• J. Jamal

FNN: A Deadly Tale

Updated: Jan 6

Have you heard the story of Benjamin Walker?

Legend says he was a rancher back in the 1890s, lived out on the edge of town with his family.

Lovely wife, two boys who adored and protected their little sister.

As you’d expect, the Walker’s weren’t well liked or spoken of around town, as the only black family who’d made the trek over at the time.

So Mr. Walker stayed to himself on the outskirts of town, and for good reason.

He had everything he needed right there. His love, his kids, his crop, all in one.

One morning, Walker found a note addressed to him, seemingly from the town’s sheriff, demanding his presence for a meeting on Halloween morning. Odd, sure, but he figured it could be nothing more than conversation about some farming regulations or something trivial of that sort. He thought nothing of it, waking up early that morning and loading up the family’s wagon, preparing for the 10 mile trek into town to meet the sheriff.

As expected, this sit down was completely inconsequential, an unnecessary interruption of what was supposed to be a busy and productive day for the family. But he’s the sheriff, what can you do? When he requests an audience, he gets it. So Mr. Walker sets out to buy some time and prepare for the long trip back.

His time walking around town was where things got weird. Many dubious signs began to pop up as tension filled the air. While working on a headstone, the undertaker glared holes through Mr. Walker as he walked by, as if to tell him “Don’t go to far, boy. This will be home soon.” Every eye in town locked in on him, making an awkward and tense situation that much more uncomfortable. What started as an innocent trip into town now had the potential to turn deadly. He suddenly found himself sweating and watching his step, for surely he was walking through land mines. He might as well have been walking towards a ticking time bomb.

He did have some business to attend to, however. He’d arranged a deal with the local grocer to sell some of his crop this season, and possibly begin a more collaborative deal the next time around. A little extra money on the farm would go a long way. The Walkers aware great at stretching what they had, but it’d feel good to not have to. “So we all good, Mr. Charlie? I bring you corn and beans, and you’ll pay me a season’s wages,” he propositioned, his southern drawl seeping through. After a bit of reluctance, Mr. Charlie agrees, extending his hand and his business. While shaking hands, Walker asks if they should draw up a contract or receipt of some sort. “I’m good for it, boy,” Mr. Charlie responds with a chill to his tone. “I can assure you you won’t be needing that.”

Almost on cue, two rangers entered Mr. Charlie’s grocery, target set on Benjamin Walker. Behind them a stands three other of the townsfolk. The leader of the pack gets right in his face, snarling as he asks if there’s a problem here. It didn’t take perfect vision to see this was a set up, and Walker caught on quick. “No problem. Just finishing up some business.” He goes to leave but the mini mob follows closely. Feeling them breathing down his neck, Walker turns around, surely biting his tongue for his own safety. “I haven’t seen you ‘round here before. I don’t like new boys in my town. Especially when that boy goes around robbing these good folks.” The remaining four grab Benjamin by his arms, pulling him to his knees as their leader grabs his face. “We enforce the law differently here, boy. I think you’ll find our methods a bit more...effective.”

Despite his pleas and claims of innocence, fists reign down from all angles. A five on one mismatch, it doesn’t take long for their punches, slaps and kicks to leave him disfigured. They yank him to his knees, and both eyes are swollen shut. The ranger reaches in his coat, finding identity documents. “Well, look what we have here, fellas. It’s not him.” One by one, they start to snicker, it soon becoming obvious that this beating was premeditated. “Sorry about that Walker...but ya fit the description.” He pushes him to the ground, leaving him for dead before telling the rest of the crew it was time to go and finish the job. Benjamin Walker drags his broken body back onto the family wagon, the horses carrying him home. A few miles into the ride, his lungs fill with smoke, making him cough for the rest of the way. The swelling in his eyes hides the severity of the smoke filling the sky. However, this couldn’t conceal the sound of cackling fire and wood falling from the house. He calls out to his wife, but she doesn’t answer. His calls turn to cries for his children, but these cries are not returned. After Stumbling up the steps of his porch, he continues calling their names all through the bottom floor of the ranch. It doesn’t take long for the roof to collapse, even less time for the smoke and flames to consume him. Benjamin Walker was never seen again, but they say his screams in agony could be heard miles away.

Alive, that is. For This is only the beginning of the tale of Benjamin Walker. since then, every year, on Halloween night, he roams this city, his soul calling out to his wife and children. See, he never saw them, never heard them, never found their bodies. As far as he’s concerned, they made it out of the house. But since they will never be found, well, you know the saying...a soul for a soul. Until his is content. Every year, he chooses six unsuspecting vessels to do his bidding. He doesn’t invade their dreams, or appear out of a mirror or tv or something crazy like that, he’s a gentleman. He knocks on the door. Knock, knock, hush. Knock...knock...hush. Knock. Silence. Oh, no, you don’t open the door. He’s already in the house by that point. No need to fight, you’ll have your body back by the end of the night. From there, his selected six must find...suitable replacements for his wife, and kids, and once this is done he’s rather easy to find. One must simply follow the smoke and find the flames. Of course, by then it’s too late to see him. And too late to save them. 10 bodies, every year, recovered from a burning building, their faces burnt to a perpetual screaming crisp. You didn’t think this was a coincidence, did you?

This is the tale of Benjamin Walker, and it’s latest chapter will be written tonight. So I wish you all well. You’d do well to stay in and hug your family tonight. If life says the same, we’ll be back together again next week, same time. Same place. And to the rest of you, the selected...well....god speed. Now, if you’d excuse me, I’d love to stay and chat, but there appears to be something at the door.

‘Til next time.

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