A life-long resident of New York's haunted Hudson Valley, JG Faherty is the author of 10 novels, 11 novellas, and more than 80 short stories in professional markets. He has been a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award (2x) and the ITW Thriller Award. His most recent novels are RAGMAN, THE WAKENING, and SINS OF THE FATHER. He is active on social media: www.twitter.com/jgfahertywww.facebook.com/jgfahertywww.instagram.com/jgfaherty, and www.jgfaherty.com


by JG Faherty


According to the official police report, it all started when they found Delbert Springfield down to Lowland Creek, dead and bloated as road kill. But me’n Elise know better.

It really began with our great-great-grandmother, more’n two hundred and fifty years ago.

And the dark things she brought with her from the old country.


I first heard the story of Hester Tinowyn in my early childhood. Grams told it to me and some cousins, including Elise, one warm autumn night.

“Hester was part of the first group to settle in Dark Hills,” Grams said, rocking in her favourite chair. We sat on the rough wood planks around her, drinking sun-tea.

“She had powerful magic, like her mother before her, and hers before her. In the old country, they called her a witch. People was a’scairt of her. But over here, she was important. She knew the best herbs and potions to make people well.”

“Jes’ like you, Grams,” Elise said from right next to me. Even then we was inseparable as lovebirds.

“Oh, her magic was much stronger’n mine. But it wasn’t jes’ magic she brought here.”

“What was it?” Cousin Jimmy asked.

“The wee folk,” Grams said, her voice turning cold as the winter waiting just down the road.

Someone asked why Great-Granny Hester did that.

“She was a bad person.” Grams said more after that, but I didn’t hear. Something in her words put a nasty feeling inside me, like spiders in my guts.

Seventeen years later, I still get all jittery when I think about that night.


It didn’t take long for Doc Soames, Dark Hills’ only real MD, to figure out the cause of death. Someone - or something - had stabbed Delbert more’n fifty times, little tiny cuts. Less than an hour later, Sheriff Roy Coombs was at our house.

“What do you think happened?” I asked, after Roy filled me in. I wasn’t surprised he’d shown up. Me and Elise have helped Roy on more’n one occasion, even though we don’t care for him much. He’s helped us, too, taking care of things that was in our mutual interest, even though he don’t care much for us, either.

That’s just the way it is in small towns.

Roy spat tobacco juice onto my fresh-mowed grass, leaving a stain the colour of dried blood.

“Well, unless we got some psycho who uses a letter opener to kill people, we all know what it must be.”

“But you came here to be sure.”

He nodded. “Is Elise here?”

“I am.”

We both turned as Elise came outside, looking as beautiful as ever. Even after two years of marriage, I sometimes had trouble believing how lucky I was.

“How much did you hear?” I asked, giving her a quick kiss.

“Enough. I’m guessin’ you got questions for me?” she asked Roy. Her tone was flat, and the reason hung in the air like a nasty dog fart, obvious but not commented on. Roy Coombs had tried to rape her when she was thirteen. It was the first but not the only cause of bad blood between him and the Tinowyn clan.

“Yeah. Did the wee folk kill Delbert?”

Elise’s body went rigid, as it always did when her truth sense kicked in.


“Did Delbert break the treaty?”

“No.” Elise’s eyes were wide and blank. I hated seeing them that way, just like she hated when I went into one of my trances.

“Did someone else?”


“Damn.” Roy spit again.

Freed from answering questions, Elise’s body relaxed and the life returned to her eyes.

“What did I say?”

“It’s the wee folk.” I shook my head.

“Well, I gotta go tell his family. Much obliged, Elise.” Roy’s eyes showed his real feelings, regardless of his polite words. Eddie’s death was yet another black mark on the Tinowyn family name. As the last two surviving members of our family, we continued to bear the brunt of our ancestors’ mistakes.

I watched Roy pull away, his tires kicking dust in the last of the sun’s fading rays.

“It ain’t over, is it?” I asked, taking Elise’s hand.

It went rigid in mine.



In 1788, the founding fathers of Dark Hills murdered Hester Tinowyn after discovering she’d been using the wee folk to settle old scores. They burned her house down in the night, much the same way some townspeople massacred mine and Elise’s family when we was just fifteen. Two of Hester’s daughters and one son escaped to keep the bloodline alive. They also exacted a terrible revenge on Dark Hills, but that’s another story.

After Hester’s passing, the wee folk continued their malicious ways until finally my great-grandmother Maria stepped in and forged the treaty, ending forty-something years of violence and thievery on both sides. The humans of Dark Hills agreed to never hunt the wee folk for their gold or magic. In return, the little people agreed to let us use the woods and fields in safety, and to stop stealing our food and spoiling our milk.

The penalty for breaking the treaty was death.


People tend to think things move more slowly in small towns, and that might be true when you’re talking about eating a Sunday supper or getting around to fixing a broken window. But when it comes to trouble, small towns are tinder boxes. One spark, and a second later you’ve got fire.

Less than twenty-four hours after he left, Roy Coombs was back, banging his meaty fist on our door.

“Kip, you in there?”

“Lord, he sure has bad timing,” Elise said, rolling off me and slipping into a pair of shorts, just in case Roy decided to peek into a window. It wouldn’t be the first time.

“We knew this was gonna happen.” My stomach was in knots at the thought of what he planned on asking of me.

The minute I stepped outside, the extra middle finger on each of my hands started achin’ somethin’ fierce. I stopped where I was, keeping the stairs between us.

“Jesus, Roy, what’d you do?”

“The little bastards got Eddie Clayton. We need to know what the hell’s goin’ on.” He held up two plastic bags, both with red evidence labels on them.

Inside each was a human thumb.

“Roy, don’t do this to him,” Elise said.

“He bears the burden on this. You both do.”

Elise started to argue, but I hushed her. Roy was right.

“Over there,” I said, pointing to the picnic table. “I don’t want those things in my house.”
Roy opened the bags and placed the thumbs on the table, bone-ends toward me. By then my own hands felt a thousand years old. There’s always pain; the fresher the bones, the worse it is.

I took a deep breath and touched one, not caring who it belonged to. I’d know soon enough.

As always, explosions filled my head with agony. Everything went black and then I was seeing the world through someone else’s eyes. In this case, Eddie Clayton’s.

‘Next Nashville Star’ on the TV. Getting up for a beer. Sharp sting in my ankle. What the—? Oh, Jesus! Why? What did I—

“Kip? Kip! Answer me!”

I opened my eyes—mine, not Eddie’s—and saw Elise standing over me, a worried look on her face.

“I’m okay.” I stood up. I’d fallen off the bench. Happens a lot when I get my visions. “Gimme the other one.”

“Kip, don’t—”

“I got to. Somethin’ ain’t right.”

Roy asked me what I saw, but I didn’t answer, just grabbed the second thumb and blew my brain to bits once more.

The vision was much the same. The wee folk surprised Delbert while he was jackin’ deer.

He was just as shocked to see them as Eddie’d been.

“We got a problem,” I said, after I came to. By then, Roy had put his gory evidence back in the truck and my hands no longer felt like they was in a vice. “Neither of them knew why the wee folk attacked them.”

“That don’t make sense.” Roy’s pad stayed in his pocket. None of this would make the official reports.

“They gotta have somethin’ in common,” Elise said.

Roy scratched his triple chin. “Only thing I can think of is Homer Frank. Eddie and Del had a scrape with him down to Hickey Tavern last month.”

I turned to Elise, hating myself for using her for the truth. “Did Homer Frank break the treaty?”

She froze.

“Yes,” she said, in her zombie voice.

“Hell and damnation!” Roy slammed his hand on the chair. “Why?”

No one answered. We couldn’t. Elise’s truth sense only provides yes or no answers, and without one of Homer’s bones to touch, I couldn’t know, either.

Roy shook his head. “Breaking the treaty means Homer’s givin’ himself a death sentence.”

“Not if he’s controlling them,” Elise said.

“Nobody can do that.”

“That’s not true,” I said, and Elise nodded.

“Our great-great grandmother could.”


We accompanied Roy to Homer Frank’s house. The minute I stepped out of Roy’s truck, acid and fire zigged and zagged through my hands, letting me know there was raw bone somewhere nearby.

“He’s got somethin’ in there,” I said, cradling my hands against my chest. “Somethin’ special. Ordinary bone wouldn’t set me off this bad.”

Too bad neither of us thought to ask Elise some simple questions or we might’ve had an easier time of things. Instead, Roy marched up the steps and kicked the screen door off its hinges, and we followed right behind him.

Into a trap.

A swarm of wee folk emerged from behind furniture and from under the front porch to surround us. Dozens of them, each about a foot tall and armed with nasty-lookin’ swords or spears. They wore their angry expressions like battle paint, all crooked teeth and glaring eyes under over-large brows.

Roy went for his gun, and several little people stabbed him in the calf. He cried out as his leg went limp and he fell to one knee. More of them stabbed his arm and he dropped his gun.

“Don’t worry, Roy, it ain’t fatal,” Homer said, emerging from the living room. With each step he took, the ache in my hands grew worse, until I couldn’t see straight.

Through my vanishing senses, I heard Homer say he’d figured either me or Elise would show up sooner or later.

Then my brain exploded into a million supernovas.


I sat on my front porch, a little boy again. Grams was in her rocker, her eyes wide and frightened.

“Grams, what is it? What’s wrong?”

“It’s her, Kipper. Behind you.”

I turned, and standing at the bottom of the stairs was an ancient hag, her frail body little more than sticks inside a charred dress. She beckoned me to join her. I did, despite the cold fear growing in my stomach.

“You’re Hester Tinowyn,” I said.

She nodded, her thin white hair dancing in all directions. “You’re a powerful one, boy. The blood stayed strong.”

“What do you want?”

“Someone’s stolen a piece of me.” She held out her emaciated hands, and I saw there were stumps between the forefingers and middle fingers.

The same place where my own extra digits resided.

“Return the power to where it belongs,” she said.

“But how—?”

“I’ll show you.”

With that, she reached out and took my hand.

And we died together.


I woke up in Homer’s hallway, my head feeling like I’d burst every blood vessel inside it. I was alone, and judging from the voices deeper in the house, Homer had moved Elise and Roy to the living room. Why he’d left me, I had no idea. Maybe he didn’t feel like dragging my unconscious body.

The why-fors didn’t matter. I knew what I had to do. I stood up and charged into the living room. I was still a good ten feet away from where Homer sat in his chair, Roy’s gun on the table next to him, when the wee folk came at me with their spears and knives. More than a few weapons hit their mark, but I managed to launch myself into the air before my legs went numb.

I hit Homer just as he went for the gun. The chair flipped over, sending us both crashing to the floor. I tore at his pockets, my lower half useless. More stings peppered my chest and arms, and I knew I only had seconds left.

Then my fingers touched bone—for once without any mental fireworks—and I shouted the words Hester had taught me.

“In the name of the Queen Aeval, I command you!”

All around me, the wee folk went still, weapons halted in mid-thrust.

“No!” Homer pushed himself from under me and grabbed the gun. “They’re mine to command!”

“Kip!” Elise’s scream was a distant sound.

“Kill him,” I whispered, but it was enough. As one, the wee folk attacked, stabbing Homer until he collapsed to the floor. They didn’t stop until his final breath left him.

When they finished, one of them walked over to where I lay helpless, numb and paralysed from the shoulders down.

“So, the power returns to your clan.” His voice was deeper than I’d expected, and filled with a hatred I imagined was as much for my family as it was for the way Homer had used the little people for his own purposes.

I shook my head. “I have no desire to make you my slaves. Go back to your homes, and let us consider the treaty binding once more.”

He eyed me for a moment, then gave a grudging nod. “So be it. Time will tell which of your ancestors you favour, the good or the evil.”

With that, he gave an odd, three-toned whistle and the wee folk marched out the door.


By the next afternoon, the effects of the poison had completely worn off and Elise and I headed into the woods to put Hester’s fingers back where they belonged. We’d discussed how Homer could have figured out how to use them, but in the end we had to accept we’d probably never know.

As we started down the path to the family cemetery, Elise asked me the question I’d known would be comin’ sooner or later.

“Kip, how come you can hold Hester’s fingers without blackin’ out?”

I’d prepared an answer she’d see as truthful. “When I talked to her, she told me that my touching the bone would release her power from it, so it wouldn’t be no worse than touchin’ a steak bone. A little tingle, that’s all.”

“Uh huh.”

I could tell she didn’t believe me, but without her lie detector goin’ off, there wasn’t much she could say. I hated keeping the full truth from her, but I didn’t want to alarm her if I didn’t need to. After all, lyin’ and not sayin’ somethin’ are two different things. And it was true Hester had released all her powers, so no one else could ever dig her up and use them again. She just hadn’t said where they’d gone.

Judgin’ by the strange vibrations in my hands all day, I had a feelin’ I knew.

Question was, would I turn out good or evil?


wakening sins

Ragman wakening sins of the father