Monday, August 26, 2013

Part 3

The Creepers of McCall Ridge

Part 3

            Ernie dove from the dam of the lake as the earth made ripping sounds behind him. The creepers were moving from the woods their arms stretched out towards the brothers as if they wanted to give them each a loving hug, though the brothers would have to deny them there greeting. Gallons of water shot through the gapping earth around the brothers pushing rock and mud towards the walking dead as the two men screamed over the deafening roar. The two were surrounded by death. The soldiers from across the lake had opened fire again; their rounds impacting in the dirt and mud around them, water shot up around the men at the same moment as the creepers reached them, and Ernie pulled the trigger on his own rifle to watch the face of an elderly woman explode into a cloud of teeth, bone, and blood.

            The ground gave way from around Ernie and Grover causing them to fall and slide along in the mud and water as if in a demented form of a child’s water park with creepers floating around the men trying their best to bite them while the soldiers on the far bank still rained hot lead upon them as they tried to keep their head above the white water and mud. Ernie could hear Grover shouting insults at the creepers that were grabbing at him and trying to end his life but he had his own problems; he had dropped his rifle in the commotion and was locked in a bitter battle of his own with two large creepers, one on his arm the other pulling his legs but both doing their best trying to eat him alive.

“Ernie get this puss sack off of me will ya!” Grover tried shouting over the rushing river they were floating on.

            Before either man could help, the trees of the forest did their work for them. Creepers began mashing themselves into trees, becoming stuck in the branches and the men sped by. The creeper that gripped Ernest’s arm was stripped away by the strong branches of a pine tree as they whipped by at fifty miles an hour. Now he just had to worry about the dead man on his leg trying to pull him under the turbulent water. He kicked frantically at the beast hidden under the water until finally it gave way and left Ernie alone to dodge trees as the water level slowly dropped allowing the men to ride out their chaotic ride.

            The brothers sat in the water, and watched as water logged creepers made half -hearted attempts to get to them. Like the men, it seemed that the water had taken some of the fight out of them. Grover helped Ernest to his feet. “Where’s your rifle brother?” Ernest just shrugged his shoulders. For all he knew was after that dam gave way, his favorite rife could be ten foot under some stinking mud by now. He removed a large hunting knife from a sheath on his hip and said, “This will have to do for now. Until I get me one of them machine guns those soldiers have anyway.” Grover smiled at his brother and thought to himself that he would like one too.

            The brothers began walking in the direction the water had taken them. It had already knocked a nice hole in the creepers giving them some protection in that manner as well as it gave them a quick escape from the soldiers that were shooting at them. They had spent many years walking the woods around their home so both brothers knew that this little valley along the hills was going to lead them down to the town they used to get supplies; well before the creepers came into town. Both brothers’ light bulbs lit at the same time.

“You think them soldiers were blowing the dam in hopes of dumping all that water on Higdonville?” Grover said first.

“That is what I am thinking. Don’t seem like it would do much good though, I mean by the time the water got there, wouldn’t have much force would it?”

“Maybe not. Maybe it was just a last resort or something.” Grover looked to his right and seen a creeper eating a large catfish that would easily had gone a hundred pounds.

“Are you kidding me?” He shouted. “That stinking rotting corpse is eating ol’ bucket mouth! That is my fish you dad gummed idgit!”

            Grover charged the creeper and kicked him in the side of the head. The young man, dressed in a blue collared shirt and black slacks, fell weakly to his side with a mouth full of catfish flesh hanging from his jaws. Grover kicked wildly, letting the frustration of the day be released on the creeper who had ate his prized fish he had waited so long to lay eyes on. He continued this until the creeper no longer moved and Ernest rested his hand on Grover’s slumped shoulder.

“You ok brother?”

“Yeah. Stupid maggot bait. I hate those things. Always ruining my stuff you know?”

“I know buddy.”

“Told you bucket mouth was real.” Grover said with a smile and started walking towards Higdonville.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Creepers of McCall Ridge

Part II

            The men rushed towards the explosion with their hunting rifles in hand. A part of them was urging the brothers to return to their home, to not see what was down the hill causing thunderous echoes to bounce off the valley walls to call in every creeper from miles. But it was happening on their land and they had to know what was going on. The two slowed their feet to a mild jog and then a walk as the oaks in front of them began to open into the fields before Murray Lake. A low black cloud still lingered on the left side of the lake like a small angry storm cloud looking for a victim to launch its rain upon.

“You see anything?” Grover whispered as he heaved for breath.

“Just that there cloud. Big boom huh?”

            The two slowly edged away from each other; Grover side stepping lightly through the grass with his rifle resting on his hip while Ernest walked in the opposite direction using his scope as a set of binoculars. He knelt in the waist high grass and slowly let the scope show him the perfect picture of the wood line along the lake. Each tree seemed untouched by the recent blast, the leaves still securely attached to the limbs, no burns on the bark and then there was movement. The slight movement in the brush roughly three hundred yards from where the brothers were kneeling could have been mistaken as a branch moving with the sway of the wind to the untrained eye but Ernest had spent his life in these woods. Tree branches don’t twist on their own.

            Ernest snapped his fingers several times to get Grover’s attention then waved him to where he was knelt in the grass. Without speaking, Ernest pointed his rifle across the lake towards the movement in the brush and Grover followed suit. The two could see the branches moving again, twisting, and swaying to their own beat while the wild world moved on around it.

“Think a creeper is down over there?” Ernest said without removing his eyes from the moving brush.

“Maybe. Or whoever is blowing crap up is hiding in that brush from the creepers.”

            Grover scanned up from the brush and could see more brush moving. Before he could say anything to Ernest the moving brush piles began shooting at the brothers. Super-heated lead shot from the far tree line traveling over the lake and past their bodies like angry bee’s screaming their battle cries causing the two to slam their bodies flat on the ground.

“What they shooting at us for?” Grover shouted over the massive amounts of machine gun fire ripping through the grass around them. Ernest grabbed Grover by the arm and began pulling him as he crawled towards the lake as he shouted for his brother to move. The two crawled as fast as they could as the rounds sizzled through the air over their heads; each crack causing them to stop and make sure the other was still moving and not filled with holes. Having enough of the one sided fire fight, Grover raised himself to one knee, quickly took aim through his scope and found the moving brush pile. A soldier was standing behind the brush giving orders to the machine gunner that was putting the deadly lead on Grover and his brother’s position. Grover had never killed a man, not counting the creepers, and that realization hit him as he stared in anger at the soldier behind his crosshairs. He had decided in that fraction of a second, without knowing he had made a choice, as his own rifle slug exited the barrel of his weapon and traveled faster than the speed of sound into the chest of the waiting soldier. The dead man and Grover fell to the ground at the same time.

“Did you get one?” Ernest said as he turned to crawl again.

“I think I just kilt someone brother.”

“Good, he shouldn’t been shooting at us!” Ernest shouted back at his brother. “Keep crawling, they know where we are at now.”

            The machine gun fire had ended but the brothers didn’t stop crawling until they came to the rising ground of the lake dam. Both were covered in sweat and breathing heavily but neither had been hit in the hundreds of rounds that had been fired at them.

“You think since I shot that ol’ boy they got scared and runned off?” Grover asked as he checked himself again for any extra holes in his body.

“Nah, they are just waiting for another dumb hillbilly to stick his head up so they can blow it off. Paper, rock, scissors, to see who looks over the dam?” Ernest said laughing. The two laughed and slapped closed fists into the palms of opposite hands; Ernest revealing a rock, Grover a single finger.

“What the heck is that?” Ernest said already knowing the answer.

“Dynamite. Dynamite destroys rock. You get to peek over the dam and get your head blowed off. Nice knowing you brother.”

“Thanks cheater.”

            Ernest slowly crawled to the top of the dam and pushed the grass lightly to the sides to get a better view of the tree line. Through the gaps of the many oaks he could make out several military armored vehicles with machine gun turrets mounted on the top; their gunners frantically scanning back and forth looking for any movement in the field. Apparently, the sound of the gun fight had brought the cavalry, Ernest thought to himself. He still could not figure out why the Army was on their property or what the explosion was that they had heard.

“Whatcha see Ernie?”

“We are in a world of hurt little brother.”

“Are you sure?”

“Come look.”

“No. I’ll take your word for it.”

            Ernest slid his rifle in front of him and once again scanned the tree line counting the soldiers awaiting orders to search and destroy the two hillbilly brothers. That is when he noticed the sweet smell of explosives. He had not noticed it before but on the dam the smell was stronger. He looked down the dam, away from him and towards the center of the lake and his stomach sunk. He had found what they were using their explosives on. The center of the dam was missing, just above the water line; the soil pushed in all directions barely holding back the tons of water that filled the 200 acre lake and Ernest was laying on the edge of it.

“Hey little brother?”

“Yeah Ernie.”

“We are really screwed here.”

“Like a light bulb screwed or a wood screw screwed?”

“Just a light bulb.” Ernest said laughing. “I think we can still get out of this if we use the woods behind us and use this dam to block our movement.”

As long as that dam holds, Ernest left out.

Grover laughed and said, “You mean those woods that has all them creepers coming out of it?”

Ernest looked at where is brother was pointing and watched as creeper after creeper stumbled from the safety of the oaks to shamble at the base of the dam. So they wanted to blow the dam to wash away creepers, Ernest thought.

“Yep that is the exact place I was thinking. OK, we are now screwed like a wood screw.”

Monday, August 5, 2013

Part One

The Creepers of McCall Ridge

Part I

            Murray Lake was calm on this August afternoon. The soothing swaying of the waves and the light tapping of the water on the sides of the aluminum boat were enough to make Ernest and Grover wish to seek a late afternoon nap. The sun, with its warm rays seemed to rejuvenate their souls as they sat in the plastic seats that creaked under their overall covered behinds; the sun along with the memories of coming to the lake with their father many years ago.

“Grover? Hey, pass me the bucket of worms buddy.” Ernest said then spit a stream of tobacco into the blue-green water.

“You know if you keep wasting them worms on them little fish we goin’ t’ starve out here.” Grover said as he handed his older brother the tin bucket of worms they had dug that morning.

“Shut up dummy. I have caught fish today. What have you got?” Grover said as he squished a hook through the squirming worm then plopped it into the water.

“Don’t question me. I am waiting for ol’ Mr. Bucket Mouth. He will feed us for two days and you will kneel before me because of my superior fishing skills.”

            Ernest turned his plastic seat and found Grover sitting with his ball cap pulled over his eyes, arms crossed, and feet kicked on the side of the boat making no attempt to watch his line for when the fictional Mr. Bucket Mouth attacked his worm. “Is that a fact?” Ernest asked.

“Yep.” Grover gave as a simple reply.

            Ernest reached across the boat and lightly gripped his brother’s line, pulled it around the front of the boat to where he was sitting and then tied a knot around the handle of the worm bucket. Ernest smiled to himself, fighting the urge to burst into laughter as he began to tug on his little brothers line.

“Hey little brother? Think you are getting a bite.” Ernest said, not wanting to look at Grover so to not give away his surprise.

“Well looky there. Told you. Master fisherman buddy.”

            Ernest tugged one more hard time on the line which caused Grover to scream a battle cry and set the hook on what he thought was Mr. Bucket Mouth. The tin bucket the brothers had been using to house their worms shot up from the floor of the boat and slammed into Grover’s face at the same moment Ernest erupted into laughter. The weight of the bucket caused Grover to lose his balance and fall head first into the murky blue-green water of Murray Lake with a sound as if Ernest had just dropped an anchor from the bow of a naval vessel.

            Grover sputtered to the top, splashing the water frantically trying to figure out what had just happened to him when he seen his older brother gasping for air from the fits of laughter he was letting out. He calmly swam to the side of the boat and stared up at Ernest.

“You idiot.”

“What? Did Bucket Mouth attack you?” Ernest said innocently.

“Now we ain’t got no worms!” Grover yelled. “Plus you got them creepers all excited and I am going to have to listen to them moan at us now.”

            Ernest looked past his brother to the shore line of the lake. At least fifty figures could be seen shambling slightly from side to side, all looking intently at the commotion on the lake. It had been several years since the brothers had witnessed the beginning of what the news was calling, “The Apocalypse.”  The local news had told of major cities burning with riots and fighting that even the Army couldn’t even contain. The brothers didn’t know what to call it. Along with all of the chaos something made dead folks come back to life and try to eat on the living. The brothers felt safe living in the surrounding hills, living as they always had. The natural surroundings seemed to keep the greater majority of these creepers from causing them too many problems; they were more of an annoyance to the two.

“Help me in the boat.” Grover said. “I think some of them things are in the water grabbin’ my boots.”

“Nah, it is probably ol’ Bucket Mouth comin’ after your little worm.” Ernest said laughing.

“Would you just shut up and help me in the boat before I drown. Geez, I think mom dropped you more than she said she did.”

“No. I only have two flat spots on my head little brother and that is all she said she dropped me. Plus she was a Christian. She wouldn’t lie about droppin’ her son.” Ernest said as he hoisted his brother into the boat.

“Well since we ain’t got no bait and all we got to eat is those little fish you caught guess we better head to the house.” Grover said as he tried to twist the water from his ball cap.

“Yeah I guess so. But you didn’t catch anything so you don’t get to eat. I ain’t sharing my bountiful meal with the man who threw our bait overboard.”

“What? You did that!” Grover shouted.

Ernest just laughed as he began paddling towards the fenced portion of the shore where the dead could not gather.


            Once on shore, the two men slowly and quietly walked up the narrow gravel road to their country home. The sun poked through the oak trees that lined the road created a sense of search lights from above seeking the two brothers. Every few steps the men would scan the woods for any creepers that may have found their way up the hill towards their home before refocusing their eyes on each step they made so to not make too much noise. Their home, thankfully, was nestled at the top of McCall ridge. A ridge named after their great grandfather; a man who purchased the majority of the land surrounding the ridge in hopes of making a living for his family cutting timber. His dreams were cut short when he left for the Second World War and never returned to his family.

            The ridge gave the McCall brothers a natural barrier to the creepers. As long as the brothers didn’t draw to much attention to themselves, the creepers would stick to the low lands rather than waste their efforts trying to trudge up hill. Ernest stopped at a right turn in the gravel road and stared at the rusted, leaning mail box on the shoulder of the road and then opened the small door on the front.

“No one loves us. No post cards today.” Ernest said with mock sorrow in his voice.

“People these days can’t even write us a little note and let us know how their vacation is going.” Grover added.

            The two walked up their driveway and onto the wooden porch of their home. The door mat was worn but the words, “Welcome” could still be read, as well as the inscription that Grover had placed on it a year back that said, “Except you creepers!” Inside the home was cool, shades drawn, and dust covered the majority of the house. Several times the two had made an attempt to clean their home but both had decided they hadn’t seen a woman in two years and their mother wasn’t around for them to be thumped on the head for not picking up after themselves so there was no reason to keep up with any housekeeping.

“Ok, I caught the fish so you can cook.” Ernest said as he threw his four small perch on the counter.

“Fine. Get me some wood and I will get the fire started.”

            Ernest stepped on the front porch and took a minute to take in his surroundings. It wouldn’t be long before the leaves began to change colors and then would soon fall from their restricting limbs to travel to the ground. Several lilies had sprung through the soil around their home, so he watched as multicolored butterflies darted from flower to flower in a controlled chaos of flight. The world was beautiful and full of wonder, he thought to himself. Then he heard the moans in the distance of the creepers. Something had them stirring down around the lake; their sorrowful voices carrying with the breeze and bouncing up the ridge to Ernest. Grover poked his head through the open front door and asked, “What you reckon them creepers are so excited about?”

“Don’t know little brother. They sure are excited though ain’t they.” Ernest said as he turned to retrieve the wood for their fire.

An explosion ripped through the afternoon air causing the two to duck their heads and look back towards the lake. The sound echoed off the joining hills creating a rumble like rolling thunder. The two watched as a dark mushroom cloud rose from the area of the lake and the source of the creeper moans.

“Uh, what was that?” Grover said half laughing.

“Something blew up.”

“You think genius! What blew up?” Grover shouted.

“Don’t know. But I hope them creepers ain’t learned how to use explosives.”

Friday, August 2, 2013

Eye for an Eye

Execution Day

By: T.J. Reed


Lying on his bunk, Walter Krietz listened to water drip from somewhere in his cell. The musty odor of sweat and mildew hung heavy in his small domicile he had claimed as his home for the past seven years. Today would be the day, the day that the state would get their “eye for an eye.” Execution day. Seven years in waiting and it was finally here. While lying on the hard mattress, he began to wonder how many before him had lain in his very spot waiting for their end of days. How many were afraid? How many were out of their minds and didn’t care? How many had found Christ and were ready for their after life? He sure wasn’t afraid. Did that make him crazy? No sir.  

“You should be afraid.” A small familiar voice rang from the damp corner of the cell. Jake.

“What do you want kid?” Walter asked his first victim.

“You know. You should be afraid.” The small voice was soft, but strong and older than seven years of age.

Walter began to laugh. Yep. Crazy.

“Today is the day old man.”

Walter turned his head to find Jake sitting at the edge of Walter’s bunk. His feet dangled from the sides not quite touching the floor, swaying back and forth. Even in the shadows of the early morning, Walter could see that Jake had empty eye sockets; empty courtesy of Walter. The public had acted like he was such a monster when he killed little Jake. Whop-dee-doo. He was seven. The idea amused him. He could have killed a thirty year old single man; cut his eyes out with a table spoon, and then set his body on fire and no one would have batted an eye. But, God forbid he does that to a seven year old snot nosed kid. What made him so special? Jake would have just been another grown up who would have been a disease on the system. So he did the world a favor by removing this boy from the equation; well him and the other two boys, 4 women, and 3 men. Yep, the state is going to get their “eye for an eye.”

“Here they come old man. They gonna fry you today.”

Jake was getting hateful. That ain’t no way to be, Walter thought.

“You should be afraid.”

He could hear the guards marching to his cell; their heels clicking firmly against the polished concrete walkway. Walter placed his bare feet on the cool cell floor letting the change in temperature snapped the old ghost from his head and left him briefly enjoy a moment alone.  Walter had already enjoyed his final meal of rare steak, baked potato, and sweet iced tea so the guard’s chores were minimal now. They placed restraints on his wrists through a small opening in his cell door, unfastened the lock and swung the steel door wide. The three guards wasted no time escorting Walter to his final chair. “Old Sparky” some called it; Walter just called it his exit from this boring world.

Each leather strap was snuggly placed on his wrists and ankles so that he would not flop from the chair once the electrical volts shook the life from his body. His newly shaved head and rubber underwear was a funny and uncomfortable accessory Walter thought, but a needed one. To Walters’ front was a two way mirror, he could see himself, but not the witnesses that were on the other side. In the reflection of the mirror, he could see those that he had released from this world around him. All standing in a horse shoe with Jake in the center; all in the same form they were when they had left this world, all with their eyes removed, they surrounded him. Walter smiled. “Hello all,” he said, “will be with you soon so that you may have your ‘eye for an eye’.” He allowed his eyelids to fall and continued to smile when he heard a loud pop.

Walter opened his eyes and the lights were no longer on. His audience was still standing around him, but the guards were gone. Well that was easy, Walter thought. He looked at his wrists and found they were no longer bound to the chair. In the reflection of the mirror he could see a bright light begin to engulf his victims. A sense of guilt and fear overcame Walter causing the man to cry. He knew his victims were leaving him; after seven long years, their tortured souls were finally going home, leaving him here with whatever was left. One by one each of his victims walked into the light: Tara, the single mom who Walter picked up on the highway when her car broke down, Bob the old man who was too tired with life to fight back when Walter stabbed him with a screw driver more times than either could count. They were all there, walking in a single file line into the light. Jake, the first victim, was the last to head into the light. Walter watched as the young boy gave one last look his way then turned into the bright light leaving Walter alone in the dark room.

A low moan began in the black shadows of the execution room. Immediately Walter knew he was not alone; that his beginning of his after life was going to be on the down side, not the up. The moans and growls became louder and even in the dark he could feel the creepy crawly things from another side reaching for him. Walter tried to open his eyes wider to see through the darkness yet saw nothing. The smell hit him first; the smell of rotten eggs, fear, anger, sweat, and decay.

“Hello Walter.” Something spoke with a voice that sounded like an emphysema patient wheezing and rasping.

“You know who I am so I will not waste my breath. You are special. You are what some referred to as pure evil. Christians believe that every soul is made in his likeness.” Walter’s visitor spit out the word “his” with such hatred that it made Walter flinch.

“But you my friend were made in mine. You did okay out there, but you could have done better.”

The realization hit Walter hard, yet made him smile. Tears streamed from his face falling nowhere in the dark.

“Give me another chance coach. Put me back in the game.”


Sitting in a Chicago hospital, Mrs. Gacy stared at her new born son.

“What should we name him hun?” She asked her husband who was staring so proud at his son.

“After me of course.” The proud father said. “John Wayne Gacy Jr. You can’t go wrong with a strong name like that.”