The Traveler’s Strange Tale

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Tonya, and I, are travelers who’ve seen a strange thing or two.

We’ve trekked through the harsh outback of Australia, traversing the arid ‘red center’ to the tropical lands of the north. We’ve braved the scorching sands of the Sudan and rode camels in Egypt. For ten years now, we’ve traveled the world in a non-stop quest for adventure.

For the last year we’ve been thinking about writing a book on our travels. We’re hesitant however. The problem is we’ve seen some supernatural things that, if we talked about them, might lead the reader to think we’re a couple of loonies. I’m for documenting those encounters with the unknown, but Tonya is worried people won’t take the book seriously if I do. Her argument is that the book would end up in the fiction section, instead of the non-fiction travel section.

She’s agreed to let me tell you about one strange encounter to see what your reaction is. Go ahead, and get comfortable, while I tell you about the werewolf community we met in the Western Carpathians. I believe we were in Slovakia – it could have been Hungary – when we came upon a tiny village in the middle of nowhere.

It was in the spring and we were trekking on foot. Wildflowers paved the hills as we walked along, sometimes spotting a deer, or squirrel, as we enjoyed the sunny day. As we came to a crest of one hill we saw a small village that could have been something out of a guide to 17th century living for peasants. The crude thatched huts sat on both sides of a muddy street. At one end there was a communal well.

A dozen men were working in the nearby fields planting next year’s crop of wheat. Sitting in the front of the only stone building were two old man with long clay pipes watching us with curiosity as we approached.

Tonya, who knows 16 languages, called out to the men. When she picked the right language a lively conversation followed. Their names were Arpad and Nandor. Arpad was the village’s mayor. I was amused watching Arpad talk with Tonya because he had a habit of pulling on his knee-length beard when he got excited. Every now and then Nandor would pipe in for a moment before giving way to Arpad again.

They welcomed us warmly and we ate a meal at the mayor’s house. When we finished Arpad sat down in front of the fireplace and beckoned us to sit near him on a wooden bench. His wife brought us all a small glass of Palinka made from plums.

“We’d be honored if you’d spend the night here. There is no tavern. Tonight is a not a good night to camp out. It’s a full moon,” Arpad told us.

Tonya, whose bolder than I, asked what he meant by suggesting a full moon was somehow sinister?

Arpad looked over at his wife who was quietly knitting. I could tell he was wrestling with something, but he couldn’t quite get it out. Finally, after a long awkward pause, he said there was a pack of wolves nearby that hunted during full moons. I thought it was an odd excuse but moved on when the conversation shifted. It was almost midnight when we went to the bedroom they provided us with.

“Please. Lock your door. Dobrú noc,” Arpads wife said.

Tonya and I both felt uneasy as we got into the bed. Shortly thereafter, we heard a wolf howl. Then another. And another. We sprang from the bed and went to the window in time to see a group of naked men transforming into animals. Wolves to be exact. The process looked agonizing as their limbs twisted and reformed.

The largest of the pack stood up on his hind legs and howled at the moon. Soon they were all standing and howling with great enthusiasm. We noticed a wooden cage near the pack of werewolves. One of them, the biggest and probably the leader, opened the cage and pulled a terrified man out!

The leader then pointed towards a tree line and growled “Go!”

The man broke out into a loping run towards the forest. He was almost there when the leader encouraged the others to go after him. Their animalistic shouts of joy froze Tonya and I’s blood.

We knew there was no where to go, so we resigned ourselves to being in the locked room. Neither of us could sleep as we waited for the sun to rise. At first light we grabbed our backpacks and left the room. Arpad and his wife were already up and sitting at a table drinking dark coffee.

He got up and pulled over two chairs.

“Come eat with us before you go!” Arpad offered.

It was a traditional meal of Slovakian bread with butter, ham, cheese, boiled eggs, salami, vegetables, sausages and honey to round it out. I was surprised how hungry I was and dug in eagerly. The sausage was excellent, the ham tasty, the cheese zesty, the eggs just right, and the bread was fresh and hot.

Tonya wasn’t as hungry and just picked at her food. Afterwards our host wished us good travels and asked a question; “Did you like the sausage? Our hunters were successful last night.” 

Somehow, Tonya and I kept from retching. We didn’t want to offend Arpad and end up being served for breakfast ourselves! After our farewells we set out at a quick pace. We weren’t exactly running…but I think it was a record for miles walked in a day for us.

I remember we got within eyesight of Castle Bran (also called Dracula’s castle). It was built on a steep cliff between Magura and Dealul Cetatii. The imposing castle looked down into the Moeciu Valley where we were trekking along.

Tales of Vlad the Impaler (Vlad Tepes) filled out thoughts as we looked for a place to camp for the night. Oh wait! I was just supposed to tell one story.

We had other strange encounters during our travels, and I expect we’ll have more in the future. So, I’ll leave it up to you. Should we document these stories or just talk about good places to eat?

As It Stands, happy travels, my friend!

Auggie and the Little People

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Auggie was the eighth child born to Louis and Lois Turner in 1926. He came into the world in the same family farmhouse as his brothers and sisters.

Unlike his siblings, he got an extra copy of chromosome 21 in his cells, causing Down’s syndrome. His parents, and siblings, did all they could to make life normal for Auggie. They all loved his flat face, small mouth, and tiny ears. He had a smile that automatically triggered a return smile, whoever it was.

When Auggie first met the Little People they scared him. He was seven-years-old when he first saw them in the family’s corn field. He was chasing a ball that one of his sisters tossed him that ricocheted off of his stubby little leg, when he encountered a little man who stood no more than four-inches high next to the ball he was looking for!

He was so startled that he broke into tears and ran back to his waiting sister, Alice. She comforted him. She didn’t believe his story, but that didn’t matter. He was her little brother, and she overlooked a lot of things that he said. Alice was actually delighted with Auggie’s imagination. The rest of the family took it in stride.

A year later, Auggie was playing in the cornfield with a toy metal truck his parents bought him for his birthday when he heard a tiny voice.

“Hey boy!” the voice called out. “Over here!”

He was already down on his knees when he looked around and saw two little people waving at him. His first response was fear, but the little woman assured him they wouldn’t harm him. They just wanted to talk. Being a good-natured kid full of curiosity Auggie said, “Hi. I’m Auggie.”

“Pleased to meet you” the little man and woman, both replied.

“We’d like to be friends,” the small coupled explained. “Would you like to be our friend?” they asked.

“Yesss...”Auggie said happily. He loved having friends.

“You can’t tell anyone about us though Auggie. Can you keep a secret?

He pondered the question for a moment. “Can I just tell my sister Alice?” he asked.

“Maybe someday. Just not right now. We don’t trust most humans. We’ve been watching you for a year however, and everyone in the colony agrees your nice and would be a good friend.”

Auggie smiled brightly. “Okay. Let’s play.”

By the time Auggie was sixteen-years-old he was a hard worker; keeping the big barn fresh with new hay, and feeding the donkey and the pigs. He was seemingly tireless, always doing odd jobs around the farm throughout the day, and never complaining.

As his brothers and sisters got older six of them got married and moved on. The only one that stayed was Alice. She couldn’t bear leaving Auggie, or her parents who were getting old and who were forced to hire help to bring the crop in.

The hired help consisted of four men who were allowed to sleep in the barn. Their job was to plant and harvest the corn crop. It wasn’t a year-round job. The men came and went. Many were hobos who only wanted to stay in one place for a short time. Other’s were neighbors whose crops kept failing, and who were desperate for money.

The Turner family farm was blessed with fertile ground. The crops always did well, as the family worked hard maintaining the fields, and rotated each season’s crops on the 140 acre spread.

Auggie never felt lonely because he either had his sister Alice’s company, or the little people who followed him around throughout the day. They would share their lives with him and their adventures. It was a mutual friendship that grew stronger over the years.

One night, one of the little people came into Auggie’s room and woke him up. The woman, whose name was Tina, was frantic and wanted him to follower her. Auggie was groggy until she said his sisters name.

“What about Alice?” he asked, suddenly awake and alarmed.

“She’s in danger!” Tina cried.

Auggie didn’t bother changing his night-clothes or putting his boots on. He picked her up and asked “Which way?

She led him out to the cornfield. It was just weeks before being harvested and was ten-feet tall. The full moon cast fantastic shadows between the thick stalks as Auggie blundered his way through the field.

Then he heard his sister scream out nearby!

Auggie was built solidly. Not tall, but with powerful arms and legs with strength earned by hard work, and the adrenaline that was pumping through his veins as he bulled forward. Then he saw a man sitting on his sister with one hand over her mouth and the other tearing at her night-gown!

He plowed right into the man and knocked him off her. Even in his rage he recognized that it was one of their workers. He hit and kicked him until he didn’t move anymore. The worker’s blood was sprayed onto the nearby corn stalks and was slowly dribbling down to the rich earth when he stopped. The worker’s face was unrecognizable. His body beaten to a pulp.

Alice watched in utter amazement. She never would have guessed Auggie could be capable of that kind of violence. Little Tina had disappeared. She got up off the ground and walked over to Auggie. He was standing still with his arms at his side, and his head hanging down.

“Auggie dear! Are you all right?” she asked and hugged his still trembling body. “How did you know I was in trouble,” she gently asked.

He looked around on the ground and saw Tina with two other little people. They nodded their heads at Auggie and he understood it was okay to tell her about his little friends.

“The little people helped me,” he said, his voice husky with emotion.

Alice didn’t challenge him. “Tell them thank you.

“You tell them. This is Tina,” he said, and picked her up for Alice to see.

Alice’s eyes opened wide in surprise. “Thank you, Tina!

As It Stands, this tale is another version of a myth told by other cultures.

Rubber Face

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The first time Brock wore a rubber mask for Halloween was when he was five-years-old. He didn’t want to take it off after trick-or-treating so his patient parents compromised and let him sleep in it.

That’s where it started.

After that he insisted on wanting to wear a rubber mask during the day. He couldn’t during school, but the minute the last bell rang he’d pull his rubber mask out of his backpack and put it on. Needless to say, this caught the attention of a lot of people. Children and adults alike.

It was a good thing Brock was a husky kid, because he constantly faced bullies who tried to take his mask away from him. One day two boys jumped him just outside the school grounds. In the tussle one of the boys peeled off the mask he just put on. He fought so furiously that they backed off and left his rubber mask on the ground.

In school, Brock was a shy guy. He always sat in the rear of the classroom. He knew a few of his fellow students by name, but had no friends. Over his school years he got use to eating alone in the school cafeteria. He was content reading the latest issue of MAD magazine at lunch.

His parents didn’t really know how to cope with his obsession. They sent him to a child psychologist numerous times before he entered high school. He always came across, in those sessions, as perfectly normal…with the exception of his unusual attachment to rubber masks. Various theories were discussed, but no one seemed able to break his odd habit.

When he entered high school he got a job at a local supermarket bagging groceries and helping customers take their purchases out to their vehicle. He used most of his paychecks buying new rubber masks. Scary ones, funny ones, and famous celebrities were his favorites. It was no surprise that most of the student body called him Rubber Face behind his back. Some people said it to his face.

In his mind, as he explained to more than one psych, rubber masks were the height of mask making. The ability to change his appearance was very satisfying. That’s the part no one seemed to understand.

He felt safe in a mask. That it attracted attention was not his purpose for wearing it. He understood, at one level, why people thought he was odd. Personally he didn’t think anyone was odd because they strived to look different. Tattoos, pierced body parts, ear plugs, scarifications. It was all good to Brock. He just wished people would be more tolerant of those who chose to step outside the norms in their appearance.

In his senior year Brock swallowed his shyness and went to a Halloween dance. He didn’t have a date. He hoped that there would be some girls there in the same situation. He never went to any of the other dances and proms, and felt extremely awkward. It was his last chance at going to some social activity before graduating. The senior prom was out of the question. He’d never get a date for that. The fact that he could wear a rubber mask to the Halloween dance tilted the scales in favor of going there.

He wore his favorite vampire mask and a rented tuxedo. The gym was already full of costumed students when he got there. The “Monster Mash” was blaring from two four-foot speakers on the stage.

“I was working in the lab, one night

when my eyes beheld an eerie sight

For my monster on the slab, began to rise

and suddenly to my surprise…he did the Monster Mash!

Brock was filling a plastic cup up with punch when a voice behind him said, “Would you get me a cup?” He turned and saw a female vampire waiting for an answer.

“Oh…yeah! I mean…sure,” he bumbled, and handed her his cup. She stood there silently until he filled another cup for himself.

“I like your costume,” she said in a husky voice.

“Yours too. I mean, I like yours a lot.”

In the background…

“Out from his coffin, Drac’s voice did ring

Seems he was troubled by just one thing

He opened the lid and shook his fist

And said, “Whatever happened to my Transylvania twist?”

They sipped their drinks in an awkward silence before Brock spoke up, “Would you like to dance?” he asked.

“Yes. It would be my pleasure kind sir,” she chuckled playfully.

They stayed on the dance floor throughout the night. When it was time to go Brock asked his new-found vampire friend, if she needed a ride home? He could see her eyes twinkling in the mask’s eye holes.

“How kind of you to ask. I could use a short ride if you don’t mind.

“My pleasure,” he grinned happily under his mask. “Which way?”

He followed her directions to the opposite side of the city to an area he wasn’t familiar with. As he drove by an old cemetery she asked him to stop. Puzzled, he obeyed. She got out of the car and walked around to the driver’s side before he could react.

“This is far enough. I’ll walk from here. Thank you,” she said and leaned over and brought her mask up against his. “Maybe next time we’ll take our masks off. I have to go now. My name is Cecile,” she shared, and blew him a kiss before disappearing in the growing fog.

“”My name is Brock!” he yelled out the window.

“I know…” her husky voice replied. “Rubber face,” she said softly and out of his hearing.”

As he drove home he wondered what her real face looked like. How would she react when she saw his rough features? Would he ever see her again? She blew him a kiss! It took all of his concentration to get home safely that night. There were so many questions going through his head.

He was taking an evening stroll in his neighborhood a week later wearing his Sherlock Holmes mask when she appeared from behind a tree in his neighbor’s yard. She was still wearing her vampire costume and mask. He stopped and spoke in pleasant surprise, “Cecile, I presume!” he said, bowing grandly.

Indeed, sir. At your service,” she said happily.

“Shall we walk, and talk,” Brock asked while holding out his arm. She took it and they walked side-by-side down the tree-lined neighborhood with its antique-looking street lights. In the half moon’s glow they talked about things high and low. No subject was taboo.

In the early morning hours, just before the sun started its slow climb upwards, they took off their masks. He saw she was no classic beauty, but her simple plain features were attractive to him. She already knew what he looked like without a mask. She admired him for years. At a distance.

“I have to go now,” she said, sadness tinting her voice.”

“I’ll drive you!” he offered.

“Not fast enough,” she countered. “Remember what we talked about. Especially the supernatural part,” she urged.

Before he could protest she was gone. It was dawn. He went into the house and wondered what he’d say to his parents who were surely up by now eating breakfast and drinking coffee. They were both early risers.

A week went by. Brock was getting desperate to see Cecile so he drove back to the place where he dropped her off the night of the dance. There had to be some homes near the cemetery that he didn’t see that night. It was foggy and he was focused on her. But as he parked in roughly the same spot, he didn’t see anything but hills dotted with monuments and crosses.

The sun set – a fiery red ball in the west – as he pulled on his vampire mask and waited for darkness to settle over the land. He was prepared to tell her that he loved her. He didn’t have to wait long before she was standing by him in her mask.

“I miss you,” he admitted. “And, I love you.” 

“And I you, dear boy entering manhood,” she replied. “But we can’t pursue this love any more. It’s not fair.”

“It’s not fair to who?”

“You. By now you know what I am. You’ll grow old, but I’ll stay young. I’m already 300 years-old. We cannot take this budding romance any further. I admit to having been enchanted with you ever since you were a little boy wearing those masks. I’m sorry.”

“I’m not,” he said. “We can still be friends, can’t we?

“Yes!” she cried, and hugged him. Yes, we can Rubber Face,” she smiled under her mask.

As It Stands, a case of finding love in the wrong place, doesn’t always have to be a sad ending.

A Voice In The Dark

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The voice only comes in the night.

I’m not sure why that is. You’ll notice I said “voice,” as in singular, not plural. It’s a woman’s voice. I don’t know if she’s a demon or a guardian angel. Just so we’re clear here; I’m not some wacko hearing voices. Okay?

I started hearing the voice a year ago after my wife died. Don’t jump the gun and assume I murdered her, and it’s her voice that I hear. It’s not. I have nothing to feel guilty about. She died from natural causes. Okay?

Sometimes the voice sounds like famous women actors. I was almost convinced that it was Lucile Ball that I chatted with last night. But after hearing Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo, Goldie Hawn, and Oprah Winfrey in the same week you get jaded. Most of the time it’s just a female voice that I can’t attach a face too. Okay?

The voice has given me good…and bad advise. It’s about 50-50, I’d say. I have to admit it makes for some interesting scenarios. Seeing as you’re here right now I suppose I could share a couple of examples with you. Okay?

Look, I’m no ladies man. It’s hard for me to talk with strange women, or men to be fair. But the voice told me that I was going to score big time the next night if I went out to some gentlemen’s clubs. So, I went to a strip joint, doing research on the naked female body don’t you know, when one of the dancers finished her number and came over to my table. We talked and went to her place. Okay?

After a wild time, we both fell asleep on her waterbed. I woke up at one point, it was still dark, and the voice insisted I kill her. I’ll tell you flat out. That voice sure can be convincing. I went into her kitchen, found a plastic trash bag, and used it to smother her to death. No big deal. The voice gets a little crazy at times, but there were reasons. Okay?

I get lonely sometimes and miss the touch of a woman. Since my wife died, I’ve dated six women who all ended up like the stripper. It’s kinda discouraging not having a real relationship, but as the voice has pointed out so often…it’s no big deal. Okay?

So there’s your 50-50 example. I’m not a complex guy. You should know that. I accept the good with the bad. Usually, the voice just likes to talk about interesting things. I don’t have to say anything. The voice knows I can hear it. It’s good enough for a relationship based upon mutual boredom and something else I can’t quite put my finger on. Okay?

Lately, the voice has been on a violent streak. It’s hard to say why. There’s a lot of frustrations in this old world. I can relate to the pent-up fury that sometimes needs an outlet. It just makes sense to scratch that itch when it bothers you. It’s understandable. Okay?

During the day I find my own voice and try to engage with people as much as possible. I have the most encounters in coffee shops and waiting in lines. I enjoy talking with strangers. As a mailman, I have a set route every morning greeting the regulars who come out to get their mail. I lead a quiet life. Okay?

I like seeing the regulars at the coffee shop. It’s a little mom and pop café. Not one of those big impersonal chains like Starbucks. People of all ages gather there before getting on with their busy day. I know a couple by name. They call me Jack. Not by my real name. Going by Jack is more comfortable for a few reasons. Okay?

I really never know what to expect from the voice. You might say that’s fine, but sometimes we argue. I’m not saying it happens regularly. Slow down. I’m not some loon ready to go off the deep end here. Every now and then, the voice and I disagree. Haven’t you ever disagreed with someone? Get off of your high horse! Okay?

I’m not sure why I’m writing all of this down. The motivation came out of nowhere. I haven’t sat down and wrote anything since I filled out my job application for the Post Office ten years ago. This sudden desire to write is just a little bit odd. Okay?

I think I know what’s going on now.

Last night the voice came up with a whopper. It told me to get my AR-15 and go to my favorite coffee shop today and slaughter everyone there. So I did. The authorities quickly traced me back to my house and now it looks like an army outside. When that black armored truck that said S.W.A.T., pulled up on my front lawn I knew my time on earth was coming to an end. Okay?

I have nothing to apologize for. That’s why I wrote this. It’s crystal clear now. I won’t be hearing the voice any longer. That’s about it. It’s time to go outside and try to take as many of those cops down with me as possible! Okay?

As It Stands, insanity is invisible.

The Quest For The Key To Eternity

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Kurt woke up from a deep sleep enlightened by a vision.

He slipped out of his sleeping bag and stirred the ashes in the crude fire pit until a faint glow suddenly appeared. Taking a piece of wood from the small pile of wood scraps next to where he lay, Kurt tossed it onto the glowing embers. Moments later it caught on fire and a small tongue of flame pierced the darkness.

He was living in The Aftermath – after men and women nearly succeeded in wiping Homo sapiens off the planet. The survivors were scattered throughout Earth’s ravished continents. Kurt, who traveled alone, was somewhere in North America.

He had no sense of history. Or family. He was an orphan who managed to survive in a cruel world by using his wits, and getting help from kind people. With no formal education, he learned to speak the broken English that people used in the region, by listening to them very carefully.

Kurt’s vision involved finding a key. Not just any key however. The Key to Eternity. It would offer answers to all the questions he asked. His quest was set, giving life to his vision. The next morning he packed up his little camp and set out for some ruins he noticed yesterday when descending into the big valley.

Ruins usually had inhabitants. He needed to enlist the help of others to help him find the key. Along the way he came upon a pond. He walked over to the edge and peered into the clear water looking for signs of fish.

His rugged face and long scraggly beard and hair stared back at him. No signs of fish. He wasn’t going to drink the water from the pond. Or eat the fish if there were any. He made a habit of drinking water from flowing rivers. It was something everyone had to learn if they wanted to survive.

Kurt traveled light. He carried a rucksack with a bed roll and his few belongings. His crude clothes were mostly made from bear fur. His jacket was made from fur and skin. He had a leather sheath for his knife and a leather lined canteen that hung from the broad leather belt he wore. His leather moccasins were supple and warm with fur linings. But his prized procession was his hat. It was a Cordova Stetson that he found in the debris of a museum a few years ago.

When he got to the outskirts of what was once a city, it was getting dark. As he walked down what use to be a city street he surveyed the blackened buildings with his sharp eyes. He thought he saw fleeting shadows on the top of a two-story building. He listened carefully.

A smile cracked his sun-drenched wrinkled face when he heard the voices. He followed them to what was once a sports stadium in another century, where he saw people building a bonfire. Small groups of people were quietly coming out from the shadows of the ruins. They gathered around the bonfire and threw pieces of wood that they brought with them into it.

Men and women’s voices carried lightly in the night, nearly mesmerizing Kurt until he remembered his quest. The city dwellers who wore remnants of factory-made clothing made generations ago, were increasing in number.

Kurt looked around until he found a wooden bar stool buried under some light debris. He carried it to the bonfire and tossed it in with the rest of the people’s offerings. Then he walked away from the bonfire and looked around. Small groups were morphing into larger ones until a crowd had gathered before an elevated stage. He worked his way closer and was able to make out the fine features of two women as they asked the crowd for silence.

After a dramatic silence, there was a puff of smoke between the two women and a tall man clad in black appeared. He took his top hat off and bowed. Murmurs of approval rippled through the crowd.

“What magic was this?” Kurt asked himself. “Did this man have the Key to Eternity?” he wondered. He worked his way a little closer to hear the tall thin man’s every word. He had to keep his mind open to all possibilities.

“All you have to do is believe in me,” the man in the black clothes and red cape shouted out to the gathering. “Bring me your little treasures and feed me well, and I can assure you that you’ll never go to hell!” he roared in a mighty voice for a thin man.

The gathering swayed in unison chanting, “Where will we go? Where will we go?

“To Eternity!” the tall man shouted happily. “You’ll reside forever in a garden of delights when you follow me into Eternity!” 

Kurt was a skilled survivor with the ability to sense a con from a mile away. His bullshit meter was ringing off the charts right now. “This man was a fake! Why did the gathering even listen to him? Couldn’t they tell?”

He’d run into this situation before with other false prophets. He knew the followers wanted to believe in something. No matter how absurd. He needed to find some people to help him in his quest, but it was proving impossible. How could his vision have been so wrong?

That night he had the vision again. When he woke up he knew what to do. He went out and found the tall man in black clothes and cut his head off with his knife. He mounted it on a pole and carried it to where the bonfire was the night before. He planted the pole in front of the empty stage. Then he went about building a new bonfire.

The first person to bring wood was a woman. Soon, she was followed many another woman. Then a man. Then groups of people until the gathering was as big as the night before.

Kurt got up on the stage and raised his hands over his head. The crowd grew silent.

“Listen children, he began, ” you will rest in eternity if you go through me. I’ve been asked to lead you to righteousness. God has granted me the key to eternity to share with you!”

A growing buzz in the gathering turned into shouts of joy as the people called out to him for deliverance.

As It Stands, false prophets in a dystopian future…why not? We have them now too.

The Bigfoot’s Baby

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Deep into the Okefenokee swamp a race of creatures have lived undiscovered by mankind for 6,000 years.

Somewhere in the peat-filled wetland straddling the Georgia-Florida line, they’ve managed to survive against all predators, living in crude shelters made from mud and sticks.

The creatures called themselves the Ibi. The males average height is eight-feet tall. The females average seven feet. They all have extremely large hands and feet and are heavily muscled. They’re also all covered in hair from head-to-foot.

Over the eons when a human ran across one of the Ibi they called them names like Sasquatch, or Bigfoot. The Okefenokee Swamp is the largest swamp in America. To this day, no one has fully explored the roughly 700 miles of wilderness.

Not even the “Swampers” can lay claim to being masters of the Okefenokee. Due to the relative isolation where they live, modern-day Swampers, who are overwhelmingly of English ancestry, still use the same Elizabethan phrases and syntax that their ancestors in the colonial period brought from overseas.

They have their own world, and their own beliefs.

Abitha was busy gutting an alligator in her front yard when it swooped in and took her! The creature’s foul smell was overpowering as it held an enormous hand over her mouth and face. When she fainted it threw her over its shoulders and plodded away into the dense swamp’s interior.

Meanwhile her husband, Gideon, was in town having a few beers with his friends. As it grew dark he became hungry and parted ways with them.

“By your leave, gentlemen.”

When he got back to his shack his wife was nowhere to be found. A partly gutted alligator was spread out in the front yard. Abitha’s knife lay nearby. He studied the ground for tense minutes trying to read what happened.

“I’ll find her,” he stated with a cold certainty.

That night.

Abitha woke up and saw that she was inside a large crude mud and stick hut. On one side someone was laying down and moaning. Someone kneeled nearby making soothing sounds in the dimly lit space.

She realized that she was laying on a mat of dry grass. She was unharmed and not restrained. It seemed odd. Why was she brought here? The bulky shapes on the other side of the hut were huge.

She slowly sat up. One of the shapes moved over to her. “Hep!” it grunted and pointed to the other shape laying down. Whatever they were, they could communicate with her. She felt a sudden sigh of relief. She understood now why she was brought here.

She nodded her head affirmatively, and moved over to the reclining figure. It was quickly apparent that it was a female and she was in labor. Abitha’s instincts took over. She’d seen many a child born. Some with complications.

Positioning herself between the female’s legs she carefully examined the situation and discovered the baby was in the wrong position! She gritted her teeth and went about repositioning the child. The mother was apparently worn out and barely able to push.

After a short time she knew there was only one thing to do. She would have to perform a Cesarean procedure to save the infant and the mother. Something she only saw once. She turned to the other creature and said, “knife.”  It looked puzzled. She made a cutting motion and it caught on.

The hairy creature quickly disappeared and returned with a crude knife made from flint. She eyed it dubiously, but had no choice and took it. With time running out she made the cut and gripped the head of the baby, pulling her out and immediately clearing her airways.

She handled the hairy little bundle to the gentle giant waiting nearby, then cut the umbilical cord, and tied it into a knot.

The proud daddy, who she assumed he was, looked at her and said, “Ibi we. Las woman ere. She die. So do we. Gir born is good sign. Thak you.”

Anitha was exhausted and went back to the grass mat and fell asleep.

The next morning.

The creature led her back home and spoke one last time, “Ibis owe you much. No tell others. They come and kill us,” he said, sadly. He looked her in the eyes and she saw his gratitude.

Later that afternoon Gideon came back to the shack and was surprised to see her there.

“Wife!” he called out and embraced her. “What…?”

“I went for a walk yesterday and found myself turned around, dear husband,” she explained. “The good lord was with me, and I was able to find my way home.”

As It Stands, this is my version of a Bigfoot encounter.

The Thing In The Leech Line

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Listen to this story narrated by master storyteller Otis Jiry

“I charge double on the weekends. Are you sure you want me to come out today?” Ollie Winters asked.

The voice on the other end rose an octave…“Yessss!”

“Well…okay then. What’s your address? Hmmmmm….you must be on the west side of town near the city limits. That’s about 45 minutes from where I’m at. Yes…I’ll hurry,” he assured the caller.

Grumbling all the way, Ollie grabbed his baseball cap and jacket and headed out. Because he was unfamiliar with that part of town he had difficulty locating the house. When he did, he quickly realized it was on the wrong side of the street to have city sewers.

The old house looked like a prototypical haunted mansion out of a horror movie. It appeared to be in poor repair from what he could see of the outside. The cobblestone walkway leading to the front porch was overgrown with weeds. Two faded wooden rocking chairs sat next to the front door, facing away from the house.

A couple of raindrops followed Ollie to the front porch. There was no light and it was getting dark.  Ollie was already regretting taking the job when the front door suddenly opened and an old woman came out. Her dress was something out of a Victorian movie.

“You’ve come!” she said dramatically.

“You said something about your toilet being blocked,” he reminded her.

Yes! It’s terrible! The bathroom is a mess!” she said, sounding a lot like Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind.

“May I come in?”

“Of course. Follow me.”

He clutched his tool box tighter and followed the old lady through the parlor and to a small hallway that came to a dead-end with a door. The odor emanating from the room was foul. She sniffed in distaste and said, “I’ll leave you to it then. Let me know if you need anything.”

Hesitantly, he opened the door and saw raw sewage seeping out of the toilet. It occurred to him that not being on the city sewer line meant there was a leech line somewhere near the house with a septic tank that must be overflowing.

That settled it. He couldn’t work on it while it was raining. Besides it would require help pumping out the septic tank. Feeling relieved, he went back out into the parlor looking for the old lady…and heard voices and music coming from the living room.

Perplexed he followed the voices. When he saw a group of men and women decked out in antique clothes dancing and socializing while an old-fashioned record player sang “Bird In A Gilded Cage,” he became confused.

How could this be happening he wondered? As far as he knew, it was just him and the old lady. Where was she anyway? And what was with the period dress? Nothing made sense. No one seemed to notice him standing there with his white jacket that said “Ollie’s Plumbing” on the back.

He carefully backed out of the room and headed for the front door. Just before he got to it the old lady suddenly reappeared in front of it. She saw the look of mounting terror in his eyes and tried to soothe him, “It’s going to be quite all right good sir. Just a little case of time shifts. Happens all the time,” she said reassuringly.

Ollie tried to say something. Instead he let her lead him up the ornate stairway to the top floor. He felt like a zombie. Part of his mind said this wasn’t happening. The other part was panicking because it recognized a line in reality had been crossed.

She led him to a window and pointed down at the yard. A flash of lightning lit the yard up for a moment illuminating a giant tentacled nightmare with large baleful eyes crawling out of the sludge from where the leech line was.

“There’s the problem,” the old lady said conversationally, “That thing is mucking up my bathroom. I have a hunch it’s going to take more than one of those snake things I saw in your ad in the phone book, to get rid of it.”

Ollie dropped his tool box and backed up against the wall. The thing down there was something out of an H.P. Lovecraft tale.

“Why were you leaving when the job wasn’t done?” the old lady interrupted his thoughts.

He found himself explaining to her that he had to get a special truck to pump out the waste in the septic tank, and that it wasn’t  a one-man job.

In the blink of an eye they were back in the living room…alone. No signs of the party remained. He heard the rain increasing in intensity outside.

“Damn time shifts!” the old lady groused. “Oh! Pardon my language sir! Allow me to show you out.”

Ollie dumbly followed her out to the front porch. His eyes scanned the yard fearfully as she spoke, “I do hope when this rain stops you’ll come back and help me kind sir,” she said.

He nodded, and tried to speak, but she was already back in the house. That was the moment Ollie decided he was going to retire early.

As It Stands, have you ever wondered how you’d react to a supernatural experience?