A missing child, a mysterious place called “Bum’s Jungle,” and a young romance. Seemingly unrelated events converge one summer for Tony, leading to self-discovery, and a meeting with The Ferryman.


“ I’m not the first kid to end up down here, ” Tony thought.

At the far end of the room there was a heavy wood door. It scraped against the floor when Tony tried to open it and he took pains to lift up on it as he opened it to mute the scraping sound. He glanced over his shoulder, expecting to see a sliver of light on the wall as Willie opened the door and came down to kill him (or worse), but he had apparently not alerted the old man to his consciousness.

He managed to get the heavy door open far enough to see inside–it was the old coal chute. There was a small set of steps, and two heavy wood doors formed the ceiling. Tony wedged himself into the opening and carefully pushed on one door. The door began to rise and for just a moment, Tony thought he was about to escape. His heart sank when the door stopped. He relaxed his legs, relieved the pressure on the door, then pushed again, as hard as he could without making too much noise. The door would only open about two inches. If he had been able to see the other side, he would see the shiny padlock the old man had installed with a heavy-duty hasp.

He crouched, slipped his fingers under the edge of the door and allowed the weight of the heavy doors to rest on his knuckles. He curled his fingers a bit and was able to raise the door enough to see outside.

A yellow yard light illuminated Willie Schmidt’s back yard and there was a six-foot privacy fence all the way around the perimeter. Tony’s bike was leaned up against a shed. Right next to it, a distinctive green Schwinn with one yellow mag wheel and one black.

“Son of a bitch,” Tony muttered under his breath.

Tony let the door down slowly and retreated from the coal chute.

“ I have to find a way out of here ,” he thought.

Read The Ferryman – PDF
A short story by Troy M. Larson
27 pages | Mystery/Suspense

Troy Larson is a father, author, and photographer from Fargo, North Dakota.