The Creepers of McCall Ridge
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.”
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?”
“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?”
“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.”