20 Tales of Terror – Day 6: Came Tumbling After

Jill downed another glass of scotch. Half-drunk was the only way she could live anymore. The Thirsty Bandit was like a second home to her. She could barely breathe in her house, let alone live in it. Lenny, the owner of the tavern, was more interested in earning his coins than anything else, though even he often arched an eyebrow at how much booze Jill put away in the evening.

As she poured herself some more scotch, Lenny placed a glass of water in front of her. “Something to wash it down with,” he said, smiling through yellowed teeth.

Jill averted her eyes. Catching just a glimpse of the water made her feel sick. Everyone in the village knew her story. They remembered when she was just a little girl and would often play with her twin brother Jack. There were bouts of sibling rivalry that made people laugh. How typical of children, after all.

Every day, the twins were responsible for collecting water from the well on top of the hill. Jill remembered that one morning when she and Jack had gone up the hill, as always. They had been arguing bitterly before that, and their mother had sent them off just to have some peace in the house. Everything had felt different during the climb up the hill. There was a strange feeling in the air. Jack filled his pail and started to walk back, but Jill lingered. She could see faces floating on the surface of the water, hear voices that spoke directly to her.

Jill had rushed back to the house, almost tumbling down the road, babbling and in tears. Once she had been calmed somewhat, everyone discovered what had happened: Jack had tripped and fallen on the way down, and was lying at the bottom of the hill in a shallow pool of his own blood. Everyone knew the story. But nobody knew about the faces in the water, and the voices that had harnessed her anger towards Jack for their own dark purposes. Nobody suspected even for a moment that innocent young Jill had walked up behind Jack and pushed him down the hill. Nobody knew that Jill had stood by Jack’s body, watching him convulse until he was still. That she had laughed and laughed until forcing the laughter to turn into screams before running back home.

And she could never tell anyone that Jack haunted her. In every lake, every river, every wretched glass of water, she saw his face. She heard his voice, wetly gasping for breath as blood filled his lungs. She drank water only when her thirst grew too desperate, bathed just long enough to wash her skin. But there was a deeper thirst that she could never quench, and her soul would remain unclean. She would forever be plagued by visions of Jack falling down the hill as she tumbled into madness.


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