The New Rural Route


It was Al’s last day of work. He was ready to retire after 32 years of delivering mail in Scranton.

The postmaster turned over his regular route to the new man replacing him. All Al had to do on his last shift was deliver mail to a newly added small rural route south of town.

He suspected it was some kind of prank. A new route? First he’d heard of it. He’d play along though.

The postmaster and he were not friends. More like antagonists. The two tangled many times over the years.

It sure will be nice to not have to see his ugly mug anymore, Al thought as he hopped into the van.

As soon he turned onto Highway 33, he began looking for the road sign. It was supposed to be about three miles out. He almost passed the small blue sign that said Rural Route 47. He’d should tell the postmaster about that. Not that he’d care.

The exit was paved, but just a mile down the road the pavement gave way to a hard packed dirt road. The Post Office doesn’t supply 4-wheel drive vehicles, he thought, this road will be hell in the rainy season.

The road wound through a dense forest.  Rays of sunlight struggled to pierce the trees dense canopies on either side. He slowed down, straining to see a mailbox. A house would do too.

Finally. He came upon a row of twelve mailboxes. This might not be so bad if the other 24 addresses were going to be this easy he thought. Pulling out a bundle of letters he began stuffing them in the neat standard mailboxes. So easy.

In no time, Al was heading down the dirt road. He noticed it was becoming narrower as he progressed. It was down to a single lane when he saw a house on the right. It looked like something the Addams Family lived in. No mailbox either.

He parked the mail van in the poorly maintained driveway and walked the rest of the way to the front door. A mail slot. He pulled out a thin package (that really smelled bad) and a couple of standard size letters when a green tentacle shot out of the mail slot and snapped up the package!

Al stumbled backwards in shock. What the hell? What was that thing? He wasted no time in getting back to the van. Once inside with the door locked, he started taking a series of deep breaths.

I must have hallucinated, Al assured himself after a few minutes. But that smell sure seemed real. Steeling himself, Al shook off the incident and backed up onto the road. A short distance from there was another house that looked like it was built-in Victorian times.

It was more run-down looking with paint chipping off the wooden exterior. No mail box. This address had a small square package and several standard-sized letters to deliver. This time he had to leave the van parked on the road while he trudged to the front porch.

He set the small package down and slipped the envelopes into the door’s slot. Suddenly there was a loud unearthly howl! It sounded like a wolf. No. Worse. A pack of wolves! He didn’t stop running until he got back into the van.

Back on the road. No choice, but to go forward. Nowhere to turn around at. Al was done delivering mail to this creepy route. He passed another old house, but didn’t slow down. Still nowhere to turn around because of the densely packed trees!

Panic set in when he saw things chasing him. They were grotesque-looking things and more kept joining the race after him. He could hear shouts – almost human-like – demanding the mail!

The new guy at the post office asked about how Al did just before starting work the next day. The post master struggled to conceal a grin of satisfaction, and said, “I’ll bet he misses his old job already.” 

As It Stands, this story is dedicated to my buddy Larry, a post office retiree.


The Dentist’s Dilemma

The devil is in the details

p10003331Francisco Caputa, DDS, was ready for a life change in the summer of 1938.

He was sick of living in New Jersey, and had no roots to keep him there. His practice of five years was successful, but terribly boring.

That’s why when his cousin Alesandro Carbone called and said he was retiring from his dentistry practice in Bisceglie, Italy, he asked if anyone else was taking his place?

When Alesandro said no one was, a crazy thought went through his head. Move to Italy? His ancestors were from Bisceglie. He only spoke broken Italian, but the allure of moving to an exotic location like Italy was strong.

A month later, after selling his practice in the small town of Millstone, Francisco  moved to Bisceglie. At first, he stayed with his cousin while he searched for office space and an apartment.

Two weeks later he was ready to open. Alesandro helped him settle and vouched for him among the townsfolk. It wasn’t long before he had a steady flow of customers. The people were friendly, especially when they found out his family once lived there three generations ago.

A month later, while drinking at a bar, a drunk Allesandro was talking about the special visitors who sometimes came to get dental work done…at night. “They pay well, just don’t pester them with questions,” his drunken cousin warned.

That sounds strange to me,” Francisco responded, slurring his words while trying to focus on what his cousin was telling him.

“I assure you it’s an old practice, dating back hundreds of years, here in Bisceglie,” Allesandro explained.

Francisco woke the next morning with the worst headache in his life. He’d never consumed that much wine in one setting. While splashing water on his face at the bathroom sink, he vaguely recalled a conversation about “night visitors.”

Two days later an elegant card was hand-delivered to him. The beautiful hand-written script was bordered with Black Roses. It said: “Appointment at 9 p.m. I look forward to meeting you.” It was signed, Count Massimo Barzetti.

The hours slowly drug by. Francisco was torn between curiosity and dread as he puttered around his apartment. At ten to nine, he walked over to his office which was just a short way from the apartment.

Oddly, the streets were empty, unlike a few nights ago when he went on the drinking binge with Alesandro. He unlocked the door to his office and flipped on the light switch. No light. Frowning, he found his desk and lit the candle on it with his Zippo.

It was a small office with just two rooms. One with a dentistry chair and acudaments, and the other a bathroom. The waiting room consisted of his desk and three old wooden chairs by the window.

Promptly at 9 p.m., Count Massimo Barzetti, appeared outside the front door. He seemed to be waiting for something, so Francisco opened it for him. The tall thin man was dressed in a black casual suit and gold tie.

Once inside, he introduced himself and said it was time for his monthly cleaning and whitening. As surreal as it seemed, Francisco still managed to function and extended his arm towards the room with the dentistry chair.

“I’m going to need power,” Francisco said in a daze.

The count waved his arm and the electricty was restored. He then calmly got into the chair and leaned his head back.

When the count opened his mouth, Francisco reeled back in fear and loathing. The sharp fangs were tainted by old blood!

It’s really alright Mr. Carbone. Your great-grandfather was a good friend of mine. I must say, I’m pleasantly surprised to find out that my new dentist has local roots. It’s not in the contract, you know.”

“What contract?” Francisco managed to squeak in his suddenly high voice.

“It looks like your cousin forgot to mention this to you. He’s a sneaky one, I’ll give him that. As they say, the devil is in the details! According to the contract, there is only one Dentist allowed in Bisceglie, and he can’t quit his job until he finds a suitable replacement.”

The room started to spin and Francisco felt faint with fear. He had to ask what happened if the “new” dentist decided to leave?

The count smiled warmly and said he’d be locked up in his castle where he’d become a taste treat for his guests. “But it’s never happened before, and we’ve been doing this for untold generations.”

Francisco’s choice suddenly became crystal clear.

“When was the last time you flossed?” he asked.

As It Stands, I admit to having an unnatural interest in vampires.


Trouble In Dreamland


The dreamers twitched nervously in their sleep.

I watch them breath.

Some are breathing too lightly for a good sleep. Something must be tormenting them. They are tossing and turning in their hospital beds.

My job, as the guardian of Sleep Land, was to protect sleepers from bad dreams. Nightmares could kill. I’m not sure how I got this job, or mission if you will, but I feel great satisfaction watching people wake up from a long sleep, rested and happy.

I don’t think many people would want my job. It does get stressful, and I’ve seen some horrendous things. But it was never my choice to become a guardian. That’s because I’m always sleeping. Been in a coma now for eight years.

I don’t know what will happen if I ever wake up. I quit thinking about it years ago. I’m comfortable with my routine at the hospital, checking in on patients all night. The hospital holds 200 patients. I manage to stop in on all of them before dawn arrives.

When I sense a patient is experiencing something unpleasant, I step into their dream to see what I can do to make it better. Usually, I end up dealing with small annoyances that flee when they see me.

There have been exceptions. I’ve dealt with nine full-on nightmares in eight years. Each time it becomes more exhausting, and I sense my body weakening.

Make no mistake. A nightmare is a powerful thing. It can even make people do evil things after they wake up. That was the case of four of the nightmares I confronted. Each patient woke up with murder in their eyes.

Luckily, none of the four were able to carry out their desire to kill someone. They all ended up in an insane asylums. The remaining five nightmares, were defeated in Sleep Land and they never made it to the patient’s consciousness.

I’m feeling a bit odd today. Normally, I don’t let my mind wander around the hospital during the day because it’s too stressful watching life-and-death situations. That’s when I spotted him! A nightmare in the making.

He was there to get surgery on his knee. An armed correctional officer accompanied him. The prisoner had facial scars from countless fights in the day yard. The guard, Eli Benson, had to stay with him (with the exception of the operating room) every moment until he was released by another guard taking his place.

The knee replacement surgery took place shortly after Benson and his prisoner, Hans Hartmann, arrived. Still asleep after surgery, Hartmann was taken to a special room that only had a hospital bed, and one chair in it. Benson took his place on the chair.

When I saw Hartmann’s nightmare a few hours later I knew what was going to happen.

As night descended, I prepared myself. I saw enough. Hartmann was going to kill the correctional officer, a nurse, an old woman there to visit her sick sister, and one highway patrolman outside the hospital as he was getting away.

I had to stop the nightmare from stepping into the daylight.

The nurse who was monitoring my vitals was startled. I was waking up! She called for the doctor on duty, and ran to my room. The bright light blinded me for minutes. I kept blinking, trying to focus my eyes. I felt a sense of urgency.

When the doctor came he was all smiles, and told me he’d contacted my sister about my miraculous recovery. For the next two hours, nurses unplugged me from monitors and took the feeding tube out of my throat.

When I was finally free of all the life-saving equipment I was able to talk. My voice was raspy and words were difficult to form. I was able to get the attention of the last nurse before she left.

She was in her forties and knew her way around the hospital and how to work with patients. I asked her to do me a big favor. Of course she agreed right away. I asked her to get a security guard and to go check on the room with the prisoner who had knee surgery yesterday.

She looked at me like I was crazy. I couldn’t blame her. I told her that I had a terrible dream and would really appreciate it if she would check on the prisoner. I could see the doubt in her eye, but my sudden awakening had an impact on her.

She said she would. I waited impatiently, wondering if it was too late. It seemed like eternity before she returned. There was awe in her eyes. The prisoner was caught fighting with the correctional officer. With the help of the security guard, Hartmann was overcome.

I’m waiting for my sister right now. Something bothers me though. Who will take my place, and be the guardian of Sleep Land after I’m gone? I was in the lobby when I saw my sister, and something else. My replacement.

A small group of family members were crying as a doctor told them their daughter was in a coma, and he wasn’t sure if she would ever come out of it.

As It Stands, the idea of being in a coma has always fascinated me, but I’m in no hurry to lapse into one and find out what happens next.

Why A Bastard Had A Constellation Named After Him

orionAfter Eiloseth gave birth to Gren, she hid him in a cave on a moon orbiting Shurn.

She knew his father would kill him because he was a bastard. No one was allowed to stand in the way of the royal succession.

As a favored concubine, Eiloseth was allowed to live despite her serious infraction.

Lord Mog was a lusty king whose sexual escapades were legendary on Shurn. He was also quite crazy.

Gren was raised by his grandparents who went into hiding to take care of him when he was born. From an early age Gren exhibited unnatural strength and wit. He was walking, and talking, before he turned two years-old.

By the time he was six years-old he took over all the heavy work, like collecting firewood and energy stones to heat the cave up. He was already four-feet tall and heavily muscled.

They raised him like a son, and he believed they were his parents. Neither had the heart to tell him about his true heritage. That if he ever went to Shurn he would be murdered by the mad King Mog.

Gren became friends with the other fugitives who lived there. It was rough living on Ka because the moon’s landscape was barren and inhospitable. Life could only be sustained underground.

An endless maze of tunnels dug hundreds of years ago, spread out beneath the surface of Ra. Gren’s home was a fair distance from the other inhabitants. After doing his chores, which included digging for eatable roots on the surface, he would explore the endless     labyrinth.

Gren had devised a system of navigating the interconnecting tunnels that allowed him to explore without getting lost. In this way, he discovered the others who lived there. Over a period of years, regular communications were established among the people of Ra.

More importantly, a basic government was set up to guide the people. It consisted of twenty-four  men and women selected by their peers. This council came up with rules to live by and the people felt more secure.

People who had special skills were encouraged to use them. One example was when a geologist discovered a new element- ZX-20 – that stored energy like a sponge. The bright orange ore vein stretched for miles.

It wasn’t long before teams of geologists found other valuable natural resources. The discovery of Uranium and Plutonium caused quite a stir when a committee of scientists announced they could make bombs with it.

One thing that Gren’s grandparents made sure to do was to tell him about his home planet Shurn. They explained what kings and slaves were. They painted word pictures of the lush green valleys covered in a constant bed of flowers that changed colors with the seasons.

They told him about the mad King Mog and how evil he was. They explained that they fled with him when he was a babe, after Mog’s minions came looking for slaves one day.

Many of the stories they told about people’s lives on Shurn were sad, like the fact that the common man had no rights. The mad king treated them no better than the wild animals he killed, or put into zoos.

If it wasn’t for the Merk’s, no one would have bothered to explore the nearby moon they named Ra. The Merk’s were the sole holdouts on Shurn who dared to defy King Mog. They were a group of scientists and scholars that discovered how to build a space ship.

That quark powered ship was used to transport fugitives for over eighty years. The population on Ra had grown to a million people during that time. Still, millions more were living lives of despair back on Shurn.

The day came when the Council of 24 decided that Ra could no longer sustain getting any more refugees. At this time, Gren’s grandparents told him, and the council, who he really was. After overcoming the initial shock Gren made a startling suggestion.

He would go back and lead a rebellion against Mog, using his heritage to claim the crown. Despite misgivings by his grandparents and the council, he enlisted help from fifty strong men willing to give their lives in the name of freedom.

Gren’s small army grew into hundred of thousands of fighters in two short years. Finally on the fourth day of the fifth house of Thron, Mog’s army met Gren’s on the flowered Plains of Jezzop.

Though outnumbered, Gren’s men overcame their opponents in a day of bloody slaughter. Gren was wounded when King Mog confronted him with his enormous broadsword.

In the ensuing fight Gren’s youth and strength overcame Mog’s defense and he cut the mad monarch down. But Mog had wounded him too. His left arm was barely attached by a muscle, and the chest wound he sustained earlier was pumping out his life blood.

And so it was, Gren bled to death on the day of his greatest victory.

Gren’s men carried the day, and the remainder of Mog’s army surrendered. Afterwards the royal house was suspended and the citizens of Shurn were governed by a Council of 24.

In appreciation of Gren’s efforts, the Council named a constellation after him: Gren – The Wise and Loyal One.

As It Stands, I always thought it would be cool to have a constellation named after me.









The ‘Town Dummy’ That Saved Tonopah’s Silver

TonopahfromFlorenceHillNWOn May 19, 1900, Tonopah became the site of the second richest silver mine in Nevada, when a prospector named Jim Butler discovered silver-rich ore.

It was also the setting for an epic standoff between the town and an Indian who called himself Coyote Man.

The Yomba Shoshone Band who lived near Tonopah on a reservation, kept to themselves. If there was one thing that scared them more than the white man; it was the Coyote Man who lived near their reservation.

He was bigger than any of them, standing six-feet tall. He looked like a man, but they knew him for a Trickster according to their legends. He was as fast as a snake, and almost as wise as Wolf father. If he had one weakness, it was his pride.

He regularly visited the elders trying to get them involved in schemes that they knew would end poorly for them. They always respectively declined. Coyote Man would show his teeth in what was supposed to be a smile, but came across as a grimace, before leaving.

Luke Denst was a giant among men. He stood six-feet, six inches, tall and weighed 300 pounds. His massive torso sprouted thickly corded arms and legs. His head, perched on a squat neck, looked too small for his huge frame.

He made his living in Tonopah by challenging men to stay in a ring with him for three rounds. They’d win if they were still standing. Luke always won. His reputation was enough for most sane men in the area, but there were always those who put up their money thinking they could beat the slow-moving moron.

You see, Luke had the brain of a nine-year old, and was normally a jovial companion to have around. His good nature hid his anger. He was slow to get mad, but when did, he unleashed a fury that frightened onlookers…and his challenger.

John Denst, Luke’s father, handled all of his affairs and set up the fights. Luke’s fights were more amusing than one might think. It always started out with his opponent pounding on him!

When he finally got hit too hard in the face he lashed out. It generally only took one, or two, punches before his opponent was unconscious. Afterwards, his father would pour a bucket of water over Luke’s bald head to calm him down.

The Coyote man had a vision one night. In it, he was standing in a pile of silver bars that stretched to the skies. The white men in Tonopah gave it to him to protect their town. He wondered briefly what he would do with so much silver, but then the thought disappeared.

When he woke in the morning he set about making his vision true. While staying out of sight, he watched the white miners activities. In particular, he watched where the sticks of dynamite came from.

The shed where the nitro glycerine and dynamite were stored was guarded by two armed men. Coyote Man waited until late that night, and snuck up on the sleeping guards and cut their throats. He took a wooden box packed with dynamite back to his lair.

The first blast rocked the Tonopah Hotel killing most of the inhabitants. In the ensuing chaos another blast blew up the telegraph office and the towns newspaper – The Tonopah Bonanza – office. The town sheriff deputized everyone who had a gun and they swept the countryside looking for whoever committed the atrocities.

When the posse came to the Yomba reservation the sheriff questioned their chief, He Who Walks Softly, who told them he suspected it was Coyote Man. As the large posse rode off it left a cloud of dust hanging in the 100 degree sun. The elders looked at one another sadly.

On day two, Coyote Man blew up the entrances at three active mines. The next day he blew up four mines. A sense of doom and panic crept through the mining community and the townspeople of Tonopah.

Men gathered in large groups and searched for the perpetrator. By now everyone heard what the Yomba Shoshone chief told the Sheriff. Greed held the majority of the miners there.

In desperation the sheriff road back to the reservation and talked with He Who Walks Softly throughout the night. At first light the two men shook hands and parted.

Coyote Man was surprised to see Chief He Who Walks Softly riding alone and crying out his name. Curious, he jumped onto his pinto, and rode down the plateau to hear what he had to say.

“The white men want to parley,” the old chief said.

“Then they know who I am?”  

“Yes, I had to tell them. They threatened the whole tribe.”

A long silence as Coyote Man slowly circled around the chief, lost in his thoughts.

“What do the white-eyes have that would interest me?” he asked with a teasing tone.

Silver bullion. A wagon full.”

Coyote Man allowed a semblance of a smile to curl his thin lips. It was so easy. What cowards those men were!

“Tell them to deliver the wagon here in this valley and I give my word that I will no longer attack them.”

“Oh…there is one more thing,” the chief recalled. “They think you are such a coward that you wouldn’t even fight the stupidist among them to defend your honor.”

Rage lit up Coyote Man’s face. How dare the fools make such a claim!

“Bring him here, and after I beat the fool to death, they will realize I’m not one to mock.”

Luke and his father stood next to the sheriff and chief He Who walks Slowly, and his son. A wagon with a tarp over it waited for Coyote Man.

“You know what to do Luke,” his father assured him as Coyote Man approached on his pinto. He jumped off its bare back and boldly walked up to the five men waiting for him.

“No weapons,” the chief said as Luke walked up to his opponent.

Luke’s sheer size surprised Coyote Man. Then he looked into his eyes and saw an idiot there. He was blinking stupidly and holding up his ham-sized fists in a boxing stance. In a blinding move, he kicked Luke in the crotch while throwing sand into his face!

As Luke lumbered about helplessly Coyote Man hit him repeatedly in the ribs and chest. He jumped on Luke’s back and tried to put a choke hold on him but couldn’t find enough neck to make it work.

When he bit Luke’s nose the giant roared and flicked him off like a flea! He hit the ground hard and suddenly realized he’d been duped. When he got back up he pulled a hidden knife out.

Even Luke’s weak brain knew enough to avoid a knife. But he was mad. When Coyote Man lunged at him he grabbed him and pulled him into his body so tightly Coyote Man’s spine snapped.

When the sheriff and his father ran over to Luke they saw blood welling up on his chest. His rage left him and he was standing there dumbly waiting for help.

Because this was such an embarrasing incident everyone in Tonopah agreed not to talk about it with outsiders. When Luke told the story in the saloon and showed his scar to visitors they would wink at one another and smile at him. Sometime they bought him a beer.

As It Stands, there are times when brawn does overcome brains.


The Toddler and the Conqueror


At eighty years-old, Nulf was considered a toddler on Venus. The average age among Venusians was 1,000 years-old.

He was an energetic kid who loved to collect things like artifacts from other planets, and other life forms. He was especially fond of finding a new species to put on display in his room.

Each specimen was displayed in the exact environment they came from. Servants came by Nulf’s room once a day to feed his collection, and to clean out the cubes waste.

Artoin Nes was excited. His spacecraft was entering a new solar system to conquer! After relaying his discovery to his commander in Utunal, he instructed the navigator bot to chart a course to the nearest planet.

Plan in hand, Artoin Nes ordered his fleet to battle stations. The flotilla of space-fighters were locked-and-loaded well before they attacked Mercury. It took the Utunalians two days to overwhelm the crude technology that the Mercurians tried to defend themselves with.

As in the other conquered planets, the inhabitants were forced to pay a ransom; whatever natural resources the Utunalians deemed useful. The inhabitants had to meet a yearly quota. If it wasn’t met, savage destruction would follow.

The invading Utunalians were met with much stiffer resistance when they attacked Mars. Not only were the Martians fierce fighters, but their technology rivaled the attackers.

Nulf knew something was wrong when a servant came to his room and summoned him to his parents quarters. For the first time in his life, Nulf’s parents didn’t have calm faces.

Nulf’s father came right to the point,”Our allies on Mars are being attacked by unknown enemies. We must honor our pact with the Martians and attack their foe.”

“You know what that means Nulf,” his mother said. “There will have to be a mind meld.”

Nulf couldn’t help but be excited. He’d never seen one before. Only in times of dire emergency did the 17 Great Lords gather in the great hall.

Despite the Martians bravery and technology, the Utunalians massive fleet was causing considerable damage to the planetary shield wall. Commander Artoin Nes directed the bombardment.

It was interesting when planets fought back. Artoin Nes saw himself as an omnipotent conqueror and each planet his private playtoy. The victory was always sweeter if the victim struggled.

One of his Ranger squads finally broke through a section of the shield and instantly honed in on the Golden City of Tandia. Deadly laser beams set the great city on fire. It’s inhabitants panicked. They’d never been exposed to violence of this magnitude.

Nulf’s father, Din-al III, was sitting at an alabaster round table with the other 16 Lords of Venus. They were chanting. One-by-one their eyes rolled back in their head. The incense burning in the room made Nulf dizzy, as he watched from nearby.

Utunalian’s throughout the fleet were holding their heads and crying out in agony! The fighters started spiraling out of control. Ships slammed into each other and exploded. The mother ship with Artoin Nes hurtled down into the Martian landscape, crashing in the Red Desert of Xoon.

The Martian militia took the survivors from the crash and locked them up in electrified glass cages.

A week later, to celebrate Nulf’s 81st birthday, his parents took him to the auction house to get a new specimen for his collection. One – who was screaming and pounding on his cage caught Nulf’s eye.

He looked like a lively source of amusement for years to come.  The auctioneer gave a brief bio on him, and said his name was Artoin Nes.

As It Stands, irony is one of my favorite themes.


Go Ahead! Call In The Clowns!

evil-clownAt first, the clowns started showing up at street corners advertising a circus that was coming to town.

After two days, and no circus, people began to wonder what was going on?

On the third day, the clowns were gone from the street corners, but began showing up in alleys and people’s driveways. They never said anything. They just stood there with their exaggerated evil clown smiles.

The town’s mayor and city council held meetings trying to determine how to deal with the silent clowns that were scaring their children. No apparent laws were being broken. They always left at curfew.

How could the townspeople in Knotty Grove, New Hampshire, know that it was the annual Gathering of Crazy Clowns? They came from nearby states. All with criminal records. All with garishly painted clown faces. All, a little crazy.

The tradition began years ago when John Wayne Gacy, serial killer and rapist, invited a few criminal clowns he knew to hunt for victims as a group in a small town in Maine. It didn’t end with his death.

There were ten crazy clowns this year. They advertised on the Dark Web, inviting like-minded murderers to join them every September 15th at a different location. This year it was Knotty Grove’s turn.

The fact that it was such a small, isolated little town without its own police force, made it an ideal target.

Ho! Ho! The Clown, was this year’s host. He picked the hunting grounds with care. It was an honor to select victims. The sense of approval from his fellow serial killers made him feel justified in his bloody dealings.

Just before they broke up and went in search of victims, the Evil Santa Clown said what they were all thinking. “I can’t wait to see the surprise on their faces.”

The mayor, a computer geek, discovered what the clowns were up to and called for a townhall meeting.

“Well, there you have it,” the mayor said, while pointing at the clowns on his computer monitor.

“These clowns are serial killers that like to stalk in groups. They especially like finding small communities like ours.”  

“I don’t think they’re going to like what they find in Knotty Grove,” chuckled the town’s only gas station owner.

Here’s the thing. These clowns won’t be missed by anyone,” the mayor said.

The gathering broke out into cheers, showing their fangs in glee when he gave them the green light to go hunting.

As It Stands, the hunter and the prey story has many variations. This one is mine.