The Arm in the Wall

The boy is in the basement, looking for something. The boy lives alone with his uncle, who refuses to ever set foot down there.

The boy is in a dark and spider-webbed corner, hunched over one of the many piles of papers, looking for the specific thing his uncle sent him down to retrieve. Behind the boy, an arm emerges from the wall. The hand of the arm is wearing a puppet of a goat. The eyes of the goat regard the boy carefully. The arm recedes and disappears back into the wall. The boy turns and walks back toward the stairs. As he crosses the floor the arm descends out of the ceiling. The fingers move, and the goat mouth opens. Its voice asks the boy if he wants to talk to the prisoner.

This happens all the time. Whenever the boy is in the basement, the arm comes out from the floor or wall or ceiling and the voice of the goat puppet asks if he wants to talk to the prisoner. The boy never knows what to answer. It has been asking this for years. Sometimes he wonders if his uncle is standing at the top of the stairs, waiting to hear his response.

The arm belongs to the boy’s father. The uncle killed the father in this basement, and in doing so he maimed the father so horribly that even his ghost cannot show his face.

The first few times the arm appeared to the boy, he never understood why the arm referred to itself as the prisoner. Then one time the boy walked too close to one of the basement walls. The arm shot out and wrapped itself tightly against the boy. The hand brought the goat puppet up close to the boy’s face. Very quietly, the voice said “Do you want to talk to the prisoner.”

The boy saw his reflection in the shiny black button eyes of the puppet, and realized who the voice really meant.