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Beware the Hobyas

January 23, 2023

“Beware,” her grandfather said each night Sasha slept over. He sent Grandma outside with the trash and knocked against the table three times.

“Beware,” her grandfather said each morning when Grandma went to the mailbox. Grandpa tapped the door handle three times.

“Beware of what?” Little Sasha asked, wanting more information for the reason behind her grandfather’s pale face and red-rimmed eyes. Why did he refuse to go outside alone? “Beware of what?”

“The hobyas,” he whispered, his voice tiny. His shoulders were hunched and it made the large man look impossibly small.

“What are hobyas?” Sasha asked climbing onto his lap to make him braver.

His large gnarled fingers gripped her body tight. So tight she thought there might be bruises left on her sides. “It’s okay, Grandpa. I’m here. You’re safe,” she whispered.

“They wait in the dark. In the shadows. In the corners of your eye but disappear when you turn your head. They’re coming for me,” he said. She felt the tremors that wracked his thin frame and wanted to hug him to warm him up but he wouldn’t let her go so she couldn’t move.

“But you send Grandma outside,” she said.

“Do I?” Grandpa whispered

Sasha’s mouth dropped open as Grandpa whispered right into her ear. “Hobyas wait, hidden, unseen and when you are not looking, they strike.”

“What do they do?”

“They snatch you up and eat you, snapping your bones and sucking on your entrails.”

Sasha didn’t know what entrails were but she shuddered all the same because that didn’t sound like anything you wanted to have happen to you.

“But that is not the worst bit.”

She reared back as much as his grip allowed. “There’s worse?”

“They replace you. They take your skin and they enter the homes of your loved ones. They become you. And nobody knows.”

“How do we stop them?”

“You can’t.”

“What do they look like? Before they become the people they eat?”

“Shadows. Nothing but shadows and teeth.”

“They’re not real, Grandpa,” she tried to say but his stare stopped the words in her throat. Then his eyes tracked sideways and Sasha followed his gaze to the old woman sitting at the kitchen table sipping her cup of tea. She slurped loudly and her head twitched sharply to one side as if she knew they were talking about her. She smiled widely, exposing yellowed teeth and blood red gums.

“Come along, dears. It’s time for lunch,” Grandma said.

Sasha screamed and ran to the other end of the house.

“Pa, what are you telling her? You devil. She’ll have nightmares tonight.” Both of her grandparents laugh. Sasha can hear them from her hiding spot under her bed. She hears her grandpa take off his boots and bang them against the lip of the door three times to get the dirt off.

That night Grandma handed Grandpa the little bag from the trash bin rather than the other way around. “Can you take this outside, love? Sasha’s almost finished her dessert. I’ll wash up.”

“Of course,” Grandpa said winking at Grandma.

Sasha relaxed her tight hold on her glass of milk. It was just a story. Her grandfather was trying to scare her. She giggled into her cookies and ice cream and waved at him as he stepped over the threshold.

He took a long time outside. Longer than usual. Sasha stood at the window, but she couldn’t see him in the dark. When he came in, he removed his hat and scarf and tapped his boots on the lip of the door to get the dirt off. Once, twice.

Sasha waited for the third thump.

It didn’t come.

She peered over at her grandpa but he had already moved away from the door.

He always knocked three times. He came into the kitchen and sat down beside Sasha. She watched his face carefully. His head tilted and jerked. He turned slowly to face her and his smile was sharp. All teeth and gums.

Oh no.

… Beware of the hobyas.

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  1. Grandma is right of course, but then again! I don’t think Sasha will want to sleep over again, that is if Grandpa as not eaten her all up. Yes, not a bedtime story.

  2. So creepy! 👏🏻

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