From Cradle to Bog – Horror Flash Fiction
“From Cradle to Bog”
Prompt Suggestion from Stephen Wilson via Facebook (read below the story for the details of this prompt)
From Cradle to Bog
“My baby! My baby! She took my baby!”
The wailing drifted down to the nurse’s station. The head nurse and two orderlies rushed down the hall. When they entered Mandy’s room, she was crouched down near the baby’s cradle, weeping.
“Mandy? Who took your baby?” the head nurse asked as she comforted the girl.
“Elsie! Elsie took my baby!”
Elsie had been a resident at St. Elizabeth’s for nearly a year. Her parents had died in a buggy accident and since Elsie was mentally challenged as well as an orphan, there was no where else for the 30-something young woman to go. Mandy had arrived at St. Elizabeth’s just three months prior. She too was mentally challenged and pregnant. The baby had arrived just that morning.
The orderlies scuttled about the hospital. They searched every room, including the attic, the boiler room and the basement. There was no sign of Elsie. They had no choice but to call in the local police.
An all points bulletin was put out. Officers from all over the county were called in for the search. Even the locals got in on it.
Finally the lead detective had an idea. “Where did Elsie live prior to coming here?” he asked the head nurse.
“Over in Nelson’s Ridge. Her parent’s owned a farm there. I must warn you detective, they are a strange lot there. Keep to themselves. No modern enmities. And they don’t take kindly to outside interference.”
The detective nodded his head. He’d dealt with the folks in Nelson’s Ridge before. He gathered up several officers and headed out there.
It took them an hour to finally get one of the locals to tell them where Elsie’s parent’s farm was. By the time they arrived, they found Elsie out back, in a muddy bog. She just stood there.
“Elsie? Where’s the baby?” the lead detective asked her once he’d waded out into the bog.
She didn’t reply. Her eyes were glassed over.
Still no reply.
Then an officer yelled. “We found it!”
The lead detective waded over to the other officers. The baby was wrapped in a blanket, smeared in mud. It was dead. An officer carefully carried the baby out of the bog, as the lead detective walked Elsie out as well.
“Not again!” an elderly woman screamed as she ran up to the officers.
The lead detective ushered the woman aside. “What do you mean?”
“This family isn’t right!” she screamed as she turned her head to Elsie. “Tell them! I know you understand me, young lady! Now tell them!”
Elsie bowed her head and spoke slowly. “This is where Daddy says all babies must go. So I brought the baby here to be with my babies.”
The lead detective’s eyes widened and then he understood. “Search the bog! Search every inch of it!”
He led Elsie and the elderly lady inside the farmhouse. He sat Elsie down on a bench.
“That’s not all, detective,” the elderly woman said as she pointed up the stairs.
Elsie followed the woman’s hand with her eyes and then jumped from the bench. She ran to the staircase and blocked the way.
“No! My baby! No, you can’t have her!”
The detective gently pushed Elsie to the side and climbed the staircase two steps at a time. When he reached the top, he just stood there. Two rooms, one on either side. And a doorway straight ahead.
“What’s up here?” he yelled down.
“The attic!” the old woman screamed.
He went to the closed door. Tried to open it, but it was locked. He rushed it with his shoulder, but it didn’t give. He kicked at it. Once. Twice. On the third time, it gave and shattered open.
“I need a light up here!” he yelled down.
An officer climbed the stairs with a flashlight. Handed it to the lead detective as they both entered the attic. The detective shown the light around the windowless room. The air was thick and musty. He coughed as he walked around. It was a nursery. Toys lined the walls. A chest of drawers held various baby clothes, cloth diapers, and an assortment of oils. And tucked away in a corner was a cradle. He went to the cradle and held the flashlight over it. He gasped.
“What is it, Detective?” the officer asked as he approached the cradle.
Inside laid a small, leathery shriveled up corpse.
The lead detective bolted from the attic and down the stairs.
“What the blazes are you screaming about?” he asked, breathless.
“We’ve found five more baby corpses, sir.”
©February 2016 Lori Carlson. All rights reserved.
Stephen Wilson –
I’ll give you another idea, this one from my (distant) family tree: A distant branch of the family (Mennonites, so “plain” people) has a daughter who was born with mental retardation. She was functional but never grew past a mental age of about 6 and was slow and ‘strange’.
Supposedly although she never had a boyfriend or anything she became pregnant. As an only child the supposition was that her father raped her, probably repeatedly.
Being in a sealed community there was no outsider lawmen brought in. Then, suddenly, no pregnancy. The story was that it was all a false pregnancy or that she miscarried, and it all kinda faded away.
However, the family scuttlebutt is that she did miscarry but couldn’t understand that the baby, nearly full-term, had died.
They say that there’s a room in the farmhouse (I’ve been IN that house, mind you) that is sealed off. Inside it is the nursery, with toys and stuffies and a cradle with a leathery, dark, shriveled corpse in it. Maybe it was a miscarriage, or maybe it wasn’t a normal baby and was premature and killed by its father, who knows?
I often thought about that image and how it would be discovered eventually. Maybe when the parents have both died and the daughter put in a home, and the county has to clean up the farm they’d open that door…
I should mention that the back yard wasn’t a yard, but a mud pit. Raw dirt with planks laid down for walking to the chicken coop or back of the ‘yard’ and the farm proper. When the family would have bones (from chicken, for example) left from a meal they’d just throw them out in that bog. I was just a kid and walked on those planks, finding bones and cow’s teeth and little animal skulls and such, which I found fascinating.
So maybe something else ended up out in the muck…?
Anyway, maybe you can do something with that.