“THE HEADLESS HUNTSMAN” (PART 3 of 3) by Scott Donnelly #MicroTerrors
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“Micro Terrors: Scary Stories for Kids”™ 2023
Welcome to Micro Terrors: Scary Stories for Kids, where it’s always the spooky season – full of chills, thrills, and spine-tingling spooks! Micro Terrors are family-friendly frights for those ages 8 and up. And while our stories are for younger ears, we are still talking about things that go bump in the night, and some children may not be able to handle what others can. Parental consent is recommended. Now… for tonight’s MICRO TERROR!!!!
STORY: THE HEADLESS HUNTSMAN
The morning sunlight broke across the valley, burning up the lingering fog that had settled in overnight. As promised, Claude Alhborn’s daughter, Katrina, arrived on horseback at the Criley home to deliver a breakfast of eggs, bread and ham to Henry and Oscar. She didn’t expect to be met by such frantic and shaken children. They described to her the horror they experienced; a horror that lasted the entire night until just before the sun broke over the horizon.
Ernest Criley, who was brought back from the plane of death (and without his head) by a magical, severed wolf’s paw, had spent the night knocking on the front door, begging for entry to his home. Henry and Oscar refused to answer the door, even burning the paw to ashes in the fireplace with hopes that their undead father would burn away with it. But no such luck was had. The morning sun, however, seemed to be what made his spirit retreat.
Katrina took the frightened boys back to her home, all three riding on the back of Ripper, her father’s elegant and prized horse. When they told their story to Claude, he took it very seriously. He sent the boys several miles away to Tarrytown for their own safety and sanity, and enlisted help to investigate the boys’ claims of a headless spirit at their door.
That very night, as the moon glowed brightly in the starless sky, and a light fog rolled in, Claude was joined by Katrina and Constable Brahms — the young and strapping lawman of the village — at the Criley home. Claude wanted to see if the brother’s story was true, or if they had been so grief-stricken that their minds had played dream-like tricks on them.
Constable Brahms looked over at Claude as they sat in the main room of the home, next to the warm flames that flickered in the fireplace. He could tell there was concern in his stare, but it was focused on the boys.
“Henry and Oscar will be fine,” Brahms said. “They’re safe now from whatever blather they described.”
Claude lifted his head, looking Brahms directly in the eyes. “Blather? You don’t believe them?”
“All I’m saying is that the severed paw of a wild animal could not bring someone back from the dead. It’s just not possible.”
Claude stood up. “Those boys had never once lied to me, to anyone. Ernest raised them right. They are good kids. Why would they concoct such an abnormal event?”
“Attention,” Brahms said, adjusting the rifle in his hands. “They lost their father to a vicious attack. Their mother succumbed to illness years ago. They are alone now, looking for a way to attract sympathy and adoration.”
“I can’t believe what I am hearing,” Claude said, standing to his feet. He grabbed his rifle from against the wall and walked to the front door.
“Where are you going?” Katrina nervously asked, sitting up in her seat.
“To walk the property,” Claude said. “It’s almost midnight. Stay here where you’re safe.”
Claude left the home, closing the door behind him until it latched.
Constable Brahms looked to Claude Ahlborn’s beautiful daughter, who was just out of her teen years. He admired her, fawned over her whenever their paths crossed in town. His attention on her, however, always made Katrina uncomfortable.
“He’s right,” Brahms said, “You’ll be safe here with me. Just as your father will be safe out there. There is no ghost walking on these grounds. Or would it be floating?” he said with a chuckle.
Katrina scoffed, bothered by the Constable’s smugness and careless attitude. “Those boys were afraid,” Katrina said. “I can vouch for that. If you had heard the way they—”
“Blah! I heard the whole story straight from their mouths. It’s rubbish, blather!” Brahms angrily exploded. “The last thing I need is to have a town panicked by rumors of headless ghosts.”
Katrina stood up and turned away from the Constable. Brahms went silent, aware that he had upset her.
“My apologies,” he said. But Katrina could tell he didn’t truly mean it.
“Don’t apologize to me,” Katrina said. “When my father returns, you will apologize to him. And you’ll mean it.”
“Understood,” Constable Brahms said, although not convincingly.
Outside, the night was cold. Fog had drifted in and spread its feathery form across the Criley’s land. Claude Ahlborn slowly wandered the property. Every shadow that moved could have been a threat. His eyes were peeled and his attention was on high alert.
The crickets, who had been continuously chirping in the shadows, suddenly went quiet. The rustling of the trees stopped and then so did Claude. He gripped his rifle. Tension built within him.
A howl in the distance, a feeling of someone or something nearby … Claude aimed his rifle into the darkness.
“Who is there?” his commanding voice echoed across the otherwise silent land.
The hairs on his neck stood on end; a chill down his spine told him to turn around. He did, and was greeted by the sight of the headless spirit Henry and Oscar spoke of. It stood only yards away next to a woodshed. Claude wanted to raise his weapon, but after recognizing the headless spirits attire as the same that Ernest liked to hunt in, he hesitated.
“Ernest?” Claude asked, shaking in fear. “You really gave your boys a scare last night.”
The headless spirit remained still. His stance came off as intimidating, yet protective.
“The boys are gone,” Claude said. “I’ve sent them away until we can get to the bottom of whatever this is.”
With mention of his children being gone, only then did the spirit move, adjusting his stance and becoming visibly bothered. Claude could feel a sense of dread in the air now. He felt as if his words had deeply upset the spirit.
“They’re safe,” Claude quickly added, trying to ease the unrest in the air. “They’re just not going to be here anymore. I promise you that I’ll make the appropriate arrangements for—”
Claude stopped speaking when he saw the headless spirit pivot and face the wood shed. He walked towards it and then right through the wall. Claude’s eyes widened. He couldn’t believe what he had just witnessed. A moment later, the headless spirit returned, coming through the open door on the side of the shed. In his grip was a woodcutter’s axe, the same one Ernest used daily to chop firewood. Claude raised his rifle.
“What are you doing?” he nervously called out to the ghost of his friend.
Ernest’s spirit, the headless huntsman, began to march towards Claude with unwavering resolve.
“Stop!” Claude called out, now aiming his weapon.
But the spirit didn’t stop. He kept walking, faster and faster, his boots crunching the ground beneath them.
“Stop!” Claude shouted out again. He fired his weapon; a single blast echoed in the night. And then with one heavy swing of the axe, Claude’s head was permanently removed.
Constable Brahms and Katrina stood to their feet upon hearing the gunshot. Katrina’s shocked expression turned to anger as she sneered at the Constable. “My father’s safe out there?”
She went for the front door, but before she could place her hand on the knob, Brahms grabbed her arm to stop her. “You can’t go out there,” he insisted, nervousness now flushing through him.
“Why not? My father is out there and he would not fire his weapon without a reason. He’s in trouble.”
“I’ll go,” Brahms said. “No matter what is going on out there, it is my sworn promise to protect this valley. Stay here and keep the door shut.”
Katrina nodded, finally appreciating something that spewed from the Constable’s mouth.
Brahms ventured out into the night after making sure the front door was closed tightly. With his rifle out, he searched the property. It didn’t take long for him to find Claude Ahlborn’s body, headless and sprawled out in the grass by the woodshed.
Brahms frantically looked around for the culprit. Spirit or not, someone was responsible.
“Show yourself!” he called out.
From the front window of the home, in the exact spot Henry Criley first witnessed the surreal terror of his father returning from the dead, Katrina watched that same terror hauntingly emerge from the fog, swing his axe, and claim Constable Brahms head.
From that night on, a legend was born; the legend of a headless huntsman who was willed back from death. The legend grew and caught the attention of many.
The huntsman took more heads in the years that followed, none of which were ever found with their corresponding corpses, or at all. The most notable victim from the valley was little Charley Crane’s father — a local teacher and paranormal enthusiast — who made a motion to burn the house down after claiming that as long as it continued to stand, it would assure their sleepy village in the valley would be forever known as a bedeviled and feared place.
After his head was taken, the Criley property was condemned and blocked off by tall, iron gates. Nature has since grown around the house and woodshed, completely blocking it from view.
But sometimes still, late at night or when a daunting fog rolls in, echoes of knocking disrupt the atmosphere. The headless huntsman remains restless, desperate to see his children again. And if anyone gets in his way of that, he never once hesitates to take their heads as well.
Thank you for listening to Micro Terrors!!! Join us each Saturday for another scary story! For more fun, visit our website at MicroTerrors.com where we also have spooky games you can print out and play — like wicked word searches, mysterious mazes, and more! MicroTerrors.com is also where you can find us on your favorite social media and even send in your own scary story for us to tell! Plus, you’ll learn more about our author, Scott Donnelly, who has other horrors for both young and old! I hope you’ll join me again soon for Micro Terrors: Scary Stories for Kids!