There was a slight breeze that rustled the leaves in the tallest trees. It was a peaceful early summer day with the sun shining down and warming everything it touched. The air was dry, with the sweet smell of blossoms that seemed to just linger out of sight. The breeze moved lower and the tall grass swayed as it moved along the ground, the wild flowers bending then straightening as they leaned back into the sunlight. The breeze reached a couple of kids on an old dirt road that led to a small pond. Although it was warm and the kids wore light jackets open the breeze brought a chill that caused them both to pull in there open fronts.
The younger bounded along with not a care in the world. He had on jeans that were old and most likely were hand me downs, a t-shirt and a light summer jacket. The jacket was faded and used to be a red color, now was more like a dull pink color. He just skipped and kicked rocks, humming a tune that only he knew and could tell you the words to it. He had short hair, but being short did not prevent it from being all a mess. His face had dirt on it, and maybe a little bit of chocolate at the corners of his mouth. With an angular nose and sharp eyes he could almost be mistaken for a hawk or other bird of prey.
“Joshua.” The girl stated. Joshua stopped and turned to look at her. “I want remind you that when we get there don’t go throwing rocks in the pond. I want to actually catch some fish this time.” Joshua just stuck out his tongue at her, and then continued his skipping. With a sigh she continued following him, but couldn’t help but smile at the younger child. Oh to be 8 again, with not a care in the world. Being 16 years old she was just getting into adulthood and missing the easiness of being a child. Although she hasn’t had to work hard yet she knew that she would never have again what her younger brother now had. She would take the time that she had to relax and enjoy every moment that she could. That is why she was going fishing today with her younger brother.
She was tall, but not as tall as most guys just a little taller than the other girls in her class. With long brown hair and dark eyes she was the interest of many boys in her class, also, having been through puberty and having a well-developed body helped with the boy’s attention. She was not a woman yet, she did have a few curves and a bosom that was not exactly small. She wore a pair of jeans that were tight in the way of current fashion. She was wearing an old shirt that had a few stains on it with a small jacket that could stop the wind. Although it was not the best clothes she had it was what would be best for a fishing trip. She also carried the two fishing poles that they would need along with a bag with their worms and a snack for the afternoon before they went home.
“Jamie, how much longer till we get there?” Joshua asked the impatience of a child apparent in his voice.
“It’s only like another 5 minutes. Remember what I said a few minutes ago.” Joshua just rolled his eyes at his older sister then decided to go look at an interesting butterfly he saw landing on a flower. His attention only lasted for a moment though before he was off again to find something else that he could look at or some other small creature that he could catch. After just a few moments they walked around a bend in the road and there stood the pond.
The pond wasn’t very big, just a hundred yards across at the widest point, with most of it much narrower than that. It was an old beaver damn that had been able to withstand years of weather and neglect. The beavers were no longer taking care of the damn, most likely a trapper had caught them and now the pond stood empty. Across the top of the water one could see the ripple of fish catching flies. There was also a fog that lingered atop the surface and swirled in the light breeze.
They settled onto a flat spot that sat about a foot above the water. Jamie broke out the tackle and gave Joshua his pole and then went to set up her own. “Jamie?”
“Yes, Joshua. What is it?” Jamie responded.
“Could you put the worm on my hook?”
“You want me to put the worm on your hook? What are your friends going to think when they hear you had to have your sister put your worm on for you?” Jamie said. She had a mischievous grin on her face.
“Oh, you wouldn’t. Would you? Please don’t tell my friends that.” Joshua looked really worried. His friends would have a field day with that. They wouldn’t let him forget about this for a long time to come.
“I will do it, but only if you promise me something.” Jamie waited for his response. Slowly he nodded his head so she continued, “I want you to catch some fish today, and not do anything to scare them away.” She could see he was thinking hard about this. Finally he responded.
“I think I can do that. But you have to promise.”
“I promise. Now, let me see your pole.” She grabbed a worm from the container and put it on the hook. They settled into a relaxing afternoon of fishing, allowing the warm sun and the sounds of birds to lull them into a dreamlike state, though both were awake. Within only a few minutes they both had caught a fish; it looked to be a good day for fishing. After another half an hour they both had caught several more fish. Jamie just relaxed some more and closed her eyes. If a fish bit then she would feel the jerk in her hand and would wake up.
Sometime later Jamie woke to find that no more fish had taken her bait. She stood to stretch and realized that she had slept for at least an hour, maybe longer. Looking around though she realized that Joshua was not around, even though his pole was propped up and line was in the water. Most likely he had stepped away for a few minutes to relieve himself. Jamie looked around trying to discern what direction he may have gone off.
“Joshua.” She called, there was no response. “Joshua, where did you go?” She tried again. At that time she heard some noise in a clump of bushes off to the side a bit. The leaves were rustling and the branches were shaking. “Joshua, if that is you, let me know will ya. I am going to come over, so if you don’t want me to walk in on you, you better say something.” There was no response to her calls. She sighed and began to move forward.
The bush was a good one for using to go to the bathroom. It was thick and with the green leaves you couldn’t see through to the other side. There was some more rustling, shaking the whole bush. “Seriously, don’t joke around Joshua.” She stepped closer and the rustling stopped. She cautiously walked closer and started to move to the side of the bush in order to get a view of the other side. Just as she stepped to see what was there a hand landed on her shoulder. In that moment her heart leaped into her throat, with her heart the rest of her body launched itself into the air. A scream also left her lips, a high pitched thing that caused the birds in all the trees to flee from the area.
Once her feet landed on the ground she spun to see what had produced the hand. Standing there with an impish grin was Joshua. “God damn it,” She shouted at him, “You almost gave me a heart attack, what were you thinking?”
“I was over on the other side looking at a turtle I had seen. I saw you get up and calling me, so I came back around to see what was up.” Joshua could just barely contain the amusement he felt at scaring his sister so badly. With them both standing there, her heart still racing, him almost laughing the bush started to shake again. They both turned and looked at it.
“So, that is not you behind that bush, is it?” Jamie asked fear working its way into her voice. Joshua just shook his head and they both moved closer together. Slowly they both moved around the bush, trying to see what could make all that noise and put both these children on their highest guard. The bush started to shake again, this time with a new amount of vigor. They turned the backside of the bush and saw nothing. Then from the middle of the bush another rustling, and some other sounds that they could not put their finger on.
Out from the center of the bush a pair of squirrels burst forth. They were wrestling with one another and rolling around on the ground. When they noticed the two children standing there with the look of astonishment on their faces they both ran off, squeaking and making other noises at the kids. It was very obvious that the squirrels were very upset that their play time was interfered with. Jamie and Joshua looked at each other and they both burst into laughter.
With the mood lighter because both had lost their fear, they moved back to their fishing spot and set out to begin enjoying the snack that they had brought with them. The sun was moving across the sky and it was midafternoon when they noticed someone was coming towards them through the bushes. From a distance off the man shouted a greeting then moved forward closer.
The man was dressed in green. It was not camouflage or anything meant to hide him but more of a uniform. He had a belt on that held a gun, something like a 9mm or something close to that. His boots were a bit muddy but well maintained and he walked through the bushes like someone that does it often and was very comfortable with the environment. It was at that moment that Jamie realized that he was a conservation officer, one of those police officers that made sure people didn’t do bad things in the woods to animals or catch too many fish. She also noted that she was thankful that although they had caught some fish they hadn’t caught so many as to be over the limit.
“Good afternoon ser.” Jamie said when he was close enough to hear without shouting through the woods.
“Afternoon to you to, how are things going this day?” The officer inquired.
“Doing alright. We have had some luck with the little trout. Be a good dinner tonight.”
“That’s good. I don’t mean to interrupt but just a few moments ago I heard a scream and I was hoping that you could help me with that.” At that Jamie blushed, thinking that someone had heard that causing her to choke up a bit. Joshua on the other hand had no problems speaking at that moment.
“Ser, that scream you heard was my sister. I came up behind her and boy you should have seen her jump. I don’t think she landed for a solid minute.” As he told the story of what occurred his excitement grew and he became more animated showing just what she looked like, even a slight imitation of her scream. During the recount that her brother was doing Jamie’s blush deepened and she became even more embarrassed. When Joshua was done with his tale the officer just was grinning and shaking his head.
“Well, OK then. As long as everything is fine then I guess I don’t have anything to worry about. I guess I will be on my way.” The officer turned to head out.
“Joshua, it is getting late. I think we oughta head home as well. Let’s get everything together and get going.” Jamie began to real in her line and to put the container and leftovers from their snack back into the bag she carried.
“Well, if you’re leaving I suppose I could walk you two back down the road a bit and if you like I can give you a ride home, my truck is parked down a bit.”
“That would be very nice of you.” Jamie hurried up so that she would not keep the officer waiting for long. With everything packed they worked their way back to the road and to where his truck was parked. Joshua was a constant supply of questions; half of them were about the handgun on the officer’s side. He just answered everything with a calm and steady voice, never letting on that any of the questions were a bother at all. Jamie was looking on and could tell that he was actually enjoying answering all of the questions. Although she thought that a couple of the answers were a little off from the full truth.
Walking along the dirt road Jamie noticed that something was off a bit. When she put her mind to it she realized that what was off was the fact that there was no sound. The birds had stopped chirping and the other animals like squirrels had also stopped making their calls through the woods. This caused a very strange silence to fall across the woods, creating a very eerie feeling inside of her. In just a few short moments Joshua’s questions slacked off and they all could feel the silence pressing against them. Finally someone said something.
“I think we should maybe walk a little bit faster.” The officer spoke, his words feeling out of place in the strange silence. His words falling away fast as if the silence was fighting against any sound that was emitted. The crunching of boots and shoes on the gravel road was the only thing heard, as the steps increased so did the sound. From the left, off in the trees there was a sound that broke through the silence and reached the trio. All froze in their tracks as the sound reached their ears and it removed all the heat from the muscles and bones of their body, their blood was ice flowing through their veins. Fear, the most terrifying fear in the entire world is the only emotion that any of them felt. Even the officer could only feel fear, although he was the first one to snap out of the paralyze that held them still. He moved a step forward, putting himself between the children and the sound.
The low moaning, that was the only thing the officer could think of to describe it, was slowly becoming louder and the source was coming closer. As he watched he could see something making its way through the underbrush that was by the edge of the road. It came into his sight and it took all of his self-control to not allow any bile to come up. It was a man, but he looked to be in some rough shape. He was walking forward with a slow shuffle that kicked up leaves and dirt with each step. The clothes were old, very old and looked to be rotting off the body. Of course that could also have been the body itself. There were wounds and sores all over the place, as if it didn’t care about cuts and scrapes from branches as it was walking through the woods. It had been walking for a while, the skin was bloated and ad a greenish tint. The wounds looked to be pussy and the odor emanating from the man was overpowering, almost like a rotting piece of meat. It let out another low moan and they could see that the mouth would open, but there were more holes than just where the lips were.
“Stop!” The officer yelled, pulling out his sidearm and aiming it at the monster that was moving forward. “Stop or I will fire! State your name and if you need help!” There was no response from it except it started to snap its teeth and swiping its hands at them. Jamie realized that it was missing several fingers as well as an ear.
“I think we should just get out of here.” Jamie said, hoping that the officer heard her and listened. When he just stood there with his gun out she started to question if she had even spoken out loud. There was a scream and she found Joshua crying and coming out of his trance. Wrapping her arms around him she shielded him from view of it. “We need to go.” She practically cried as scared as she was, she still was trying to get the officer’s attention.
“Just stay behind me.” Jamie was relieved that he was starting to do something else, though she still felt that leaving was the best course of action. It was still moving closer and wasn’t even twenty feet away from the man with the gun when he shouted, “Stop, this is your final warning. If you do not I will open fire.” With no response he flipped off the safety, took aim and fired once. The shot hit in the right upper chest of the thing. There was a sickening sound as the bullet hit, it seemed the bullet his something that was a little bit thicker than jello and seemed to have no effect on the forward progress of the monster. He fired again, and again. The bullets hit directly, at this short of range it was hard to miss, but every shot just had a sound of hitting with material flying away from the spot of impact but with no effect on its course. The officer, with desperation written across his face, just started to pull the trigger. Several shots rang out as he finished with the clip that was in the gun, then the sound of clicks as his finger kept pulling the trigger with the chamber being empty.
“Noooooo!” The only sound that Jamie could emit as the monster reached the officer and pounced. The weight of the attacker knocked the man over, he hit the ground hard. The jolt pulled him from his momentary daze and he began to fight off the assailant.
“Get out of here. I will catch up in a moment, just go, and get to safety!” The officer was now wrestling with the monster. For a moment Jamie had a queer thought about the two squirrels fighting, but that passed as quickly as it had come. She grabbed her younger brother and started to move away from the pair on the ground. Looking back it looked like the officer was going to overcome the other and get away, but just as she thought that it bit the man’s hand and removed several fingers from his right hand.
He screamed and tried to remove himself from the creature that was still fighting even after having been shot several times. Its mouth moved lower and was able to take a hold of the man’s throat. With a last strangled cry and a gurgling noise that came from not his mouth but the new hole in his throat, he died. Jamie and Joshua started to move away, Joshua was retching from the copper metal smell of fresh blood. Jamie could hardly contain her tears and her vision became blurry. They didn’t have very long to recover because it started to shuffle its way towards them, snapping and waving its arms the way it had before at the officer.
Jamie grabbed her brother’s hand and pulled him along. At first he resisted, but shortly he was running alongside his sister and putting distance between themselves and the creature. The only thing she could think of was that it was wrong and shouldn’t be. The next thing that went through her mind was that she had to get back to town and tell everyone she saw what happened. Would anyone believe her?