The ‘Beast’ In The Bayou

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Circa 1950. Port Barre, St. Landry Parish, Louisiana.

Pierre Part dit LaForest was never so afraid in his life.

He looked behind him at the murky waters of the Bayou Teche expecting to see the creature running along the banks. He tried to concentrate while paddling his pirogue in the light of the full moon.

He shouldn’t have been caught out this late in the marshes. That nap set him back a bit. When he woke to the howl of a loup garou (Cajun for werewolf) he scrambled to the pirogue, leaving his gear behind.

Children at Port Barre are warned that loups garous can read souls, and that they only hunt and kill evil men and women and misbehaved horses. Pierre wasn’t sure he qualified as evil. Yeah, he may have done a bad thing or two, but was that all it took?

The beast’s howling stopped after a few minutes. He saw lights ahead and sighed with relief. Ft. Barre’s history stretched back to 1760 when it was an Indian trading post at the place where Bayou Courtableau flows into Bayou Teche.

Nowadays there were less than 2,000 inhabitants. Over half of the town’s income derived from speeding tickets. Everyone knew everyone. It was a tight Cajun community that was proud of its history, culture, religion (Roman Catholic), and entertainment.

Myths and legends were taken seriously. Most had been to a Shaman one time or another seeking help for something.

As Pierre downed his second bottle of beer his best friend Yves Dussault looked worried. He asked, “Are you sure it was a loups garou?”

Never heard that kind of howl before in my life. You ain’t either,” he assured him. “It made my blood run cold.”

Despite his scare Pierre was back fishing three days later.

Deep into the bayou there was a crude hut made from sticks and two old green Army blankets. It was Pedro Gonzalez’s home. He was originally from Mexico, but fled after the cartels captured his family and put them on display in a private zoo.

The Gonzalez’s all suffered from a rare genetic condition called hypertrichosis. Pedro had four inches of thick fur on his face, and his eyes were the only part of his head that was exposed.

This “curse of the hair” is caused by a primeval gene stemming from man’s animal ancestors. Some cases are more extreme than others. All the Gonzalez family had hair all over their bodies.

When Pedro escaped he made his way across the border and into Louisiana he had a plan. He read that it was almost impossible to find someone hiding in the state’s bayous. It was to become his new home.

For a year he avoided any human contact, but spied on people fishing,  listening to their conversations about loups garous. To ensure privacy, Pedro decided to become one. He certainly looked the part.

Living alone was no problem for Pedro. He hated to be stared at like a freak. After three years though, he was starting to miss conversations, and news about what was going on in the world.

Pierre decided he’d collected enough crawfish and catfish. The “Cracklin Festival” kickoff was today and he wanted to get home and change his clothes. He looked forward to dancing all night.

The sun was slowly setting amid a pink and orange skyline when the huge Alligator smashed into his little pirogue. Pierre was unceremonially dumped into the murky waters.

Watching from the marsh grass, Pedro saw that he was in big trouble. Going against every natural instinct, Pedro jumped into the dark water and swam toward Pierre who was screaming in agony!

The Alligator had his leg and was trying to pull him underneath the water. Pedro pulled the only weapon he had, a kitchen butcher knife, and slashed the Alligator across its eyes, puncturing one in the process.

The enraged Alligator let go of Pierre and turned on Pedro. But Pedro was ready. He’d killed a lot of Alligators (and smaller game) to survive. Nimbly avoiding the snapping jaws he plunged the knife in the base of its neck repeatedly.

After cutting its throat he drug the monster onto the bank. Then he remembered Pierre who was hanging onto the remnants of his boat. He swam back to him and held him in a lifeguards hold until they were on the muddy bank.

Pierre had passed out from loss of blood. Pedro tore a sleeve from Pierre’s shirt and wrapped up the gaping wound to staunch the blood flow. It was obvious he’d die without medical attention.

Despite his own misgivings, Pedro picked him up and started walking toward town. The night was aglow with lanterns and dancers were gaily spinning around on the massive wooden platform built for that purpose.

As Pedro stood in the shadows Pierre woke up. He looked up at Pedro and his eyes opened wide in fear. “No. I’m not going to hurt you. I’m leaving you here so you can get help.”

Pedro propped Pierre up against a large bald cypress tree on its knobby roots. Then he let out a series of howls. Looking back one last time at Pedro, he took off for the interior.

When the townspeople found Pierre they thought he was hallucinating and didn’t take much notice of his claims that a loups garou had saved his life. It seemed much more likely that the beast (the loups garou) attacked him and he was in shock.

From that day forward, Pierre added a new wrinkle into the lore of the loups garou.

As It Stands, I’ve often wondered if someone with hypertrichosis was ever mistaken for a werewolf.

 

 

How ‘The Human Beings’ Became Pets On Neptune

Paradise Found?

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Prologue:

In the era following the great nuclear wars there were small groups of mutated humans and animals scattered around the planet.

Climate change caused hundreds of islands to sink into the sea. Once lush landscapes were turned to deserts. Civilization, as man knew it in the 21st century, was reduced to ancestral memories…

The Kank’s long hops were rapidly closing the distance between it, and it’s prey. The prey however, had a plan. Stopping suddenly, Orun Tallman, turned around and raised his spear, a thousand year-old weapon made by the ancients.

The Kank took one last leap, eagerly anticipating a man-meal. Instead, it went crashing down into a pit lined with sharpened sticks with toad poison on their tips. The impaled Kang screamed several times, and finally went limp.

Orun waived to his clanmen. They cautiously came out from behind the nearby rows of green corn. They all wore dark green cloaks held on with a golden clasp. Each had a spear and a sword, or long knife. All ancient relics

If it wasn’t for the fact that they all had light blue skin, were hairless, and had six-fingered webbed hands, they looked just like the people in the sacred history books.

The small clan of 80 people were ruled by a circle of six judges. Three males, and three females. They called themselves “The Human Beings,” and lived by a few basic rules. Equality, and freedom, were cornerstones of their beliefs.

The most unique thing about The Human Beings was their lack of religion. They prayed to no gods. Instead, they lived their lives a day at a time. In the present. When they looked up at the night sky they saw stars, not gods.

There were no regular seasons to grow crops. The fruit and vegetables that managed to survive had morphed into different shapes and tastes. With the Kanks, and the Roons, roaming the land it was impossible to farm.

The Human Beings were forced to lead a nomadic lifestyle in order to survive. Hunting and foraging took up most of their day.

Orun was the clan’s best forager, and hunter. It was he who discovered the museum that yielded the weapons they now carried. What they weren’t able to take with them was buried in another secret location.

The Kanks and the Roons both had smaller brains than The Human Beings. Their crude weapons were no match for The Human Beings, but they made up for it in their body structures.

The Kanks legs were heavily muscled, supporting a powerful chest and short thick arms. It’s reptilian head looked too small for it’s body. They prayed to a panel of gods, each with a different power. Their were almost 200 Kanks.

The Roons were powerful, short, and squat. They looked like a blend of man and wildcat. Their multi-colored coats could change colors like a chameleon, allowing them to attack unwary prey. Combined with their speed, the Roons were formidable enemies.

They prayed to a single God called “He.” There was less than a hundred of their kind.

The Roons and the Kanks had one thing in common; they loved eating The Human Beings.

Orun had a vision for his clan. It involved finding a safe place to live where there were no Kanks, Roons, or any other clans that wanted to kill them.

Was it destiny? A matter of luck? Or, if you will, a miracle?

When the first Neptunian Cruiser came to earth on an extended space tour, it got close enough to earth to make out it’s inhabitants. The gigantic passengers (averaging twenty-five feet-tall) were delighted to be able to see new life forms.

Earth was added to the Neptunian travel packages after that, and soon became the place to visit in the solar system. It wasn’t long before sanctioned hunter ships began appearing and bagging “game.”

A live alien from earth soon became a precious thing on Neptune. There just weren’t that many of them. Most were too savage to be kept as pets. They killed each other off in no time. The lone exception was a small clan recently discovered called, The Human Beings.

Because The Human Beings couldn’t breath in Neptune’s atmosphere, they built clear walled enclosures that allowed visitors and inhabitants to see each other. The enclosure was a replica of where they lived on earth, right down to the soil, fruits and vegetables.

Orun Tallman, already highly thought of,  became a revered member after he made the pact with the Neptunians. The Neptunians were so pleased with their new zoo that they started searching for other civilizations that needed “rescued.”

As It Stands, I wondered how to do a zoo story with a twist, and suddenly Oren Tallman appeared!

The Legend of the Last Tiger

He was a Shaman once…

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Harry and Greda were lost in the vast woods of Wildermare and their oxygen tanks were getting dangerously low.

They’d been on Hunter’s World for over 23 hours, and only had enough air left for less than an hour.

The Hermit who lived in the Wildermare woods, their intended prey, was once a respected shaman in Atland. His species were wiped out by Lord Awraths legions of lions. But they never could catch him.

Now, he was a target for every pair of human hunters who could afford Lord Awrath’s game fees. They all hoped to kill the last of his race.

Thus far, he fended off every attempt. Years ago, it use to be just one hunter stalking him. Now they were coming in pairs, since last season’s record high of 14 hunters killed.

The Hermit’s biggest advantage was this was his world, and it’s atmosphere was deadly to humans. It became a game of cat and mouse, as the hunters turned back towards the ship’s safety.

Greda saw the Hermit first. He burst out of the thick underbrush and landed on all four paws in front of Harry. Unlike the Hermits cousins, tigers on the planet earth, he could talk and reason as well as any intelligent species in the solar system.

“You lose!” he roared, and with one swipe of his huge paw shredded Harry into bloody ribbons. Gerda fired her Super Laser 3000 and missed. Her oxygen was depleted when she was sent to the same hell as Harry.

The Hermit didn’t know how long he would be able to elude his hunters. He suspected they’d come in threes after today. But it didn’t matter.

He had a reason to live. Life wasn’t boring, and he did enjoy chasing those clumsy human hunters. He had to be careful of their weapons, but they were slow.

The Hermit became a legend, his story told throughout the solar system, and in distant galaxies. It inspired many species to make brave last stands.

As It Stands, this is my twist on hunting, a so-called manly sport.

 

The Trench Stalkers and Private Billy

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All was not quiet on the Western front in September of 1918. Cannons thundered and shook the night.

Flares darting into the sky making it daylight for a moment. Men shouting. Machine guns chattering like evil sewing machines.

Another deadly assault on a well-entrenched enemy.

The Germans and the Americans both had elaborate trench and dugout systems protected from assault by barbed wire, mines, and other obstacles.

As the months turned to years, the once small improvised trenches grew deeper and more complex, gradually becoming vast areas of interlocking defensive works that went on for untold miles. They resisted both artillery bombardment and mass infantry assault.

Yet here they were, preparing to give it another try.

The American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) had joined up with the French at the Aisne Offensive (at Château-Thierry and Belleau Wood) in June 1918. The repeated frontal attacks against the well-entrenched German machine gun crews took a deadly toll every time, with little or nothing to show for it.

William “Billy” Stewart was a private in the AEF and managed to stay alive the past three months by sheer luck and determination. He kept a daily diary to pass the long hours of waiting for something bad to happen.

Attack. Or, repel an attack. Today it was attack at 0500. Over the top. Charging through barbed wire and craters from bombs and mortars. Decaying bodies. The wounded screaming for help and their mothers.

The deadly chatter of the machine guns never stopped.

Then the whistle blew three times, and it was time to retreat back over the horrific landscape of death to return to the trenches. Thunder overhead. Cannons. And then the gray skies opened and the rain came down like bullets.

That’s when Billy saw him. He was bent over a body and was eating the exposed soft organs. He was wrapped in a thick black trench coat, and was so busy eating he didn’t see Billy.

The horror of what he saw eclipsed everything in the past three months. He was so stunned he didn’t know what to do. A minute passed, and the thing in the trench coat looked up and saw him.

Instinctively, Billy raised his M-1 Garand and pointed it in the ghouls direction. It let out a high hissing sound and spun around, disappearing into the maze of tunnels. When Billy told his best friend Alan he laughed at him.

“Oh c’mon country boy, you were seeing things,” Alan said.

That night, in his candlelit muddy hovel under the ground, Billy made an entry in his Diary.

“Saw something horrific today. I almost wonder if I was hallucinating as Alan suggested. Some “thing” was eating corpses in the trench lines! It ran when it saw me. Before it disappeared, I got a good look at the pasty white face and bloody lips.

It resembled a man, and was wearing a dark trench coat. I hope it was my imagination. You can’t imagine the horror of that thing making loud chewing noises while consuming a string of intestines. Time to sign off.”

Two nights later, still troubled by what he saw, Billy was on guard duty. His unit fought off a particulary powerful assault that day. The Germans biggest thus far.

This time he saw two of the ghoulish figures dragging a body down into one of the many tunnel openings. Despite his shock he went after them. The first 50 yards were lite up by gaslights in little shelves on the wall. Then darkness descended.

Billy pulled out his flashlight and pointed it straight ahead. He soon got lost in the twisting maze of tunnels that seem to spider out forever. The air was dank and the smell of wet earth assailed his nostrils.

Unit designation signs were posted on some tunnel entrances. He noticed that they were all French regular Army units. He came to a dead-end. Go right, or left? Or, turn around and try to find his way back?

As he puzzled over what to do, he heard faint noises coming from the tunnel on the right. He fixed his bayonet onto his rifle, took a deep breath, and slowly followed the source of the noise.

He came to an opening with a sign above it – “9e Régiment d’Infanterie de Marine.”

Inside he heard animal-like grunts and growls and the unmistakable sound of feasting. He pulled out his MK2 Pineapple Fragmentation grenade. Rifle in his left hand, and the grenade in the right, Billy stepped into the room.

It was worse than he could have imagined! Nine pale skeletal things dressed in regular French Army clothes that were rotting off their bodies. One was wearing a filthy officers hat, and appeared to be the leader.

“Oh look!” the thing hissed, “We are saved by our American friend. What took you so long?” the thing asked Billy, who was looking at the body it was carving up. He could still recognize the face. Alan!

The gernade’s concussion knocked Billy down as he was backing up.

When Billy was able to return to his diary two days later, he made a short entry;  “I wrote a letter to Alans parents and told them he died, fighting bravely to the end.”  

As It Stands, years of trench warfare drove a lot of people crazy on both sides of WW I. No one knows about all the bad things that happened in those miles of terrible trenches.

 

 

 

The ‘Good’ Genie from Mars

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The Martian desperately steered his spacecraft towards earth.

Bright blasts from the partical cannons of his pursuers streaked by his tiny craft on both sides, incinerating the space junk that clustered ahead.

Only Han-jinn’s speed and dexterity, combined with the AI interface of the spacecraft, kept him a step ahead of his enemies.

He only had one Vortex Accelerator Thruster left. It was his last chance. There were too many of them after him this time. His bank robbing days were going to be over…one way or another.

Knowing he might never see the red plains of Mars again, or the spectacular rivers that ran underneath the surface, Han-jinn made the decision to live, and threw the switch.

In the blink of an eye his craft was resting awkwardly on a big sand dune. There was only desert as far as he could see. The main computer was busy gathering information while images of the area flashed by on the silver screens in his control pod.

He was relieved to see humans looked just like him. They even came in different colors, like Martians did. He hoped to go among them, if he could find his way out of this desert – the Sahara Desert – according to the geological information being feed into his headset.

It was going to be a long walk, his computer earbud informed him. He strapped himself into the exoskeleton that added two more feet to his height, making him eight-feet tall. He was use to intense heat.

Al-Malik and his nomad comrades looked up from their noon day meal and saw Han-jinn in the distance. They were left speechless as he came nearer to their camp. Concern crawled over Al-Malik’s face as he muttered, “A Jinn.”

As Han-jinn walked into their circle all five of them fell to their knees and touched the ground with their heads.

“Are you a good Jinn?” Al-Malik asked as he looked up hopefully.

“How do you know part of my name?” Han-jinn wondered. Just then, the earbud came through with a summary of the situation.

“These men are Arabs who believe in Islam. In their mythology and theology there are supernatural beings called genies, or jinns. In their holy book the Quran Jinns are mentioned frequently (the 72nd sura is titled Surat al-Jinn),” the earbud informed him.

“Simply put, these supernatural jinns can be good or evil. Sometimes they are even neutrally benevolent,” the earbud concluded.

Han-jinn stepped down from his exoskeleton mobile platform and stretched.

“It’s your lucky day my brothers! I’m a good jinn – Han-jinn – looking for a good time.”

As It Stands, all cultures have their own mythology, and bank robbers!

 

 

 

 

 

The Ghouls Night Out

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It was just after midnight when Cindy, Laura, and Tonya arrived at the trendy restaurant in Newcastle’s graveyard.

Blood and Bones offered the very latest in human cuisine and was a good place to be seen.

They were just good old country ghouls who enjoyed mingling with wealthy vampires and werewolves. When their waiter arrived, a zombie in a tuxedo, they ordered Hors d’oeuvres of boiled eyeballs and pickled ears.

The main dish they picked out was bar-b-que ribs, a chilled gut salad, and livers smothered in human fat.

“I still remember the old days,” Cindy said, while chewing on a pickled ear. “We had to hunt around for food and usually ended up with skimpy grave leftovers after the vampires and werewolves were done feasting.”

They toasted with a round of sparkling spinal fluid.

“To progress!” Tonya declared as she drank hers in one gulp.

Laura was delicately sipping hers when she saw a tall dark vampire who looked a lot like Elvis Presley. He was moving from one tombstone table to another casually greeting everyone.

Bela was the genius who came up with The Blood and Bone franchise that now spread throughout New England.

His black hair was swept back in a ducktail. His pale face made his red lips stand out like blood rubies. His black pupils were obsidian orbs that never blinked. The cape he wore over his fine black suit was lined with scarlet red satin.

Tonya saw Laura’s attention was elsewhere. Focused on Bele.

“Isn’t he a snappy dresser?” Tonya asked Laura.

Cindy whispered, “Here he comes,” and hurriedly swallowed the rest of the eyeball she was enjoying.

“I hope the food is acceptable Ladies.”

“Oh, yes…” they agreed in unison.

“You must be new. I don’t recall seeing you here before. I have an eye for pretty ghouls and would have noticed you.”

They were charmed. Finally, Laura spoke up;

“We’re from the hills about 10 miles from here. Not much happens up there, and we get bored. So, we like to have a ghoul’s night out once in a while, and go to a city. You’re right. This is our first time here.”

“How quaint,” Bele noted. “You should know there is a dress code here, and ragged blue jean shorts and low cropped blouses are not on the list.”

As It Stands, I’ve always enjoyed the classic monsters and this is a silly tribute to the genre.

 

Pete’s Last Hope To Stay Out of Hell

Do, or Die

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Questionable souls, standing in line, waited for one last chance to save themselves from the fires of hell.

There were two lines that stretched into infinity. One coming into the arena, and another going out.

The sounds of the Celestial Games filled the air.

“Do you have any idea what our challenge is going to be?” Pete asked the hulking soul in front of him.

“I heard it was different for every soul,” the hulking soul named Tyson replied.

The cacophony of sound increased as they walked into the enormous coliseum packed with Saved Souls seeking entertainment. Super sports fans. They were so good that they didn’t have to compete to stay out of hell. They went directly to Heaven after dying.

God sat on a huge golden throne on the other end of the coliseum. He was wearing a baseball cap and a sports jacket that glittered like diamonds. “Let the games begin!” he roared.

The games consisted of a variety of sports. Baseball. Football. Basketball. Hockey. Soccer. Golf. And boxing. The contestants were assigned a sport. Those in the football line had to tackle famous running back Gale Sayers before he got a touchdown.

Sayers, was one of the happy souls that got to play the game again…and again..in his version of heaven. Determined souls slid right off him as he barreled for touchdown after touchdown.

The souls that were assigned basketball had to make a basket with Wilt Chamberlain guarding them. He happily swatted away desperate shots without working up a sweat.

Those souls in the baseball line had to get a hit against Sandy Koufax. When it came to hockey, the souls had to keep Gordie Howe from scoring a goal. The souls assigned to golf had to play – and beat – Arnold Palmer in a 3-Hole sudden death.

There was one line – in the center of the coliseum where the souls waiting to fight against Mohammad Ali, were groaning out loud with fear.

Pete was in the basketball line. He watched Tyson dribbling the ball around Wilt…looking for a shot. Finally he thought he saw an oppening and took it. Wilt smiled and waited until the last second before sending it into celestial orbit.

Pete had a few basketball moves, but never played with an organized team. He grew up playing street ball. The were few rules in that version of basketball. He stepped onto the court and was handed a ball.

Pete looked up at Wilt who was smiling at him.

Flashback.

Pete and a four teenage friends are playing pickup basketball at a local gymnasium. Their team is playing one of the tougest groups of thugs in the neighborhood. The “No blood – no foul” rule was in effect.

The other teams center was taller than anyone in the gym. His arms looked unnaturally long and it was nearly impossible to get a shot past him. The game was tied at 19-19 (a point for every basket). It took 20 to win.

Realizing that he couldn’t get around, or shoot over their center, Pete dribbled to half court. Without even trying to drive and pop against their big man, Pete stopped and took aim.

He always had a good set shot. The range wasn’t impossible. He’d made many shots from there before. The center was content to let him make the shot. Everyone else was closely guarded.

Pete fired away. The ball arced and came down smoothly, barely moving the net in its descent. Game over.

“C’mon man! Bring it on! “ Wilt said, with a note of irritation.

According to the rules, a soul had to drive on Wilt and score. But Pete was never too worried about rules. This was sudden death. A deep breath…and Pete released the ball!

As It Stands, this tale was for all of you sports lovers.