It was early October when the Thompson family first arrived in Gooseberry, a quaint old town that was centuries old.
James Thompson, his wife, Mary, and their son, Jacob, moved into a nineteenth century Queen Anne Style home at the edge of town. It had been abandoned over a decade ago, so James was able to buy it up at a price that was well below market value.
It took a crew of workman more than three months to get everything up to code, but when they pulled into the driveway on that first day, it was well worth the wait.
The wrap-around porch seemed so inviting to Mary. She had imagined sitting out on the swing, greeting the neighbors as they passed. The towers and the gables added an elegant characteristic to the home as well.
When James had first driven out to see the home, it was rundown, and the property was overrun with weeds and brambles. You could barely see the front step. To see it now, was like looking at a completely different home, and it did feel like home to him too.
As they entered the house, James admired the detail in the balustrades along the staircase that led to the second floor. The workers had done a wonderful job restoring everything to almost the original state. All that was upgraded, were the electrical wiring and the modern appliances. Mary could not see herself preparing meals over an old wood stove.
Jacob was asked to bring his suitcase upstairs and pick out one of the two rooms at the back of the house. His mother had already claimed the master suite at the front of the house that overlooked the neighborhood.
The room that Jacob had chosen was not the largest of the two rooms, but it had a large closet for him to store his collection of comics. His favorites were his dad’s old collection of Twisted Tales from the 1980s. He also had some more graphic comics that his parents were not aware of by DC Vertigo that contained a more risqué content.
Jacob carefully placed his individually wrapped collection into sealed plastic bins and stacked the bins in the back corner of the closet. He then unpacked his suitcase and hung his shirts on hangers to help keep them from wrinkling.
He gazed out of the window into the large backyard. There was a large Maple tree growing near the back fence with a tire swing hanging from one of the lower branches. Beyond the fence, he spotted an area surrounded by a small, wrought-iron fence. In the center of this fenced-in area stood three wooden crosses. He realized then that someone or something was buried there. Some teens his age would be uneasy living so close to a gravesite, but Jacob wasn’t like most teens; he had a macabre side to him and found the situation to be rather cool.
Time seemed to pass quickly as the family unpacked and settled in. It was too late in the evening for Mary to cook dinner, so they decided to check out a local restaurant instead. The name on the front window read, Velma’s Vittles. They were told to take a seat anywhere as they walked in.
A few minutes later, a bubbly waitress approached their table and introduced herself as Lorraine. She named off the house specials and took their drink orders. When she returned with their drinks, she was still as cheerful as a high school girl who was just asked to the prom. She then took their orders and before leaving, she asked if they were just passing through town. When Mary announced that they had just bought the old house up the street, Lorraine’s smile had disappeared, and her face had turned pale.
Mary asked her if everything was okay, but Lorraine replaced her shocked look with a false smile and insisted that something had just come over her, but she was feeling better now. James noticed Lorraine whispering something to the waitress behind the counter who looked in their direction. Moments later, that second waitress had said something to the cook who also looked their way.
The remainder of their time in the diner had felt uneasy to James. He felt like they all knew a secret that they were not ready to share. As they were leaving, Mary made a point of saying goodbye to Lorraine and thank her for a lovely meal. In turn, Lorraine smiled and giggled with uncertainty before turning and walking back into the kitchen.
When they returned home, it was nearing 9:00 p.m. and Jacob decided to go read some of his comics before turning in for the night. He said goodnight to his mom and dad then headed up the stairs.
After brushing his teeth, Jacob got changed into his pyjama bottoms and went to his closet. He pulled down the top bin and searched through the stack of fifty or so comics that were inside, before finding the one he wanted. He placed the lid onto the bin and stacked it back into the corner of the closet.
He laid on his bed and carefully opened to the first page of an issue from November of 1982 titled, All Hallows, a story about a group of boys who help their zombie friend seek revenge on his killers.
Before long, Jacob’s eyelids began to get heavy, and he dozed off with the comic dropping onto the bed beside him. He was awakened suddenly to the sound of a dragging noise within his closet. At first, he thought he was dreaming it, but then he heard it again.
He quietly set the comic on his nightstand, pulled back his covers, and crept as silently as he could toward the closet. Seeing his baseball bat propped up against his dresser, Jacob picked it up in case some wild animal tried to pounce at him from the closet.
With the bat in his right hand, he placed his left hand on the handle of the closet door. Just then, his foot stepped upon a loose floorboard, and it creak briefly, but loudly. A scuffling noise came from inside the closet, and he quickly yanked open the door. All he saw, were his clothes swinging from side-to-side, and the bins containing his comics spread out and opened on the floor.
Jacob pushed his shirts to the side in search of whatever was hiding out in his closet, but he found nothing. His parents ran up the stairs and into Jacob’s room after hearing the commotion to see what was wrong. Jacob explained what had happened and assumed that an animal of some sort must have found a way inside, but he had scared it away. His dad told him that he would try to locate it the next day and insisted that Jacob try to get some sleep in the meantime.
It took Jacob a little while to get settled again, but eventually, he faded off to sleep again and slept through the night.
The next day, James, as promised, tried to locate the animal and how it got inside the closet. There did not seem to be any holes large enough for a raccoon or even a squirrel to get through, and even though there were several mouse droppings in the attic, a mouse would not be strong enough to move the plastic bins. He was perplexed as to how it happened, and so was Jacob. His dad asked if he wanted to switch rooms, but Jacob said that he wasn’t going to let something like that scare him away.
As night fell again, Jacob decided to sit quietly in his bed with the lights off to see if the animal would return. Right around 10:30 p.m., a scraping noise came from the closet once again. This time, Jacob was careful not to step on the loose floorboard. He threw open the closet door and shone the flashlight from his phone into his closet.
On the floor, next to the bins, he could have sworn he saw a young boy, not much younger than he was, but as soon as his mind could register that the boy was there, he had disappeared. One of the comics had dropped to the floor a second later.
Jacob was having a difficult time believing what he had just witnessed. He pinched his skin to see if he was just dreaming, but he was wide awake. Despite his obsession with horror films and Halloween, his mind could still not register the fact that he had just had a supernatural experience.
The following day, Jacob decided to keep his secret to himself. He didn’t want his parents freaking out or thinking that he was imagining things. Instead, he went into the basement and found his dad’s hunting gear. Inside one of the boxes, he found the night vision trail camera and brought it up to his room. He put fresh batteries in it and placed it inside his closet aimed at the comics.
That night, Jacob double-checked that the camera was working and fell to sleep soon after, sleeping through the night. The following morning, he removed the memory card from the camera and inserted it into his laptop.
The first hour or so of footage showed nothing except for the occasional fly buzzing next to the lens, but about eighty minutes into filming, he captured something that even he had a hard time to fathom. The boy that he was certain he had seen the night before was visible on the camera. He had appeared out of nowhere and rummaged through the comics, reading them with intent.
For more than two hours, the mystery boy looked through the comic collection, carefully placing them back into heir protective sleeves afterwards. Then, in a flash, he disappeared. Jacob scanned through the remainder of footage, but the boy did not appear again.
Each night, Jacob would capture the boy on camera reading his comics, and after about a week, Jacob sat next to the closet door and waited for the boy to arrive. This time, when he heard the noise in the closet, Jacob called out, “I know you are in there. Please don’t leave. I won’t hurt you.”
With no response, Jacob slowly opened the door. At first, he saw nothing, but in the darkness behind the plastic bins, he saw the faint glow of two eyes staring back at him. Jacob introduced himself and asked the boy to come out and sit with him.
At first, the mystery boy sat silently in the darkened closet, but then he slowly emerged from beneath Jacob’s shirts. One of the comics was still in his hand, and Jacob looked down at it saying, “Home Ties, that was a great issue. Did you read it to the end yet?” The boy shook his head left-and-right to indicate no. “Well, I won’t spoil it for you.”
Jacob carried all of the conversation with his new friend, but when he heard his parents coming up to bed, he told the boy that they had to be quiet so his parents wouldn’t come in. Jacob kept looking toward the door, listening for his mom and dad to settle in for the night, and when they did, he turned back to the boy, but he was gone.
The next day, Jacob woke refreshed and excited for his next opportunity to see the boy in the closet. It was Saturday, so Jacob decided to wander around and see what he could find in the town. There was an old railway line that ran through town, so he followed the tracks until he ended up behind his house.
The gate for the gravesite was open, so he pushed his way through the tall grass and into the overgrown graveyard. He stomped down the grass and made a pathway to the three crosses. On the first cross was written the name Horatio Limcomb with the dates 1802-1848. The middle cross had the name Genevieve Limcomb with he dates 1804-1848, and the third cross said Quentin Limcomb with he dates 1836-1848.
Jacob felt a sadness come over him when he saw that they all died in the same year, and using his bare hands, he began to clear and area around their graves. The afternoon sun was beating down upon him, and he raised his head to wipe his brow. As he did so, he spotted an image in the bedroom window next to his room. It appeared to be the boy from the closet. Jacob finished clearing the graves, then hopped the fence into his backyard and went inside.
His parents were sitting in the living room reading books, and without saying more than “I’m back,” he ran up the stairs, but instead of going to his room, Jacob went into the other bedroom next to his. As quietly as he could, Jacob called out to the boy from the closet.
“I know that you are here. I saw you from outside. Why don’t you come out and sit with me again?”
Considering that he was originally found inside Jacob’s closet, he decided to look inside this closet for the mystery boy. Shining his flashlight into the closet, he saw something unusual. In the back corner on the floor, there were scratch marks like something had been dragged across the hardwood.
Using his fingers, he started to feel along the corners and the edge of the wall. He felt nothing, so he moved in closer for a better look. His hand pressed down on a loose board that released a hidden panel in the wall. He pulled it back to reveal the inside of his own closet.
A voice came out of the darkness. “You found me!”
Jacob was startled and sat up, banging his head against the hidden doorway. Looking to his right, he saw the boy sitting there with a smile on his face. “My name is Quentin,” the boy stated. Jacob remembered the name on the wooden cross.
“I’m pleased to meet you, Quentin, but why are you hiding in my closet?” Jacob asked.
“You are the first person I have seen in a very long time,” he replied. “You seemed nice to me, and I hoped that we could be friends.”
“I would like that very much, Quentin. Do you mind telling me where your parents are?”
“They left the house to go help one of the neighbors one night, and they never returned. I was here all by myself, but I was too afraid to leave in case my parents came home.”
Quentin and Jacob sat and talked for the next hour until Jacob’s mother called him down for dinner. After Jacob called back that he was coming down, Quentin had disappeared again.
The next day, Jacob went to the local library to search old newspaper articles from 1848. He found an article from October of 1848. It was written that Horatio and Genevieve Limcomb had attempted to rescue their neighbors from a burning house, only to have the burning timbers collapse down on top of them, burying them in a blazing inferno.
It wasn’t until more than two months later that the authorities found the remains of Horatio and Genevieve’s son. Quentin hidden away inside a closet in their home. They say that Quentin had died of starvation.
That night, after Quentin appeared again, Jacob asked if he would like to meet his parents. At first, Quentin was unsure, but Jacob convinced him. He asked Jacob to wait in the closet until he called him out.
When Jacob’s parents arrived in his bedroom, his mother was persistent on finding out what the urgency was all about. She said that she had a roast in the oven and could not leave it for much longer.
“Mom and dad,” Jacob began, “I would like you to meet a friend of mine. Quentin, can you come out here please?”
Quentin emerged from the shadows. His pallor and sunken features made Jacob’s parent’s gasp in unison. Not wanting to appear rude, James spoke up and said, “It is a pleasure to meet you, Quentin. Do you know each other from school?”
Jacob told his parents to sit down for a minute. He showed them the articles he had found at the library and explained that Quentin had died in their house. His parents were beyond words and instead made guttural noises and wheezes.
Suddenly, the smoke alarm began to beep loudly downstairs. Jacob’s mother found her voice again and yelled out, “My roast!” and ran downstairs. His father remained, though was still in shock and filled with disbelief.
Jacob assured him that Quentin was quite friendly and harmless. He was just lonely since he lost his parents. Jacob asked his dad if it would be okay for Quentin to be part of their family now.
His father’s response was, “I will have to discuss it with your mother.” He looked at Quentin once more, then turned and left the room in a hurry.
Jacob remained in his room and sat with Quentin. About an hour had passed when there was a knock on the bedroom door. James and Mary nervously entered the room and sat down. They grasped one another’s hands tightly and turned toward Quentin.
“Quentin,” James said. “We are sad to hear of the tragic death of your parents, and even though we could never replace them, we were hoping you would like to be part of our family from now on.”
“Really and truly?” Quentin asked. “Yes, most definitely. Thank you!”
Quentin no longer hid in the shadows of the closet. He now had a family again, and even though he could not leave the house, they always found plenty of fun things to do.