A Small Boy Sitting Down

"Who do you think he is?" Cindy asked. A trace of fear stained her youthful innocence.

Anne glanced away from the small boy, and looked over at her best friend.

"Don't know," she replied, "but he sure looks weird." She pointed at the boy. "See? Look at the way he's sitting. It doesn't look natural."

Cindy nodded. She began to twirl her long blonde locks between her fingers; it was a habit that she had been doing for as long as she could remember.

"We should try to talk to him," Anne said matter-of-factly, "maybe he's sick or something."

Again, Cindy nodded. "Maybe."

The two girls inched forward, cautiously at first, but when they saw that the boy either didn't notice them or simply didn't care, they increased their tempo, skirting through the knee-high brush at a slow sprint.

The small boy sat perfectly still as the two young girls approached. He neither acknowledged their presence, nor ignored them. His round face merely stared in their direction, seeing, or perhaps seeing through them.

Anne looked back at Cindy, who despite her attempts of acting brave, was still lagging behind.

"Come on, let's go," she urged. "He might get up and run away. Then we'll never know who he is."

When the girls reached the boy they halted as if suddenly realizing the strange predicament they were in. They didn't know him, where he came from, if he was sick or injured, or most curiously, why he was sitting in the middle of an empty field without so much as a bottle of water or scrap of food. And furthermore, it was quite warm outside (low 80s with upward of 70% humidity), and the boy had no protective clothing on to shield him from the Sun.

Anne knelt down and studied the boy's face up close.

"Hello? Are you okay?"

No response other than an occasional blinking of the eyes.

Cindy crouched down next to her friend. "Is he is even alive?"

"Of course he is. Can't you see he's breathing and blinking his eyes?"

Cindy leaned in closer. "Yeah, I guess you're right. But why won't he answer us?""I don't know. Maybe he doesn't understand English."

Cindy rolled her eyes. She instinctively began to play with her hair again. "Well, we gotta do something. We can't just leave him here."

The boy sat as still as a statue as the two girls mulled over what to do. He heard every word they said, but still did not move.

"Can you feel that?" Anne asked while suddenly straightening up.

Cindy's brow creased. She felt something as well, something that was not quite right.

Anne bent down close to the boy.

"It feels cold," she said quietly. "Something feels cold."

Cindy took a step back. Suddenly she did not want to be too close to the boy.

"Maybe it's the wind."

"It's not the wind. It's something else." Anne swung her head around, and looked at her friend. "And it seems be coming from him."

Cindy started to cry. Her intuition was warning her to get away from the small boy, but she hesitated...

for a few seconds too long.

Both Anne and Cindy felt the cold begin to creep into their bodies. Suddenly neither could move, or even scream. They were paralyzed where they stood, two helpless young girls like sitting ducks in a pond rimmed by hunters.

Only there weren't many hunters. Just one. Only one, in the form of the strange little boy sitting down by himself in an empty field.

"Anne? What's happening?"

"I don't know. I can't move. And the cold, it's terrible. How can it be so cold? Where is it coming from?"

The girls looked at the boy. His expression was changing into something darker, more feral, hungrier. They watched helplessly as his lips began to part, revealing a black void from which emanated a biting chill unlike anything they had ever felt before. And from within that black chasm also came a sense of depth with no end.

Anne tried to scream, but her throat was frozen, unable to utter a syllable. Cindy wanted to run away. Then she wanted to pass out. And then she simply wished for death. Anything to escape the horror sitting before them. But death would not come. Not yet anyway. Their fate called for a different outcome.

The boy started to jiggle. Slightly at first, then with more force. Soon he was shaking violently, his stringy brown hair on top of his small head flailing around like rabid snakes scrambling for prey.

And then a slit appeared between his eyes. At first it was only an inch long, but gradually it grew, lengthening straight down his nose, through his still gaping mouth, and into his chest, effectively slicing him wide open.

Anne and Cindy stared in horrified disbelief as the small boy, who they had thought needed their help, opened up into a yawning cavity with no discernible limit to its depth. And they were powerless to stop the pull of the icy vacuum that was sliding them closer and closer to the hole.

And deep within the cold bowels of the hole, clinging to the trembling gloom, the things waited for their latest victims.