Bogleech.com's 2013 Horror Write-off:
" Black Sheets "
Submitted by Lasagnaface
I first saw him on the lake, when I was a child, out on a Fourth of July camping vacation, out by the old lake. I was watching the fireworks display, down on the old docks, looking down at the water as its still surface reflected their mirrored glow. I sat there, in awe of the spectacle, before ripples distorted the surface, revealing an older gentleman on a boat, rowing past. I shook my head, attention broken from the fireworks display, instead deciding to focus on the old man. It was strange for someone to be out boating in the night; doubly so, due to the fact that I recognized him.
He was my grandfather. That much I knew due to his old cap, but it didnít explain why he had snuck away from my family during the fireworks show to go on a boat ride. I waved to him. He saw me, clearly, but he didnít respond. Rather, he seemed to be positively despondent, only giving his attention to rowing the boat. I felt a wave of unease and reached down to my pocket, pulling out a childís flashlight my father had gotten me as a gift earlier in the day, to ease my night-time fears during our family camping trip. The light worked surprisingly well- perhaps too well, in fact. I saw my grandfather was not alone. In the boat with him was a child-sized figure, wrapped in black sheets, revealing only a single, pale leg protruding from the bottom.
My grandfather saw me now, and began to panic, trying to hide the thing beside him from my view, succeeding only in rustling the sheet, revealing that it was stitched into the skin of the one-legged child-thing. I shook my head, and started to walk backwards in fear, not sure of what I was witnessing. My grandfather struggled suddenly, whatever it was beneath the black cover starting to shudder back to life, kicking at him with its rounded, but distinctly human, foot. I could take no more; I fled as fast as I could, starting to scream. I remember running, looking behind me only to see the thing beneath the sheet twitching, before my grandfather tossed it into the lake. When I finally arrived at the campsite, he was still there, resting soundly on a lawn chair, as he had been when I left him. My parents looked at me in confusion. I told them I saw grandpa out on the lake. They explained, with concerned expressions, that he had never left the campsite.
For the rest of our weekend, I tried to push it out of my mind. My parents said it was just a night terror. They said it was common for kids to see scary things, even if they thought they were awake. But I didnít just think I was awake. I knew I was awake. And I knew I saw my grandfather. But still, as I figured, I was a kid. Maybe, for once, my parents knew best, at least about my health. So I told myself. For the time, my nights were fretful and anxious. But I managed, during the day at least, to enjoy myself. I walked through the forest nature trail, and I caught bugs and tadpoles. And then, the day before we left, we went fishing out on the lake. I told them I was frightened, and explained again how the lake figured into my ďdream.Ē They nodded, sympathetically, and insisted I go anyway, perhaps as a way to overcome my fear. I accepted, eventually, and we set out for the day on a rented pontoon.
As we neared the center of the lake, my dad managed to hook something. He smiled excitedly, and I did the same. Suddenly, as he saw a pale shape floating up, snagged on his hook, his face turned to one shock. I heard my mother gasp, and tell me not to look. My father did the same. I ducked down, and started crying. I cried because I caught a glimpse of what they fished up. Floating on the surface of the water, I spied for a brief moment, a child, bald, and missing his lower jaw, arms bound in a straightjacket of black fabric. I looked into his eyes. They were glassy and murky blue, like the water below him, and I swear to god, he began to move. My mother forced me to look away, and hid my face in a jacket. They took the child into the boat, and hurried back to shore. The last thing I remember before I rushed back to the cabin with my mom was my father frantically dialing the police.
They didnít tell me what I saw exactly, or what had happened to the boy. They simply told me that I needed to be brave, and that I was going to be safe, because it had nothing to do with me, and I had done nothing wrong. They explained that it was simply an awful fact of life; somewhere, out in the world, there were some very, very sick people, who liked hurting kids, and thatís why I needed to stay away from strangers. They talked to the police, and so on, and after an extra five days up in the woods, we were allowed to go home. But what they didnít tell me was where my grandpa was. For the rest of that week, I didnít see him. Time passed, and soon enough, the vacation all seemed like a strange, fading memory. All the while, no-one spoke about my grandfather. I assumed he had just gone home. But then, nearly a month later, during another sleepless night, I heard something at my window. I turned on my light.
Outside, looking in at me was a gross approximation of my grandpa. He was nude, save for black ribbons of silk sewn into his skin. His face was flat, and featureless, his nose, eyes, and smiling mouth all merely drawn on, slowly sliding down like watery greasepaint. Beside him were two child-like figures. I recognized them both: A one-legged thing in a sheet, and a jawless boy in a straightjacket. They were down in the lake, waiting for me to comeback. And I understood then, as he tried to crack my window open, that he was too.