's 2018 Horror Write-off:

The Milkman

Submitted by Sadler Prine

  I’d like to begin this little memoir with a proper introduction my name is Albert Denson.

I was born in 1941, and raised in Mississippi, until my family moved to Nebraska when I was about 8 years old. Now I won’t go on about how my father fought in the big one or how afterwards we lived through some very lean times; no what I’ll tell you about is an event that changed my life or at least my adolescent years, now this particular event took place in the summer of 1954.

The town I lived in was a rural little town I won’t bother giving its name because it hasn’t been a town in decades, and I have my doubts that you could find much on it besides some old tax records if you looked.

Now I lived on the edge of town, but it was close enough for me and my friends to take our bikes right to the middle of town if we got an early start. So it was on one of these hot, July days where this began; it was the usual sort of day when me and two of my friends had taken our bikes out. Usually we’d go to the local drug store for the soda fountain that was always cheap enough for us to quench our thirst, but that day we’d done a bit different, and played a game of baseball near a dilapidated old barn that no one really bothered with.

As youngsters often do we’d lost track of time, and we soon found it was almost evening. So we said our goodbyes, and went our separate ways. I was a good quarter of the way home when I ran into the fella who in the end would become the center of the aforementioned event.

He was the local milkman; now something I forgot to mention earlier is that I’m lactose intolerant so as you can imagine he wasn’t my favorite person to begin with.

I forget the ole codgers name, but for the sake of not just calling him “the milkman” we’ll call him, Edgar.

Now, Edgar wasn’t an unpleasant fella in fact, if I were to describe the sort of person he was I’d reckon he was rather genial, but my dislike wasn’t something I could really pin down, if anything you could call it a gut feeling. I admit as much that it may have also been his morbid lack of hygiene; he almost always wore the same perpetually sweat yellowed, white uniform that hardly fit over his prodigious girth. To make matters worse, he always had a greasy sheen to his skin, and hair.

I tried my best to get on home without drawing much attention to myself, but sure enough, he looked my way, and said “Well hello there, Denson Jr. Fine evening we’re havin ain’t it!” He had this kind of dopey smile that poked through the bushy mustache on his pudgy little face, it woulda been sort of jolly if it weren’t for his teeth which both looked and smelled chronically unbrushed. So now Seeing as the eve was getting late, and I had no desire to converse with him I said “I’d like to talk, but it’s late, and my ma, and pa will be wonderin where I am if I don’t shake a leg” He nodded to me and said back “That’s alright son I know how it is, but could ya do me a favor on your way?” I tried my best not to sigh, but I reckon he saw through me. “So what do ya need me to do?” I asked em as politely as I could muster. He reached into the back of his truck, and pulled out a bottle of milk.

I must’ve been dumbfounded because I just stood there for a minute before he waved the bottle a bit. “This is on the house courtesy of your father helping me, replace the wheels on ole, Betsy here.” He said patting the door of his vehicle. I took the bottle without much in the way of words, and made my way home. Course my ma, and pa weren’t too happy with my late arrival, and I was on restriction for a good week.

After that, life went on mostly the same, as it always had. Until one day after school me, and my closest friend, Joseph had climbed up the local water tower with a spyglass his father had bought for him. We spent a good portion of an hour or two pretending we were soldiers on the lookout for enemies; as we pretended to point out targets for tanks to strike, Joseph pointed towards a set of disused buildings on the edge of town. “Hey, Al isn’t that the milkman you don’t like?” he asked still holding his hand outward. “I dunno what’s he doing?” I demanded, as I pulled the spyglass from his hands, and put it up to my left eye. Sure enough I, saw, Edgar taking some sort of metal thing into the back door of one of the buildings. “So what’s he doing Al?” Joe had asked rather excitedly. “I’m not sure he had some kinda box.” I replied.

So it wasn’t too long after that, we’d worked ourselves into a youthful fantasy that maybe ole, Edgar was some kind of spy; running with the idea we took our bikes, and rode out to the string of buildings.

For something in a farming community they were rather imposing structures. I think one of which was intended for use as a bank, but it was never completed for whatever reason.

We finally came to the door that we’d seen, Edgar take his box into; it was closed with a large padlock, and chain. I tried to pull it off, but didn’t manage to do more than fall on my ass. However, Joseph pushed me aside. “Don’t, worry there’s a trick my uncle showed me!” he announced as he’d taken out a pair of Bobby pins from his pocket. This was something that’d get us into a heap of trouble in the future, but that’s a story for another day.

So, Joseph bent one of the pins at the end, and then he folded the other open.

It took him a few good minutes to get the lock open, but sure as the sun’s bright he got it off the door.

Though we’d done what we set out to do, we weren’t entirely as eager to go in as we had been, at the start. “Well, aren’t ya going in?” I asked, Joseph and he shook his head “It was your idea, why don’t you go in first.” He said giving me a little shove forward.

Looking back it wasn’t all that frightful, but at the time I felt frozen. My legs barely moved as I took several steps forward, and pushed open the door. It creaked loudly on its aged hinges.

I couldn’t see anything in the gloom at first, but my eyes began to adjust, as I walked through the door.

“See anything, Al?” Joseph shouted after me. “No, I can’t see anything” I called back.

I stumbled through the dark until I found a shelf that seemed to have old books, and a landline phone. A hand clapped on my shoulder, and I’d nearly jumped out of my skin. “Holy hell Mary and Jesus!” I shouted; as I’d come to my senses, Joe was laughing his ass off harder than he ever had. “I didn’t know you was a wuss” he said with a grin that’d like to have gone from ear to ear. “I’m no wuss, and I’ll whip you like I did, Tommy Grey if ya call me that again” I said to him.

Another little interruption here. I’ll tell you about, Tommy Grey he was that kid that was never up to any good and of course, since I was a soldier’s son it was expected of me to put em in his place when he tried bullying my friends.

Right, so as I was saying I’d told, Joe off, and we spent a good while searching until we’d found this door that led to a cellar. I get chills going back because I swear I’d never seen anything like what we found in that damp basement, and I ain’t never seen its like since.

Round about the time we had gotten through the door, we were stricken by a particularly sour stink. It was something like a bad mix of baby diapers, curdled milk and a rotten tooth.

Joe had clamped the grease rag for his bike chain tightly over his nose; and I’d almost thrown up right then and there. “What in tarnation is that smell!”  He managed to choke out.

I couldn’t even find the breath to gag. “Do you think somebody died down here?” Joseph asked me, and I could practically see him grinning through his grease rag. I shook my head still unable to do anything but dry heave because of the smell. It was right about then that I noticed something odd; specifically the odd thing I cannot to this day identify.

It was an odd looking almost roundish box. It had four hoses that trailed off of its lower section, and ended in cups that looked like they could be screwed onto something, and it had on one of its sides what looked to be a sort of expandable bag made of something akin to tin foil. The strangeness of the thing didn’t end there; it had brass fittings of a sort. The descriptions of which are foggy to me these days. It also had an obvious handle for carrying, and some sort of logo was lovingly painted onto one side of it in a language I had never seen the like of.

Now, needless to say this had left me even more speechless than the smell which I could now tell was very obviously coming from the box itself.

“Look at that thing,” I said pointing. Joe’s eyes widened with shock “that thing stinks worse than a dirty toilet.” He, said wrinkling his nose “but I ain’t seen anything like it before” he added quickly.

“Is that Chinese writing on the side there?” I said, looking at the strange writing on the logo.

“I dunno, it doesn’t look like anything I’ve seen, not even the stuff that my dad brought home from the war.” He said shaking his head.

As I recall, we spent a long while debating what it was before, Joseph had announced “I know we were playing pretend and all, but I’m startin to reckon, The Milk Man might actually be a spy!” I looked at the device then back to him “If he is what do you think we should do?” I asked him. Joe poked his tongue into his cheek, thinking. “Well, we sure can’t leave this here for him” He’d said

“There’s no way I’m taking something that smells like that!” I protested quite vigorously, and he frowned at me; Obviously thinking he started to pace. “Well, it ain’t like we’re gonna take it home per se.” he said finally. “Then what do you plan on doing with it?” I asked.

A smile crept across his face as he looked at me “no one would think to look for it in that old barn on, Bixby Street!” He said rather satisfied with himself, but it wasn’t like I could really argue with the logic in it. “Alright we’ll, leave it there and then after a day or two we’ll bring, Billy Thompson to see what he thinks the thing is.” I said “that sounds like a smart plan to me.” he replied.

Billy Thompson was the town’s little genius. He spent most of his time reading a collection of books his late grandfather had given him, and when he wasn’t doing that he’d study what he could from the library two towns over. All of the local kids had come to admire him for his intelligence, and occasionally bribe him to do homework for them.

He was an obvious choice to identify the language on the box, given that he spoke at least three languages, and claimed to be learning a fourth.

So we grudgingly picked up the device, and took it back to the barn.

After that we left it for a little over three days.  And to boot, one of the times I witnessed, Edgar during those three days he seemed more furtive than he ever had been.

I had thought to myself the he must’ve been mighty worried knowing that someone had a hold of whatever that device was.

Skipping ahead, on the fourth day me, Joseph, and, Billy had taken our bikes out to the old barn. “It’s more than likely some piece of equipment from the cooler in his van.” Billy had said as we unchained the door and went in.

The smell was like, Hell and death had both spent a week wallowing in hog crap and, Billy being a bit of a wimp spat out the biggest upchuck I think I’ve ever seen. “I warned you.” Joe had said snidely in response.

I just looked at the thing which was now leaking a, whitish yellow fluid that had some sort of curdled lumps in it. “So still think that’s for keeping milk cold.” Joe said with a cocky grin.

Billy finally managed to stand pulling breath back into his lungs. “Ok, ok you got me, I’ve never seen anything like it.” He said keeping the rag we’d given him pressed flush with his nose.

“So can you read what’s written on its side?” I asked anticipating an answer.

Billy got closer to it, and seemed to take his time examining the thing.

He had this really interested look as he got to the, Chinese looking chicken scratch on the side

“It almost looks like something between Chinese, and Hindi.” he said with amazement in his voice. “And what does that mean?” I asked, still looking at the odd nature of the device.

“It means I don’t have a clue what in the hell this thing is or what it says.” he replied with a tone that said he was more than a bit pissed off. Joe just shrugged “So what do we do now?” he asked, looking at me, and I shrugged. “Well, I guess we keep it away from him as long as we can” I’d said flatly. And that’s when, Billy became a problem. “You mean you aren’t going to give it back to him?” He asked “of course not, he’s a spy!” I’d said incredulously; Billy just glared at me somethin fierce. “You’re a thief.” I remember him, saying rather darkly only to storm out a few moments later.

Joe had started after him, but I said “just leave em be. He ain’t told us anything we don’t already know.”

After that we spent a few hours riding around town, and generally discussing our next course of action, which we never really made any agreements on. Seeing as how, Edgar hadn’t been in town in a day or two we figured it’d be safe enough to just leave, The Thing where it was.

Now, nothing much happened until the following, Saturday at which, Edgar had returned to town.

At first I didn’t think nothing of it save my imagined triumph over a perceived enemy; however

When I was making my way home, past the general store, Edgar stopped me placing one big meaty hand on my shoulder, and firmly holding me in place. “Haven’t seen ya roundabout these parts in a while.” He said with a menacing if not knowing smile.

I turned to face him, my heart leaping into my throat as I did so.

“I’ve been busy with school.” I lied. “Funny, I coulda sworn it’d be another week or so before you kids went back to school.” He said brushing his fingers through his thick mustache. The look of menace never once left his beady little eyes.

I was trapped with panic, as I felt him tighten his grip on my shoulder to the point it began to hurt. “Say, you wouldn’t happen to have seen something that I may have misplaced have you?”

That was it the moment of terror, and dread welling up in my guts, and yet oddly I remained outwardly placid. “What sort of thing did ya misplace?” I asked, trying to sound nonchalant.

I’m sure he saw through me because he just narrowed his eyes. “Well, it’s an odd little thing, but you’d know if you’d seen it. Just be sure and tell me about it if you see it.” He said, easing back into his slack grin. I turned to leave, but he yanked hard enough on my shoulder for me to gasp in shock. “Oh, and before you go a gift from my, hearth to your home.” He said taking a bottle of milk from his van, and handing it to me. The glass felt oddly warm despite the chill from the cooler in his van. He gave me another odd stare before smiling again. “Fresh from the udder that is, and it’s good stuff too. Make sure to drink plenty.” He said with a wink, and let me go.

It was difficult to sleep that night. He knew I’d been involved in taking his whatever the hell it was, and I had no clue what he’d do next.

So I think I’ll skip over the next day or two of what I can recall. I figure there ain’t much to tell when it comes to a young man looking over his shoulder for something that never came for em.

So I end up meeting with, Joseph again and to my surprise he seems very shaken

“What happened you look like you saw a ghost.” I said to him, and it took him a moment to get that I’d addressed him. He looked at me, and his eyes looked like he hadn’t slept at all.

“I think we made a mistake taking that thing.” He said in a dry croak. I looked at him, shocked “Did something happen, Joseph did, The Milkman hurt you?” I asked very concerned for him.

He shook his head “no just...Some things happened, I’d rather not talk about.” he said tiredly.

He sat down across from me, and sighed. “I think we should give it back to him.” he said looking at me desperately. “No, I refuse to give a spy his tools.” I recall saying to him, and he looked a bit angry. “You and I both know that’s dumb, Al I mean c’mon, we were pretending how can you tell yourself you actually believe some make believe game we were playing.” He said giving me a hard stare.

For a moment I did consider that he was right, but I noticed a strange movement in his stomach like something was pushing out from under his shirt. I looked back at him, and I could see an almost pleading desperation in his eyes “He got to you, didn’t he?!” I said obviously frightened.

“You’re crazy!” he shouted, standing now; I could see more plainly something moving in his stomach. “Jesus, what is that?!” I shouted back. He held his gut as it gurgled sickeningly.

“Just stay back!” I said as he walked forwards.

He tried to sucker punch me but I managed to block and push him back.

“Just give it back Al!” He yelled as he tried to knee me in the stomach; I managed to turn the tables, and kicked out connecting with his gut. I heard a deep gastric grunt, and he howled in misery falling to his knees.

We’d not spoken after that, but the next day I learned he had been taken to a hospital in the city for some sort of intestinal illness.

Thinking back to the desperate look on his face I couldn’t help but cry in guilt.

I’d had enough, I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I’d be damned if I let someone put some kind of thing inside my friend’s to manipulate them.

Later, towards evening I made my way to the barn.

Admittedly, I planned to do something that was incredibly simple i,e break the thing into pieces, and take them back to, Edgar out of spite.

It was unusually cold for a summer night, and I regretted not taking a jacket with me, as the sun set in the distance.

I started feeling quite silly about the whole thing right as I was nearing the barn, I mean what a load of it thinking something had been inside, Joe and all that crap about spies. I guessed the boredom had gotten to me.

However, when I got to the barn door I noticed that the chain holding the door shut, had been cut through, and there was a trail of foul smelling liquid that seemed to have been from something dragged inside.

I crept in trying not to make any noise. But as I went further inside I heard a soft burble that almost reminded me of a baby cow. I crept along even further following the noise. By the time I’d gotten to where I had thought it was coming from, the sound had stopped.

I felt a prickle of sweat seep from my forehead.

And it was then that the thing had dropped from the rafters above me. It was disgusting to look at, and the smell of it was like sour cheese, and rotten meat. It was a deformed cow like thing with a head that was bent at an almost 45 degree angle with second raw looking snout growing where one of its eyes should have been. It had close to seven legs, but they were useless and limp. I screamed to the top of my lungs, and it brayed out a noise that sounded close to a human scream. I managed to run past it, breaking through several weak boards in the wall, and I was back on the dirt road outside.

I tried to catch my breath, but I heard a light clattering above me. I remember whirling around, and seeing another thing that looked like a deformed cow, but this one was tall with stick thin legs, and a dog like mouth, which scared the living daylights out of me, as it crawled shakily down the shale roof of the barn.

Its eyes looked sickly, and blood shot as it came down panting out a wheezy breath.

I don’t really remember what happened next all too well. It was just a flight of me running through the cornfields, and the sound of the creature’s hooves clopping on the ground as it followed closely by.

I couldn’t think, couldn’t even scream anymore. I just ran, and ran until I’d cleared the cornfield, and came upon a house. Again, I didn’t care much for anything but getting away from those things. So I barged into the door. Expecting it to be locked I was pleasantly surprised when I found out it was open. I slammed the door behind me, and locked it. I went further into the house. It was dark, and only one light lit the little kitchen I was in.

I heard the thing outside let out one of it’s god forsaken cries, and decided my best bet was to get whoever it was to get their rifle or anything so we could kill the thing that was chasing me. I was sure I’d have a lot of explaining to do, but so long as that thing wouldn’t get me I could’ve cared less.

I checked near the stairs, and considered checking the second floor of the house, but there seemed to be the sound of someone tinkering in the basement.

I listened quietly for a moment. And heard a man humming as he messed with something metallic.

I took a deep breath and called out. “Hey I need help I’m not trying to trespass  please help me there’s a monster after me!” The sound of tinkering stopped, and there was silence for a moment.

The thing outside brayed out another horrible, horrible sound. That was when the man said in his baritone voice “get down here quick!” I had no trouble following through with that.

I made my way quickly down the stairs. It was dark, but I didn’t mind it.

When I turned the corner into the basement, I almost puked because of the sour smell coming from the morbidly obese figure in front of me. He had his hairy back turned to me, and I noticed with horror something disturbingly familiar with his greasy looking skin, and hair.

The Milk Man turned to me with a wide yellow grin, and I saw for the first time that his distended gut was something almost entirely like a bloated sickly cow’s udder. “It looks like, Bessie led ya right where I wanted you, Al. He said widening his grin.

I noticed with further horror, and disgust that he was holding the device by its handle, and it made a whirring slurp that made my stomach roil.

I could hear the cow thing above us, its hooves clacking on the floor in the room above.

My heart was beating so fast I felt like I was going to faint.

I turned my head back to, Edgar when I heard him chuckle. “How’s about it, Al, my boy we can calm your nerves with a nice big glass of warm milk straight from the udder!”

I don’t rightly know what happened next. I must’ve blacked out seeing as how everything went dark so suddenly. I woke up in my house with a wound on my head from where I must’ve fallen.

My parents told me that the milkman had been the one to bring me home. Said he’d found me laying on the side of the road like that. I knew what had really happened, but didn’t dare to say it.

After that me and, Joe had gotten back to hanging out, but he seemed to not have any memory of what had occurred during his illness, or for that matter what we had found with that device.

Not too long after all of this my, Pa had gotten a job up in the city.

I noticed that around this time it seemed like milkmen stopped delivering their wares.

Most people say it’s because we had them new fangled refrigerators, but I still think there may have been something else to it entirely. Maybe not with every milkman, but some of em.

I think about that every time I see someone drinking milk or any dairy product. It’s no wonder that doctor’s say it ain’t healthy for you to drink.