The Silver Bracelet is a scary tale about two young boys who come across an ancient stone monument near a small village in Ireland.
My mother grew up in Ireland and her grandparents lived in a small village, not far from Doolin in County Clare. One Summer, when I was ten years old, my parents sent me to visit them. As soon as I got off the plane, my grandparents were there to meet me. We got into their car and they drove me all the way back to their village.
When we got there, I discovered that the area was very remote. There were fields, hills and mountains as far as the eye could see. There were only a few houses in the village and the bus only passed through twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. There didn’t seem to be much to keep a young boy occupied and I was worried that it was going to be a very boring Summer.
Luckily, the family who lived next door to my grandparents had a son who was around the same age as me. His name was Cullen and as soon as we met each other, we became the best of friends. I’m sure he was glad to have someone to play with. We spent the Summer exploring the area and had many little adventures together in the old caves and ancient ruins.
One evening, Cullen took me out to see the Burren. It was a huge, barren and rocky plateau that was covered with a natural limestone pavement. If it hadn’t been for the tufts of grass poking up through the cracks in the rock, it would have looked almost like the surface of the moon.
When we climbed up the hill, it was almost 6PM and the sun was beginning to set. I saw a large stone structure nearby and when I asked Cullen what it was, he told me they called it a Dolmen. Four large, grey rocks had been arranged in a circle and a long, flat piece of limestone was balanced on top. The sun was shining through the gaps in the rock, making it look eerie and beautiful at the same time.
We went over to take a look and I climbed in through the stones. One of the rocks had some strange markings on it. Somebody had carved a series of long and short scratches into the stone. It looked like some kind of ancient writing and I ran my fingers over it, wondering what it meant.
Just then, I heard Cullen say, “What that over there?”
Looking down at the spot he was pointing at, I saw there was a fissure in the rocky pavement we were standing on. It was filled with mud, weeds and moss. Cullen got down on his knees and began scraping away the dirt with his hands. Eventually, he revealed what looked like the corner of a wooden box, sticking up out of the soil.
All of a sudden, I got an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. “Let’s go home,” I said, standing up. “This is kind of spooky.”
Cullen ignored me and kept digging and tugging at the wooden boxuntil it came free. It was wrapped in rags and when he held it up, I could make out some kind of ancient writing on the cloth.
“Give me a look at that,” I said and I took the wooden box from him. I couldn’t make any sense of it. The writing wasn’t in any language i had ever heard of. I tried to open the box, but try as I might, I couldn’t budge the clasp on the front. It seemed to have been sealed shut.
Cullen grabbed the box out of my hands. “I’m the one who found it,” he said. “It belongs to me!”
He began bashing it against the large stones until it finally shattered. As he prised the broken pieces apart, something fell out and clattered against the stones at our feet.
It was a silver bracelet. Cullen picked it up, spat on his fingers and began rubbing it. The mud came off, revealing a strange design on the shining metal surface beneath. There was something very creepy about it.
“I bet this is worth a fortune,” said Cullen as he tried to put the bracelet around his wrist.
Suddenly, I had a very bad feeling. “Don’t do that!” I cried, but it was too late.
The moment that Cullen put on the silver bracelet, a haunting cry echoed around the surrounding area. It sounded like some kind of bird or animal screaming. For a few moments, we looked around. In the light of the setting sun, the area took on a spooky atmosphere. We were so creeped out that we took off running and didn’t stop until we were almost home.
Cullen tried to take off the bracelet, but it was clasped too tightly around his wrist. We said our goodbyes and arranged to meet up the next day.
Later that night, I getting ready for bed when I heard the sound of screams coming from somewhere outside. I listened as my grandmother got out of bed and muttered, “Who could be making all that racket at this time of the night?”
The screams continued and she shouted out for my grandfather. There was something in the tone of her voice that was unnerving. I poked my head out the bedroom door as my grandfather put on his dressing gown and hurried downstairs. He picked up the phone and tried to call someone. I stood at the top of the stairs, unsure of what was going on.
A few minutes later, he hung up and when he turned around, his face was pale.
“Those screams were coming from your friend Cullen’s house,” he said. “they’re not answering their phone.”
I swallowed hard. My grandfather stared at me for a moment, eyeing me suspiciously.
“What were you and Cullen up to today?” he asked.
Frightened, I began to stammer, “N-Nothing. W-we just went up to The Burren… T-That’s all…”
“What were ye messing about with up there,” he asked. “Quick, now. Tell me what did ye do?”
I decided to tell the truth and the words came tumbling out of my mouth.
“We were messing around the dolmen up there. We found something buried under it. This old wooden box was sticking up out of the ground. Cullen busted it open…”
“Dear God!” he exclaimed, exchanging a worried look with my grandmother. “And what was it ye found inside?”
“Just a silver bracelet,” I replied. “Cullen put it on. He was wearing it last time I saw him.”
“Come on! Get dressed!” my grandfather barked. “We’ll have to check on them. There’s something going on next door and it doesn’t sound good.”
I threw on my clothes as fast as I could and accompanied my grandfather as he hurried outside. My grandmother followed close behind, still in her dressing gown. The screams had stopped and the night was eerily silent. All we could hear was the sound of crickets chirping.
The front door of Cullen’s house was standing ajar. When we opened it and stepped inside, there was an unpleasant smell in the air. At the time, I didn’t know what it was, but when i think back now, I realize it was the stench of death. The telephone had been ripped out of the wall and lay on the carpet in the hallway.
When we entered the living room, the smell was even stronger. Cullen was lying there, slumped in the corner. He was conscious, but his eyes seemed to be glazed over and white foam was drooling from his mouth.
My grandfather came to a sudden stop and held me back. In the middle of the floor, lay the dead bodies of Cullen’s parents. They had been stabbed to death. The scene was so horrible, I couldn’t bear to look at it a moment longer.
My grandmother was behind me and she shielded my eyes.
“Call the police, Maureen,” whispered my grandfather.
Grandma nodded tearfully and hurried off. My eyes travelled back to Cullen. He was holding a bloody knife in his left hand. His arm was was moving back and forth in a jerky motion, stabbing the wall and the carpet. The movement appeared to be involuntary, as if he had no control over it. Staring in horror, I saw that his left arm was completely black and the silver bracelet was still on his wrist.
“Is that the bracelet?” whispered my grandfather.
I was too shocked to reply. All I could do was nod my head.
My grandfather cautiously approached Cullen, but the boy didn’t move a muscle. He just lay in the corner, drooling on himself, his arm jerking back and forth. Grandad put his foot on the boy’s arm, pinning it to the floor and wrenched the knife out from between his fingers.
“Come here and look at this,” said my grandfather.
I went running over to where he was crouching and peered over his shoulder. He was holding Cullen’s blackened arm and as I looked closely, I noticed that something was moving underneath his skin. It seemed like there were little bumps moving back and forth inside his arm. I was horrified, but I couldn’t take my eyes off it.
My grandfather pull to take the silver bracelet off Cullen’s wrist, but it was too tight and wouldn’t budge an inch. Picking up the knife, he pressed it against the boy’s skin and slit his arm open.
I will never forget that sight.
There wasn’t a drop of blood. Instead, thousands of tiny insects came pouring out of the wound. Cullen showed no reaction whatsoever. The insects streamed across the carpet and my grandfather pushed me aside.
“Don’t touch them,” he cautioned.
Shortly afterwards, the police arrived and my grandmother took me back to her house and put me to bed. It was a long time before I was able to fall asleep that night and several times, I woke up screaming.
In the morning, Grandad told me that Cullen had been taken to hospital.
“They couldn’t save his arm,” he said. “They had to amputate it.”
My grandmother served me breakfast, but I wasn’t able to eat anything.
“That dolmen you were at yesterday,” said my grandfather. “In Irish, they call it Poll na mBrÃ³n… You know what that means?”
I shook my head.
“The Hole of Sadness,” he replied. “Years ago, there was a group of archaeologists went up and did an excavation up there. They found the remains of 22 people buried underneath that dolmen. Six of them were children. The dead don’t take kindly to those who disturb their rest.”
The next day, my grandparents put me on a plane back to the United States. My parents collected me from the airport and I was glad to be home, safe and sound.
I heard later that Cullen never recovered and was put in a mental institution. The police believed he had gone insane and murdered his parents. The newspapers speculated for weeks about the motive for the murders, but not one of them mentioned the silver bracelet.
Today, the silver bracelet is in the Irish Museum of Natural History in Dublin. They keep it behind a glass case and nobody is allowed to touch it.