The two small children, if you could call five and six small, sat across from their storyteller avidly listening to the story she was describing...
The Milk factory used to be a bustling place, filled with sights and sounds and smells common to large industrial factories of the day. There were boilers for cooking the bacteria out of the milk, separating vats that were used to skim the cream from the milk.
A crack of thunder echoed through cloud darkened sky. The storyteller chuckled softly as the two children jumped at the sudden noise. You arent scared are you, she asked, her voice rife with insinuation.
Nono! They assured her. Tell us more, please.
The storyteller smiled slyly at their undisguised eagerness. Very well. Where was I? She tapped her chin thoughtfully and chuckled inwardly as she saw the pleading looks the children were sending her. Keeping them in suspense for a moment longer, she nodded. Ah yes, I remember where I was. She leaned forward across the picnic table.
Well, in the milk factory there were many machines and many workers. One of these workers had to work long hours just to make enough to feed his family. It was a particularly dark day and this worker had to work later than usual. That night it was his job to turn down all of the boilers and make sure that all of the vats were closed.
He had several friends amongst his co-workers, and as they left the factory for the day, they bid him farewell.
One of the children interrupted excitedly. What was his name? Is he someone you know?
The storyteller laughed. Someone I know? No. This story takes place a long time ago. Long before I was even born. The workers name was John. He was said to be a kindly man, and a hard worker. Now settle back and I will finish Johns story. There was some rustling as the kids re-settled and the wind blew through the red-gold fall leaves. When the kids were settled once more, the storyteller continued her tale.
John was working late that night. He was on a short list of up and comers, headed towards a supervisory position. John knew that the position of Supervisor would give him a much-needed raise. What John didnt know was that someone else wanted the position for his own selfish gain.
He wanted to become the supervisor, so he could marry the plant managers daughter. Anyway, John was working late. He was just beginning his check on the boilers to make sure that they had been turned down for the night, when he heard a noise from somewhere in the factory. He shined his light in the direction of the noise but saw nothing. After chuckling at himself for being a big fraidy cat, John returned to his checks. As he was approaching the middle of a line of huge boilers, John heard another noise. Again, he turned his light towards the sound and found nothing. Returning his attention to the boilers with a shrug, John discovered that one of the boilers had been missed.
That this boiler was in the middle of a long row of boilers puzzled John. How could this boiler be missed, he asked himself. Reaching up to turn the boiler controls to their lowest setting, John didnt notice that a shadow broke away from the rest and began moving towards him. It wasnt until the shadow was almost upon him that John felt a prickle of warning, but by then it was too late. The shadow materialized into the shape of a man. You! was all that John got out before he was struggling against the man. His attacker much larger than he, weighing nearly twice as much, and John was beginning to tire. Hed been up since the crack of dawn and it was now well after dusk.
As Johns strength began to wane, his attacker got the upper hand, and with a mighty shove, John went flailing backwards into the boiler.
The children jumped as the storyteller whacked her hand on the picnic table.
Thump! The door swung closed, trapping poor John inside. Now, several days passed and people began to wonder where John might have gone. His wife talked to the police and his boss talked to the police. The police questioned all of Johns friends, but no one knew what had become of him. Time passed, the storyteller went on. The man who had pushed John into the boiler was promoted. He married the bosss daughter. They were happy and the work was easy enough, but one day the mans conscience started bothering him. He knew that Johns widow had been turned out onto the street along with her five children, and he decided that he wanted to do something about it. The question was what could he do without giving himself away? He was working late one night, trying to figure out what to do to help the poor widow. From somewhere in the long line of boilers he heard a loud thump. Knowing that he was the only one on the factory floor, he grabbed a flashlight and rose to investigate. As he turned around he saw a shadow disappear around a corner. Swinging the light upward he saw nothing. A tour of the factory turned nothing up, so he went back to his desk to think some more. On the blotter lay a note amid a covering of ash. "I'm coming for you."
The next night, he still had not decided what he was going to do for the poor widowed woman and her children, and the guilt was eating at him. Hearing a loud thump closer to him than the night before, the newly promoted supervisor snatched his flashlight and rose to investigate. As before, when he returned to his desk there was a note: "Soon now... I'm coming for you."
This went on for about a week. The supervisor's guilt ate at him. It was late in the night on Friday, and the guilty man began his rounds of the factory floor. Nothing had happened so far, in fact it had been a fairly quiet night. As he was approaching thecrow of boilers where he'd pushed John in, he froze. The boiler in question was standing open, it's fire offering a cheery glow. A draft of fear washed over him like a stiff breeze as he took a step forward to close it.
"Hello, friend. Does it eat at you...your guilt? Does it keep you awake nights?"
"J...J...John? Is that you, pal?"
"We were friends, Bill. Weren't we?"
Suddenly a pair of coal red eyes appeared in the flames. "I'm coming for you!" Laughter, cold and angry filled the factory floor as he skammed the door to the boiler shut.
For three more weeks the supervisor was treated to coal red eyes following his every move through the factory. Finally, he came clean to his wife. She held him and offered him comfort, but cautioned him against going to her father.
"Daddy will fire you...I will have to divorce you...and there will be a big scandal when they throw you in jail. He's dead, and you can't bring him back. Just get on with life."
When he found out two weeks later that he was going to be a father, he was overjoyed. He forgot all about his hallucinations and walked around happy and carefree.The nightly terrors seemed to stop altogether, and he quickly put them from his mind. Many months passed and his wife was about to give birth to their first child. He was working late again,band had just completed his rounds when he returned to his desk and found the note.
The storyteller paused. "I can't tell you the rest. It's far too scary for children like you."
"Oh please...please finish the story...please!"
Laughing at their eagerness, she folded her hands before her and queried, 'You sure you're not scared?" At their undisguised eagerness and emphatic nods,bshe sighed. "Very well...but don't say I didn't warn you. Where was I? Oh yes... .Bill was growing happy and relaxed in his job. All of his happiness and hopes for the future were shattered late one night. He was making his second tour of the factory floor when he felt as if he were being watched. Unable to shake the feeling,bhe quickly finished his rounds and headed back to his desk for paperwork. His wife, as I told you before was about to give birth to their first baby...a boy. Upon reaching his desk, man found a note. It was gruesome. Details of how he'd planned and executed the murder of John, and after his disturbing confession, a brief goodbye to the world saying that he was going to die the same way he'd killed John."
Disturbed, he crumpled the note and threw it in the nearest boiler. There was a loud bang from a couple of rows away. Turning his attention to the line of boilers, hecdried, "Go away, John! You're dead!"
He heard cold laughter. "I'm coming for you!"
Walking boldly down the line of boilers he saw the one door standing ajar. "Look, I'm sorry, you selfish jerk, all right! You're dead! It's my fault, are you happy? Leave me alone!"
A sound behind him,nlet him know just a little too late, that he was not alone. "I said I was coming for you, you bastard!"
A mighty shove threw him forward and before he could think, he was falling into the open boiler. As the door clanged shut, he saw John standing there smiling.
His death caused a fire and burned the factory look beyond repair. His employer was given the note,which had miraculously survived. His widow vwas questioned and denied any knowledge of what he'd done to John. John's widow received a large sum of money and a monthly check.
They rebuilt the factoty...bigger and better. But every now and again the employees swear that they hear strange footsteps, or a tool will be set down in one place only to show up someplace odd. The thing that they've been sworn to secrecy on is the laughter when something bad or dangerous occurs. Old workers know that you don’t do bad things...and new workers...well...let's just say, they won't step out of line...
Looking across the picnic table, the Storyteller chuckled. They say that John can still be heard laughing on still nights, and no one wants the graveyard shift, because to this very day...everywhere you go, there are a pair of coal red eyes following you.
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