One In the Well

Submitted into Contest #138 in response to: Set your story on a day when the sun never sets.... view prompt

6 comments

Fiction Suspense

 I looked down to my right hand, my little sister, Annie, clung to it as we looked over the edge of the well. 

"What do you think it is?" She asked as we kept our gaze fixed on the shimmering light that sat at the bottom.

"Maybe someone dropped a knife? It kinda' looks like it's sparking though..." After a few more moments of unfulfilled curiosity, I decided to lower the makeshift bucket connected to the well. "Remember, don't move around too much. Last time was too close." Annie laughed as she climbed into the bucket, she was getting bigger, another year and we'd need a bigger bucket. 

"Last time was your fault, one hundred percent. You've got butterfingers." She wiggled her fingers at me as I lowered her beyond the rim of the well. Annie descended slowly, singing a tune she had known her whole life. A song from a TV show our parents had us watch on Sundays, “Sunday Monday happy days!” I could hear the song fading down the well “Tuesday Wed- Okay, I'm good! I can reach it!" I stopped lowering her and just held the rope in place.

"What is it?" There was no response at first, then a big "wow" echoed up to the top of the well.

"It's so shiny! It feels like ice!" That was my cue to bring her back to the surface. I pulled until I could grab her hand and help her out of the bucket. Annie emerged holding a luminescent stone, the beaming sun above made it even brighter than when it was at the bottom of the well.

"Let me see that," I reached for it, Annie pulled away for a second to look at it some more before eventually handing it to me "Whoa, it is cold." I twirled the stone in my hand for a few seconds, the core of it seemed to be white, but crystal-like fragments embedded in it created rays of different colors shining, like a diamond yet somehow more intense. It felt cold to the touch, like holding an icicle. "Do you think we can get a lot of money for this thing?" Annie jumped up to try and grab the stone back, after missing she kept hopping up and down trying to reach it. I held the stone above my head and placed my offhand on Annie's to keep her grounded

"Why would we sell it!? Look how pretty it is!" 

Annie was pouting as I looked back towards the stone.

"Let's go in the house and call Mr. Gomez, he's a rock guy, we can at least figure out if it's like a meteor or something." Annie was still unhappy to have lost possession of the mystery stone but was satisfied with it not going straight to the auction house. We walked inside, I placed the stone onto the kitchen table and grabbed my cell phone from the counter. A text from our mother sat on the screen, telling me to not order anything too expensive for dinner. Annie was talking out loud to herself, I heard her saying something about what we needed in the fridge. I clicked 'Mr. Gomez' in Contacts and began to call him. The phone rang, I heard Annie pick up the stone from the table behind me. The phone rang out I began to leave a voicemail.

"Hey Mr. Gomez, me and Annie found this-" A loud whistle rang out behind me, I turned around to tell Annie to be quiet and saw her mouth was closed, and we both looked at the source. The stone in her hand began shining brighter and then dimmed just as quickly. We looked at each other with our eyes wide, then the doorbell rang.

"What the hell was that?" I was too stunned to tell her to watch her mouth.

"Put it back on the table, I'm going to see who's at the door, and then we're not going to touch that thing until Mr. Gomez gets back to me." I walked out of the kitchen to the front door, nobody was there but a package sat at the foot of the door. A box with a piece of tape going down the seam with writing on it that said "ANNIE" in marker. "Annie! Come here!" Annie ran over to the front door and looked at the box with confusion, "Is this from one of your friends?" She looked at me,

"I don't think so." I crouched down to the box and began to try to lift it.

"This thing is heavy as hell, I'll open it out here, can you grab my knife from my desk." Annie ran back into the house and returned to my side as quickly as she could. I cut down the seam of the box, splitting the tape. As I opened it, the contents became clear immediately. "Why?" I asked out loud as we looked at the watermelon in the box. I began to laugh, surely it was one of her friends or one of our cousins that lived down the street. I looked at Annie and my laughter stopped, her face was pale and she was shaking slightly. I grabbed her hand

"Annie? What's wrong?" She didn't look away from the box, her eyes were beaming

"I- I-" I closed the two sides of the box that were opened and pushed it away.

"Hey! Annie, calm down, what's up?" She finally looked at me, still with fear on her face

"When I- I had the shiny rock in my hand, I looked at the fridge and said I wanted us to have watermelon, and that it was the perfect day for it. That's when it started making that noise!" I could tell pretty quickly she wasn't trying to mess with me but I still had a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea that the two instances were related.

"It was probably a coincidence, Annie. One of your friends, or maybe Alice, Jo, or Gavin dropped it off for you. They know how much you like watermelon and it is a perfect day for it. I'll text one of them later to see If we have to thank them." Annie, still pale, nodded, I picked up the watermelon and trashed the box. I put it in the fridge and walked over to the stone. Annie watched the stone intensely.

"I can show you." Annie looked at me as she grabbed the stone. I walked around the table to grab it from her, she ran around the other side of the table keeping it between us.

"I said we weren't touching that thing!" 

Annie held the stone up and pointed at it

"It wasn't one of our cousins or my friends!" She was shaking again but her frightened composure was overshadowed with the determination in her voice "I want ice cream too!" she screamed at the stone. I stood there, even though I was certain nothing would happen, I was frozen in place waiting. After a minute or so nothing happened, Annie lowered the rock back down. her determination faded away and she began laughing.

"I'm screaming at a rock!" She walked over to hand the stone back over to me. We were both laughing now, I held the stone up and began mocking her

"I want ice cream!" She had slightly rosy cheeks now, as I started to place it back on the table. The same whistle from early emitted out from the stone and rays of light shot around the kitchen before it went quiet and dimmed. We both froze. "There's no way, no way at all." My phone dinged and I looked at the notification, the contact said "Icecream" and the message read "BACKDOOR." I showed Annie and she covered her mouth, paled again. We slowly made our way to the back door and I opened it. On the top step leading to the door sat a pint of Ben and Jerry's Chunky Monkey. I picked up the ice cream to check the seal, it wasn't tampered with. My disbelief slowly faded, instead of a glamorous stone I saw the world. A rope pulling me, no us, from the bottom of the well into endless possibilities.

"Annie. I don't think you should be scared." She looked up at me confused and slightly distraught, "This stone is going to be our way out of here." I grabbed the ice cream and walked back into the house, Annie following closely behind. I placed the stone on the table and pulled a spoon out of the drawer next to the sink. I opened up the ice cream and took a scoop. It tasted perfect.

"I didn't believe in magic or anything like that, but this?" I pointed at the stone "This is as magical as it gets." 

The next few hours we became more comfortable with talking to the stone, asking it for various things. Each ‘ask’ became grander. I received new shoes after the ice cream, then a bike and a TV for my room. Annie asked for a skateboard, a laptop, and a “really good” telescope. We discovered that the stone only worked in alternating turns. One of us couldn’t ask for something twice in a row. Each time the stone sent us something it was through the same methods. Packages at the door, followed by a text or doorbell, though my sneakers came down the chimney. We tried to see the delivery by sitting at both the back and front door waiting to see if someone actually brought these things on behalf of the stone, That’s when my shoes fell down the chimney. By dinner time I was done with my new TV and wanted to take my next turn. I walked down to the kitchen and called Annie in from the front yard where she was trying to teach herself new tricks to go along with her skateboard. We both walked to the stone sitting on the kitchen table.

“What’s it going to be?” I wondered that myself for a few moments before remembering the text our mom had sent us earlier that day.

“You’ve always wanted to try that fancy steak right?” Annie looked up at me with a sparkle in her eye.

“Wagyu!” She smiled and then looked back at the stone “You don’t have to do that for me, we don’t know if there’s a limi-” I grabbed the stone and held it up to my face

“I want enough wah-goo steak for me and Annie to eat for dinner tonight!” Annie hugged me and the stone whistled and pulsed with light. After a few minutes, the doorbell rang and a platter sat at the base of the front door. Under the platter lid was an assortment of stacked steak, cooked to perfection according to Annie. 

“We would never have been able to afford even one of these.” She said holding up a piece of the magic meat “And now we have a mountain of it…” I carried the platter inside and we sat at the table, we enjoyed the steak together. I didn’t expect to taste the quality, like with most things we couldn’t afford, but I would be lying if I said it didn’t beat out Wendy’s any day. We finished eating around six and sat on the steps of the front porch, Annie brought the stone with her as we sat there watching the neighborhood kids playing up and down the street. Annie looked down at the cracked pavement leading to our steps. 

“Mom comes home tomorrow…” I kept my gaze fixed on the activity in front of us, a group of kids had set up makeshift end lines with chalk on the road, the flags hanging from their waste were ragged and dull. I always wore a red one.

“I won’t let what happened last time happen again.” I heard Annie sniffle, there were tears in her eyes.

“She’s been so mean and angry.” I pulled my little sister close to me “And now we live so far from our real home, you didn’t even get to say goodbye to your friends!” A smile hid the emotions swelling inside of me as I embraced her.

“I’ll be able to visit them soon when I get my license.” I looked back at the football game in front of us, they were arguing about an unfair sack “Mom is going through a lot without Dad, one day she will figure it out. I will always be here for you though.” Annie wiped her tears away and cleared her throat.

“I guess It’s just been nice, only the two of us. I don’t want today to ever end.” She smiled at me, no longer crying. The sparkle in her eye was amplified by the pulsing light that shot out of the stone, a loud whistle halted the kids in front of us. It was louder than all the others and brighter than the sun itself. We both looked at each other, nervous and confused about what had just happened. We left the steps and walked back into the kitchen.

“What did you ask for?” I couldn’t recall her asking for anything “Did you ask for something in your head?” Annie was shaking her head side to side quickly.

“No! I didn’t ask for anything, I didn’t want anything! I-” her face went pale like the first time she used the stone.

“What? What is it?” Annie put the stone down on the kitchen table and backed away.

“You have to ask it to forget about the last thing it did.” I didn’t understand what she was talking about. I looked at her with a puzzled expression.

“Why? You didn’t ask for anything. You just told me that-” Annie cut me off

“I said, out loud, I don’t want this day to end.” I began to realize the situation “Maybe it’s not just about it giving us what we want, but also fixing whatever we don’t want.” I grabbed the stone and put it up to my face.

“I want this day to end normally, how it’s supposed to!” A few moments passed before a shard fell from the stone, and then another before it crumbled in my hand. Annie screamed and covered her mouth.

“What happened!” I looked at the pile of shards on the ground, I started to feel nauseous.

“I- I don’t know. It didn’t make the sound. It didn’t make the lights. It’s just dust.” I picked at the shards, not knowing what I would accomplish but needed to do something. “Maybe it worked, maybe what I asked for was the last thing. You were saying it might have a limit earlier. Maybe mine was the limit.” Annie was starting to cry, I knew why but didn’t know what to say.

“What if yours wasn’t? what if it was mine?” Annie sat on the floor and put her head in her hands.

“We don’t even know if that thing could do something that big. We asked for shoes and food.” A sound could be heard from my room, I helped Annie up so we could go see what it was. The TV I had asked for was turned on. A still shot of the sun over the valley was on the screen. The theme song of Happy Days played in the background, just the hook on a loop. 

These days are

Won’t you be mine

These days are

Oh please be mine

I wanted to comfort Annie, and wipe the tears streaming down her cheeks but I couldn’t move. I couldn’t think. I could only watch the sun on the TV

Sunday Monday happy days

Tuesday Wednesday happy days

The time on the clock next to the TV read “7:30” as the sun’s light peered through the blinds on my window 

Thursday Friday happy days

Saturday what a day

Annie was tugging at my arm begging me to do something, saying I was scaring her. I wanted to move, I wanted to tell her it would be okay. I could only watch.

Rockin’ all week for you!

March 26, 2022 03:48

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6 comments

Matt Ward
01:10 Mar 31, 2022

The story held me spellbound right up to the end. But I didn't understand the end. I guess I didn't "get" it.

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Alan Norcott
17:07 Apr 01, 2022

Thanks for the reply!

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Michał Przywara
20:57 Mar 30, 2022

Great story! It starts off sweet enough, but the danger of wishes rears its head and it ends on a nice horror note. The opening was strong and caught my attention right from the beginning. It was a little mysterious, well paced, and things were happening. The only hitch I found was that it wasn't immediately clear who was saying some of the dialogue, like: "I- I-" I closed the two sides of the box that were opened and pushed it away. Here it sounds like Annie is talking, but because it's paired with the narrator's actions and there's no ...

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Alan Norcott
17:07 Apr 01, 2022

Yea that's something I have to work on for sure. Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate it!

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Howard Halsall
12:54 Mar 31, 2022

Hello Alan, I’ve been invited to give you feedback on your recent submission, so here goes… I loved your mysterious tale and all of its magical moments. It had many intriguing qualities and immediate references to stories I recall from my childhood. A modern take on the ‘genie in the bottle & three wishes’ paradigm, but without the traditional ending. Having said that, I was pleasantly surprised by the way it ended; I’d been expecting the stone to be returned to the well shaft again, to prevent further chaos and abuse etc. On a less positiv...

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Alan Norcott
17:09 Apr 01, 2022

Thank you for reading and giving feedback, I think you're right about adding some more substance to the sibling's backstory. I appreciate the response!

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