Listen to Tanita Tikaram’s “Twist in my sobriety”.

It was an epitome of a small family farm. One cute little barn for two cows and a bull, vast vegetable field and, of course, beautiful flowers on the windows and along the pathways. Parents with their two daughters were taking care of the farm. Ten year-old daughter Anna was in charge of milking and, sometimes, feeding the cows. Grown ups were taking care of all other farm business.

They had big plans for hat weekend: selling a bull and buying pigs and chickens on a cattle fair, selling vegetables on a market and buying new clothes for their two daughters. They left their 10-year-old on the farm, to take care of the cows since that was going to be a two-day trip and cows need to be milked twice a day. Anna was very proud to be in charge of the farm and a little bit jealous of her 4 year-old sister because she was going to see the big town for the first time. The first time Anna was in big town, she got to taste all the candies she wanted. And that was a lot of candies.

It wasn’t the first time she was home alone but it was the first time she was alone over night. Parents left early in the morning. When she woke up, they were already gone. Her mother prepared breakfast for her and left detailed instructions on how to prepare lunch and dinner on a piece of paper on the fridge. Cows felt the rest of the family was gone. They were mooing the whole dawn. When Anna sat on a small bench, made precisely for that purpose, to milk them, they calmed down for a moment. It didn’t last long though, they kept looking behind her back and mooing louder and louder until the milk stopped flowing. Anna was worried about them, both cows gave half as milk as they usually give. She gave them fresh water and led them out of the barn. On the way out of  the barn, she noticed bare feet footprints in the muddy puddle on the barn floor. Those were grown up’s footprints. She wondered how come she didn’t notice them sooner.
Once the cows were on a meadow, she watered the vegetables and flowers. By the noon even her homework was done.Anna was determined to show her parents they can rely on her. Before the sunset, Anna brought cows back to the barn. Cows started mooing and were refusing to calm down. Anna thought they might have too much milk in udders so she sat on that small bench and started milking them. Again, cows were looking behind her so she turned her head to see what was is upsetting them. She saw nothing except bare feet footprints on the mud.
“I washed off footprints from the morning so these must be fresh ones.”, thought Anna. Her heart started to beat faster but she kept the control over her thoughts and continued to milk the cow. Once milking was done, she put the bench away and headed to fetch some fresh water. She noticed more footprints on the muddy floor. This time footprints were closer to cows…actually, they were closer to the place she was sitting while milking them. She washed off the mud as much as she could and bolted the barn. After the shower and dinner, she fell asleep.

This morning cows were a tad calmer but were still looking behind her while she milked them. She turned her head and noticed footprints in the mud. They were getting closer each time she looked at them. Cows gave even less milk than yesterday. Something scary was going on in the barn and Anna couldn’t figure out what it was. She let the cows out and was avoiding the barn the whole day.
Before the sunset, Anna let the cows in the barn, sat on the bench and started to milk them. This time footprints behind her were made by small bare feet. Cows were mooing again. Anna was constantly looking behind her, watching for the approaching footprints. Last time she turned footprints were gone and she was relieved. That is, until she noticed two footprints next to her feet. They made it seem like some child was sitting next to her but there was nobody next to her. Anna tried to stand up but something was embracing her around the waist and didn’t let her go. Adrenalin kicked in and Anna started to fight against those invisible hands. She knocked down the bench and the embrace was gone. Anna bolted the barn and ran into the house. She showered but didn’t eat anything, her appetite was gone. In children’s bedroom, on the bed close to the window, under the blanket, little big 10-year old was shivering. No one knows how she managed to fall asleep but in the morning she felt a wave of positive energy. Her parents are surely in the kitchen preparing breakfast.

When she came into the kitchen, no one was there. Their truck was still gone. There was no sign of them on the whole farm. Bird were still asleep but cows were mooing, waiting for Anna to milk them. She unbolted the barn door and stepped in. No signs of any footprints. Her bench was still knocked down. Anna picked it up and sat on it. A few deep breaths helped her to calm down. Cows were horrible today, not a single drop of milk and they never stopped mooing. She was turning her head constantly but no footprints were there. When she decided the milking is done, she stood up and turned around. There were now a lot of bare feet footprints – small, big and medium sized – and they were all around her. Anna opened her mouth to scream but somebody put his/her hand over her mouth. She was kicking with her feet and her elbows trying to shake off her captor. Everything stopped once she fell on the floor. Anna was looking at the barn’s ceiling. On a joist right above her head there were three bodies swaying in the air. All there were in pajamas, their feet were bare. She recognized her mother, father and her sister.

Anna couldn’t breathe,

“What happened? What happened? What happened? What happened?”,

she ran out of the barn. This time there were small footprints waiting for her in front of the barn. Each step made a small cloud of dust around it so it was easy for Anna to follow them. Deep in the field, surrounded by corn, there was torn pajama stained by blood. A few meters away from pajama there was a body. This body didn’t only have bare feet, it was completely naked, covered by blood. Anna crouched to move the hair off the girl’s face. She had something in her mouth. Anna pulled it out. It were her panties. Now she could recognize the face in front of her. The cognition the body was hers made her scream and cry. But her father covered her mouth.

“Hush, she is still around. We’ve been trying to warn you, her spirit never left the farm.”

It is then that Anna noticed another body. This was a body of a woman and it had scissors in the belly.

“She did this dad?”

“Yes, and you did that to her, my brave little angel. You fought hard my baby. They poisoned us and then it was easy for them to hang us. You skipped the dinner so she had to fight you.”

“Why did she do it, dad?”

Anna heard a voice behind her,

“Because I could. Because I can!”,

as she turned, Anna noticed scissors trying to reach her neck. Anna dodged the blow. Her father took her by the hand and ran to the farm. She was right behind them. Dad stopped running once he entered the barn. Moonlight was shedding some light into the barn. Anna was looking at dead cows and a bull,

“They slit their throat first, then hung us. You woke up and gave them hell.”

“You never left the farm? Where is the truck?”

“Her boyfriend took it when he saw you killed her.”

“Why are we hiding in the barn?”

“This is the only place she is afraid to enter. Each night she is trying to kills us over and over again. During the day we are trying to keep other people away from the farm so she cannot harm them but in the evenings she gets some sort of power and can bring us pain, real pain.”

“Why don’t you fight back?”

“She was always hiding inside you so we couldn’t get her. Now we are finally together and we can strike back.”

Anna stepped outside the barn.

“The trick about being dead is that you cannot die again.”, Anna yelled into the night.

“But you can still feel the pain”, the night yelled back at her.

Anna didn’t notice the knife that slit her throat. She fell on her knees and then on the side. A woman was kneeling next to her, laughing,

“She was right”, thought Anna, “I can feel the pain!”

“1:0 for me!” whispered the woman right before her head rolled off her body.

“Stand corrected!”, said Anna’s father with a bloody hatchet in his hand.

Prompt: Epitome


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