For the 2014 Secret Santa Art Exchange, I was challenged by LordSpy to write a tale based on the output of a random plot generator. I used the creepypasta plot generator created by Syera, found here. This was what it gave me to work with. I left out the "haunted by a strange creature" just to keep this workable.
One day in an abandoned farmhouse haunted by a strange creature, an old widower and a widower try to create the heart of a boy.
Early winter of 2006
Harry Arnsberg stood back and looked at the machinery before him.
"I don't know, dad. This just feels weird."
His father flipped up his welding mask and turned his blowtorch off.
"Just have faith, son. Jenna and Maureen would have."
The remark hit home and Fred Arnsberg immediately regretted making it. "I know you miss her. I miss your mom too, you know that. But they'd have wanted us to do this. You know that, don't you?"
Harry sighed and shrugged. "I guess, dad. It's just so out there, you know."
"Any more out there than a woman getting pregnant without having sex and some guy multiplying fish and wine on a hill?"
"I guess not," Harry mumbled, "I guess not, no. It's just…even if this is all true, why can't we…"
His father interrupted him. "The past is the past, son, you know that. It's the future that we can influence."
Harry sighed. "Yeah, I know. It just feels unfair."
Fred flipped the welding mask down again.
"Life isn't," he said and went back to work.
His son was left pondering the events that had led to this. As he surveyed what he and his father had built, his mind went back to the darkest day of his life. He'd been working in the family's hardware store, soon to be his, when the call came. He'd actually felt it beforehand, right before Jenna had left the house with their son to go pick up his mom, but he hadn't known what that knot in his stomach was. If only he had. He dug his nails in the palms of his hands, hard. That was the only thing that kept him from sliding into a very dark place. One he knew one day he wouldn't come back from if he kept doing this to himself.
"What do you need me to do, dad? Anything I can do specifically?"
His father didn't answer, just pointed to some blueprints that had obviously been download from somewhere. The resolution was awful.
Harry surveyed the papers. There were about six different ones his father had printed out. The designs made no sense whatsoever, but there was something there, Harry couldn't deny that. He felt it in his bones and it reminded him of how church had felt before. Grabbing one of the top blueprints, he sat down at the rickety table occupying the sparse amount of space not yet taken over by sheet metal, bolts, springs and gauges. "I'll go hunt for the components for this one then, dad?"
His father didn't react and Harry didn't need him to. He'd resolved to have that most elusive of qualities: faith.
One clear winter's day, 2004
At least they hadn't felt anything.
That's what he kept telling himself, but deep down he knew he'd never be sure. Did Jenna grab his little boy's hand before their lights were extinguished? Did mom say something that was meant for dad but would never reach him? Questions that would never be answered and that would haunt him for the rest of his life.
But at least they hadn't felt anything. They couldn't have. The semi's driver couldn't help it either, Jenna had just lost control of the wheel due to ice on the road. She'd landed squarely in the opposite lane, right in the path of the biggest damn truck she'd ever seen, and would ever see. Dad and him had buried closed caskets. Two big ones and one far too small. In the weeks after, his father had turned into a recluse, shutting himself in his home. Harry had visited a few times, but he'd gotten little from the man he called his father. All he did was sit behind his computer and read, although sometimes he scribbled notes on a stained notepad. Harry had tried to read them, but his father hadn't allowed him to. Not then.
It wasn't until he'd stopped trying to talk sense into his father, and had started listening to the man that his father had opened up to him.
"God doesn't care, son."
Those had been the first words out of his father's mouth since the funeral beyond "hi son" and "bye". Harry had been taken aback at first. Here was his father, a god-fearing man his whole life, denouncing his god. He'd protested, he'd reminded his father of their long family history in the town's deep-rooted Catholic traditions, but his father had only glanced up long enough from his screen to let Harry see the strange mixture of dead hopes and fervent prayers in his eyes.
Over the following weeks and even months, they'd discussed what his father had found and Harry had felt himself disconnecting from his traditional upbringing and indeed his former faith. He came to realize that even if there was a god, he didn't care enough to let three good people live and spare a poor trucker a life-long trauma. And yes, others habitually reminded him that god worked in mysterious ways, and that Jenna, Maureen and Austin were with god, but he could no longer tell them he agreed with them, or that their words gave him comfort. They gave him chills, knowing that his loved ones might be just what they were to him: dead and gone.
What his father had found weren't empty promises and hollow morals, they were the remnants of order in a universe of chaos, the frayed ends of a majestic tapestry that could be woven again. Harry still wasn't sure how his father had stumbled upon it, but there were people out there, people who had learned the truth. And they wanted to share with his father. And his father wanted to share with him.
He'd found the blueprints. Or they had found him…
It was almost ready. It didn't look like it, but they felt it. As father and son spent all their weekends building their monument to their new god, they grew closer together, closer than they'd ever been before. They knew they couldn't erase the pain of the past, but perhaps they could contain the essence of what was lost.
"Almost there, son. Are you ready?"
Fred was sitting on the last remaining chair in the kitchen of the abandoned farmhouse he and Harry had claimed for their project. Harry meanwhile, was standing facing the kitchen window, staring out at the overgrown fields and twisted trees.
"I don't know, dad. I really don't. In the past few months I've felt something I haven't felt before. Like someone is watching over me, but it doesn't feel the same."
"That's him, Harry," Fred answered and smiled.
"I know. I feel like I know him, but at the same time it feels like I don't, does that make sense?"
His father nodded almost imperceptibly.
"That's just the way it is, son. To know him is to acknowledge your inability to know him. The flesh can only travel so far."
"I suppose so. Sounds creepy though."
Fred scratched the full beard he'd been growing since the day he'd lowered those caskets into the ground.
"Yeah, it does, doesn't it?"
They both burst into laughter, unsure of any other way to relieve their tension.
April 14th, 2007
"I'm scared, dad."
Harry stood at the panel marked 'master control switch'. A single yellowed light switch stick out from it. Much like most of the machine that now filled the one-time living room of this dilapidated farm house, it had been scavenged from inside the building. The sheet metal had come from an old abandoned combine harvester they'd found out in the barn, supplemented with whatever they'd manage to find at the local ironmonger's. The wiring had mostly come from the farm house, the rest from their hardware store and on-line shops. They'd had to make compromises, but somehow that didn't seem to matter. Sometimes intent was more important than result.
His father posed him the same question he'd posed him a few weeks before.
"Are you ready, Harry? There's no going back after this."
"I know, dad. It's just, I'm not even really sure why I'm doing this."
Fred put his hand around his son's neck.
"We're doing this because we have holes in our hearts, son. And your life leaks from them, a little bit at a time. All you can do is plug them with faith."
He felt his son beginning to cry, Harry's whole body silently twitching as the younger man tried to stay silent.
"It's okay, Harry. You need it."
He pulled his son closer and held him for awhile, silently staring at their creation.
"Dad…I wish we could save mom and Jenna too."
"I know son, but they lived their lives. They were too short, but they were lived."
"Yeah." That was all Harry could muster and closed his eyes.
He turned back to the control panel and flipped the switch. The power went out almost immediately, the machine's very improbable configuration a most probable drain on the industrial generator they'd procured. The machine didn't think much of it. It churned, it clanged, it whirred and all they could do was stand back as something bigger than them worked at violating the tired laws of the universe.
When it finally stopped producing noise and light, and it died with a tired, drawn-out sigh, Harry opened his eyes again.
Fred stood next to him, wide-eyed and still.
"Did it work, dad?"
His father didn't reply, his eyes staring into the distance, far beyond what the flesh could see.
From inside the machine came a soft voice.