The Butcher of Helltown
My older brother Danny used to say to me “Samantha you’re my best friend.” I’d smile at his child-like mannerisms even though he was 20 years old and stood six feet tall. Girls even liked him because he was handsome, till they realized he had the mind of a 12-year-old at best. He didn’t even get past the 8th grade and we weren’t a wealthy family, so my parents couldn’t afford to send Danny to a special school for others like Danny. My parents thought Danny should work at home on our farm in our small Ohio town. He worked as the Sheepherder for my parents as he loved both the goats and the sheep. It gave him purpose and a sense of responsibility and even with all these setbacks, he still had the biggest and most caring heart of anyone I knew or would ever know. Danny was also the smartest person in the world to me because I guess you could say he had “gifts.”
You see my brother knew things that the rest of us just didn’t and he liked to tell people in town about his “dreams” so he would appear like he knew something they didn’t. Danny prided himself on shocking the manager at the local gas station who would often look at Danny in fear from stories he spun about monsters he claimed lived in the forests that surrounded our old town.
Danny was often made fun of for it until my dad finally put a stop to his storytelling of the things he saw in his “Dreams.” The real horrors of Danny’s dreams were often about things that would at some point end up happening. There was a certain urgency to with the bad ones, those dreams were the dreams that gave you a sense of dread. For instance, one summer Danny had a bad dream that the crops would flood, and our father was going to die from the shock or as Danny put it “dad’s surprise.”
My father had a heart attack and died on the operating table, but he was able to be resuscitated. So, Danny’s dream had in fact come true, but in the end everything was okay.
It scared my parents who had told Danny not to wake them up in the middle of the night when he had a bad dream, that it was just a part of life. He would often sob and some nights he woke me up screaming. My parents were good people, but Danny could be a bit of a handful for them, but he was never a handful for me. I didn’t mind him coming to knock on my door at weird hours of the night. It made me feel like I was older and more responsible because my older brother and I shared a connection.
I often felt as though most of the dreams Danny had were more nightmares than anything. Most of what he dreamt never happened. The constant subject was usually about the town now referred to as Helltown. Danny was afraid of the things he had heard from Vinny Kramer, who was a continuous bully in Danny’s life. Vinny was 16 and in my class at school, yet Danny often had to walk past Vinny’s house on the way to pick me up from school. A little girl that was kidnapped in a made for tv movie he had seen and since then he always insisted on walking me to and from school after. Vinny loved nothing more than harassing my brother by torturing his sponge-like mind with the so-called horrors of “Helltown.”
Because of Vinny, Danny was still afraid to walk by the old Stanford road that lead to the old Butchery in town. It was a place where animals were slaughtered but now was just an empty old place with grass grown around it. Even though the old rope and hooks were left behind in the old slaughterhouse, there were no longer the screams of the animals. Danny had many dreams or what I figured were more like nightmares, thanks to Vinny, about an old doctor that turned people into animals with his medicines.
The only person who had lived out that way after the old Slaughterhouse was gone, was a plastic surgeon by the name of Doctor Crowley. He was said to have studied in Germany and moved to Hollywood, California just after world war II. He worked as plastic surgeon to the many beauty queens of the motion picture industry where he was able to use experimental methods to ensure the perfection of his many clients. As the rumor goes, he was hired to fix the face of a famous actress who had been in a terrifying accident. He had attempted to restructure her cheekbones and when the surgery failed to provide the desired results; he decided to use experimental methods he had learned while working in animal laboratories during the war.
Much to the chagrin of Dr. Crowley the experiments worked, but the said actress was never heard from again after seeing herself in a mirror. Supposedly she resembled a reptile after the surgery and that her skin was pinned back so tight during the facial lift, that she was frightening to look at because her mouth no longer enabled her to smile. Dr. Crowley was able to remain for a while after, but then one failed experimental attempt after another he was nicknamed the “Butcher.” He was fired after being caught using animal hormones and injecting them into one of his patients.
From all that I had heard he long since died years before I was born and not to mention, an elderly man living alone near the woods was hardly a threat, especially a dead one.
That didn’t stop Vinny Kramer from torturing my brother with stories of “The Butcher.” Danny would often get stopped by Vinny for a long while as Vinny made up stories to tell my brother. He would tease him and dare Danny to do stupid things that caused injury to Danny for the amusement of Vinny and his friend’s. It was one of those typical afternoons that when Danny had gotten to my school to walk me home he appeared to have a black eye.
“What the hell happened?” I asked watching tears fall from his eyes.
“Nothing Sam.” He smiled but I knew better, and I was pissed. I had enough of Vinny Kramer and his antics.
When we got back toward Vinny’s house I was ready to kick his ass. I put my long black hair in a ponytail and my pace quickened as we got closer to Vinny’s home.
“Sam you are walking fast.”
“No, I’m not you are just walking slow.” I teased him.
He smiled at me trying to keep up with me, but I was now on a mission.
“Sam now you are walking really really fast.”
When I got to Vinny Kramer’s driveway I could see him with his friends leaning against his father’s car in the driveway dribbling a basketball. He was a chubby kid and right now all I wanted to do is punch him in his fat gut. When he saw me, his face turned red and he knew that I knew what he had done to my brother.
“Hey gorgeous.” Vinny said trying to act cute in front of his friends, but I was having none of it.
“Did you hit my brother?”
“NO! He fell.” He turned to Danny. “Tell her how you fell in the ditch in my driveway.” I knew he was lying.
“Yeah I fell Sam.” Danny said walking to stand between Vinny and me.
“Sam you look really mad.” He said laughing nervously.
“It’s because of Vinny he hurt you again!”
“No tell your crazy sister the truth!”
Just then we all heard something run past the woods that were directly behind Vinny’s house and whatever it tripped over some metal drums that were laying on the ground not far from the garage where we all stood. We all turned to look at the woods and Danny’s two friends noticed it when I did, as they now stood with their mouths gaping.
The first thing I noticed were its eyes, glowing red auburn eyes. Then the second thing I noticed was its large size.
My body trembled as I watched as it slowly moves in between the trees directly behind Vinny’s house and then Danny said what I was thinking.
“Samantha it is just like my dream. The monster is going to get us Sam! He’s going to hurt you Samantha and me.”
I blinked and turned to look at Danny who was now sitting on the ground rocking back and forth in front of Vinny’s house.
“Hey, dummy it’s just a deer.” Vinny said looking down at Danny. His tone was almost excited, and I figured he was relieved that I hadn’t been able to fall through with the ass kicking I had promised.
“C’mon Danny let’s go.” I said grabbing him to get up, so we could run home. As we went back down the driveway I looked back, but the thing in the woods was no longer there.
“Samantha I saw it in my dream.”
“Shh it’s okay Danny. It will be okay no one is going to hurt you.”
I didn’t want to tell my mother what happened, but Danny wasted no time telling our mom. My mother was standing in the kitchen chopping vegetables when Danny burst in on her causing her to drop her knife on the kitchen floor.
“Mom I had a dream and Samantha saw the monster. I want to get out of here it will come for me.”
“I can explain.” I said looking at my mom as she sat down at the kitchen table in her apron. There was real fear in her large brown eyes and she looked at Danny who was pacing back and forth in front of the window of our living room.
“Danny,” my mother began calmly “I can get you a slice of pie, why don’t you sit down on the couch and turn on Sponge Bob.”
Danny was taking in large breaths now and I looked at my mom as she looked at me with a curious look upon her face.
“We saw something behind Vinny Kramer’s house just now. I don’t know what it was, but it set Danny into fits.”
My mother grabbed my hand and nodded getting up from the seat at the table and picking up a baker’s box, cut a slice of blueberry pie and then went to take it to Danny. He seemed to forget his fear from five minutes earlier nearly and he began to devour the pie while he watched the television.
“Well, we won’t mention what happened to your father you know how he gets over Danny’s “gifts.” She could see the stress written all over my face and patted me on the shoulder kissing the top of my head. She bent over and picked up the knife and without even bothering to wash it off went back to cutting her vegetables. “We are going to have casserole for dinner. Can you grab me two cans of cream of mushroom soup?”
I watched her try and pretend that everything was normal, but she and I both knew that if Danny was acting that scared there was a damn good possibility that something was out there stalking our woods.
My father came home twenty minutes later and when he took off his jacket he immediately noticed Danny watching the television and eating pie. “Is there a reason you are letting our son eat dessert before dinner?” my father had a tone when he was irritated and there wasn’t an ounce of amusement in his voice now.
“Danny was upset when he got home.” My mom tried to play it off.
“Well I guess so, what happened to his eye?”
“Hi dad, Vinny and I were playing a game and I fell.” Danny said looking at me.
“I told Vinny off.”
“Good.” My father said and sat down at the kitchen table and that was the end of it.
Danny went to bed early that night and I sat in my room for a bit reading. I must have fallen asleep around eleven or so and then I heard something slam. I was awake instantly and afraid. I stood up and noticed my door was cracked a bit. I thought that maybe it was Danny after having one of his “dreams” and opened it all the way to investigate.
I called out gently “Danny is that you?” I heard nothing reply.
I walked towards his room and noticed his door was shut completely and he was sound asleep. What could the sound have been?
I turned to go back to my room when I heard something slam against the back door. I crept down the stairs to our living room and slowly walked into the kitchen to see if I could peer out of the window overlooking our kitchen sink.
I couldn’t see anything and as I turned toward the back door I could see them. Two red eyes were glowing in the window of our kitchen door. I stood immobilized mentally running away but my feet were still in place. I must have been screaming because the lights went on in the kitchen and my father and mother were behind me.
“What on earth?”
“I saw something! It had – had red eyes and -and it was watching me. It wants me.” I cried as my father held me in his arms unsure of what just happened. He let go of me and grabbed a rifle from his gun cabinet and went outside. He fired two shots into the air and then came back inside.
“Well, maybe that will scare whatever it was off.”
My parents both tucked me in and for a few moments I was four years old again. It didn’t make me feel ashamed, though because it was comforting, and I was safe.
Strangely, Danny never heard a thing and he seemed to sleep the entire night away uninterrupted. The next day my mom drove me to school because there was no way I was going on foot after my encounter with whatever that “thing” was.
The next few weeks everything seemed to go back to normal. Then Danny had another dream, this one was worse than all the others.
I was once again in my bed when I awoke in the middle of the night. Danny had shaken my shoulder so hard I thought I might have a neck injury. “Samantha we have to help him!”
“What are you talking about Danny?”
“The boy he’s hurt in the woods. We have to go now Samantha.”
I looked at my brother and the earnest expression on his face and I knew I had no choice. “Danny, who is in the woods?” I sat up rubbing my eyes.
“The boy he’s scared of the man.”
“No time Sam! We have to go now!” Danny said grabbing me my jacket and shoes practically shoving them in my face.
I stood up still a bit tired when he grabbed me and put his index finger over my mouth to be quiet and dragged me down the stairs and out of the front door. Once we were in the cold October air, he ran as fast as he could pull me behind him.
By now I was growing terrified of what we would find, and I hoped it was just a bad dream and one of his prophetic dreams. A girl could wish I suppose because when we got near the woods and Danny began to run with a fury of a sprinter in the Olympics.
I was ready to turn back as he was way ahead of me by now, but I couldn’t leave my brother out here even for a second also to go back and get help. In the distance, I could see a dim light coming from the forest near one of the old closed off caves that were part of the wooded area near my house. I stopped running and watched my brother as he approached the light in the distance. My lungs had stopped working by now and I needed to rest for a moment before continuing. I bent over heaving in deep breaths that nearly burnt my lungs out of my chest. I heard it then, there was a scream, was it a scream?
I managed to muster up the strength to keep going and when I got to the caves that were now barred off with an “Off Limits” sign on them I went to turn back when I saw the creature. It stood nearly seven feet tall and had bushy hair all over its body. The creature’s face resembled bigfoot almost from the pictures I had seen on the news, but there was something too human about it. It looked at me with its eyes so red and I could swear they were lasers instead of eyes. I broke eye contact only for a moment to see where my brother had gone and when I looked back it was now gone.
I would have gladly allowed it to stay because what now was standing in its place was something much worse. I heard the old man laugh first and then I could see the light illuminated on him from inside the cave. I guessed that what or whoever this was had been living in this cave. There standing in front of me was a very feeble man, he was stretched out and tall as though he had been pulled like silly putty. His white hairs on the top of his bald head were few, but the ones that were there stuck up in the air in an ugly position. His shoulders and elbows were exaggerated and pointy giving him an almost insect-like appearance. He was taller than the creature that I had just seen and when he moved in my direction, it was in two wide steps making it that more terrifying because just milliseconds before he was nearly 20 yards in front of me. What was this thing?
It had me by the throat before I could stop him. When I say the look in his eyes was that of the devil, that was the understatement of the universe. He had these piercing yellow-green eyes and his skin was wrinkled and old like something that had been buried and dug up. This thing’s breath was worse as he laughed in my face and I wanted to be sick. The smell of death came from him and breathed into my face taking all the light from my soul with it.
“Girl why are you here?” the old man hissed at me.
I couldn’t speak but then I could see Danny coming up behind him with a large rock. My brother was coming to my rescue at last! Danny hit the thing over the head and the creature let out an enormous growl dropping me in the process.
I watched then as it turned to face Danny, but instead of getting angry the thing only laughed. He pulled Danny by the back of his collar and dragged him into the cave. I stood up and ran towards them. I followed them both into the entrance of the cave being careful where I stepped so I would not fall. I had forgotten the creature in the woods but when I got to the center of the cave I found him and with him so much more.
In the center of the cave was a makeshift operating room. Hanging from the ceiling were carcasses of what looked to be human beings and slices of flesh. There was blood on a table and dead things in jars lining the walls of the room. The light illuminated the stuff in the jars and there were eyes and mouths by themselves that appeared to have been surgically and cut off faces with precision.
The weirdest thing in the room though, was a large mirror that was at least 10 feet tall. It was foggy and caused whatever investigated it to appear normal instead of distorted. The man stood in front of it and his body shrunk to appear standard size and yet he was deformed and as I watched him he touched the mirror with his hands as though he were admiring himself.
“All old things are new again.” The deformed man muttered to himself as he stared lovingly into the mirror at his reflection. “Just one more surgery and it will be just right, yes just right.”
Just then the thing with the Red eyes appeared in the room and I screamed out at them, but they failed even to notice me, nor did they pay any attention to me as I watched in horror as Danny cried. “Samantha help me.”
I tried to find something to stall them from carrying out whatever evil deeds the man had planned. The creature seemed to understand why we were here and to my shock he clawed at the man in front of the mirror knocking him to the floor and spilling out the contents of the jars all over the cave floor. I stood among the contents now on the floor and nearly barfed from the grotesque scene, but my main concern was saving my brother.
The tall man stood up then and took out a large hook that was used for hanging flesh on the ceiling and used his preternatural strength to push the hook inside of the creature causing it to stop breathing. It was dead before I realized the old man now had Danny by the neck and was dragging my brother towards the woods again with the strength of ten men towards a vehicle.
The vehicle was black, and I couldn’t see in, but it appeared to be an old ambulance truck painted all in black with black tinted windows. A woman suddenly appeared and stepped out of the driver’s seat with blonde hair and black glasses you would only see someone wearing during the day. She wore a black leather raincoat and her hair was in a slick bun in the back of her head. She looked around and then two other men appeared from behind her and the old man threw Danny into the back end of the truck.
“Danke Doktor Crowley.” She muttered in German and then I knew who the man was.
How was this even possible that this Doctor Crowley was still alive. I watched him being handed something in a suitcase with needles and when he nodded she walked away, but not before I noticed she had a name, Doctor Pruitt of Dulce Laboratories. It was hanging from a badge she had around her neck. She turned toward an older man who walked with a cane and then I heard her nod to him. “The specimen is perfect.” she turned suddenly to Dr Crowley who now got into the back of the vehicle after a brief conversation. I ran toward the back of the ambulance trying to get to Danny.
“Danny!” I screamed and then Doctor Crowley seemed to appear in front of me with the precision of a snake.
“He’s the one they want not you girl.” He said and kicked me off the back of the truck. I fell so far down I landed near rocks that lined a little valley in the woods. I heard the engine of the vehicle and Danny was gone.
There was no way I could have saved my brother no matter how hard I had tried. I grapple with this every day of my life. My parents searched for Danny for years before they passed on several years later. They were never the same after Danny was taken and there was nothing authorities could do except put up missing posters and do a thorough search of the surroundings by the cave. I refuse to leave our hometown because I know that Danny is alive, I can feel it in my soul.
I didn’t understand why they wanted my brother at first, but then I knew the answer to that. Danny had gifts that they could harness if given the right conditions. I knew that because of his gifts they wouldn’t kill him and I never gave up hope of finding my brother again. I always knew he would never be the same though if I did.
I never stopped holding out hope I’d see my brother again, and then one day I finally did.
One afternoon I was riding my bike in the marsh on the bike trail when I happened to look up. There in the woods just across the lake was a creature with hair all over its body and it watched me with a longing in its laser-like eyes. I looked back feeling unafraid and a calm ran over me until an excitement boiled in me and I managed to wave toward him. It raised its elongated hand and then quickly recoiled into the woods as two joggers ran up behind me talking loudly.
I miss my brother and I hope one day I will find him again. I keep returning to the woods hoping to find clues as to where he may have went. I leave little gifts for him in the woods, things I know that meant a lot to him. I left a Sponge Bob doll in a tree and a few days later I went back, and it was gone.
So, Danny, if you are out there, know I love you and I will never stop searching for you.