrine and placed an especially big offer on it.

“With this offer here,” I said in celebration, “I am thanking all you spirits for this harvest.”

I didn’t doubt anymore. I went on my knees and thanked whatever being was responsible for all this over and over again.

Finally, I made yet another promise:

“Next year, if you help me again when it is time for the crops to grow, I’ll bring you offers once again.”

After that, I left the shrine behind and went to bed. For the first time in almost two years, I was happy and content. We were by no means rich after this one good harvest. We were able to clear a substantial part of our accumulated debts though. Most important, we were able to keep the farm.

I fell asleep, dreaming about little people, fertility deities, and friendly spirits.

The following night Maria woke me up. She told me there was a ruckus out by the chicken coop.

I threw on some cloth and went outside.

“Must be a marten or even a fox,” I said to myself as I ran towards the small building.

As I opened the door, flashlight in hand, I saw that there was absolute chaos inside. The hens were out of it. As I shined the beam of flashlight around, I couldn’t find the intruder. Neither did I find a place from which he might have entered. I talked to the hens in a low voice to calm them down and checked the area more thoroughly. I still couldn’t find a way inside, yet two of the hens were missing.

I was quite confused when I returned back inside and told Maria what I’d found.

The next day, I checked the crop once again. Still, I found nothing.

“Where did you enter from you damned fox?” I wondered.

As I turned the whole place upside down, I noticed that all the eggs were gone too. This was getting more and more strange.

That evening I stayed up and waited in the living room. I was fully dressed, had the light turned down, and my eyes were glued to the window. I checked the closer area around the house as well as the meadows.

“Where are you mister fox,” I murmured to myself.

As the hours turned by, I started getting sleepy. I needed coffee. Right when I began to boil some water, a noise erupted from outside.

I cursed and rushed down the stairs. Once outside, I ran across the farm towards the chicken coop again.

When I was about a dozen meters away from it, the door burst open. A stout, little man came outside.

His head was completely bald. His eyes were tiny buttons, glowing in menacing, orange light. The rest of his face was all mouth. It was gigantic, stretching from one end of his face to the other. As the man left the coop, I could see how bloated he was. The end of a chicken wing protruded from his mouth, only to vanish moments later.

For a few seconds, I could do nothing but watch the sight in front of me.

“What the fuck…” escaped my mouth.

The weird, hazy dream returned to me. I remembered the being who’d given me the document. It had been a jolly, friendly little man.

What I saw now looked similar, but more like a mocking, malevolent caricature. It was a disgusting abomination, too fat to be human. Looking at it made my skin crawl.

When the button eyes focused on me a wave of fear washed over me.

“A share of all the fruits of thy land belongs to me,” it said in a deep rumbling voice.

I stood there dumbfounded, mouth open in utter astonishment. The thing turned away and walked into the darkness.

When the surprise and absurdity of the situation had left me, I took a few steps in the same direction. It had vanished already.

Then, remembering why I’d come out, I rushed inside of the chicken coop. I counted the hens again and only seven of them were left.

Even when I was back in the house, I didn’t understand what had happened. The only thing on my mind was the words of the thing:

“A share of all the fruits of thy land belongs to me.”

It reverberated in my mind. It could only mean one thing. This was the spirit or being I’d signed the contract with and who’d blessed my land. Wasn’t the contract finished? I had paid it every single day with those offerings, so why did it return now?

Back in the living room, I saw that Maria was up. She noticed the state I was in and asked me what had happened. I told her it had been a fox and I’d gotten rid of it. For a couple of seconds, she stared at me, trying to figure out if that was true. Finally, though, she let it go and went back to bed.

I didn’t sleep that night. I was much too confused. When the picture of the stout little man appeared before my eyes, I started to shiver.

If it hadn’t still been only seven hens in the morning, I might have written it all off as a dream. A silly and weird nightmare.

Seeing those seven scared and confused hens though, I had to face it as reality.

Before I did anything else that day, I went to the shrine and put out a small offering.

That night again I waited in the living room, scared to see the thing again, but this time nothing happened. In the morning I was woken up by Maria who brought me a cup of coffee. Once I was fully awake, I checked the coop. It was undamaged, all seven hens still there.

After that, I hurried over to the shrine. I wasn’t surprised to see that the offering was gone.

It was from then on that I put out offerings again, each morning, same as before. I wouldn’t take the risk of that thing visiting the farm once more.

As so often though, things didn’t go as planned.

The first time it came again, was when we were out visiting Maria’s parents. We had planned to stay over for a night, but a terrible, raging storm kept us there for another day. I was out of it, but there was no way we’d make it back to the farm in that weather.

When we finally arrived, I wasn’t prepared for what we’d find. I was afraid that more of the chickens would be gone, but it was much worse. The entire chicken coop was in shambles.

Maria put her hand over her mouth in shock. Daniel and Jan stood next to her, asking what had happened. Dad, on the other hand, cursed at the damned storm for destroying the coop. Only I knew what had happened.

We found the rest of the farm in prime condition. Nothing else was damaged or missing. I tried to look through the remains of the coop to see if any of the chickens were still alive. It was dad who had watched me for a few minutes and who finally came over, telling me to leave things alone. There was nothing to be done.

The second time the thing came back was when Daniel got into an accident in the middle of October. He got a nasty cut on his leg and I rushed him to the hospital. The doctors assured me it was nothing life-threatening. The boy would have to stay the night though to make sure everything was alright.

Once I heard the good news, I called Maria and told her all about it. After that, I told her about the little shrine I’d built and instructed her to put some vegetables there. When she asked me why and what I was going on about, I told her to make sure she’d do it. It was important.

When I returned to the farm the next day, my wife was more than happy to have Daniel and me back. She looked exhausted and told me she’d been sick with worry.

On my way to the farmhouse, I found dad outside. He was livid, cursing at something I couldn’t see. I ran over to him and saw that he was looking over at the barn.

“Someone must have broken in,” he said to me pointing at one of the doors. I felt very cold.

As I stepped past the broken down door, I saw that the cow kennels had been ravaged. The milking equipment was destroyed. What was worse though, was the floor. It was covered in pieces of cowhide and splattered with blood. It was all that was left of our dairy cows. The smell inside was terrible. I almost vomited and stumbled back outside.

How had this happened? Hadn’t I told Maria what to do? Don’t tell me…

I ran back to her and the boys.

“Did you put out the offerings!?”

She only looked at me, clearly confused.

“What are you talking about, Steven?”

“When I called you yesterday, I told you to put some vegetables on the plate in that shrine, didn’t I!?”

For a moment she thought about.

“Oh yeah, that. Why would I-“

“Fucking hell, Maria! I told you it was important. How could you even… goddamn!” I cursed.

Jan and Daniel looked at me wide-eyed and I could see how Maria’s look changed from one of surprise to one of anger.

“Alright mister, you better not speak to me like that, especially not in front of the boys. And you better tell me what this is all about!”

I saw that dad had come over as well, giving me a similar look.

In the evening, once the kids had gone to bed, I finally told them about everything.

Maria gave me a look of sheer disbelief.

“Are you sick? Did you bump your head or something? I mean, what the hell are you talking about!? Spirits of the land?”

She started to laugh. “Do you really think anyone would believe this?”

“Well, what do you think happened at the barn then, Maria?”

“I don’t know Steven, maybe someone broke in and… I don’t know.”

“You know, boy,” dad interrupted us with a serious look on his face, “my father never told you the full story, the real one. These stories were a warning!”

“What are you talking about dad?”

“Well boy, back in the old days many tried their luck with the fairy folk. All came to regret it. They all learned one thing. There is no fairy folk here, only evil, dangerous spirits.”

Maria had listened to him and now looked form him to me and back to him.

“Oh come on, you two can’t be serious!” she started shaking her head. “Both of you must have gone crazy!”

With that, she left the room. I heard her laughing on the way to bed, but her laughter sounded forced, almost fake.

“Did grandpa ever mention a way to get rid of these, these things?”

“No,” dad answered in a low voice. “Boy, why did you have to toy around with this? We should have sold the farm and-“

“You’d just give up the farm without trying? Is that what mom would have wanted?”

“Don’t you dare, boy! Don’t you dare!” he yelled at me.

In his rage, he tried to get up too fast and almost fell forward. He clung to the edge of the table, shaking. I got up to help him, but he stared me down.

“We could have sold, but instead you chose to curse this place.”

Without saying another word, he went out. I heard his steps and the clicking of his crutches as he made his way up the stairs to his part of the house.

With that I was alone, sitting there all by myself. Was dad right? Had I cursed this place? Was there anything I could do?

For now, I continued to put out offerings.

During the next weeks, dad and I didn’t talk. He kept to himself, isolated in his part of the house.

Maria talked to me as always, but I noticed that she kept watching me more closely.

“You are still keeping this up?” she asked one day when she saw me walk in the direction of the shrine with a couple vegetables in my hands. I could hear the annoyance in her voice.

I chose to ignore it. I had tried to talk to Maria about it a few times, but as soon as I mentioned evil spirits, she stopped listening.

It was in November that I woke up due to a thundering noise from downstairs. I almost jumped out of bed.

“What the hell was that?!”

“Maria had woken up too. “Do you think it was the heating system?” she asked.

My eyes grew wide. The thing had been acting up before and it had cost us thousands in repairs. I rushed for the stairs.

Downstairs I went straight into the boiler room. Everything was fine. No damage to the oven, none to the heating system and no burst pipes. Don’t tell me…

I continued to the back of the house. It was here that we kept the pet bunnies of the boys as well as the few pigs we’d raised. Everything was destroyed. The back door that led outside was wide open. The rabbit hutch had been torn apart, and the pig pen was nothing but rubble.

Right in the middle of all this stood a stout, round figure.

I didn’t know what to do. There was nothing I could say. I was still only staring at it when Maria arrived.

“Who the hell!?” she yelled. She took one more step forward but froze when she saw the monstrous proportions of the figure.

It was too wide, almost comical so. Had the thing gotten bigger?

I watched in horror as the thing turned towards us with a malicious grin on his face. Something was still moving by his feet. I realized it was one of the pigs. As Maria and I looked on he picked it up with both hands. He held it up in the air above his face. In sheer terror, I saw how the thing opened his giant maw and swallowed the animal whole. For one more second the glowing, button eyes rested on me. Then the thing walked out the back door without saying a word.

I didn’t understand. I had left an offering! Why had the thing come back?

As I racked my brain about what sort of mistake I’d made, Maria broke into tears.

“I didn’t think it was,” she pressed out as she wept.

She was shaking. I closed my arms around her, hugging her to calm her down.

“I didn’t mean to,” she kept going on.

“Maria, babe, what are you talking about?”

“The vegetables, I didn’t mean to, but-” she broke up yet again.

“Wait, don’t tell me you took the offering.”

“Yes, goddamnit I did! Who would have thought that this, this, whatever this is, was real!”

She gesticulated towards the still open back door.

“I thought you were wasting perfectly good food,” she said turning to me, “I mean, why would you leave it out there? I didn’t think anything would happen if I took it back. I didn’t mean for any of this to happen.”

I couldn’t believe it. I was mad. Hell, I was furious, but I also couldn’t blame her. There was no way anyone would have believed this story!

Daniel and Jan came down the stairs followed by dad, who called out for the boys to come back. They looked around not sure what was going on and Maria ushered them back upstairs. Dad looked at me for a moment before shaking his head, but he said nothing.

While he went back upstairs, I had a look at the damage. There was no trace of the animals, except for the oldest of the bunnies, the mother. The poor thing was out of it, panting and shaking. I did pet it a bit, but I knew the animal wouldn’t live long after this shock. Why had the thing not eaten this one, I wondered.

I didn’t get to think about it for too long because I noticed something even worse. The thing had raided the storage room. Almost all that remained of the harvest was gone. Did this damned thing grow hungrier every single time it showed up?

As I looked through what remained and put it together, the number didn’t even reach thirty. With one vegetable per day, it would last no longer than a month. What would happen after that? I tried not to think about it.

Was there anything I could do? I thought about it for a while before I got an idea.

It wanted the fruits of the land, right? So that’s what it would get.

A few days later I went to the weekly farmers market. While we at our farm didn’t do winter farming, some of the neighboring farms did. There are always local crops available. It would work I told myself, it had to.

That evening I put out an offering consisting of a few of the vegetables I’d bought at the market.

In the morning hours, the gruesome screams of my father reached me and Maria, as well as the kids. It was the worst thing I’d ever heard. Daniel’s and Jan’s eyes were wide as they huddled behind their mother, crying.

Maria looked at me in utter terror, but I ignored everything as I ran towards my dad’s part of the house.

I found the door to his bedroom wide open.

“Dad?” I asked, but my worst fears came true as I received no answer.

I half expected to find him on the ground, having suffered from a heart attack or something similar.

As often though, reality proved much, much worse. The bedding was wet with his blood and other fluids. I tried my hardest not to think about it, as I looked for his body. The only thing I found was a note.

“A share of the fruits of thy land belongs to me.”

It was written in bloody letters, lying on the floor next to his bedroom window.

It wanted a share of the things I had created. Things that I had grown on my land. As I stood there, I realized what a stupid mistake I’d made. I had tried to cheat it, and of course, it had noticed my trick. Dad was the one who had to pay for it.

As the tears were streaming down my eyes, I screamed at myself for being so goddamn stupid. What dad had said was right. We really were cursed.

As soon as Maria heard what had happened, she took the kids and left. I didn’t argue, no, I encouraged her to go. The kids didn’t understand. They asked what had happened to grandpa and why they had to leave. We told them they’d be going on a vacation. They’d stay at Maria’s parents for a while.

Maria pleaded with me to come with her, but I told her I had to stay. There had to be a way to stop all this. God knows what this thing would do if I tried to run.

Each day, I put out a part of my dwindling supply as offerings. I spent long nights on the internet, searching and googling. I asked questions and read article after article on old folklore. I found nothing that could help me. There seemed to be nothing I could do and each day I grew more and more afraid. What would happen if I was out of offerings? Would I end up like dad? I didn’t dare to think about it.

As the weeks turned to day though, I started to despair. More than once I thought about taking the car and driving away from the farm. What would happen though? Would the thing come after me? Or worse, would it come after my family?

In the end, I told Maria, that I’d stay here in the hopes of ending it all. There was no other way. I was the one who had started it and brought this upon us. There was no way I’d risk her or the kids’ wellbeing. No, it was only right that it should end with me.

I had given the thing all the vegetables. All the animals were gone. Now there was only one thing left, me.

I was terribly afraid, shaking even, as it turned night. I paced up and down in the bedroom. I told myself I should go to bed, I should sleep. It would be easier that way, but I couldn’t.

I remembered dad’s old rum and went to get it. I was never a heavy drinker, hell, I almost never drank.

While I sat in the bedroom, writing a long letter to Maria, I took sip after sip of the disgusting, strong booze. After only a few mouthfuls I found myself drifting off to sleep. I remember trying to say a prayer, but I was already too drunk for it.

I woke up on the bedroom floor. The first thing I noticed was a splitting headache I was suffering from. Then, as memory returned, I was more than a bit surprised to be alive. Nothing was in disarray. There was no note. The whole place was right as it had been last night.

The first thing I did was to get my phone. I dialed Maria’s number. It rang and rang, but I got no answer. I double checked the clock. It was almost ten in the morning, no way she’d still be asleep. After trying a few more times without an answer, I tried her parents’ landline. Nothing either.

I figured they might be out. They could have all gone shopping, or they went to the Christmas market in town. It should be open by now. I came up with more and more scenarios as I sat on the bed, staring at the phone.

When it finally rang, I almost screamed into the speaker.

“Maria?! Is that-“

“This is officer Vogel, am I speaking to Steven Schmidt?”

My heart dropped. Sweat started to ooze from every pore of my body. No, there is nothing wrong, I told myself. They are calling about something different. There is nothing wrong. Calm down, Steven.

“Yes, it is,” I answered with a shaking voice.

“Where have you been last night?”

“Why? What is going on? Is my wife ok? What has-“

“Please answer the question, sir.”

“I am, I mean I was at the farm, I didn’t leave, because… well I mean I was here so…”

I couldn’t think straight anymore. I rambled on for a while longer, but finally, the officer on the phone told me that someone was on their way to me.

The police car arrived soon after. They told me what had happened last night.

Someone had broken into the house of Maria’s parents. The old couple was dead. They had been beaten to a bloody pulp in the middle of the hallway that led to the guestroom. In there, they found Maria, alone. She was sitting on the ground in the middle of the room. She didn’t look up or respond to anyone. The two boys, my two sons Daniel and Jan, were missing. The room, as well as Maria, was covered in blood. The police told me they had found a note written in blood.

“A share of all the fruit of thy land belongs to me.”

I fell to the ground screaming up in despair as the true meaning of the contract revealed itself to me. What had I done!?

After all the crops I had grown on the land and all the animals born here, there was only one thing left that had been produced here: my two sons, my offspring.

After the thing had taken everything else, it went there to seal the contract. It took the last thing I’d promised.

That’s why it had ignored the old bunny, as well as Maria. They hadn’t been born on this land, so they didn’t matter to the thing.

I went to visit Maria. The doctors told me she was wholly catatonic and unresponsive. She was physically unharmed, but mentally she appeared to be an empty shell.

She never said a word to me, at least until she recognized me. She got into a state of insane rage, screaming that ‘it devoured them like it had the pig.’

It took four members of staff to get her off me and restrain her. The doctors told me she’d need time. I wasn’t sure about this. I was the reason our sons were gone. I was the one who had destroyed our life.

I returned many times, but it was always the same. Her eyes showed nothing but unrestrained hatred.

It was two weeks ago that Maria killed herself. I don’t know exactly how it happened.

It is only me now.

I am still sitting here in this old farmhouse. I didn’t plow or sow anything. No, after that thing took my sons, I destroyed the damned shrine. Then I sold everything on the farm. All the tools and all the equipment.

At first, I didn’t know what to do with myself, with the pain.

I hoped the thing would come to take me as well. To end it all. Many nights I screamed out into the night for it to finally do it.

But I knew that this wasn’t part of the deal, of the trick. It came and granted my wish and I had been ignorant about the price. No, it would not come and take me. It made sure I suffered for my ignorance.

The only thing that helped was the bottle. Father’s rum had lulled me to sleep back then and other bottles did so now. For months I was content to just drown myself in alcohol until my body would give up.

Now that Maria is gone though, I can’t go on anymore. In the few sober hours between waking up and starting to drink again, I wrote this all down. Now that I am done with it, I am going to burn this whole damned place to the ground, including myself.

Take this story as a warning.

There are things out there, much older and many times smarter than men. And now I know, they are only out to trick us.

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