The EncounterJune 15 2000 at 5:14 PM
from IP address 126.96.36.199
(Excuse spelling, I'm on the laptop and I have no Spell checker)
Dusk was settleing as Bill and Carol Webster finished up the last of unpacking their gear. They were happy that they were now deep in the Piny forrest of southern Mississippi, away from the bustle of everyday life. Three days on the Okatoma river would be fun and relaxing. They made sure their camp was miles from the nearest house, road or even highway.
Bill pulled out his laptop, fired it up and checked his GPS software once again. "I put us about here", he motioned for Carol to look. On the screen was miles of desolation, just forest and more forest. In fact Bill wondered if anyone had ever been this far back. There certainly was no sign that anyone was around. No beer cans, trash or even tracks to indicate any human presence.
The rattle of pots and pans reminded Bill that he'd better get a hook and line in the river if they planned to eat anything except Spam tonight. Bill gathered up his tackle and kissed Carol as he made his way down to the rivers edge.
This was the happiest they had been in months, what with the bills and Jasons surgery on their minds. Several months ago jason, their son had wrecked his four-wheeler and broke a rib, which caused internal bleeding. After many days of worry and a long surgery the doctors had fixed him up, but the bills and the strain had taken it's toll on their marriage. It was time they got away and had some time for themselves. Bill suggested this camping trip and Carol was packed before he could finish the sentence.
Bill cast his line into the Okatoma and thought about how lucky he was to have a wife like Carol. She, like him was an 'outdoors type". She didn't flinch at cleaning fish or changing diapers. She was a great "mom", and Bill counted his blessings. Heck, she really handled the 4-wheeler wreck pretty good too. Bill was afraid she might demand the 4 wheeler be sold after the accident.
The sky was getting darker and Bill tried another live bait. He figured this was the time they'd be biting, right at dusk. He flipped on his headlamp to see better and just then the line grew taunt. Bill heaved and wreastled the first catch to the shore. A nice perch, big enough to keep. "A couple more like thi one and we got supper." he heard himself say aloud to no one in peticular.
No sooner than he had cast again another fish took the morsel. Snap! Bill yanked the line and this time hauled in an even bigger fish. "Two down, one to go!" he exclaimed.
"What?" Carol called from the camp.
"Oh, nothing, I was just talking aloud." he called back. Carol must have thought he was talking to her.
"Three times a charm", he whispered as he cast yet again. The sinker make a plopping sound as it hit the water. Bill waited. Then came the tug. That familur pull as the bait is taken and swallowed. He let the line play a bit then pulled hard on the pole. He could hear the gear in his Zebco strain as he pulled the line. "Damn! Got a big one!"
This was life. Great fishing and plenty of time. Bill pulled the third and final fish to shore, sized it up and figured he had plenty for the night. He pulled the stringer from the water and placed it's point through the fishes gill, picked up his tackle and rod and started back through the now dark woods to the camp.
"Carol", he called out, "You need to get a fire going before it gets too late".
Bill made his way through the brush to the camp and found Carol standing like a statue, frozen in place in front of the tent. "Shhhhhh" she whispered as he approached.
This reaction naturally made Bill go into caution mode, he whispered back, "What it is?"
"There is someone standing over there in the woods." Carol replied.
"Nonsence." Bill said, more aloud this time. He wanted his presence known to whoever might be there. Bill played his headlamp over in the direction Carol was afixed on. He saw nothing.
"There's nothing there, Carol." He said then turned to hang the stringer of fish on a nearby treelimb.
"I saw something, and I heard them walking!" Carol defended.
"Honey, they ain't a human being for miles", Bill began to search the ground for suitable sticks and limbs to get the fire started. "Help me get some firewood", he begged.
Just then they both heard what sounded like a twig break, then another and the bustle of movement in the woods, straight in the direction Carol had been staring.
Bill snapped up, "Who's there?" he called out.
There was a long pregnant silence, then Carol broke the silence, "See I told you."
Bill scrugged it off. "Probably just a deer."
"Deer my foot!" Carol mumbled and began searching the ground too for limbs. The sooner they had a fire going the better she thought.
Bill gathered up as much as he could carry from around the camp and Carol struck a match to light it. They were careful to kick dirt around the campfire and shore up an edge so the fire wouldn't escape.
Bill rustled through his backpack for the little grill to set over the blaze when Carol suggested they use the coleman and forget trying to cook on the open fire. She recanted a trip from days gone by where they ended up eating crackers cause neither of them could get anything cooked over that blame fire.
Bill started to protest then the rumble in his stomach caused him to reconsider her idea. He pulled out the coleman stove and hooked up the gas bottle. The "fire" would be just for light & warmth tonight.
"Ok, what did you do with the fish", he heard Carol call to him from the treehe had hung the stringer.
"Their over there, on that limb." he said as he fussed with the stove.
"Where?", she asked. "Did you take them off the line?"
Bill was acting frustrated as he got up to show her where he hung the fish. "Right there, where you're standing, that's where I hung 'em."
"Well, the lines here, but the fish are gone." She stated emphatically.
"Aw honey, here let me get 'em." Bill walked over to the tree. Sure enough the line was there but the fish were gone. He shined his light on the line and could see where the fish looked lke they had been pulled right off! Carol saw this too, and it sent shivers up her spine.
"You still think that was a deer?" She asked in hushed tones.
"Well here, maybe they fell off." Bill said, desparetly searching for some logical solution. "I don't know, maybe a coon or something got 'em."
"Bill, we would have heard a coon. What ever got them walked right into this camp with both of us standing here and snatched them off the line. No coon or deer or any other critter could do that, they ain't that smart!" Carol was getting agitated. She could feel an uncanny fear crawling up her spine. Slowly entwineing itself around her neck and sending volts of shivers over her body. She also had the feeling they were being watched.
"Bill, I think there is somebody in these woods with us. we ain't alone here." She studdered.
"Ok, so somebody's here, so what. I'm just pissed that they stole my fish. Hell, catch your own for gosh sakes!" He let his voice get louder so as to make sure whoever the culprit was they got his number right away.
Carol wasn't impressed with his macho blustering. "Honey, did you bring the gun?" she asked.
A gun, yeah that would scare the begeezus out of whoever was around. Loudly Bill replied. "Yeah I got a gun" He went to his pack and brought out the .22 pistol he brought to shoot snakes with.
Carol looked at the gun then looked at him bemused that he actually thought a .22 was going to scare anyone away. "So, you didn't bring the 357? OR THE RIFLE?" She was furious.
Bill hadn't really thought he would need it, after all this was a camping trip not a hunting trip. Carol was about to huff and walk off when there cam another sound from the direction of the first ones. This was different and Bill got the same crawling feeling up his spine as it bellowed forth. It was a strange sound, starting out like a hoot or cough then slowly rising in tone and pitch to a screech. It shook the very fiber of his existance.
Carol just froze and turned white. As he looked at her he could see the blood flush out of her face leaving just a pale stark complection of terror behind.
The sound seemed to move, either forward or back they couldn't tell but they could feel it had moved. It started up again as Carol reached out to touch Bill and clutch his arm. This time it grunted in several quick reports. It seemed to almost be talking in some alien language. Abruptly the sound roared out and they could hear the heavy rustle of trees swaying from some powerful force moving around within the sound. This was terror manfest in some creature just a few feet outside the range of Bills headlamp. He could see the light playing franticly on the forest as he trembled in fright and caused the lamp to shake.
Carol swallowed a scream. The sound of her scream couldn't make it past her throat. It just hung there like a thick mass in her gullet not falling to her stomach or rising to her mouth. She wanted to scream. She wanted to bolt, but like a stake through her body she was pinned in place.
Bill had become taught. She could tell he was as wound up as a kite string on a peg. There is a feeling men get when they feel they or a loved one is threatened. It starts out as a low rumble but climbs through the body and soon takes over. It's as if someone could pour cold water up your body. It engulfs you and somehow breaks you free of fear and inaction. Bill was getting that feeling. At any moment he felt he would charge into the woods and attack the sound, or just grab Carol and haul her to safety. The ability was there, but the indecision of which cource of action had to be resolved.
Just as quickly as the sound had started, it stopped.
Dead silence covered the forest. Not an insect, animal or even the wind dared to make a sound. There was a cold errie still to the night that seemed to last as long as the onslaught of terror had lasted. Then slowly, the night sounds returned and they felt as if whatever it was must have gone.
It took a few minutes before either of them could speak. Carol kept going over in her mind the fact that they were miles from anywhere they could get help, and in the dark she couldn't even remember which way the highway was. Bill knew. He had figured it out somewhere when the thing was bellowing. Straight through the sound. Yes, the way back was in the direction of those weird screams. And all he had was his .22. What he would give for some buckshot and a 30-ought-seven right now.
It was dark now. Completely dark. No moon, low cloud cover and not a star in sight. Mississippi nights are humid in spring, fall and summer. And right now both Carol and Bill were sweating a gallon a minute. The bite of a chigger brought reality back to Carol. She seemed to watch herself as he reached down to scratch off the bug.
Bill was kicking into high gear. He went to the pile of firewood and doused it with some lighter fluid he kept in his pack then tossed a lit match on it. There was a small mushroom cloud of flame as the pile ignited. He turned quickly and watched the shadows play on the surrounded trees and brush. First order of business, get some damn light on the subject!
He pulld out all the lanterns, lamps and flashlights and lit them all.
Carol regained some composure and walked closer to the fire. "Do we stay or do we go?" she asked in a tearfull wimpering voice.
"I don't know what the hell that was, but it ain't scarrin' me outta these woods" Bill replid with as much gusto as he could. He was scared to try to make it back in the dark to the highway and his truck, not through that...sound. But he couldn't let on to his wife.
"If that thing tries to come in here I'll kick the living S..." Bill was trying to keep up his macho stature when Carol inturrepted. "What do you think that was?" she asked in low tones.
"Hell baby, I don't know."He admitted, "But whatever it was it was big!" He realised he shouldn't talk like that just as he had said it. He didn't want to alarm Carol anymore than she was. Carol's bottom lip trembled. She found that now after it was over she couldn't seem to control her emotions and began to shake frantically.
Bill looked on at his wife. This was a strong woman. She had kept her cool through some hair raising experiences since they had been married. It was hard for him to see her so distraught. Throughout their relationship he had often wondered if anything could phase this beauty he had married. Now as she stood near the fire, he could tell she was about to come apart. As shadows from the flames played across her it seemed to amplify her stark terror and the fact that neither of them had any control over this situation.
"Look, whatever it was I think it's gone now. Maybe it was just a panther or something..." Bills voice trailed off as tried to suggest yet another logical explination for what they had heard.
"Hey, lets just get the camp set up and break out that yummy Spam we brought." He tried to be funny, "You know, Spam. Comes in a can. Grease bombs for the gut, Lay you up in the hospital for eight to ten weeks. " He got a grin out of her.
"We'll just eat, get some sleep and head out tomorrow. Whatever it was is gone now." Carol slipped over to sit beside him, watching the shadows play their dance across the trees.
Bill could see she would take a while to calm down so he fussed with the packs and got out the can food and other snacks.
Later, he had gotten Carol to sit and eat and while they ate the conversation slowly returned to normal. They even talked about neighbors and some things Bill wanted to do to the house next time he got some time off work. This seemed to delight Carol cause it segued easily into the things she wanted to do as far as redecorating. The night was going well and soon the strange noise was less a burden on their minds.
"Man, that spam sure doesn't sit well. I had my heart on some perch tonight." Bill mentioned casually.
"Yeah, but the booger is having our supper while we eat crackers!" Carol joked. This was a good sign to Bill and he figured he might now actually get some sleep tonight. But both of them made sure the fire never died down.
"Well, ..." Bill said as he started to get up, "I'm going to visit the little boys bush and..." As he arose it seemed to startle something just outside the treeline at the edge of the firelight. It bolted back into the forrest crashing and rustling the bush. There was a grunt and hooting sound as it ran back further into the wood.
Carol jumped a quick slap to attention. Bill instinctivly turned toward the sound and fired the little pistol. There was a loud screech as the gun reported but he knew he hit nothing.
"My god, it's been standing there watching us!" Carol exclaimed. She was both terrified and yet amused.
The sounds of steps through the woods seemed to be circling the camp. Bill stood firm trying to follow the sounds. He motioned for Carol to be still and he lowered his lamp.
He waited. Listening till he thought he could really lock onto the sound. Bill made another motion to Carol to just sit still. He waited. They were glued to every sound in the woods. Carol tried to fight down the ugly crawl now making it's way back up her spine. Her teeth chattered in the humid summer air.
Bill waited. He wanted it to settle down. He waited more. They both just peered into the darkness at the edge of the camp.
Then Bill reacted, he flipped on the lamp and shown it where his instinct told him the sound had come to rest.
The blood rushed away from Carols face again as she looked into the face hald hidden in the shadow of the bushes. Bill had caught it right in the face with the lamp. It seemed to not react at all, but it did appear to widen it's eyes and glare toward them.
This was a hidous face. Partly covered in hair but with the primary facial features exposed showing a dark skin. Bill's first thought was that it was human. But no human had broad shoulders that wide, and such an ape-like small head.
The creatures eyes shone red in the glare of the lamp, reflecting a bright eyeshine from the bush cover. It almost seemed amused at the little humans, and both Bill and Carol felt that if it was going to harm them it would have done so already. Bill tried to speak but couldn't get his words to surface. Fear was taking hold and logic faded away.
Then the creature, whatever it was simply turned and walked back into the forest. Bill, still locked onto it's every move could count the steps as they faded away into the distance. Somehow he knew this encounter was over.
Bill and Carol just looked at each other and exchanged thoughts through facial expressions. The night returned to normal.
Bill and Carol slept on edge that night. Every night sound brought them to full conscienceness. But the creature never returned.
By daybreak two weary campers emerged from the thick Mississippi swamp. Tired and shaken they drove back to civilisation and left the horrid experience of their night behind.
There are those who say there are no monsters, no real ones. But those who say it never spend a night in the dark depths of a southern swamp. For if they did, they would surely discover that there is more in the untamed parts of our world then we care to believe, or remember.