The Wishing Well is a scary ghost story about a troop of boy scouts who go camping near a haunted field. It is based on an old horror story by M.R. James called “Wailing Well”.
Many years ago, there was an exclusive boarding school in England that had a scout troop. The leader of the scout troop was a teacher and, one weekend per month, he would take the scouts on a camping trip.
There was one young boy in the scout troop who was very disobedient and disruptive. His name was Stanley Jenkins and he was always getting up to mischief. No matter how many times the teacher told him off, he would never listen.
One weekend, the scouts went camping in the English countryside. They got permission to set up camp on a farmer’s land. The spot was on a ridge overlooking a deep valley. The teacher warned the boys not to go off wandering on their own and told them that, under no circumstances were they allowed to go down into the valley.
While the teacher and the other scouts were pitching the tents, Stanley Jenkins and his friends were sitting around in the grass. They were too lazy to help set up camp. Instead, they went looking for some kind of mischief they could get up to.
As Stanley Jenkins gazed down into the valley, he noticed a field that was surrounded by a barbed wire fence. At one corner of the field, there was an old stone well. It looked like the field was never used and it was overgrown with weeds and brambles.
Just then, they saw the farmer who owned the land coming with his dog. As he passed by, Stanley Jenkins waved at him and the farmer stopped to talk.
“What’s in that field down there?” asked Stanley Jenkins. “The one with the well inside it.”
“That’s the wishing well,” the farmer replied. “But you’re not allowed to go down there. I hope your teacher told you that.”
“Wishing well?” said Stanley Jenkins. “You mean if you throw some money into the well, you can make a wish?”
The farmer let out a grim laugh. “I wouldn’t know,” he said, “That’s what they call it, but nobody around here goes near the wishing well. In all the years I’ve lived here, I’ve never set foot in that field.”
“What’s the matter with it?” asked Stanley Jenkins.
“All I know is, the cows and the sheep keep away from it. Even my old dog wouldn’t go through that field and neither should you boys, if you’ve got a brain in your heads. They say it’s haunted.”
“Haunted?” Stanley Judkins scoffed. “Haunted by who?”
“Three women and a man,” said the farmer gravely.
“Who are they?” asked Stanley Jenkins.
“It all happened before my time,” said the farmer, “but I was told they died in the well… or were found dead in it… I saw them once. It was twilight and I was standing on this very ridge. My old dog saw them too. They came out of the bushes and went crawling around… Four of them… Just black rags and white bones. It seemed as if I could hear their bones clacking as they moved. I couldn’t make out their faces… All I could see was their teeth.”
The boys let out a collective gasp.
Stanley Jenkins chuckled. “What happened then?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” said the farmer. “My old dog took off running and I took off running after him. So take my advice, boys. Steer clear of that wishing well if you know what’s good for you.”
With that, the farmer tipped his hat and walked off. The boys stared after him.
“What a load of bull,” said Stanley Jenkins. “I don’t believe a word of it.”
The next evening, the teacher gathered the scouts and did a head-count. He noticed one of the boys was missing. After doing a roll call, he discovered that the missing boy was Stanley Jenkins. None of the other scouts seemed to have any idea where he was.
Then one boy spoke up. “Maybe he went down to the wishing well, Sir,” he said.
The teacher’s face went pale. “The wishing well?” he gasped. “But you were all given strict instructions not to go down there!”
The scouts followed the teacher as he walked up to the top of the ridge and looked down into the valley below. The light was fading and it was getting cold, but there wasn’t a breath of wind in the air.
“Can anyone see him?” the teacher asked.
“There he is,” said one of the boys, “getting over the barbed-wire fence. Do you see him?”
“Yes, it’s him,” said another boy. “I recognize his sweater. Now he’s making his way towards the wishing well.”
“That little idiot!” the teacher growled.
At that moment, one of the boys let out a high-pitched scream and covered his eyes.
“What’s that black thing on the path?” cried another boy. “Crawling on all fours… It’s a woman. Oh God! Don’t let me look at her!”
“Stop it!” the teacher said loudly. “Get a hold of yourselves! I’m going down there. Hancock and Fartleby, you run to the farmer’s house and call for help. The rest of you boys stay here and don’t move!”
The teacher ran off, leaving the boys alone on the ridge, staring down at the field below. To their horror, they saw another black figure emerge from the bushes. Then another and another. They saw Stanley Jenkins making his way towards the wishing well. He didn’t seem to notice the black figures approaching him, shuffling forward with their arms outstretched.
The boys started yelling as loud as they could, trying to warn him. As he reached the wishing well, Stanley Jenkins seemed to hear their cries. He suddenly stopped and turned around. Then he let out a scream more piercing and dreadful than any of the boys on the ridge, but it was too late.
The black figures closed in on him until he was surrounded on all sides. Then, they pounced.
The boys stared at the scene below in a terrified silence. They could hardly breathe as they watched the horrific struggle. The hood of one of the figures fell back, revealing a white skull with stringy wisps of hair. Their gnarled, bony fingers were ripping and tearing at Stanley Jenkins and soon his awful screaming ceased.
The boys spotted their teacher running towards the field. He scrambled through the barbed wire fence, but then he stopped and wouldn’t go any further.
The farmer arrived with a number of policemen. The boys pointed down at the field below and screamed “They got him! They got him!” over and over again. The policemen ran down into the valley.
The headmaster arrived and all of the boys were transported back to the school. Some of them were so traumatized that they later left the school.
The teacher stayed there with the police all night. The next morning, at dawn, they found what was left of Stanley Jenkins at the bottom of the wishing well. He had been torn to pieces. His parents came to collect the remains.
The farmer put up another barbed wire fence, encircling the field and erected large signs with “Danger” and “Keep Out” written in large red letters.
Locals in the area say that the field is now haunted by five ghostly black figures… Three women, a man and a young boy.