Writing Prompt #1: I’m hiding in the tree tonight, and when they come back to finish it, I’ll make them pay.

I’m about ten feet up, covered in moonlight, and looking down into the brown April grass, waiting on these kids to come graffiti this wall. I’ve got with me a mallet and a long stick for stabbing and, frankly, if that doesn’t reek of old man than I’ve no idea what does. One of the little pecker heads I’m waiting for, a boy named Henry, has blonde hair and leads his pack of animals around like some ringleader at a circus; and, believe me, he’s got lions, tigers, and bears of a sort at his disposal. I know because I’ve watched his gang of kids for six months now. That’s longer than most of the hobbies I’ve ever had, but not as long as my marriage.

This other boy, Charles, he’s a big, bear-chested kid with an mop of hair. Calls himself a brute, which he must’ve heard from his master because he’s too dumb to come up with it himself. Henry seems to like Charles the best, because Charles gets things done without asking too many questions or expecting too many favors. Which is good because Henry likes kids who are willing to get their hands dirty for him, and it ain’t no playschool bullshit neither. If you don’t give Henry’s pack what they want they don’t take your lunch money, hang you up by your trousers, snap you with a wet towel. No, they fuck you up good … lemme tell you.

A month ago they caught this little boy named Reid by the collar on his way home. He’d been dodging them for a while, keeping his distance because they took a real dislike to him. Reid was skinny, wore glasses, had more red than a flare. They caught up with him and drug him off into the woods, savaged him, fed on his pain, pulled an arm out of his socket and broke a leg. This gang of kids … they’re mean. But it wasn’t just meanness that drove them to do horrible things. I think they get hungry and it drives them mad.

At night they come out and do bad shit: start fires, graffiti, kill livestock, bully, rape, rob, and instigate other evil. When I first started watching them months ago they kidnapped a woman from her house and took her to their place near the edge of Valley Hill. I never saw her again. It scares me what happened to her. If they tortured her, raped her, broke her bones … killed her. That upset me awful, but I hadn’t been sleeping by then. I’d already been laying awake in bed dreaming of the ghastly acts perpetrated by Henry’s band of creatures.

This was a few months after my wife died. For the life of me, I don’t remember how I got out alive. I only remember her screams as I went back into our house to find her, but I got so choked up with smoke that I passed out and didn’t wake until a fireman gave me CPR. By then, it was too late to go back inside.

I must have looked great in the grass crying my eyes out, covered in soot, my heart breaking at the prospect of a dead wife and no where to call home. I feared the endless days of loneliness and the nonexistent part I would play in life as a man who lost his wife. Even then, what scared me more, was the late-night hours in which I would hear her screams. There is no rest for the wicked – there is no sleep for a widower.

After the arson, I saw Henry’s gang leaving my house for their roost at the edge of Valley Hill. Henry made eye contact and smiled his horrible, vicious smile. I was too hysterical to say anything and if I would have I doubt the cops would have gone after them. Children murdering adults didn’t happen in Valley Hill, whether we had a corn crop or not.

So I’ve followed them for some time now, and I know they are coming here tonight to finish this horrible painting of a naked sacrifice to the pagan lord of the vampires, and here I sit with my mallet and my stake, waiting to strike out at them when they least expect me. I doubt I’ll leave this alive, but maybe the screams of their fallen will echo in their ears for eternity … and perhaps then I can get some sleep.