Jack & Jill

Writing Prompt: Down in the well it waits. It answers questions with outright lies, or worse, with absolute truths. It does not help. It cannot be tamed.

There were two voices, down in that well.

Once upon a time those voices might have been human, at the very least they might have resembled something human. But that time was long ago, and what was human had since faded away. The voices inside of the hilltop well belonged to something else entirely, something undeserving of a name, save monstrosity.

Whatever lurked below had not been seen for centuries unnumbered, but the wet and gurgling sounds outspoken had been heard continuously since the day of the creature’s birth.

Jack and Jill.

Two voices. One creature.

The only certainty that came from visiting the hilltop well was the creature’s introduction; from this never once did it deviate.

**

“Jack always tells lies.” the sweet yet guttural voice of a young girl cried out from the dark depths.

“Jill doesn’t though.” a slightly rougher voice groaned from below.

Catherine peered over the brick built wall, catching her head on the wayward bucket that hung from the hilltop well’s down beaten roof. Ouch. She rubbed the red spot on her forehead.

“Mind your head.” Jack moaned, “We wouldn’t you falling.”

“Oh, yes we would.” Jill cried with delight, “I at least would very much like a friend to keep me company.”

“You have me.” Jack snapped.

A loud smacking sound shot up in response from down below.

Catherine leaned in closer, but it was too dark and the shaft was too deep. She couldn’t see a thing but the shadows, and yet when she watched the shadows…

“It’s not the same.” Jill sighed in a way that made Catherine shiver, “I want someone like me. Not a brother, but a friend.”

“A girl, you mean?” Jack laughed, and that laugh made the boy in the well sound as if he were in fact a man in his late eighties. A man who’d smoked a packet of cigarettes each and every day of his life, chasing the smoke with litres of whisky.

“You’re pathetic.” Jack snarled, “How long have we been down here, just the two of us?”

“Too long.” the sickly sweet voice whispered.

Another smacking sound rose up through the shaft. Catherine tried to follow the sound to its source, but still saw only shadows dancing on the walls. 

Wait a second. 

She squinted, drawing her eyes half closed. 

What in God’s name is that? 

She pointed a finger as if gesturing for an unseen friend to take a look. If you followed that finger then you’d see, inside the swirling shapes of shadow, three dim orbs of yellowed light. Though they were more white than yellow, so white they teetered on the brink of absolute black.

“Don’t you want to ask us something?” Jack snapped at the watching face above, the orbs turning in just such a way that made them seem as if they were watching back, “Or are you decided on simply staring at our misfortune?”

“S…sorry.” Catherine managed, but she said no more.

“Well?” Jack wretched.

“Leave her alone.” Jill whimpered, and at that the three orbs seemed to settle on each other. It was impossible to say whether they were wrestling or embracing one another.

“I don’t know what to ask.” Catherine admitted, then added, “I don’t know why I’m here.”

“I do.” Jill confessed, and on her speaking one of the yellow-white orbs contorted itself to display instead a face caught in the light; it was the face of a girl with rotten cheekbones and hollow eyes.

The girl smiled.

Catherine gasped, falling back onto the grassy plains surrounding the well. She staggered backward in a roll, but caught herself just before she was flung over the edge and down the steep drop of the hillside.

“Careful.” Jacked taunted, “What did we say about falling?”

Catherine looked back at the slope of the hillside, it must have fallen several miles down in a jagged sort of grass covered cliff. She swallowed, then returned to the well.

“Why am I here?” she asked, searching for the sodden, rotting girl.

“Is that your question?” Jack asked, an air of disappointment filled his low and aged voice.

Catherine nodded, the decided she should speak her answer, “Yes.”

“It’s a good question.” Jill called up, “A very good question indeed.”

“No it’s not.” Jack moaned, “It’s the sort of question that’ll push you over edge, and what did we say about falling?”

“Ask it again.” Jill encouraged.

“Please, don’t bother.” Jack sulked.

Catherine stood there, hanging over the well in silence, until finally she asked again, “Why am I here?”

Jack let loose a quiet whelp of discontentment, then in a sudden flash two of the orbs disappeared. The lone survivor rose up ever so slightly and said, “I’ll tell you, but you have to promise not to run.”

“I promise.” Catherine’s legs felt suddenly numb and uncomfortably cold. She tried to lift one, and then the other. Nothing.

The lone orb in the well shifted from verging on black to a bright ball of orange, and then in a brilliant flash of light it too disappeared. In its place there sat a girl. The girl with rotten cheekbones. She looked up at Catherine and smiled without lips, hands tugging at a dress soaked through and through. Her hair had been drawn damp across her skull and in the light skin faded to reveal bare bone in its place. Slowly the girl rose to her feet, and began to climb.

Catherine watched in dull horror as the abomination raced to the mouth of the well. She tried to run, to back away, but her legs were frozen stiff.

I promise.

The girl that was Jill clambered up the sheer wall of the well, her movements unnatural, her palms peeling away on the brick. Not once did Jill avert her eyeless gaze from Catherine’s own.

In a last act of defiance Catherine shut tight her own eyes, and whispered, “This isn’t real.”

But something cold and something wet came to rest on Catheirnes shoulder, and in her ear it whispered, “Oh, dear girl, but it is.”

Copyright © K R Perry 2019

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