I grew up in Skuna River Bottom, and always loved the stories and folklore about it, so I include it in many of the stories I write.
Recap of Chapter One
In the first chapter of the "Legend of The Bottoms," young Brad Aycock is pursued through Skuna River Bottom by a horrible creature, but he escapes, only after being clawed by the hideous being. He is forever plagued with nightmares about the thing that still awaits him when darkness falls and he travels across the river. In his dreams, he also sees others that have fallen victim to the creature that lurks there. These victims include an Indian chief and his warriors. To read chapter one, click on "Legends of The Bottoms: Chapter One."
Brad Aycock is no longer a child; he is now a grandfather, but what happened to him many years ago, still haunts him in a reoccurring dream. It visits him every night, but he doesn't know why. His dream is about Indians who lived north of Skuna, in the river bottom, hundreds of years ago. As Brad drifts off to sleep, the dream begins.
The hunting party crossed the river and began their trek through the deep forest. The game had always been plentiful on the south side of Skuna River, and they hoped the battles they had just fought there with the other warring tribe, had not disturbed the game.
It was late fall, and the leaves had fallen from the massive trees. The weather was colder than normal for this time of the year, and the Indians could see their breath in its vaporous form as it left their mouths. They were already wearing their winter deer hides and felt comfortable and confident in their mission. They felt that this hunting expedition would be fruitful and they would return to their village with enough game to last several months.
The Chickasaw Indian Hunting Party
The chief of the tribe was in this party of hunters. He had decided to come along, and watch his warriors carry out their long tradition of providing for the village. It was a time of great reward; a time when the Indians would thank the great God for their abilities to find and take the game that was so important for the lively-hood of their people.
It was late in the day when they started this trek and knew they would have to make camp, before setting out on a day of hunting. This rest would leave them rejuvenated, and at their best.
Camp For The Night
The chief called a halt of his warriors in the midst of some large oak trees. They would camp here for the night, and begin their hunting when the sun rose in the eastern sky.
As some of the warriors gathered wood for the fires, the others settled down and began making sure their arrows were ready for the hunt. They sharpened their knives and made certain their bows were strung tight. This was the way of the Chickasaws; this was their life; a good life.
The fires were burning now, and the stars were bright above the Indians' camp. They had feasted on rabbits they had taken during their journey to this place, and were drinking a tea of sassafras, which they made from roots. The night wind was still, and many stories were told underneath the heavens that night until the last warrior closed his eyes for a good night's sleep.
The Creature is Coming
The fires had burned low, and the chill of the night had crept upon them when they were suddenly awakened by a wail. It was like nothing they had ever heard. The Indians knew of no animal that could make such a horrific sound. It was as if whatever made the sound was angry because its territory had been violated.
As the Indians prepared their bows, the wailing grew closer and more horrible, but the Indians didn't falter, and stood their ground in a circle, facing outward. The echoes of the forest deceived them. They did not know from which direction the sounds were coming, but now they could smell its odor; its stomach-wrenching odor. The forest had become silent, except for the wails of the creature. Nothing moved, as if all the night creatures were frozen with fear.
These great warriors knew no fear of their human enemies, but this was not the same. Whatever this thing was, it was not human, and they wondered if they had anything that could defeat it. The chief was there, standing alongside his warriors.
“If they die, I die with them,” he said to himself. That was the Chickasaw way.
It seemed like an eternity before it showed itself; its horrible beastly self. It towered far above the tallest warrior. Its fangs glistened in the dim light of the campfires. It raised its huge hands, and displayed powerful, gnarled claws, as it wailed at them in its battle cry; then it was upon them, slashing with its claws, and tearing the heads off the Indians as it broke their ranks.
The Indians arrows drove deep into the body of the creature, but they were totally ineffective. It acted as though it felt nothing, and continued its deadly rampage. Nothing the Indians did, affected the beast. It was a demon sent to destroy the Chickasaw Nation, and now the remaining Chickasaws knew they must retreat, so they could prepare a way to defeat this monster.
The chief called to the remaining warriors to run for the river, and the brave warriors obeyed and fled this deadly battlefield. As they ran, the creature caught the wounded, which couldn't keep up with the others. The chief could hear the death crises of his warriors, and his heart faltered, and his soul was heavy with anguish, but he knew someone must survive, to warn the rest of the tribe on the other side of the river.
The Creature Decimates The Indians
The band of fleeing Indians began to become fewer and fewer as this thing caught up to them, and struck them down, without hesitating its pursuit. The chief was looking back, seeing his men becoming corpses as they ran, with their heads being slashed from their bodies, and seeing the bodies run for several steps before realizing they were dead. He had to do something to protect his men, so he turned, and ran screaming toward the horrible beast. It was as if the thing was surprised by this Indian, running toward it, instead of away from it, and it halted and stared at this lone Indian running past the fleeing warriors.
As the chief reached the creature, he unsheathed his hunting knife and drove it deep into the chest of the monster, as he looked into the eyes of this demon and saw something that he had never seen before. It was a creature without a soul. The feeling that the chief got by looking into those awful eyes, caused him to know this creature only longed for one thing; the destruction of every living thing around it.
Was it His Turn to Die
Now, he knew it was his turn to die, as the beast raised its huge right arm, and prepared to take the Indian's head off. The blow was coming, the chief could see it, but it was a glancing blow, and only knocked the Indian unconscious, but was sufficient in tearing open a large crevice in the chief's forehead.
As the wounded chief lay there on the trail of bodies, his mind screamed and gave him terrible, terrible nightmares. It was almost unbearable to dream such dreams. He longed to be dead, so he did not feel the pains of these dreams, but it did not come to pass, and he was awakened by the morning sun on his face.
He was covered in his own blood, which had hardened on his body. He could smell the odor of the creature, and its smell caused him to vomit.
He had seen his warriors lying on battlefields in the past, but not like this. They had always died while fighting their enemies. This time they had died, fleeing something they were unable to fight.
“Why have I survived, when all my warriors have been slain?” he asked. “Why do I live?” Then the reason was clear; he knew he must warn his people of this deadly creature, who had claimed this territory on the south shores of the river, so he began crawling toward the river, not knowing if the beast would find him before he reached Skuna.
The Chief Learns How The Creature Was Created
It was a slow go for the badly wounded chief, but he finally made it to the river, and fell, unconscious into the depths of the river. Nightmares of what happened the night before clouded his mind.
When he awoke, there were four Indian maidens cleansing his wounds. They told him they found him floating on a log down the river, toward the place where they were washing clothes. They asked about the fate of the other men in the hunting party, and the chief told them they were all dead. The women fell to their knees, weeping over the loss of their husbands and brothers.
The chief eventually recovered from his wounds but spent the rest of his years trying to find out more about the creature that lived across the river, and what would destroy it. He wrote warnings on stone, telling of the creature; warning his tribe of its evil, and telling them it could not be destroyed with their weapons.
However, the chief believed it had a weakness, "maybe it was the river," he thought. The beast never crossed the river, and it didn't venture out in the daylight. He also learned from an enemy captive that the thing had been created by an enemy Indian medicine man to destroy the enemies of his tribe, but he said the creature turned on him and killed him and all the other Indians with him, except for one who returned to his village and warned them of the creature. The chief wrote of this, and died at an old age, with the creature on his mind.
End of Chapter Two
Follow this young Indian as he journeys to Skuna River Bottom and meets Brad Aycock and his grandson in the "Legend of The Bottoms: Chapter Three," coming in the near future.
Scott Tompkins Descendant of The Chief
Over the years, the legend of this creature was passed down, and a few brave Indians, ventured to the south side of the river, but only the ones that returned before nightfall, were seen again. This creature was definitely nocturnal. Its haven was the night. The Indians wondered if they were able to locate its home in the daytime if they would be able to destroy it, and several war parties hunted it by day but did not find its lair. They were careful to cross the river before dark, and many times heard its wail, after their return. It must have smelled their trail when it ventured into the night and cried for their souls; the souls that had escaped its terrible fate.
When the Indians left the bottoms for their trek to Oklahoma, they took tales of this legendary creature with them, and the stories were told around their campfires there, and these stories passed from one generation to another, until they reached the ears of Scott Tompkins. He was the direct descendant of the chief who had survived the night of terror. Scott felt impelled to go to Mississippi; to the bottoms and confront this legend, and if it was real, to try and destroy it if possible. When Scott turned twenty, he bade his family farewell, and climbed onto a greyhound, headed southeast to Mississippi.
© 2018 Gerry Glenn Jones