This is a fictional short story, in 1475 words. It is my first attempt at a story for children. I have never had any children, so I hope it works. 🙂
Daniel and Tommy were best friends. They sat next to each other in school, and played together every day in the holidays. If one climbed a tree, the other would follow, and when Daniel learned to ride a bike, he helped Tommy when he got his. Every day when they rode home from school, they would always stop at the old house, the one with the driveway that was overgrown, and the funny windows sticking out from the roof.
“I think a vampire lives in that house. It looks dark, and the curtains are always closed”. Said Daniel. Tommy shook his head. “I think it’s not a vampire, but some other sort of monster. Maybe a demon”. Daniel thought about it for a while. “Well I say a vampire”. They rode off together, one shouting “Demon”, the other “Vampire”.
On Saturday, the boys filled their water flasks, and packed cereal bars into their pockets. It was going to be a long day, out riding in the woods, and around the lake. They tried to jump their bikes over logs, and fell about laughing when they crashed. Around the lake, they raced each other, building up great speeds along the paved path. Out of breath, Tommy panted. “That was so fast, I reckon we were doing at least one hundred miles an hour”. Daniel nodded, his face red. “Easily”.
It was still too early to go home, so they just cycled around the familiar streets, left, left, and left again. When they stopped to drink from their flasks, Daniel turned to his friend, a wicked glint in his eye. “Let’s go to the old house, and see if we can see the vampire”. Tommy grinned. “It’s a demon, but I don’t think that now is a good time. Maybe next weekend”. Daniel stood over the crossbar, shaking his head. “Don’t tell me you’re scared. Not a scaredy-cat double scaredy-cat?” Tommy set his jaw. “I’m not scared, it’s just that there’s not time before we have to go home”.
Daniel sat back on the bike, and began to pedal in circles around his friend. “Scaredy-cat, scaredy cat, I double-treble dare you”. Tommy swallowed hard. A double-treble dare was not something he could overlook. If he refused something as serious as that, it might never be forgotten. He glared at Daniel. “OK then, let’s go”. When they got to the driveway, Tommy rode straight in. He was very scared, but he knew if he stopped on the street outside, his courage would fail him. But when he was close to the dusty front door of the house, he turned to see that Daniel was still at the entrance to the driveway. Pleased with himself, Tommy shouted, “Now who’s the scaredy-cat?” His friend rode slowly to join him. “I was just adjusting the bike chain”. They both knew it was a lie, but let it go.
The house had all of its curtains closed. Two old planters stood either side of the door, both full of weeds. The gravel drive was overgrown too, and thick dirty white paint was peeling off the stonework, hanging down like old bark on a tree. Tommy turned. “What now? What shall we do now?” Daniel smiled. “Well knock of course. Get off your bike, and knock”. Tommy gulped. He didn’t want to do that, but was afraid of getting another double-treble dare. So he jumped off and ran to the door, lifting the heavy black iron knocker, and letting it down hard. The sound echoed through the inside of the house, and sounded like a thunderclap.
Nothing happened, and the boys smiled nervously at each other. No vampire answered, and no demon appeared. Daniel feigned bravery. “Shall we look round the back do you think, Tommy?” Just as Tommy was about to reply, the door opened with a creak of the rusty hinges. Without waiting to see who was there, the boys kicked up their pedals and started to ride away fast. But Tommy crashed into Daniel, and they both fell onto the gravel. Tommy looked up to see an old man standing over them. His shiny head was fringed with untidy white hair, and his chin and neck were combined into one, wobbling like a turkey. Daniel stepped over his bike, intending to run away and leave it there, but the old man smiled, and shook his head. “Have you boys hurt yourselves?” His voice was harsh, like the gravel Tommy was still lying on, but his tone was kind.
“Are you a demon?” Tommy asked. Daniel put his hands on his hips, and shouted. “I think you must be a vampire”. The old man lifted his head back, his neck wobbling even faster as he chuckled. “I am neither of those, boys. I am just Wilfred”. Tommy stood up, realising there was nothing to be afraid of. Closer now to Wilfred, he could see that the man’s eyes were milky and wet, his back bent, and his nose and ears very large. “You have got big ears like a demon” Tommy stated boldly. Wilfred looked down at the grazes on the legs of the boys, which were studded with gravel. “Come on in, and I will let you clean up your legs. I might even have some orange squash for you. No demons or vampires, that’s a promise”.
Daniel walked forward, refusing to show any fear. So Tommy followed him inside. The wide hallway led into a huge room. It had a bed, a table and chairs, and two armchairs, all crowded together in one corner. Pictures hung from the walls, covering every inch, and more were stored in photo frames, placed on every ledge, and any flat surface. Tommy looked over at Daniel and wrinkled his nose. There was a funny smell inside, like nothing he had ever smelled before. Wilfred pointed at the armchairs. “Sit yourselves down boys, I will just be a minute”. They sat down, and looked around. On a small table next to Tommy was a row of medals attached to coloured ribbons, and a faded old photo in a wooden frame. It was of a young man in uniform, probably an army uniform. A larger frame sat on the side table next to Daniel. It contained a wedding photo, also black and white. A smiling young girl, and the same man from the uniform photo.
Wilfred came back into the room, walking slowly and carefully. He was holding a tin bowl, and had a towel draped over his arm. He placed the bowl on the floor between the boys, and had some trouble straightening up. Reaching into the pocket of his crumpled jacket, he produced a dusty-looking bottle, handing it to Tommy. “That’s disinfectant. Wash your legs, then rub some on those grazes. It will sting a bit, mind”. As the boys did his bidding, he sat himself on a hard chair, resting his arm on the table. “So what did you boys want, anyway?” They looked at each other, then Tommy spoke. “We were looking to see if a vampire or demon lived here. It looks like a house where one of those would live”. Daniel pointed at the wedding photo. “Is this you, Mister Wilfred?”
“Yes that’s me, a very long time ago. I went off to the war soon after, and my wife died having our baby. The baby died too. Since then, I have been alone here”. He stared down at his unlaced shoes, lost in his memories for a moment. Then his head came up, and he was smiling. “So, no demons, and not a vampire in sight. Just a tired old man, in a house that’s too much to cope with. How about that squash now?” The boys nodded, and he shuffled off to get their drinks. As they gulped down the cold orange and water, Wilfred told them something about his life. He had won medals, but returned sad and unhappy. He had worked as long as he could, but now spent his days alone. The woman who came into clean and get his shopping was unreliable, and most days he never saw or spoke to anybody.
Tommy and Daniel exchanged a glance, and Tommy nodded.
As they set off on their bikes on the first day of the Easter holidays, Daniel’s Mum called from the front step. “Where are you two off to today?” Tommy turned and smiled. “We are going to see a demon”. The lady smiled, and shook her head. As they rode away, she heard her son shout. “Not a demon, a vampire!
And the boys laughed.
Let me know if you think this works a a story for children. Any criticism will be welcome, as this was just an experiment. Thanks, Pete. 🙂