The Woman with One Leg
By Zach Gasior
Billy couldn’t believe that the night was finally here! After all the planning and waiting, it was finally time! Billy ran down the stairs to the back door, but was swept off the ground and into the air before he could reach it.
“Dad, I want to see it! Come on, put me down!” Billy said as he tried to kick his way free.
“All right, all right. Settle down. Now, close your eyes,” his dad said.
Billy heard the sliding door open as his hands left him blind. He couldn’t wait!
“Alright, Sport. Open ‘em up!”
Billy’s jaw hit the ground. There, up in the old oak tree, painted bright red, was the greatest, coolest tree house ever. A rope ladder hung down from a trapdoor, and protruding from the roof was a periscope for spying on uninvited guests. Billy couldn’t wait to see what else was in it. He quickly scrambled up and crawled inside.
It was even cooler than he’d thought! Against one wall there was a small couch and in the corner was a mini refrigerator. This was awesome! Then, Billy noticed something bolted to the wall, next to the window.
“Hey Dad! What’s this thing?” Billy called down.
“Pull it out, aim it at the ground, and press the red button!” his dad yelled.
Out of the device shot something round and fat. It hit the ground and exploded, sending a shower of water over the lawn.
“It’s a water balloon launcher!” his dad called up, laughing.
“Dad, this is incredible!” Billy yelled.
“William Allen! You better not shoot that at anyone, no matter what!” his mom yelled. “Now come down. Aaron’s here!”
Billy popped the trap door, scurried down to Aaron, and slapped him a high-five.
“Are you ready for this, man?” Billy asked him.
“Absolutely! Let’s do this!” Aaron replied.
“Alright, calm down, both of you. Billy, go take Aaron’s stuff up there, then both of you wash your hands. Dinner will be here in a few minutes,” Billy’s mom said.
Billy grabbed the duffle bag out of Aaron’s hands, and carried it up into the tree house. He and Aaron were going to spend the night in the tree house all alone. They could stay up late, tell scary stories, and maybe Aaron would finally spill the beans about whether or not Olivia had kissed him last month! The whole night was going to be a blast.
The boys ran inside, eager to begin their night of fun. They wolfed down their pizza and began scouring Billy’s room for blankets, toys, and whatever else they could take out to the tree house. After three trips to and from the house, they were finally ready for their sleepover. The last light of day was fading beyond the horizon as the boys finally climbed the rope ladder for the night.
“Ok guys. Have fun up here tonight. You’ve got your flashlights, right? Remember, the house is only a few feet away, so come inside if you need to. I’ll leave the screen door unlocked if you need the bathroom or anything.”
“Dad, we’re fine!” Billy said.
With a smile his dad climbed out of the trap door and pulled it closed behind him.
“Billy, this is great!” Aaron said.
“I know. I can’t believe this is mine. Hey, let’s tell scary stories.”
“I don’t know. I don’t really like stories like that. Let’s talk about something else instead.”
“Ok,” Billy said. “Why don’t you tell me what happened with Olivia after you got that ball out of the ditch? Tommy said he saw her kiss you.”
Aaron’s face went bright red as Billy trained his flashlight on him.
“Okay! Let’s tell scary stories!” Aaron said with a nervous chuckle.
Slowly, Billy pulled the flashlight from Aaron’s face “It was a dark and stormy night.”
Billy lowered his voice and held the flashlight under his chin. “An old woman was walking along the side of the road, using a tree branch to brace herself. As she walked, a truck pulled off the road behind her. The truck driver asked the woman if she wanted a ride, and she quickly accepted.
“She climbed into his truck and they were off. As they drove on through the rain, the driver noticed that the woman was missing a leg. She told him that many years ago, on a night just like that one, she had gone out to find her runaway dog. But everything was slippery, and no one could see very well. She saw her dog across the street, and went to him. But a car came out of nowhere! When she woke up, her leg, and dog, was gone.
“The driver asked how long ago that had been, and the woman told him it had been a hundred years. She let out a shrieking cackle as she told him that now she needed to find her dog and her leg. As her cackle pierced the night, the truck swerved off the road and into a ditch.
“The next morning the police found the truck driver, but his leg was missing. They found it a couple miles away. It just hadn’t been a good fit for the old woman. Now, she’s still out there, looking for a new leg. You can hear her coming as she scrapes her walking stick along the ground, and her cackle shrieks out through the dead calm of night.”
Billy let out his loudest, highest-pitched cackle. Aaron pulled the blankets over his head and screamed in terror. Billy shined the light on him, and started laughing hysterically.
“Oh man! You should see your face!” Billy said through fits of laughter.
“That wasn’t funny!” Aaron yelled.
“It sure was! Alright, alright. Let’s go to bed,” Billy said, still giggling to himself.
Billy was glad that he could do this. Sleeping out in the tree house was so much fun. He hoped he could do it all summer long. As these happy thoughts filled his head, he slowly drifted off to sleep.
“Billy. Billy, wake up.”
Billy rolled over in his sleeping bag and rubbed his eyes.
“What do you want?” he asked.
“Shh. Listen,” Aaron whispered.
Billy tried to listen for whatever Aaron was talking about, but he didn’t hear a thing.
“Go back to sleep. You’re hearing things,” Billy said, rolling back over.
“No, wait. There it is again,” Aaron said.
Billy listened carefully and finally heard something. It sounded like something scraping along the ground.
“It’s probably nothing. Just go back to sleep.”
“Nothing? It sounds like a stick being dragged. Oh no! The old woman!”
“Aaron, that was just a story. She’s not real.”
Billy sat up, and clicked on the flashlight. Aaron’s face wore a look of sheer terror. Aaron had his blanket pulled up to his chin and his eyes were darting back and forth across the tree house.
“Look, I bet we’ll be able to see what’s making the noise,” Billy said calmly.
Billy poked his head out the window and looked down with the flashlight. He scanned the yard, looking for the source of the noise. Finally, he caught sight of a stick out of the corner of his eye. Then, the light from his flashlight flickered and died.
Billy tried hitting it, but with no luck. He looked back at the branch and noticed something else. A large, shadowy mass was pacing slowly back and forth across the lawn, right outside the tree house, dragging the branch as it went. Billy strained his eyes to see what it was, but to no avail.
Suddenly, the noise shifted. Now, it was scraping along the tree house. Billy frantically looked around. As he searched the night a deafening shriek pierced the darkness. He fell back into the tree house and scrambled for the trap door. He and Aaron nearly fell from the rope ladder as they climbed over each other. The shriek continued as they hit the ground. The boys sprinted for the house, screaming as they went. Aaron threw open the screen door and both boys ran inside.
THUNK! The boys ran into something solid in the dark. Billy looked up and could make out the figure of a man in the darkness. He screamed again, as the man grabbed both boys.
“Whoa, whoa! Guys, calm down!”
The kitchen light flicked on and Billy found himself in the arms of his dad.
“Dad, she’s coming! The woman with one leg!” Billy yelled.
His dad went to the door and flipped on the outside lights.
“What woman?” his dad asked.
Billy looked outside toward the tree house. There, in the yard, was the branch scraping across the ground. It was surrounded on all sides by a dense covering of leaves.
“Guys, it was just that low branch,” his dad said.
Just as Billy sighed in relief, the shriek echoed through the night again. Both boys hid behind Billy’s dad.
“Hey, calm down. That’s just the sound the wind makes when it blows across the roof,” Billy’s dad explained.
Both boys breathed huge sighs of relief as their heart rates finally returned to normal.
“Look, guys, why don’t you go get your stuff and sleep in here tonight? I’ll make you some hot chocolate while you go,” Billy’s mom said from the stairs.
Without hesitation, the boys went out to grab their stuff.
“Heh, I can’t believe you were scared,” Billy said to Aaron. “But if you won’t talk about what happened, I won’t either.”
“Deal,” Aaron said as they shook hands.
They gathered up their stuff and headed back to the house. A couple of feet from the door, Billy heard the stick scraping the ground again. That tree branch needed to be trimmed down. He turned around , but the branch wasn’t moving. In fact, the wind wasn’t even blowing anymore.
Billy looked around as he heard the scraping again. He continued on to the door, when he heard what sounded like a faint high-pitched cackle from out behind the tree house.
Billy ran inside as quickly as he could and slammed the door tight behind him.