They were standin’ in the woods watchin’ me whilst I was chewing on a piece of old jerked deer meat. I saw the eyes glowing from the light of the fire that was blazing near the tents. Before I saw the eyes glowing, I knew they was there cause I could just feel em watching me. Ya know how a person can just feel when something ain’t right but ya can’t really figure out what it is that’s wrong? Well, that’s how I was feeling before I seen the eyes watching me through the woods. It was just a feeling I couldn’t seem ta shake all day long and now that it was pitch black outside, well, there wasn’t no getting away from it.
The day started at around five-o-clock in the morn. An hour or so before the sun came up and the birds started to move around making sounds. I live deep down in the hollow where the road ends down on Big Bear and before the mountains start at Coyote Pass. My missus and me we’ve been here for at least 15 years and my parents lived just a skip down the pass their whole lives. They passed on about 10 years ago so now it’s just me and the missus living up here. Don’t nobody ever come up in these parts lesson they lost from some camping trip further down the pass or something like that. There are signs posted telling people not to trespass, but every once in a while, we get a nosy critter that wanders up the hill a little too far and I have to set em back on their way out of here.
One year, we had a kid that got lost from his campsite, and the sheriff and a whole bunch of people were traipsing around looking for him. I and my family looked for him but never found the poor boy, and if I was a betting man, I’d bet them creatures got a hold of him. He won’t be seen here in these woods never more if they did. My Great Grandaddy used to tell us bout when he was a boy and the creatures were here even then. Wasn’t nary a night I didn’t stay awake half the night keeping an eye open in case one of them creatures crept up on me while I was sleeping. Many a night I could hear em breathing outside but I never saw em. Not even once.
That all changed when I was a young man of 34. My missus and I had just lost our first youngun to the fever and when we were heading up to the bald to lay him to rest, I kept getting a feeling that we were being watched. I hadn’t had that feeling since I was young but I knew what it was. It was them. On the way back from burying little Jack, I saw the eyes from the light of the fire. They glowed bright and they were big. Scared the missus so bad she didn’t want to venture out even to get no blackberries since then and that was almost 12 years ago now. Scared me too but I’m the man and it just ain’t right for a man to show when he’s scared.
My Great Granddaddy used to tell us not to worry bout em cause they wouldn’t do any harm lest we bothered em too bad. So we just try to stay outta there way and live our lives in peace and quiet up here. We figure as long as we don’t bother them, they won’t be bothering us either. I ain’t got nothing again em as long as I don’t ever have to see one of em up close like. Know what I mean?
So my boy Danny and me were up long before the sun rose this morn and we headed out to the water to catch a few fish for tomorrow night’s supper since tomorrow is Saturday and we always try to do a big old fish eat for the family on the weekend. We got some of the biggest bass fish in the country right here in our water and between the fish and the deer, we eat pretty good all year long. Except for back in 1983 when we had some bad storms and the lightning set some of the woods afar down near Bentley Trail. The smoke and fire scared a lot of the deer back then and that winter we were betwixt starving and barely survivin’ at all just to make it through the snow and cold air up here. A couple of times I had to hike down to the town below and try to stir up a mess of food for my wife and the youngins. I ain’t seen nothing that bad in a coons age though and I’m hoping nothing that bad ever happens again.
Danny is going on 19 now and he wants to move down closer to the town and see what it’s like living with a lot of folks around. The missus doesn’t want him to go but I told her we needed to let him make up his own mind bout it. A course, I try to talk the boy out of it as best I can cause I know what a mess them town folks can be with their fancy clothes and gossiping mouths and guns and stuff. Thar minds just ain’t whar the good Lord intended them to be and they do all kinds of vile things that I’m sure he doesn’t approve of. I’m hoping Danny will see the light and stay up here where his family is so he can have the land one day when he’s older and I am passed on. Danny’s my only boy and when I pass, the land will go to him. His sisters won’t have the land unless Danny passes before they do but that’s the way it is here in the hollow.
So Danny and me sat down on the bank by the water and started fishing and we kept hearing something that just didn’t sound right at all. It was a noise that sounded like a woman shrieking when she’s a giving birth to a youngun that’s turned backwards in her belly. In case you ain’t never heard a woman shriek during a birthing, well, it’s a loud and scary noise for sure. So we tried to ignore the noise in the distance and just stayed focused on catching some fish to eat later on. We had a mess of fish by the time the sun was setting and we had a big far built to get some heat. I reckon by sundown we musta had at least 10 big old trout fish and that there is a lot for a fish fry!
We decided to stay another hour or so to see if we could catch a few more just in case the Adcocks came down from their end of the pass to have some fish with us this weekend. The Adcocks are my third cousins on my Mama’s Daddy’s side of the family and they got a whole slew of kids that they always bring when we gobble up the fish. I swear I sometimes wonder if those kids ever get anything to eat except when they come and eat fish with us. Theys some scrawny and sickly looking kids just like their mama was before she passed from a disease back when the youngest was born a few years ago. She was a beautiful woman until she started getting sick. Now it’s just ole Robert and the kids. I reckon the Good Lord finds it pleasing that we do what we can to help feed the kids and their daddy.
As I was a saying, Danny and me decided to wait another hour or so to see what else we could catch when I started feeling like we were being watched from somewhere in the woods. I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck a standing right up and I felt a little shiver go down my spine. I started to tell Danny to start getting the fish up when outta the corner of my right eye I saw the light from the far hit something in the distance. When I turned my head to look, I didn’t see anything though. A few minutes later I saw round about 10 sets of eyes just glowing in the woods right before us where the far was hitting them straight on. I don’t know if the creatures knew I could see where they was, but I surely could and those eyes that seemed big as china plates scared the heebie-jeebies outta me.
The boy saw em too and he started grabbing the fishing gear as fast as he could and getting it packed in the big bag we brought with us. He whispered to me that we needed to hurry and get down the trail to the house before the creatures started showing themselves to us. I knew he was scared just as much as I was so I started helping get the fish up fast as we could so we could hightail it outta there and get back home whar we’d be safe. I don’t think I’ve ever seen neither of the two of them work so fast to get away from the water and back to the house.
We had barely made it may be a few yards away from the water when I heard the trees begin to rustle. Now, it’s real airy up here but this rustle wasn’t the wind moving the leaves at all. It was something bigger and heavier than the wind and it was moving right towards me and the boy. It was the creatures and I just knew it was them right behind us on the trail. We were running fast as we could by now though and we hoped they wouldn’t be able to catch up with us. They usually cant catch up with us but we’ve heard tales of them catching up with others.
We made it back to our land and to my missus and to my daughters. They was all sleeping and they looked so peaceful in their slumber. A few months from now and we’d all be able to lay back and rest easy cause when it’s cold out, the creatures stay away and we have time to rest without worry. We just have to make sure we got enough food stored up for that time so we won’t starve during the cold spell on the mountain.
I walked in and woke the missus up and had Danny pile the fish in the corner. Me and the missus walked to the doorway and watched as the creatures went down the trail just by our door. They didn’t notice us this time and that was a good thing. There musta been about 10 or more of em and they every single one had a gun slung over thar shoulder. They was out lookin for us and we knowed we had to be quiet as we could so they wouldn’t never know where we lived.
We can handle em if it’s only a creature or two, but when it’s as many as we saw tonight, we know to be real quiet. Nothing matters more right now than keeping the youngins safe and one of these days when the missus and I get old and frail and need to rely on the little ones to keep us fed, it sure would be nice if the creatures will start staying in the town and leave us bears alone.
This story is the first entry in the Writing Mind Short Story Contest. Writer Angela Caito would love it if you took the time to comment and let him know what you think and if you enjoy it, be sure to share it with your friends to let them enjoy reading it as well! Jason writes short stories and other content for blogs and guest posts for websites. He is currently building a portfolio to share his work with readers worldwide.
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