Plot Summary/Details

The basic premise of this one (as best that I can remember it) is that a farmer, who has recently dug a new well, has discovered some sort of strange beings living underground near his well. I don't remember the details of how, but they communicate through notes lowered/raised in the well's bucket. At one point, the farmer and his wife send down a roast turkey dinner, which the beings below enjoy.

For reasons I cannot remember, the farmer either becomes angry with, or exceptionally curious about, the beings below. He descends the well one evening, possibly armed with a shotgun, possibly not.

The chilling twist to the story comes the next day went the wife retrieves the bucket from the well. The beings write that they really enjoyed the live turkey she sent them, and would like more. The live turkey, of course, was the farmer, who was eaten by the creatures below.

Other Details

I remember not only reading this one as a kid, but also seeing a tv show adaptation of it. I thought it was the old Rod Serling show Night Gallery, but I have not been able to find that particular story yet. I also seem to remember hearing the story told at summer camp a few times, which makes me wonder if the story has its roots in some old story/legend.

Timeframe of Publication

I'd guess no later than the 1970s, probably a lot earlier.

  • 2
    i believe that [story-identification] is one of the assets of this community... and a great source of reading material! – Francesco Apr 8 '17 at 4:49
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    @Francesco, and a great source of lost nostalgia. – Gnemlock Apr 10 '17 at 0:48

A little bit of research suggests this story is, or is an adaption of, "Hey You, Down There" by Harold Rolseth. According to IMDB, it was written for a black and white short, under the name "Ceux d'en bas", in 1983.

A written short also appears in the book "What's So Funny?", also credited to Harold Rolseth.

Here are some points that share similarity with your question:

  • A farmer digs a new well and discovers some sort of civilization of 'monsters'.
  • The farmer and his wife/daughter feed the 'monsters' by lowering down a turkey in a bucket.
  • The 'monsters' communicate back with the farmer using notes.
  • The farmer descends into the well, curious about the 'monsters'.
  • The 'monsters' send a note back up the well, thanking the wife for the delicious meal.
  • The short was adapted for TV (although the credited TV show is not Night Gallery, but Amazing Stories).

This story has been asked about a couple of times, here on Sci Fi Stack Exchange. In one question, the answer points to an episode from a mid-80s TV series called "Amazing Stories", entitled "Thanksgiving".

It appears that this story was not originally a legend, but it has been retold in several variations. In one variation, the farmers simply feed the monsters out of good will, for example. In another, the monsters put gold and jewels in the bucket, in exchange for the food.

  • That was my favorite episode of Amazing Stories. – Buzz Apr 8 '17 at 0:32

This story is indeed Harold Rolseth's "Hey You Down There." I read it in about 1973. It was in an anthology edited/presented by Alfred Hitchcock, "Stories To Be Read With The Lights On." Originally, it was published 1971 in "Yankee" magazine.

  • This really doesn't add anything to the top voted answer. Did you intend to post this as a comment? – Valorum Sep 26 '17 at 0:33
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    Confirming the story title and author may be redundant, but I mentioned the Hitchcock anthology because it is probably fairly easy to find on Ebay for anyone who wants to read it, hence my post. So I think I have added to the top answer. – user89108 Sep 26 '17 at 0:40
  • I can't find that Hitchcock anthology at the ISFDB. Can you provide any more details about it: ISBN or SBN, link to a review? – user14111 Sep 26 '17 at 0:56
  • Hi. I just found the anthology on sale at amazon.co.uk with the ISBN listed as: ISBN-10 0370014928 ISBN-13 978-0370014920 Hope this helps. – user89108 Sep 28 '17 at 21:30

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