There is a place where the culling of wolves is a regular occurrence – where their evil deeds seems nevertheless to remain unabated, where only foolish whispers and drunken talk make reference to the true cause of so many disappearances.
There are many ‘tales’ about Jack Fell. Each one extraordinary. Perhaps if they were less extraordinary…The following tale is a historical fact. Had this historical fact not been so extraordinary as to be deemed nothing more, than a simple legend, something might have been done, but then…what really could have been done? What could anyone have done, to stop the man, if he is a man, that some call Dark Jack?
In the far eastern corner of a distant town – a place where crows sit watching nervously over their shoulders under perpetual dark skies, sits, on its own, the house that Jack Fell built – Jack Fell who has almost become a simple legend, a non-physical entity of the mind; so rare are the sightings of him – but there are sightings, each remembered darkly, it is said by some that he takes the dark, and he eats it, lives off it and they say he can make dark, regurgitate that darkness he holds inside himself, and that he can hide within it.
The house that Jack Fell built hides among gauzes and sea cabbages, behind the cow sized rocks carved by the hard winds of that far eastern corner of town into contorted faces of men that say you should stay away. that house sits in the dark, even on the brightest of days, in a place where no light seemed to reach – or dares to go, a place where on its periphery, on the day of this story, boys crept, grinning for no good reason, trying to get a look, to dare themselves, grinning for no good reason, for no good reason at all.
Inside, was a chair with springs that peeked, through frayed fabric. One of those springs sat quiet as a caressed cat – a finger upon its back and that finger was black with dirt. Its nail – broken and flecked with mauves and reds had under it grit and fluff and dried things – things that were once wet, and warm, and red.
Outside, they giggled, those creeping boys. The red haired one, the boy with the lank red hair that flowed down his head like a broken egg, whose jumper was frayed from trees and brambles, from climbing and crawling, he with the cut knees and toes poking through holes in socks and shoes – he laughed less as he took a gulp of air, forced it down and on all fours crawled through the hedge, from not Jack Fell’s garden, to jack Fells garden across the line from out, to in, as the other boys, distant, hidden, giggled again, and that finger on that spring, on that chair in Jack Fell’s house, that finger lifted, and the hand, and the arm and he that was little more than a silhouette – even in full daylight, they say – he stood. And in the vacated, warm depression of the seat, things moved – things that liked the heat scuttled back down among the springs and horse hair. Things moved too, upon the silhouette of Jack Fell. They clung to his loose sack cloth trousers, tiny legs scurried, and eyes looked for places to hide – pockets, holes, hair and Jack Fell, he moved. He moved slow, like an old lion, a big old lion that knew how to catch things without even raising his heart beat. Slow…
The boy’s giggles, so unwarranted, so without foundation, made so much by their misunderstanding, echoed among the rocks that dwarfed them, and those giggles carried on the wind, to the hedge where the feet of a red haired boy slid through it, like two lizards tails, into a crack in the wall.
“Shhh!” said the scuttling child, a finger to pursed lips which shook with a feigned smile, and he crawled on all fours, belly scraping dead leaves and twigs, and bits of dry broken bone. He crawled toward the wall of the house that Jack Fell built, built of found things and stolen; of discarded sheds fit only for the fire, from branches, from parts of washing machines, clay pots, broken plates and splintered wood set into mud held by clay and dung, by straw and feather, and hair… and that wall had a hole, big as a mouth was that hole, big as Jack Fell’s mouth and had that very thing against it, inside, where now, Dark Jack crouched.
Could the red haired boy hear something? Something more than the distant giggles of the other boys, (that had now took on a falseness, which came more to fill a void, than from the fun they wanted to have): there was something – some noise that was not the wind, nor the ruptured throat crackle of old crows. It was a wheeze the boy heard – a breathing that had in it many notes as air went in clean and came out stale in the company of moans made by restricted air waves, by constricted lungs, and this noise came, from a hole in the wall.
The boy then met the wall and that giggling of boys it stopped, leaving the breeze and the wheezing from that hole in the wall of Jack fell’s house to be all that came to ears. There were three boys whose giggling had stopped. They had fingers tense against the rocks enough you might think to break their little bones, a sense in them of something wrong there was, before any sign of such was visible. Then, the sign came and those heads of boys and those fingers of boys slid back, so that only their eyes peeked to see, that from that hole in the wall of the house that Jack Fell built came his sooty breath – his regurgitation of so many meals of the dark, so many shadows ingested and swallowed flowed out from that mouth, through the hole in the wall and crept like a storm cloud over the red haired boy. He looked, they thought, like a ball of black candy floss, a boy in a black candy floss suit that grew wider and deeper upon him until only his shoes could be seen, and his toes within curling…
and that wall, it had a door, hid just by its not seeming like a door… They had no notion as to what the sound was – that crackling and creaking, old vines rustling, of soil and leaves scraping and the hiss of old air escaping, but it was that door that did not look like a door, made of crates and mud; and cans and homemade glue and hinges; made from wheelchairs and sticks and inside his shoes the red haired boy’s toes curled further…and then relaxed; and in a very small fraction of a second, they slipped into the dark shape, and there came a sound like cans and mud and crates and things banging against a wall of clay pots and hair, and more things. It clanged and thumped and rang over the land…and that door in Jack Fells house, it closed.
It was then, that – the black shape vanished as if sucked back into the hole from which it came and where the red haired boy had been, was an empty place, and where the three had been hid among the rocks, was just a short blur of running legs, and those legs carried the boys to town, where they told their story…but so extraordinary was it, that it suffered the fate of every other story of dark Jack fell. It became a simple legend.
Somehow the cull of wolves in the region still makes no difference, other than to satisfy the people, that something has been done…It is only a case they say, of killing the right one, but whether it is fear or disbelief that stops them, they never hunt, for Dark Jack.