First part is here.
The lower I sank, the higher the smell grew, slipping up my body until the stink of it— dried, rotting meat of some sort and the heavy thickness of curdled milk— penetrated my nostrils. I gagged once and heard Ruth’s voice from above, barely audible against the slow drip of well water.
“Mind all those dead Matthews down there.”
Her taunt was echoed by more laughter and I looked up, eager to glare again, when I noticed only a sliver of light above me. I didn’t know if those horrid girls were sealing me in or if my descent had brought me so far into the well’s belly that the sun was being blotted out with each dip of the rope.
When my surroundings grew dimmer and the smell worsened, I examined the surface, taking in the slimy film on the brick and cool breeze that shifted my hair. The well itself seemed to moan and I knew, logically, that it was only the wind, only the whip of the breeze coming through the cracks and rot of the brick. Still, my heart sped and my grip tightened on the rope. Despite my threat to Ruth, I remembered my old aunt Hilda’s warning; how she made me wary of this place, of its past.
“Never venture to the Wishing Well, dear heart. There are shadows below. Things you mustn’t see. Secrets you will go mad from hearing.”
She was old, I told myself. Old and superstitious and though now, dangling like some tiny worm on a hook, her warning screamed in my mind, I wouldn’t let my fear win.
“Silliness,” my father would say of Aunt Hilda’s superstitions. “ Nothing to fear in the night or in the woods but young boys wishing to lead you astray.”
I smiled, remembering the significant tone of my father’s voice and the deep wink of his eye when he gave me that warning. The smile, however, only remained a second, erased from my face by the slip of the rope. I called above me, shouting to Ruth, but received no response, not even laughter as a reply.
“Ruth?” I called again, this time letting my voice rise to an almost scream.
Then the rope jerked and shifted, twisting me around in a spin. As I turned in the bucket I thought I saw a figure, shapeless and gray, but when I looked back again it vanished. I reached out, trying to grab the thick moss on the well wall, but it broke under my touch. Finally, after the spinning slowed, I dug my fingers in the weathered white mortar between the bricks, my whole body shaking and the rope whining at the sudden stop.
I took a breath, calming, letting thick pockets of air fill my chest before I looked around. The light grew thinner above me. Two black insects I couldn’t name followed one another behind a large fray in the brick then I saw the long face of an old woman staring with wide, colorless eyes at me.“Lower,” she said before I had time to scream. “Take this one lower.”