The Other

October 23, 2008
By Andrew McNally, Scituate, MA

A small town in England, 1832

“Burn him down! Burn him down! Burn him down!” were the cheers of the crowd, as they approached the house on the hill. A group of people, the whole town I would guess, came to burn down the house on the hill. Doctors, barbers, masters, servants, neighbors, church-goers, the non-believers and victims of diseases all showed up, most with torches in their hands. And anyone without a torch bore a pitchfork, or an axe, or their own shoes if they didn’t have the money. The crowd was loud and violent, and they made their intentions known. The crowd was blood-hungry, and they desired for revenge. Revenge only because the man with the house on the hill wasn’t one of them. The man with the house on the hill lived by himself and never went into town. He grows all of his own necessities (which still fascinates some of the town people how he can grow such a variety of products that aren’t home-grown) and is never seen without his black overcoat. Only a few people of the town can recall actually ever seeing his face, and some younger folks claimed they had never even seen him at all. But yet these young ones are in the massive crowd, approaching his house on the hill. How the man with the house on the hill felt about a crowd approaching his home with fire, well we can venture a guess.

The birth date and parents of the man are unknown. No one besides the man himself can tell you anything about his life, including his nationality, and anything from his past. The only information I can give is that the man lives by himself, he always has and he prefers it that way. The black attire does not entirely reflect on his personality, I could imagine. But what the hell, I never met him I’m just telling the story. The most we can find about him comes from newspaper stories and town records. But that will have to do, since he wouldn’t talk anyhow. Whether or not the rest of this story is true is up to your decision, because I’m gonna base my description on the newspaper, town records and my own imagination to fill in any missing parts.
In 1825, the man appeared suddenly in town, and built his house at the top of the hill, even though everybody else lived in the small center of town. The people of the town immediately noticed that he was different; he always skulked about, when he was actually outside, he always wore a black top hat with a long black overcoat, and he did not attempt to make conversation or even learn the names of anyone else he was around. The people of the town promptly held a town meeting to discuss the new addition to their town. In the end, against the views of many, they decided to welcome him, because he was living in the town and all. At the next town meeting, everyone attended, except the new man in town. One housewife attempted to welcome the man by herself, by bringing him a cake. However she was unsuccessful. After she made the long walk to the top of the house, she saw the entirely black house and hesitated for a moment. She continued on and knocked at the door several times. She turned around to walk away when she saw the man inside the window, sitting on a rocking-chair. She knocked at the front door one more time, but it was this time when she realized that the man inside was making no effort to answer the door. Flustered and confused, she returned to her home in the center of town.

Signs of welcoming soon wore away, as the man always turned down any slight action from anyone in town. The town church even held a mass in honor of the man, just in case he held any evil spirits of any kind. The kids in town started calling him by nick names, like Dr. Death, and Mr. Black. But all Mr. Black had wanted was a place that was peaceful and quiet. And just like every time before, the people of the town could not understand this. At least this small town had waited seven years before they came with torches. Every town Mr. Black yielded the same result. In some way, every person in town would eventually show up at his door, whether threatening violence, like this particular town, or with eviction notices with no valid reason for eviction. One town held secret town meetings after dark to decide what to do with the new guy in town, Mr. Black, and eventually stormed his house in the middle of the night, going so far as to burn down his small home. And he had only been living there for 11 months. I’m not too sure what happened to the villagers after that event.

One day, around 1831 I would say, the kids of the village decided to visit Mr. Black, no different than what had happened in every town before, and play a game with him. I cannot exactly describe what happened during the short time the kids were inside Mr. Black’s home, but I do know that Mr. Black had the best of intentions when the kids came to his door. He was simply overtaken by his guilty conscience, I would guess. See, the only age group that Mr. Black truly liked was kids. He had always thought that the kids could improve the future. And that I do know for a fact. But whatever happened in that small, black cottage surely did not help the future for those kids, and whatever game was intended to be played was not played at all. Luckily all but one of those children made it out with only scars, both physical and emotional. One kid suffered a sprained leg or an arm….I can’t really remember which. But that’s not important. What’s important is that Mr. Black recognized that after this fateful day, his time in the town was running short. He knew that soon the townspeople would somehow call for his leaving, just like every other time. Mr. Black contemplated getting his things and moving right then, but he decided to wait and see what the townspeople prepared…

So now it is late 1832, just a few days before November if I can recall correctly. After months of planning the townspeople have decided to take Mr. Black’s house by force, as they no longer want him living in their quaint little town anymore. Of course, Mr. Black has been prepared for this day for months. But the mob outside his window did not know of his past. And they did not know of how this very same situation had been played out numerous occasions, in numerous other quaint towns in England before theirs.

“Burn him down! Burn him down! Burn him down!” were the cheers of the crowd. The crowd approached Mr. Black’s home, yelling “Burn him down!” And after they realized that Mr. Black was not going to show his face, they decided to do just that. With men standing, torches in hand, at all four corners, they lit his house ablaze. Yet through the windows they could see Mr. Black still would not move out of his chair. The mob backed off and watched as his house began to burn from the top down. The mob watched joyously, as the one they had come to despise had decided to go down with his house. Everyone of the town knew that this made their job even easier. They also knew that they should feel sorry, and some of them did. But all of them felt some sort of glee, because they had conquered the frightening man with the house on the hill. Of course they had conquered him; the fire was almost touching him by this point…

As Mrs. Parkinson and her daughter, Jane, rode into town, a strange feeling overcame them. “Something doesn’t seem right.” Mrs. Parkinson told her daughter. There was no one around. “It’s close to dinnertime I know…but I’ll be darned if I even feel a soul moving in this town.” She noted the emptiness in spirit that filled both her and the town. Mrs. Parkinson came to the house belonging to her sister. “Lucy, I have a letter for you from the nice Reverend Johnson…” There was no reply from inside the house. “Jane dear, go knock on some of the doors near here, see if anyone replies.” Jane ran off and knocked on the first door she saw, the neighbor of Lucy. She waited patiently but eventually moved on to the next house. She repeated this process six times before her mother called her back. “Jane dear, I think we should get of here, now. There is something going on here, and I do not want to be a part of it. I do not want to know what happened here. Let God shield me from what events occurred on this soil!” Mrs. Parkinson grabbed her daughter and quickly rode back to her home three towns from there.


The story of Mr. Black, like I think I said, is based off newspaper articles, town records and your own interpretation. What happens after this, well you can decide for yourself…but this newspaper clipping might help a little, if you interpret it the same way I did…


A man’s body was found in the forest on Tuesday, apparently shot in the arm. The man who shot him has come forward and confessed his actions. “I was out hunting fox with my dog, and we didn’t even see this man walking through the forest, and I guess I aimed at a fox but the bullet must have deflected and hit him. It was purely an accident and I feel sorry for the man and his family, I hope to send some condolences to the family when his identity is figured out”. The police are questioning the local residents, but the questions are inconclusive as of yet. The man was wearing all black clothing, including a long, black overcoat, according to the hunter, who asked to remain anonymous. There will be a funeral for the man, once his identity is determined. The police have invited everybody to help solve the mystery of the man’s identity. Jim Davis, September 9th, 1834.

The author's comments:
If you read through the creepy aspect of it,its really a story about diversity and not fitting in. We don't know if Mr. Black actually did anything.That's your call.

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