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The Barn Visitors

BY AMAYA R.

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My great-grandmother was a small girl, probably 12, when this incident took place. She lived in a village with an extended family, and her house had been on a farm. They'd kept a herd of cows for their milk in a small barn that was the only outhouse within their property. The area had been fenced in by a privet hedge.

One night as they were about to retire for the day, my great-grandmother and her sister had gone out through the kitchen and into the small backyard that opened up to the barn. She couldn't exactly remember why they did, but there had been a folk tale that many villagers claimed to be true. For many farms that had cows, stories were told of a tall, thin, old man covered in rags supported by a stick and rotting legs that, although bandaged, spewed maggots; he visited barns in order to get milk. Accompanying this man (who was supposed to be a supernatural entity) was a bent-over hag that would shake a bell that was attached to a stick she carried in order to warn people of the man's arrival. Anyone who crossed him would face imminent death. Another trait of the man's approach was that any cows he took milk from would not provide for their owners - the milk the people would take would turn sour. He was also known to have a very violent temper - for some reason, he hated to see pure white colored dogs, and if there were any nearby, he wouldn't rest until he'd killed them. People don't occasionally see him, but dogs would always sense the man's and his accomplice's presence and would start barking and howling until they were safely out of the area.

My grand mother and her sisters always thought of it as an entertaining story, nothing more. And almost the entire village would just occasionally talk about it. The village was small, with a handful of people, and was one of those places that everyone knew everybody else. My grandmother vouched for the fact that all those residents were respectable and honest and would never resort to any sick jokes of the sort. On the night that these two siblings were outside, my great-grandmother had stood by the backyard while her sister had disappeared several yards to a washing line, where she'd needed an item hung out to dry around the house. While she stood there, my great-grandmother was alerted to the dog's loud noise. There was a continuous stream of howling and ferocious barking from almost every house. More annoyed than scared about the whole thing, she'd clucked disapprovingly and waited impatiently for her sister to turn up.

It was then that she'd heard it. This was almost midnight, so there were hardly any people up. There weren't the occasional gangs of boys out for a stroll or any gangs around the place. Like I said, it had been fairly peaceful, so she couldn't believe her ears when she'd distinctly heard the sharp tinkle of a bell fervently sounding. From inside their barn. She could hear the cows inside sounding very restless, with a couple making noises in alarm. My great-grandmother knew what that sound was, and she had been petrified. When her sister arrived, she was stunned to see my great-grandmother standing stock-still, eyes wide, goose bumps covering every bare inch of her arms and legs, tremors rocking through her. Before she could ask what the matter was, she'd heard the bell too. Grabbing her sister by the arm, the two had hurried into the house, locking the door.

They didn't mention it to anybody else until the next morning at breakfast. The parents had listened with skepticism and the sisters had known that it was a lost cause. Who would believe them that something equal to the Grim Reaper visited their barn for refreshment in the middle of the night? It would have sounded hilarious if it hadn't been so frightening. Knowing that there was probably no evidence to support what had happened, they'd remained silent, only to be alerted by one of the dairy maids running into the house. She'd gone to milk the cows and had seen that the floor was littered in clumps with little white maggots. Reasonably disgusted but knowing she needed to milk the cows, she'd gone in and completed her task. She'd left the bucket by the barn door and gone out to attend to the postman. When she'd returned, she was stunned to see the milk in the pail. The milk had gone completely bad within minutes.

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