It was an old house in old times. The time when a bedroom was just that and you were lucky to have a bed above the floor. This small room held two iron bed frames with barely room to walk between them. The beds had coil springs with piles of string quilts and a thick feather bed atop them.
Two people lay close together in one bed, adults by their shape under the covers. The second bed held three children in varying sizes. The sounds of sleep were all that was audible in the cool moon lit night within the house. Outside, the night was sprinkled with winter sounds.
The smallest child awoke. She opened her eyes, letting them adjust to the dark and to the moonlight streaming through the only window. Something wasn't right but she couldn't decide what it was. She raised her head to check her mother and father as they lay asleep, all was right there. Being the smallest, she slept in the middle of the bed and knew her sisters lay close.
Yet, there was something, she couldn't shake the feeling. Only five, she may be getting a touch of "The Gift" like her mama had. Mama could "see" when she was little too. Mama could tell you company was coming long before the dogs could hear.
The small child raised up onto her elbows and looked at the night framed by the window. It wasn't time to stoke the fire in the cook stove and she didn't need to attend to personal business so what had awakened her out of a sound sleep?
As she lay back down, her gaze was drawn to the foot of her bed...some one was there, standing. It was too large to be Daddy and she could still see they were in bed. Who was it?
The figure stood and did not move but she could hear a different breathing, different from the sleeping breaths around her. She thinks, if I cover my head, when I look again, it'll be gone.
She quickly tugs the quilt Grandma had hand stitched over her head and remembered what Grandma had told her. Grandma said, if you ever fear something, ask "In the Name of God, what do you want? If it is evil, the goodness of God will keep it away". The child, while saying this over and over under the covers also remembered to pinch herself in case she was dreaming.
She slowly lowered the covers just enough so one eye could see...it was still there!!! The moon light from the window was not enough to show any detail, just a shadow figure standing, breathing, watching...she covered her head again. The night passed.
With morning, the mother and father awoke and stoked the fire to warm the house. While the father did the milking and other chores, the mother prepared breakfast. After calling the children to eat when the biscuits were done, two children ran in bare feet to warm by the stove.
A call of "Sleepy head, day's awastin'..." brought no response. Checking the bed, it was empty.
The search lasted for days but nothing was found except for one very large bare foot print, pointed toward Rock Holler and the deep woods.