The Little Ones

The Little Ones

 

It may have been its plausibility that made The Exorcist, a book and film about demonic possession, one of the scariest stories of all time. The book’s author, William Peter Blatty, was inspired by an actual exorcism. Exorcism has been attacked by skeptics as a pagan means of dealing with severe mental illness. Skeptics believe that demons and malevolent spirits don’t exist. 

They may be wrong.

For many years, I worked as a field technician for a large electronic service company near Berkeley. One day, my boss, Benny, a tall, stocky, tough-talking ex-Marine sergeant, called me to the office. 

“I need you to go out to East Oakland and see my old buddy Harry,” he said. “He was at the American Legion hall with me last night, very drunk, and said his TV is out. He said his wife and kids did something to it. He was so loaded that he forgot his wife died three weeks ago, and his two kids drowned at the beach years back. 
“He’s a real mess since his wife died,” Benny continued. “He’s boozing it up, acting crazy and he looks like hell. So be prepared for him. Just go to his house, bring his TV to the shop and give him a loaner.”

I reluctantly followed orders. I put a new portable loaner TV in my van, and drove out to Harry’s house in Oakland’s Laurel district, a well-kept white bungalow with a small front lawn. 

As I climbed three stairs to the tiny porch, I smelled a foul burned odor, like burning meat. 

“Harry must be barbequing” I thought. I knocked on the door. Harry opened it. I gasped and caught my breath. 

My boss’s comments about Harry’s appearance were an understatement. He looked awful, absolutely ghoulish. His face was gaunt and pale, and his long, unkempt gray hair hung down and framed his dark circled, bloodshot blue eyes. I smelled bourbon and the stench of burning wood and flesh.

“Hi Harry, is something burning?” I asked.

Harry grinned maniacally and spoke. “Can you smell that? That’s from my wife and the little ones,” he said. “They come late every night when it’s real dark. They’re all burned up. My wife’s mad at me for cremating her after she died, so she brought the little ones back with her from hell to get revenge and torment me. Look what they’ve done to my house!”

I entered and looked around. There were little footprint scorches on the rug, as well as wide scorches on the arms and cushions of the couch. The worst was the TV. All the control knobs were melted. I walked over and looked at it.

“The little ones wanted to watch cartoons. They touched my TV and the knobs melted,” Harry said. “The little ones are hot. They’re all burned up. They’re from hell!”

I shuddered. This was way too weird. Harry was obviously guilt-ridden about cremating his wife, and was now insane and hallucinating. He had turned into a pyromaniac and was dangerously deranged. He needed immediate psychiatric help. 

I explained that I’d take his TV to the shop, leave him a loaner, and that my boss would talk to him later. Then I’d run back and tell Benny to call the police. Harry needed to be taken into custody and hospitalized, right away.

“Why don’t you stick around tonight, Gil?” Harry asked. “You wanna see people from hell?”

I declined, and got out of there quick. My van was filled with the acrid stench of burned plastic and smoke from the melted TV. It was nauseating. 

It also filled me with a strange, creepy, primal fear. I’ve never felt that way since.

Back at the shop, I told the crazy story to Benny. When I got to the part about Harry’s cremated wife and dead kids coming at night, “all burned up,” Benny cried, “Ewww!” and visibly quivered. He took one look at Harry’s melted TV and ordered me to toss it in the Dumpster.

“I don’t want that evil thing in the shop!” He exclaimed. Benny knew Harry’s brother, and alerted him. He didn’t call the police.

When I got home that night, my uniform reeked of Harry’s scorched house. It was sickening. I had to toss it in the garbage. I slept fitfully, having nightmarish visions of Harry’s ghostly “burned up” wife and kids.

The next morning, I walked into the shop, and Benny waved me into the office. “Did you watch the news?” He asked. 

“No, not yet. What’s up?” Benny gazed at me with a strange, haunted, fearful expression. “Harry’s dead. His house burned down. He ran out of his house screaming, with his hair and clothes on fire. A neighbor had to knock him down on the lawn to put out the flames.”

If that wasn’t enough, then came the kicker. “Now get this,”
Benny said. “The neighbor looked up and saw a woman and two kids watching from the window. He said they were all burned up.”