‘I won the mega-million lottery’

They say your life can change in an instant. I’ve been buying lottery tickets for more that twenty-five years. Honestly, I never expected to win ‘the big one’. Everyone knows the odds are astronomically small. Still, something always compelled me to buy a couple of those damn things every week. A few times I matched three numbers and won a small payout. Even that triggered a mild euphoria in my brain. “Look at me! I’m a winner!”

Once I even managed to get four out of six and (possibly) made up for all of the cash I’d wasted over the years trying to win. Is ‘breaking even’ any justification for playing, though? No, definitely not but there’s a gambling spirit in most of us. We hope fate will tip the scales of cosmic justice and smile favorably upon us. We try to beat those long odds of probability. The thrill of a challenge sucks us in because we think, ‘What if?’ I was that guy. Trying to strike it rich with a stubby number two pencil and a dotted-up lotto sheet. In the back of my mind, I knew some unsuspecting loser with a handful of dollars would get lucky. All of a sudden it was me that won the big jackpot.

It didn’t register at first. How ironic that I’d been trying to do something for a quarter century and when it actually happened, I wasn’t ready for it. Bells and whistles went off. My face was all over the news. ‘Friends’ I never expected to ever encounter again, came out of the woodwork to congratulate me. They went out of their way to remind me just how important I was to them. The good ‘luck’ just kept pouring in.

My new entourage had suggestions on what I should do with MY money. Either that, or they had their brazen hands out to lighten the ‘burden’. Uncle Sam was right there in front to take his cut first. Truthfully, I wasn’t surprised by any of it. It’s human nature for the parasites to go for fresh blood. I just stepped back and marveled at the opportunistic feeding frenzy my life had become.

It was around this time that I started noticing odd things out of the corner of my eye. Inanimate objects appeared to be moving or shifting slightly in my presence. I thought it was hallucinations induced by the stress of a life-changing experience. I wasn’t sleeping well. I was drinking way too much. Does the human body differentiate between boozing excessively for sadness or for celebration? I doubt it matters that much to the liver. I hoped that the strange visions would end when I stopped partying so hard.

Not surprising, my very transparent ex-wife wanted to reconcile as soon as she heard. My coworkers started treating me differently too. It was as if they expected me to pack up my things and quit my job the moment the lottery commission handed me an oversized novelty check. I must admit, I considered it. Who needs the hassle of micromanagers and TPS reports when you are financially taken care of for life? I certainly didn’t enjoy the daily aggravation of being a working stiff but I wanted to maintain the illusion of still being a ‘regular guy’. Subconsciously, I realized I needed a justification to get out of bed. Plus, going through the motions at work prevented me from blowing massive piles of cash on exotic Italian sports cars that I had no business driving around.

After a few months, things in my life leveled out a bit. I settled down. I assumed I’d successfully navigated the perilous adjustment period of becoming instantly ‘loaded’. I still went to work every day. I’d stopped drinking. I’d even managed to cut the freeloaders and parasites out of my life but something still wasn’t ‘right’. The unexplained movement in my peripheral vision was still there and I couldn’t ignore it any more. The instances were becoming more frequent and I didn’t know how to admit to a doctor that I had ‘issues’ of that sort. Frankly I was scared they might commit me if I divulged that I was seeing things.

That morning I watched in horror as my anti-slip shower mat slid away as I was about to step on it! I would have face planted if I hadn’t been paying attention to the floor. The only explanation I could offer was that a breeze caused from opening the shower door blew it out from under my feet. That didn’t seem too likely but I was grasping at straws. I was desperate to find a logical explanation for the endless wave of unexplainable events.

Next a heavy storage shelf in my garage almost fell on me as I walked by. It would have flattened me if it I hadn’t seen it coming first and intervened. Somehow I managed to tip it back upright. I couldn’t even blame it on my weight shaking the floor. The garage is built on a thick concrete slab. There’s no way a person walking past would cause the shelf to tip over as it did. I know that now. At the time I made some pathetic excuse about piling too many heavy things on the top shelf. Admittedly, it really is top heavy but not enough to be unstable. I was certain of that.

After weeks of restlessness and ‘freeloader’ paranoia, I suspected everything and everyone. I imagined diabolical plots against me. Most of which where probably nothing. How inanimate objects could conspire against me, I had no idea but the circumstantial evidence was mounting. I realized the whole thing probably seemed ‘unhinged’ to an outsider but I couldn’t let go of the idea of a cosmic conspiracy. It was all starting to make sense.

The same unknown forces which temporarily unbalanced the scales in my favor, seemed be trying to reverse my lucky streak. Perhaps it wasn’t supposed to happen. Maybe no human being is supposed to have that much good luck and fortune in their lifetime. If the cosmos was trying to undo my lottery win or make me pay some form of karmic restitution, it made sense for my shower mat to zip across the floor. It was like a sinister force was waiting around every corner to trip me and equalize the situation.

Every time I reminded myself how stark-raving mad my ‘retaliatory fate’ theory sounded, I reflected on the sad tale of a dozen other lottery winners in the news. None of them managed to live ‘happily ever after’. My internet search was filled with appalling examples of others who got lucky temporarily, and then had a mysterious and rapid reversal of fortune. They would die of a heart attack, lose their spouse, or just squander all their money away on strippers and drugs.

The sheer number of ‘rags to riches’ (and then rapidly back to rags) stories I found was incredibly high. It seemed far too often to be coincidental. I did some research on probability ratios. There had to be a reason for the universal failure rate and financial ruin of all my lottery winning peers. My hypothesis was that others who had experienced the same instant wealth, also encountered the unexplained movement phenomenon.

Just like me, I believe they quickly realized what was going on but didn’t dare tell anyone out of fear. They knew they were caught in a curse and sought to deliberately squander their monetary windfall, to cast it off before it killed them. As if to reinforce my epiphany, a massive chandelier in my new mansion fell and missed me by inches. ‘They’ were determined to get me. I knew eventually something would be successful. The gods didn’t like showing favoritism in matters of fate and chance. If I didn’t squander my wealth soon, I’d be in the ground.

It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done but I systematically burned through huge piles of my cash and purchases in record time. As expected, the random attempts by fate to kill me lessened in frequency and severity. I had numerous friends and family members pull me aside and try to ‘talk some sense into me.’ I just smiled each time and offered them a bottle of thousand dollar champagne. For once, I knew they meant well. They were sincerely trying to help me stop wasting all my money.

They had no idea that lottery winners like me are under constant attack by inanimate objects. I certainly couldn’t tell anyone I knew the truth. No one would believe it. I just feigned ignorance and smiled for the cameras. The press has a love affair with losers winning big, and winners losing big. After a whirlwind marathon of wasting my entire fortune, I’m safe now. The attacks have stopped and I’ve learned my lesson. It’s not so good to have fate smile upon you. There’s an ugly price to pay. I’m glad I kept my job.

I’m only sharing this dark truth with open minded strangers like you to spare you the heightened danger you unknowingly place yourselves in. Please don’t reveal this secret and for heaven’s sake, don’t ever buy a lottery ticket. You’ll join a long line of ‘regular Joes’ who ‘crash and burn under the pressure’. I know the truth and now you do too.

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Posted in Controversial topics, creepy, Different Perspectives, Essays & Rants, Fiction Stories, Horror, Humor, Macabre, Mystery, Science Fiction, Supernatural, Thought provoking, Thriller, Twilight Zone Inspired, Utopia & Armageddon, Whimsical, Whodoneit? | Leave a comment

‘Rodrick’s shortcut ‘

It is my sworn testimony that this statement is both accurate and completely truthful. I have neither romanced the bottle as of late, nor have I been given to past flights of fantasy. I swear I am stone cold sober and completely lucid. Please keep that in mind when hearing these extraordinary and shocking words. I can produce any number of character witnesses if necessary to vouch for my mental clarity and truthfulness.

Let me begin by saying that I didn’t bother telling the young coachman about our disturbing little legend. I knew Rodrick fairly well. Good man he was. Previously he’d confided in me that he was born and raised in the nearby farming community of Smithington. I assumed because of that, he would already know of the malevolent spirit reported to haunt that bleak section of roadway. I just sat back and left all the navigation decisions to him. I didn’t even think it would be an issue.

Not that I ‘believed’ in it myself at the time, mind you. I just assumed he would pick another route to my desired destination out of prudence. No one acknowledges believing in this evil haunting and yet, few trek through that cursed place either. We like to think we aren’t superstitious but even the most analytical gent among us still avoids walking under ladders and other common-sense things. Honestly, I paid no attention at all to the route he took. I was the passenger. He was the coachman. I drew the cabin curtain and occupied my thoughts with mundane things as we journeyed on. We rode in a professional silence.

The coach itself has dual leaf springs to dampen the bumpy ride and relatively comfortable seats. It is a highly stylish way to travel. The horse team pulling his carriage was magnificent as well. Their hoof claps and the rhythmic rocking was about to lull me to sleep when I heard his piercing scream. The feral intensity and unexpected nature of which, caused me a great alarm. I stuck my head out of the window to inquire what was the matter. It was then when I took notice of a very startling development. The steering reins were unattended and his seat atop the carriage was fully vacant!

I suddenly found myself a passenger in a driverless carriage, as we raced precariously down the road to ruin! It was completely and utterly out of control. The horses were galloping so hard that the couch bounced dangerously from rut to rut in the murky 2 AM darkness. With a level of agility and daring that I feared was beyond my advanced years, I climbed around the carriage skirting and made my way up to the driver’s empty seat!

Once I secured the loose reins, I proceeded to slow down the spooked horses. The whole thing happened so fast that I could scarcely believe it. I went from a soothing nighttime trip as the sole passenger in a luxury travel coach; to being my very own savior of the runaway vessel! All of this surreal adventure happened in under a minute!

Only then did I realize my missing carriage man had taken me deep into the accursed woods. I do not wish to be imprudent or distasteful but there was a great deal of blood on the driver’s bench. Was Rodrick ignorant to the folktales; or was he just unafraid to take the shortcut to my destination? Perhaps he had another fare booked and wanted to shorten his workload by taking the ill-fated route through the woods. I realize that we will never know the reason for his mysterious diversion. Whether it was brave or foolhardy, I’ll leave that for others to decide. It’s not my place to judge him.

At the time, I presumed he’d fallen off his bench around the same time as his impassioned scream. At the speed the horses were traveling, he was surely a couple of miles back by then. Was he unconscious or lying dead beside the roadway? I didn’t know at the time but I assure you, I was genuinely worried about the young man. Despite evidence of a serious injury from a low-lying tree limb or other unknown culprit, I still hoped to find him alive and well. Unfortunately there was nowhere in sight to turn around to retrieve him. I tried to soothe the labored beasts as I pondered my next move. I considered that up ahead there could possibly be a clearing to reverse the team and fetch him.

In a defining moment which lead to my being present at the inspector’s station, the decision was made for me. A massive, imp-winged creature of unknown origin hovered less than fifty feet above Rodrick’s carriage in the moonlit sky. It bellowed out an otherworldly shriek which I shall never forget. I jumped down from the coachman’s bench and fiercely ran along the roadway. Instinctually I sought to put as much distance between myself and this unholy harpie as it taunted me.

Through my sense of sound and personal intuition, I heard it giving a hearty, determined pursuit above. My screams probably sounded similar to that of young Stanthorpe, only a few moments earlier. All courage was gone from my soul. I ran until my legs and heaving lungs demanded unconditional surrender.

At that point, the spirited chase had ran its course. I was relieved that the winged demon of the woods had apparently given up, or returned to its earlier kill of poor Rodrick. I doubt that any trace of young Stanthorpe will ever be found. God rest his soul. I take some comfort in knowing the evil thing which haunts those woods could only seize his body. May his spirit now be with his maker. I feel most distressed for his young widow and his wee lad, David.

If you take a team of armed men, you should discover his abandoned carriage and steeds in the vicinity of the area I’ve described. I shall stay here; in full custody if necessary. I’d rather be locked up for twenty years than to return to that godless thing’s hunting ground. Some superstitions are surely the hallucinatory ether of a paranoid mind but this legend is absolutely true. Please believe me. Poor young Rodrick’s shortcut was a fatal one.

Posted in creepy, Different Perspectives, Fiction Stories, Gothic horror, Horror, Macabre, Mystery, Science Fiction, Supernatural, Thriller, Twilight Zone Inspired | Leave a comment

‘Flixnet’ III (audio)

Here is part three of GhostEagle1991’s narration of my story.

Posted in audio narration, Controversial topics, creepy, Fiction Stories, Horror, Macabre, Mystery, Science Fiction, Technology ran amuck, Thought provoking, Thriller, Twilight Zone Inspired, Whimsical | Leave a comment

‘Story time’ (repost)

He drifted into camp one night about 3 years ago; easily the tallest man we had ever seen. Standing well over 7 feet, his gaunt form was quite a frightening vision in the flickering firelight. None of us would ever forget the sobering experience of an unexpected giant wandering into our midst. When his massive palms extended beyond his black cloak in an apparent goodwill gesture; we were relieved, slightly.

Despite an emaciated appearance, his immense frame was still larger than any of ours. The tallest ranch-hand among us only came up to his shoulders! The looming, distorted figure teetered over to our fire with an awkward, unsteady gait. Understandably, we gave the ominious stranger a wide berth. He remained by the fire for quite some time as we continued our nightly campfire conversation. I think everyone was too distracted by his presence to pay much attention to the lackluster yarns being spun.

I watched the dark stranger suspiciously from the corner of my eye, and I wasn’t alone. We all needed to make sure he remained where we could see him. There was no shortage of rustlers and cutthroats on the range. It was just smart to practice an abundance of caution under the circumstances. I think we had decided he was a mute until the intimidating titan proved us wrong. He slowly addressed the camp with a deep, resonate voice.

His unnaturally low, baritone statement caused our horses in the corral to whinny in nervousness. Those first thunderous words will remain burned in my mind forever. “I wish to warm myself by your flame and get something to eat.”; He explained.

It was easy to understand why the behemoth invading our sanctuary was hungry. He was painfully thin, but it didn’t make sense that he was cold on such a warm summer night. The rest of us had beads of sweat pouring down our foreheads from the sweltering July heat. We only kept a fire for cooking and to keep wild animals away. Meanwhile our peculiar, uninvited guest professed to be chilly in the stifling southwestern air! It didn’t make sense but none of us were in the mood to disagree with him.

Instead, we fixed him an extremely generous meal plate of rations. Curiously, he accepted it with noticeable hesitation. It was as if he was uncertain of what to do with it! His reaction was very odd, considering he asked for the food in the first place. I assumed he wasn’t sure if we really wanted him to have it. Also very strange was his facial expression; or rather the lack of any. It was as if human emotions were completely alien to him.

After finally eating the food we gave him, he retreated to the very edge of the campfire and fashioned a bed from his cloak. Even if the heat hadn’t been unbearable by the campfire, the spitting embers were still very dangerous. Any one of those sparks could have caught his clothes on fire but none of us were about to get involved. If he wasn’t afraid, who were we to worry about him?

Everyone slept uneasy that night with the wandering soul only a few feet from our circle of tents. Mine happened to be the closest to the fire so I probably slept the least. I heard him stir before sunrise and I clutched my pistol nervously. At dawn I arose and was surprised to see that he was already gone. It was as if he had never even been at our camp.

There was an unspoken sigh of relief among the men when they realized our eerie visitor had left. At the breakfast table, everyone was curious about who he was and where he came from but we had more important things to concentrate on. We had our work cut out for us. In addition to our regular duties, two calves were missing from the herd and there were troublesome wolf tracks nearby. It didn’t take a detective to realize those two things were probably related. It¹s of little wonder that we put the previous night’s encounter out of our minds.

(Part II)

That night Ross and Mark played their flat tops while the rest of us sang along to the old favorites. Occasionally we’d switch who sang the chorus or harmony parts but it was basically the same half dozen songs we knew by heart. Our ‘gourmet chef’ Jim finally announced that it was ‘bean time’. The chow wasn’t anything to write home about but after a full day of herding cattle, none of us had to be told twice.

As the plates were being filled with ‘pot luck stew’, the menacing stranger reappeared at the edge of camp. It was as if he had been waiting in the darkness for us to serve the grub. This time Jim politely fixed him a plate without waiting to be asked. Ordinarily we live by the simple creed that ‘only those who work hard and earn their keep, deserve the right to eat.’ but no one dared to protest, under the circumstances.

He accepted the food with an unspoken hint of appreciation; and then sat down by the fire to paw at it with his massive fingers. This time he did so without any of the previous night’s hesitation. Curious glances were exchanged between all of us for a moment; before we went back to filling our bellies. I suppose we wondered if his stealthy campfire visits were going to become a regular thing.

We didn’t mind sharing our food since Jim made enough to feed an army but we didn’t actually know anything about him. Nor had the oddly dressed giant volunteered anything either, for that matter. Worse still; there was a subconscious desire among the ranch hands to just avoid communication with him. As suspicious and unsocial as we could all be to any stranger, a complete avoidance of conversation seemed like a perfectly acceptable plan of inaction.

I tried to reason that he already had ample opportunity to kill us the night before as we slept. As shut-eye time rapidly approached again, that wasn’t very comforting.

When supper was over, it was our custom to gather around the firelight and take turns telling stories. Most, if not all of them had been told dozens of times before. In order to make them more interesting the storyteller would try to add something new each time. ‘Spicing up’ the old tales was our way of compensating for the limited imaginations we possessed. Eventually these yarns became quite elaborate. The fun part, (if you could call it that), was trying to figure out where the new parts would lead the next time it was told. Besides playing music and singing old folk standards, this was the only real pastime we had on the range.

There was no better spinner of yarns in the group than Sammy; and it was his turn to speak. I was so deeply lost in thought about the aloof stranger that Sammy was nearly finished with his tale before I realized it was actually one I had told before. His version was so vastly superior to my own that it only bore a slight resemblance to what I had told.

While he delivered his enhanced rendition with expertise, I absently watched the firelight dance on the nearby giant’s massive features. Despite his blank expression, he genuinely seemed interested in our storytelling session. Once Sammy finished recycling and improving my bare bones story, there was unanimous applause. The general consensus among those present seemed to be that originality was less important than creative delivery.

With mock disgust, I told Sammy I was happy to have inspired ‘his’ story idea. My playful little jab brought a round of laughter from everyone except the lurking stranger. Oddly, he didn’t seem to understand basic sarcasm; or the appropriate response to it. Reflecting on the previous nights exposure to him, he appeared to be oblivious to other emotions too. I assumed his intimidating stature had made him a societal outcast. He had probably lived a very sheltered existence with limited human interaction. It was the only explanation I could surmise.

When the laughter died down, Sammy deadpanned: “By the way Jimmy, I think the stew was a little bland tonight.” All the other men cringed at the sour note his complaint was sure to strike with Jim.

Sammy was the only one who ever called him ‘Jimmy’ because we knew that Jim hated it. Sammy realized it too but he would do it just to aggravate him.

“So you’re telling me how to do my job now, are ya? Well, perhaps the ’master story teller’ would like me to step aside so he can do the cooking from now on!”; Declared Jim angrily. He always had a very hot temper and any form of criticism ignited him like dynamite. Fortunately his proverbial bark was worse than his bite.

“It might be nice to see how the other half lives.”; Sammy sneered. The unspoken implication was that Jim ‘had it easy’ because he (only) prepared meals while the rest of us did the ‘real’ work. That retort didn’t sit well with Jim, to say the least.

“You’re welcome to my ‘easy’ job any time you want it but don’t expect me to eat anything you fix, you son of a…” Sammy stopped Jim before he said something he would regret later.

“I was just pullin’ your leg, you ol’ cuss! I didn’t really mean it, Jim. I think the stew was just fine; …really.”; Sammy apologized sincerely.

Jim’s face lost most of it’s anger but in an attempt to restore his pride he shot back; “It was never my intention to fix stew that was ONLY ‘fine!’” His tone changed mid-sentence from rage to embarrassment when he realized Sammy’s complaints were only a joke to get a rise out of him.

Another round of chuckles filled the air when his facial expression finally softened. Jim was still slightly distracted from the ribbing and a little insecure of his cooking abilities. He turned to the quiet stranger observing our internal squabble and blurted out; “What did you think of the stew? Was it to good to your tastin’?” All of us gasped perceptibly at Jim’s spontaneous questions to the stranger in black.

(Part III)

After a long, awkward silence the stranger finally spoke. “Yes, I enjoyed consuming it, … very much.” There was little emotion in his odd, monotone answer. The rest of us were still too startled to address him but that wasn’t about to stop ‘the straight shooter’. In another example of the mouth working faster than the mind, Jim blurted out even more cringe-worthy questions. He seized the brief moment of mutual communication to quench his burning curiosity. Admittedly the rest of us were just as anxious to find out about the enigma in our midst, but only Jim dared to pursue the matter.

“By the way, what did you say your name was again?” Of course Jim knew fully well (as did the rest of us), that he had never introduced himself! I’m sure you could’ve heard a pin drop as we nervously anticipated his terse response. An involuntary shudder passed through everyone as an unexpected breeze bristled against the back of our necks.

“I …am the one …called …Anak.”

A deafening silence followed. It was only the third time we had heard his voice, and it was just as chilling as before. Now, at least we had a name to associate with the looming visitor to our camp. I breathed a sigh of relief after the tension of those uncomfortable questions dissipated slightly. Only then did Jim seem to realize the magnitude of his interrogative meddling.

His social awkwardness was responsible for revealing ten times more than we knew before, but we still didn’t really know anything about ‘Anak’. Secretly we were grateful that Jim broke the ice, however. We kidded him occasionally about being short-changed in the common sense department but maybe being direct was not a curse. His blind boldness and absent ‘filter’ accomplished what our polite tact and cowardly ‘respect for privacy’ could not. One thing was for sure, Jim was genuine and that wasn’t about to change. Meanwhile, ‘Anak the lurking giant’ (as we referred to him when he wasn’t around), made his makeshift bed beside the fire again. As before, he was gone shortly before sunrise the next morning.

For over two weeks he continued to appear each night around supper time. We came to expect his silent presence beside the campfire, and then his pre-dawn departure. Everyone was too distracted to pay his imposing presence any mind. The ranch hands were all exhausted from long hours of tracking the wolf that was stalking and killing our livestock. We had placed several traps in the valley to catch the illusive beast but it appeared to be too cunning to be caught. Eventually it’s luck would run out and we could get back to our regular routine. Once we settled in each evening, there was always supper and story time to look forward to.

Mark told a spook story his Granddad told him when he was still a little cowpoke; complete with rattlin’ chains and creakin’ doors. Then Sammy described a 2 headed snake that couldn’t decide which direction to crawl in. The entire time, I observed that Anak appeared to be completely mesmerized by our assorted campfire tales. It was by far the most animated I had ever witnessed him.

After Sammy’s snake story (and to everyone’s great surprise); the silent giant announced that he had a story to tell! You could have knocked us over with a feather! We were very eager to learn more about him and it seemed like the perfect opportunity. Every wrangler and ranch hand within earshot blurted out in unison; “Sure, go ahead!”

In all the time he had been coming to our camp, Anak had probably spoken less than fifty words; and even those were simple responses. Now he was going to open up to us. We were all ears!

(Part 4)

With a terrifying gleam in his eyes, he proceeded to relay a spellbinding tale that surpassed anything we had ever heard. According to him, a long time ago there were restless spirits from another world that decided to live in disguise among mankind. These celestial beings were so smitten with human females that they took them as wives. The hybrid offspring of these fallen creatures were abnormally large and dominated the world for centuries. A cataclysmic natural disaster ended their reign of terror but according to Anak (with a ghoulish grin on his face), a few of these merciless tyrants survived, and planned to rise again very soon.

The story was simple enough in approach and delivery, yet extremely effective in conveying an eerie mood. Anak surveyed our individual expressions in the firelight to determine if we were impressed. Considering the ominous presence of the narrator himself, it wouldn’t have required much more to captivate us. We remained wide eyed and speechless for several moments while absorbing his terrifying yarn. He had cleverly used our own subconscious fears about him to weave a masterful tale. Truthfully, we would have enjoyed it a bit more if the subject matter and unspoken implications were less disturbing. Still, it was good that he was finally opening up to us.

It was only fitting that ‘the reigning king of story telling’ was the first to praise Anak’s maiden entry. The rest of us ‘amateurs’ were quick to follow Sammy as well; with our own appreciation. Those sincere accolades gave him a great sense of satisfaction, judging from the faint smile on his otherwise, nondescript face. That Anak was certainly an enigma.

Once again, Jim exercised his tendency to speak before thinking. “How come you decided to join us tonight in telling a story?”; He inquired innocently.

Without changing his blank expression Anak deadpanned; “I wanted to see how the other half lives.”

It took us a brief moment to recognize his subtle attempt at humor. Clearly he had been paying attention a couple weeks earlier when the guys were arguing. The emotionless expression on his face caught us off guard and made the joke even funnier. I nervously joined the others in laughter while appraising the others for reassurance. Jim’s bluntness had again cut through the tension. We were thankful.

We had an early morning ahead of us counting heads of cattle and checking traps, so we bid Anak good night and retired to our tents.

Part 5

The first rays of sunlight filtered through my tent and woke me up sooner than I would have preferred. I glanced at the smoldering embers and saw that Anak was already gone. Although we never discussed it among ourselves, I’m sure we all wondered where the wandering giant went during the heat of the day. As curious as I was, it was a mystery I was perfectly content to wait for ‘bigmouth’ to bring it up. It was certain to occur to him at some point. Then we would find out without having to pry, ourselves.

After a breakfast of bacon, eggs and coffee; several of us rode out to check the predator traps. Nearly all of them had been robbed of their bait without capturing any of the animals responsible. One did have dried blood on it so we knew we’d been partially successful. At least one of them had ran out of luck. Incredibly, the anchoring mechanism to tether it to the ground had been ripped all the way out. The trap’s jaws were twisted open until the steel teeth no longer touched!

Someone whistled a low note after seeing how mangled it was. We knew that any animal that could bend open a steel spring trap, was of great strength and intelligence. It would take a lot more than simple baited traps to solve the considerable problem. There was no other choice but to take turns on a night watch to protect the herd. We had already lost nine head of cattle and that would come out of our pay. A few collateral losses were allowed due to unforeseen circumstances but nine would certainly be inexcusable.

After supper, we drew straws for night watch duty and Mack drew the shortest one. He grabbed his trusty rifle and a pot of coffee; and headed over to the corral. About the usual time, Anak’s shadowy figure drifted in from the darkness. After wolfing down his plate of food, he noticed that Mack was absent from the festivities. “Where is the one called Mack?”; He inquired in a resonate tone.

When we explained that he was on watch for predators attacking our livestock, a very peculiar thing happened. At first Anak appeared nervous and concerned. Then he smiled in an eerie way that sent a shiver down my spine! I won’t ever forget that sinister smile.

A few songs and stories later, he motioned that he wanted to take another turn sharing with the camp. Surprisingly, he decided to use Sammy’s method of building upon a earlier tale; over delivering an original one. It seemed odd for Anak to recycle the only one he had told before, but we realized he was still new to the game. Obviously he had very little human contact or exposure in the past.

In his newly enhanced revision, he added that the ruthless giants could change shape at will, and could walk among mortal man undetected. He also added that this hybrid race of creatures would soon enslave humanity. Most of the inspirations for his new additions were transparently obvious but we pretended to be unaware he was trying to scare us. I’m sure our faces betrayed what we were thinking because he broke out in cackles of spine chilling laughter.

It was the first time any of us had ever heard him laugh. Frankly, I was amazed at his rapidly developing sense of humor. Even though we knew it was just a big set-up to create more mystique, we still didn’t know much about him. Curiosity had eaten at us long enough. Jim blurted out what the rest of us were thinking.

“But seriously Anak, tell us about yourself!”

“I just did.”; He replied while warming himself by the fire. “I enjoy walking among you humans since I am actually the ‘short’ one of my own people.”

This time the laughter didn’t die down for at least three minutes. He was becoming quite a comedian! After I retired to my tent, I was puzzled by the feeling that I had heard his supernatural story somewhere else before.

Part 6

As Jim handed out lunch plates to the men, his eyes lit up when he came to Mack. “Which way did Anak go when he left camp this morning? Did he head toward the mountains, or back in the general direction of town?” His answer was eagerly awaited by everyone else in the chow line but Mack was clearly confused by the question.

“Huh? I was going to ask why he didn’t show up for supper last night like he always does.”; He replied. The mystified expression on his face began to deepen.

“But he did come, Mack! Anak visited again last night and occupied his usual spot by the fire. As a matter of fact he even asked where you were. He got the strangest look on his face when we told him you were guarding the cattle. He even retold his creepy story from the other night with some new parts added in. After that, we all ‘hit the hay’. He was gone when I got up to fix breakfast a dawn.”

Jim grew more agitated by the minute as he reflected upon the events of the previous night. “Surely you must have seen Anak when he left this morning! He would have walked right past you at the lookout station, no matter which way he went after that!”

“Well how could that be?”; Mack exclaimed defensively. “I didn’t see him walk by either time. We all know there isn’t any other way in or out of camp except by the corrals! Don’t you think I would have noticed a lumbering giant strolling by?”; He snorted.

“Maybe you didn’t see him walk past you because your eyelids were closed!”; Ross quipped sarcastically. The brash insinuation by the camp blacksmith (that Mack fell asleep at his post) didn’t sit too well with him. He was very quick to let his two ‘night watch critics’ know. The whole thing might have become a knock-down drag-out, if I hadn’t stepped in to intervene.

“Just hold on there, fellas! Did any of our livestock disappear last night while he was on watch?”; I pointed out. I hoped reason would deescalate the rising tension.

“That doesn’t prove a thing.”; Ross scoffed. “You could have propped up a scarecrow by the gate and got the same result!”

“Is that so?”; I challenged. Well, Let’s see if you do as well tonight then.” The rest of the guys laughed at my clever comeback. It seemed like Ross was trapped but he wasn’t one to give up easily.

“Well I would but uh, I uh, didn’t get very much sleep last night so I wouldn’t be able to keep awake like I usually would.”

“Suuuurrrre you didn’t!”; I mocked. “Otherwise you would love to back up your boasting, wouldn’t you, Ross?”

“I haven’t heard you volunteer for a shift yet either!”; He fired back.

I knew it would be my turn eventually so I might as well get it over with. I had put my foot in my mouth and got involved in their petty squabble. It was time to pay the piper.

“Alright, fair is fair.” I agreed. “I’ll take tonight’s watch so you can get you precious ‘shut eye’. Then you’ll be all rested up for tomorrow night.” I certainly wasn’t going to let him off the hook since he dragged me in the whole mess!

Part 7

After supper, I took everything I needed and prepared for my stint as night watchman. I had my rifle, twenty extra rounds of ammo, coffee, firewood and some matches. I also brought along a couple books to help pass the time between security patrols. I’d never been a religious man but was reading the Old Testament out of curiosity. I had just settled down to read a few pages from Genesis, when the passages in chapter six struck me as being very familiar! It was without a doubt the inspiration for the story that Anak told us. Fascinated, I read the first four verses over several times.

They told how the ‘Son’s of God’ came down from the heavens and took the ‘Daughter’s of men’ as their wives. Their offspring were domineering tyrants called ‘Nephilim’ who were said to have perished during the great flood in Noah’s day.

Reading it in the Bible added a great deal to my understanding of Anak. Frankly I was impressed that he was familiar with the story. He often seemed unaware of much more common things. I concluded that he must have led an unusual life.

The hour of twilight approached and my eyes grew very heavy. They ached from continuously squinting at the small text in the flickering light. I decided to walk around the corral again to inspect the fence and cattle. When I approached the nearest vantage point to our camp, I witnessed Anak gathering up his things to leave. Just as it happened to Mack the night before, I never saw him pass, and yet there he was beside the smoldering embers! Somehow he was slithering past our lookout station undetected!

In what could only be called irresponsible spontaneity, I decided to follow him to see where he went. Occasionally he would turn around nervously and look, but I know he never saw me. I kept back a very discreet distance to avoid any chance of detection. If he had known I was trailing him, he certainly wouldn’t have led me to his hidden lair.

He headed straight for a nearby mountain behind our camp. We previously used it to contain the herd since it formed a perfect box canyon. There was only a small opening to be fenced off but we had to stop using it until the wolves were caught. it was there where most of our cattle had disappeared.

My suspicions were growing stronger by the minute that our ‘wolf’ was actually a cattle rustler named Anak! I couldn’t think of another reason why he was so preoccupied with making sure no one followed him. He climbed steadily up the canyon for two hundred yards until he reached a thick clump of underbrush. At that point he disappeared into the foliage. I cautiously waited a few moments and then followed.

Part 8

Even before I entered the mouth of the hidden cave, I could feel the radiating heat of a fire within. Outside the opening, it looked just like a viper’s den. I was about to find out that assessment wasn’t far from the truth! I slipped inside and allowed my eyes to adjust to the enveloping darkness. A minute passed and I could faintly see an outline of the cavern floor and walls. When I was sure Anak wasn’t still at the entrance, I continued down the treacherous path in pursuit of him.

The subterranean passage spiraled and descended steeply; with uneven areas and loose ground. I didn’t want to lose my footing in the pitch blackness so I crept along slowly, one feeble step at a time. By testing each new foothold before bearing weight on it, I hoped to avoid falling into a vertical pit or sliding into a ravine. I also waved my hands blindly and crouched down to avoid any overhead obstructions in the cave ceiling. Despite the risks of being seen, on a couple occasions I had no choice but to strike a match to determine the uncertain route ahead. Fortunately; a dim light below began to illuminate my way. A light that grew more radiant with each step.

Unlike the cool and damp atmosphere of every cavern I have ever been in, the intense heat in this one was nearly unbearable. I finally understood why Anak preferred to be so close to our fire; he was used to it from being immersed in the fierce inferno I was trespassing in.

As quietly as possible, I crept around a curved corridor to the area where the glowing light and immense heat were concentrated. Instead of the billowy fire I expected to see inflaming the air around me, there was a molten lake of flaming magma; straight from the Earth’s very core. Far worse than that was what I saw within the heat.

Several large, humanoid-like creatures were standing there; half-submerged in the lava! The sight of such fearful nightmares made me gasp out loud. I’m sure I would have been detected by these glowing Denizen’s of Hell, had it not been for the continual hissing of escaping gasses in the magma. From deep within the molten lava came the sinister voice of evil incarnate. “Anak, have you taught your sons the ways of the humans?”

“Yes Lord Nergal; I have taught them all they need to know to carry out their mission to destroy humanity.” I recognized Anak’s emaciated form among the dozen or so other demons, despite the fact that none had any flesh on their bodies.

“Have you secured enough human sacrifices to supply us with skins?”; The master demanded.

“Yes Lord, there are fourteen humans I have been observing at their camp. We will have to stretch them to fit because humans are small in stature, but I foresee no further complications.” I lost control of my bladder when I heard their diabolical plans for us. Sweat was running down my body and my breath came in painful gasps.

“Are you certain they suspect nothing?”

“They believe the cattle offerings we’ve been sacrificing on your altar were devoured by wild, canine beasts.” Anak sneered with his newfound human characteristics.

“Very well then. The rapture begins at darkness tomorrow.” With that infernal decree, the glowing titans bowed toward their master’s voice and waded into the lava until they were gone.

I quickly turned to backtrack my way through the darkness before the evil Nephilim had a chance to discover me. In my blind haste, I tripped over something thin and wet which tangled around my trembling legs. I scrambled frantically to free myself from the clutches of the unknown but my level of panic necessitated the risk of lighting another match. I fumbled in my pocket until I found them and somehow managed to strike the side of the box. When I adjusted to the blinding light, I had to stifle a scream. Twisted around my ankles was the stolen flesh which Anak had stripped from his unknown victim.

I untangled the disembodied skin and placed it next to his cloak and blanket. That grotesque human mockery reminded me that the lives of the others, as well as possibly the entire world depended on my escape. At last I came to the mouth of the cave where the first rays of glorious sunlight were fettering through the dense foliage.

Part 9

Tattered and bruised from half a dozen slips and falls, I raced all the way back to camp. Realizing how crazy the truth would sound to anyone who hadn’t witnessed it with their own eyes, I had to avoid them questing my sanity. Instead I convinced Jim that I had found the ‘wolves den’. There simply wasn’t time left to convince him or anyone else, of the horror awaiting us down below. The Nephilim attack was only twelve hours away!

“Smells like they marked you as their territory.”; He grinned from ear to ear.

“That’s not far from the truth.”; I evaded. “…and they plan on leaving an ugly mark on all of us.” Without waiting for Jim to hit me with more difficult to answer questions, I rushed over to the supply tent for dynamite.

The others heard our animated conversation and demanded to know what was going on. I told them the same half truth that I passed along to Jim. Naturally they wanted to know how I had found the wolves’ den. “I followed a huge wolf right to it.”; I explained with a straight face. It was difficult not to grin at my own inside joke and double meaning.

I carried all of the dynamite we had and placed it strategically throughout the mouth of the cave. This time I was armed with a lantern and my rifle. I doubt it would have done any good but it was comforting to have with me, just the same. I ran the detonation wire all the way out down the side of the mountain to what I felt was a safe distance from the blast zone. I raised the detonator’s handle and braced for the explosion.

It sounded like a thousand cannons firing at once when the seven sticks of T.N.T. went off! They told me later that it was heard in town thirty five miles away. The results were even more effective than I could have hoped for though. The detonation nearly leveled the entire mountain and buried all evidence of Anak’s lair. My ears rang for a week and I was hit with rocks and falling debris but I wasn’t hurt in any significant way.

The men met me half way back to camp, with eyes as wide as saucers. I think they expected me to be under ten tons of rubble. “Are you allright?”; they asked incredulously. I assured them I was fine.

“Do you think you used enough dynamite to destroy that den?”; Ross smirked sarcastically.

“Yeah, I think so.”; I answered with mock uncertainty.

“I don’t know whether I should call you a hero, or a greenhorn idiot”; He exclaimed angrily. “That was every stick of dynamite we had! One or two would have been plenty.”

I told him that ‘hero’ was preferable and that no thanks was necessary for me letting him off the hook for his scheduled watch the following night. Everyone but him enjoyed a good laugh at that.

Part 10:

————–

“Ok kids. That concludes OUR ‘story time’. I suppose I could have called my story: “Lair of the Nephilim”, “Demon In Training” or “How I Saved The World All By Myself” but I didn’t want to give too much away. A revealing title can do that, you know. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my days as a ranch hand telling stories around the campfire, it’s the importance of keeping the audience guessing. Judging from your expressions, I’m pretty sure I did that tonight, right?

I hope all of you enjoyed your first day here at Camp Wachi but now it’s time for everyone to go to bed. We will rise and shine at seven AM. No exceptions! Tomorrow’s activities are swimming, basketball, fellowship workshop and of course: ‘Story time’. Finally, let me introduce you to your basketball instructor: Coach Anak Gath.”

“Thank you Coach Broadrick! You’re too kind with your ‘warm words of praise’ and that very creative introduction. I hope I can live up to the monstrous legacy you just created for me with these youngsters. However, I want everyone to know that Coach Broadrick’s story isn’t completely true. I’M OOONNNLY SEVENNN FEEEET, TWOOO INNCHESSS TALLLLL.”; He stated with a deep voice and sinister grin. “The rest is completely accurate though.”

It would be a VERY interesting summer for the kids at Camp Wachi.

Posted in Children's Stories, Controversial topics, creepy, Different Perspectives, Fiction Stories, Ghost stories, Horror, Humor, Macabre, Mystery, Science Fiction, Supernatural, Thought provoking, Thriller, Twilight Zone Inspired, Whimsical | Leave a comment

‘Final ride’

There’s a bittersweet pact which every pet owner has to make with their beloved cat or dog. It’s an unspoken agreement that no one ever wants to fulfill. When the day arrives that this cherished friend has reached the end of the line, we reluctantly have to do what is best for them, and necessary. Even though it’s painful for us. We take them on a ‘final ride’ to the vet.

Often the animal has went past the point of health, or hope of recovery. It has moved into an agonizing period of constant suffering or pain. We all recognize these end-of-life stages but humans can be selfish and filled with denial. We don’t want our pets lives to end because of what they mean to us, but sometimes there is no pill or potion to save them. The quality of their lives has diminished to the point that it’s only delaying their constant suffering. Finally we accept that it’s time to say “goodbye”. We do the right thing, even though it’s hard for us.

That final ride is filled with grief and sadness. They usually sense that the end is coming (and it seems like they are counting on us to know what to do). We speak soothing words to them which they couldn’t possibly understand. Still, there is a sense that they ‘know’ to some degree, and appreciate what we are about to do for them. My thoughts go out to everyone who has ever had to embark on that painful journey. They live on in your memory, forever.

Posted in Controversial topics, Different Perspectives, Essays & Rants, Inspirational, Mantras, Recollections, Thought provoking, True Stories, True Stories, Essays & Rants, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

‘Flixnet’ (complete audio narration)

This is another of my stories read by Madame Raven! Give it a listen and check out her other stories. She really puts passion into the words.

Posted in audio narration, creepy, Different Perspectives, Fiction Stories, Future technology, Horror, Macabre, Mystery, Science Fiction, Technology ran amuck, Thought provoking, Thriller, Twilight Zone Inspired, Utopia & Armageddon, Whimsical | Leave a comment

‘Askew’ (audio narration)

Check out this fantastic reading of my story by Dark Owl Stories!

Posted in audio narration, creepy, Gothic horror, Horror, Macabre, Science Fiction, Supernatural, Thought provoking, Thriller, Twilight Zone Inspired, Utopia & Armageddon, Whimsical | Leave a comment