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Return to the Legend of Skuna River Bottom

Gerry Glenn Jones is a writer of fiction and nonfiction, as well as scripts for theatre and film. This is a factual article.

This article was published a year ago in a two-part series. I decided to publish both series together for the Halloween season. I hope you enjoy!

Full moon

Full moon

The Horror Begins

Young Brad Aycock thought he was dreaming, but knew it wasn't conceivable; he was wide awake. Something was amiss in the forest of the Skuna River Bottom; there was complete silence. "This cannot be,'" he thought. "The forest is never silent! "Where were the night creatures; the owls, frogs, birds and not even the crickets, made a sound. The silence was deafening. It hung in the air as if it were the vestiges of some great disaster; the silence after the storm, but there had been no storm; no disaster. "Where were the creatures who occupied the woodland? What forced them to cease their nightly routine of calling to one another? Wait, could it be possible; that has to be the explanation." It was the only thing he could think of at the moment, anyway; he had lost his hearing.

Daylight begins to fade

Daylight begins to fade

The Smell of Evil

Brad felt silly, but he had to say something to see if he actually had lost his hearing, so he asked himself: "What's going on here." There he had done it. There was nothing wrong with his hearing, though his voice had trembled, and he had only whispered, as if he was trying to avoid bringing attention to himself Brad knew he was not alone in the dark forest. Someone or something was there with him; it was close; he could even smell it.

Brad had smelled some terrible odors in his young life, but this was the worst he had ever smelled. It smelled like a skunk's musk, but much more pungent. He remembered a dead cow he and his father had found one summer. It had been dead about a week and had laid there in the hot July sun. It smelled bad, but this was worse.

The Bottoms

The Bottoms

The Chase of Life or Death Begins

"Run," he heard himself say deep in his mind---"Run like you've never run before." It was as if his mind and body were on two different wavelengths, for he realized he was already running. It was as if his body reacted before his mind engaged as if his body had its own internal, survival mechanism.

As the twelve-year-old boy raced through the deep-dark woods, lightning flashed across the sky. A storm was coming, and it made the forest more foreboding, and he wished he had listened to his mother. She told him to stay on the main road and leave Jack's house in time to get home before dark.

Brad and Jack Watson were best friends, but Jack lived in the hills on the south side of Skuna River, and they had to cross the river bottom to visit each other. "Was this going to be the last time he visited Jack," he asked himself? He felt like he might not see his family again if this thing caught him. Brad wondered if this shortcut through the woods would also shortcut his life! He also realized if he made it home at all, his mother would question him about waiting so late to start home; he would think of some explanation.

Monster

Monster

Brad Reaches Skuna River

It was so dark under the canopy of foliage of the giant trees that Brad was only barely able to make out shapes in the woods, and the fact there was no moon on this night, even worsened his plight. As he ran, in what he hoped was the right direction to the river, he could hear a pounding noise that seemed to get faster, but not closer. It sounded like a crazed musician trying to beat the head in on a drum.

The smell of this thing was getting stronger as he ran, and each time he stumbled and fell in the darkness, he expected the thing to be there with him as he was trying to get up to run again, but each time he fell, his body was in control of his mind, and he was up and running before he could finish his thoughts. "Have I run in circles?" Brad thought..."I should have reached the river by now!"

Brad's mind was in a total panic; he could feel the breath of the creature on the back of his neck, and he was expecting it to have him at any moment, but then it happened! He was falling. Brad had found the river. As he plummeted towards the bottom of Skuna River, his thoughts were racing; "Is it in the water with me? Will it drown me, or tear me apart, or both?"

Terrified boy fleeing the monster

Terrified boy fleeing the monster

Prayer for Safety

''Please help me Lord," Brad prayed, as he fought the water. He was on the surface now, swimming wildly toward the north shore, not knowing if he was still being pursued, or if the thing had stopped at the river. It didn't take the boy long to reach the shore, and he dragged onto the north bank of the river. He could still hear the pounding and realized it was in his chest; It was his own heart beating.

Brad lay there on the ground for a second, trying to breathe, but the sound he heard from across the river, made his leap to his feet, and run again. The monster had wailed as if it had lost its prey. The sound reminded him of when he was younger, and an older boy had taken his Yo-Yo. He wanted it back more than anything, and he had screamed with anger at the other boy. He knew this being was screaming because it had lost its prey, him!

The lights of his house looked wonderful to him as he ran across the freshly plowed field. "I'm will make it," he yelled aloud; "I will make it!"


The river

The river

Brad Makes it Home

As Brad reached the front door of his house, he half fell, and half threw himself through the front door. The boy's mother screamed as he lay there on the living room floor, trying to breathe. His father jumped up from his chair and ran to the boy. Brad looked up at his father, who appeared to be in shock, as he stared down at his son.

"How bad are you hurt Brad?" he heard his father ask? "What has happened to you, son?"
Brad did not realize until now he was lying in a puddle of blood: fresh blood: his blood. It was coming from his back. He could feel the searing pain now in the small of his back. It felt like someone had stabbed him with a red-hot poker. It was even worse than when his father's mule, Ned threw him into the barbed wire fence. "Momma's gonna to kill me," he thought as he looked at the blood on the floor. He was delirious now. and pleaded to his mother, "don't worry mom, I'll clean it up before it dries; I promise." These were his the last words he heard himself say before he passed out.

Home

Home

Brad's Nightmares and the Dreamcatcher

The haven from our worries and fears that comes with sleep, did not come to Brad Aycock that night. He has visited by horrible nightmares; one after the other, unrelenting He knew he was asleep, and tried to wake himself to escape these terrible dreams of being chased by this same unseen monster, only to find that when he got home, his parents had become monsters too.

As dawn broke. and the sun's rays crept through the window curtains, Brad opened his eyes, but everything was blurred. The loss of blood and the laudanum Doc Farley had given him, kept him from seeing clearly, but he heard the doctor tell his parents, "He'll make, but It was a close one. He's a strong-willed young man, otherwise, he would be dead now!" As Brad lay there, wrapped in bandages, he wondered if he had dreamed about a monster chasing him, or if it had really happened? He knew one thing for sure, he was drifting into unconsciousness again, and he didn't want to return to his nightmare world.

As he fell into a deep sleep this time, his parents and the doctor saw him smiling, and the doctor said, "the laudanum must be working." But, it wasn't the medicine that relaxed Brad; it was an image of an Indian Dreamcatcher blowing gently in the wind that made him feel safe.

Indian Dreamcatcher

Indian Dreamcatcher

Brad's Dream

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.

River

River

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.

Wolf howls

Wolf howls

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.

Indian Chief near campfire

Indian Chief near campfire

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.


The storm rages

The storm rages

It Attacks

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

The creature

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.

Creature's claws

Creature's claws

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.

Lightning

Lightning

Medicine man

Medicine man

He Survives

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.

Indian warrior

Indian warrior

© 2019 Gerry Glenn Jones

Comments

Gerry Glenn Jones (author) from Somerville, Tennessee on October 10, 2019:

Thank you, Pamela, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on October 10, 2019:

I did enjoy your two-part story Glen. This is certainly the right time of year for a scary story. It was very creative, and scary.

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