The Ancestors

The Ancestors
'Wight Sketch' (detail) by Jethro Lentle

‘Wight Sketch’ (detail) by Jethro Lentle

It never stops raining outside the new house. When you are upstairs it sounds like hundreds of pebbles thrown by so many little hands on to the pointy roof. And we can’t go outside to play, so we stay indoors and amuse ourselves with the toys. They belong to Maho, but she is happy to share them with me. My parents never knew about Maho, but she is my best friend and lives in the house too. She has been here a long time.

When my Mama used to come upstairs to put clean clothes in my drawers, or my Papa knocked on the door to tell me dinner was ready, Maho would hide. And wait in my room until I could play with the toys again. Maho sleeps in my bed too, every night. I wish I had hair like her. Maho’s hair is long and silky and thick. When she puts her arms around me and hugs me, I am covered up by her hair. Tucking itself under my arms and winding around my neck it is so warm I never need the blankets on my bed. I think her hair feels like black fur. Like big curtains she pulls them across her face so all I can see is her little square teeth. How can you see through your hair, Maho? I once asked her. It looks so funny. But she just giggled. And with their teeny fingers the toys like to touch her hair too. They stand and sway on the bed and stroke it.

In the daytimes the toys never do much, but we still go looking for them around the empty rooms and in the secret places my Mama and Papa never saw. When we find a toy sitting upright in a corner, or standing still as if suddenly having stopped the dancing on tiny fast feet, we talk to them. The toys just listen. They can hear everything you say. Sometimes they smile.

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Adam Nevill was born in Birmingham, England, in 1969 and grew up in England and New Zealand. He is the author of the supernatural horror novels Banquet for the Damned, Apartment 16, The Ritual, Last Days, House of Small Shadows, and No One Gets Out Alive. In 2012 The Ritual was the winner of The August Derleth Award for Best Horror Novel, and in 2013 Last Days won the same award. The same two novels won the RUSA for Best in Category: Horror. Adam can be contacted through

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