The Kiddie Park

Dear Foible Friends,
Every now and then the author gets an itch to write a short story. This is one of those moments. This tale has nothing to do with the royal families of the world, and he promises he won’t make a habit out of subjecting his online community to his occasional, amateurish stabs at horror fiction. He apologizes ahead of time to any reader who doesn’t care for this effort. He promises that he will continue to deliver a steady, though admittedly sporadic, stream of Royal Foibles to his online friends shortly.

The Kiddie Park

No one’s afraid of the Kiddie Park. The children in the neighborhood play there all the time. Parents would take their noisy, restless tykes there at all hours of the night, and leave them to sleep under the stars if the City didn’t close it after ten. The bums, druggies and squatters know to stay away. They’ve been warned. They can’t enter for the same reason that the children love it there. For the souls that forever dwell in that space won’t let them.

A red brick mansion with black spires once stood there. A withdrawn dowager resided in it. Houses surrounded her lair instead of the tenements that now circle the park. Children lived in the neighborhood then as now. When they started disappearing near the mansion, only the factory owners who enslaved them were alarmed. The priests who raped the boys among them were also left forlorn. Many parents were secretly relieved to have one less mouth to feed. They hoped the boys and girls had been kidnapped by childless millionaires to while away the rest of their lives in well fed plenty. Many of them envied their children’s imagined fate.

They were partially right. The dowager was luring their children to her miniature castle and killing them. She buried the kids in her basement. She couldn’t figure out why she enjoyed it. She had been married, and had mothered now grown children of her own. She never beat them, though. Perhaps she was afraid she would’ve killed them if she had? She certainly got a thrill from murdering the children of others. The police soon caught her. The stench emanating from the rotting bodies in her basement was too strong for them to ignore, especially in the summer.

The newspapers made an even bigger stink than the little corpses themselves. They forced the parents to grieve. The parents began to enjoy their sorrow, and the attention they drew because of it. One night they banded together and burned the mansion to the ground. They figured it was good for one last headline.

Many years passed, and the mansion’s charred remains were replaced with a children’s park. Neighborhood folklore had it that the dead children’s souls played there, and would for all eternity. Every parent told their child there was nothing to fear at the park. The dead children would protect them. Even the homeless adults were told to never enter the playground. The dead children would kill them.

All the boys and girls loved the park. Jessica really loved it. She told her parents that Mary was the only child there that would play with her. Mary had to be a ghost, since Jessica’s parents knew that none of the neighborhood children liked her. Jessica’s mother often found her there playing by herself, save for her invisible friend. One afternoon she asked her mother if Mary could come home with them. On the way back to their apartment, Jessica held out her hand in the air, as if she were holding that of her otherworldly confidante.

Jessica’s mother was adopted. She’d never cared who her biological parents were, or where her family origins lay. Yet she’d felt at home when she moved to the neighborhood. She didn’t know why.

Later that night, Jessica crept into her parents’ bedroom while they slept. She held a butcher knife. She plunged it into her father’s neck. He awoke just long enough to choke to death on his own blood, gurgling incessantly while doing so. Jessica’s mother was startled awake.

Jessica told her mother that Mary made her do it. Mary knew who Jessica’s family was. Jessica’s mother’s real father was a son of the heiress who’d ripped Mary’s throat open with a butcher knife in her basement all those years ago. Jessica and her mother were the only living descendants left of the heiress.

Before her mother could scream, Jessica hurled the knife at the nape of her neck. It sliced clean through and impaled her against her bedroom wall. Jessica then walked over to her mother’s corpse and pulled the knife out. Mary then slit Jessica’s throat open and watched as she keeled over. After a moment, she lay still in a pool of her own blood.

Jessica’s neighbors soon spread the story that her family’s apartment was haunted. People refused to live there, and it remains empty to this day. None of them, however, stayed away from the ghosts at the park. Why should they? No one’s afraid of the Kiddie Park.

The author dedicates this story to his friends, Celso and Joshua, in front of whose presence he typed this tale on his iPhone while they sat listening to music on Josh’s laptop.