ABOUT THE BOOK…
Blending Adventure, mystery, supernatural, Romance, and Suspense, author Patty L. Fletcher weaves a tale of fiction, all readers are sure to enjoy.
James Landing Tennessee was a peaceful little town just trying to keep up with its neighbors, which seemed to always be growing by leaps and bounds around it. Then one day Roy Dingus took over Friedman chemicals, a lady of unknown origin known only as Miss Mazie bought the old house on the outskirts of town and as the heat of August blazed with no end in sight, what was once a city with no promise came to life.
Follow the adventures of three small-town boys, Joe, Ronnie, and Jake, and their newfound friend Billy Ray as they try to unravel the mystery that surrounds the newcomers and all the strange goings on before James Landing is no more.
This is a work of fiction. Any similarities to Kingsport Tennessee and its people, places, and things are simply that Similarities.
When last we left the kids, they were headed to Uncle Harvey’s shed to get Joe’s arrowhead and see what else had been left for them.
Let’s hurry along now, so we don’t get left behind.
Be careful though, watch your step. Things from here on out are bound to get a might rough. In fact, if you wanta turn back now’s the time. It’s a sure bet these kids won’t stop till that monster’s dead and gone.
Joe stepped up to the door of the shed and finding it ajar went in. Reaching up and pulling the string for the light he stood for a moment letting his eyes adjust as the others crowded in behind him.
After a moment he spotted the arrowhead, and though it wasn’t nearly as nice as what Janey had brought he was glad to see it was more than enough to help do the job. Continuing to sweep his gaze along the shelf his arrowhead was sitting on he soon saw what Uncle Harvey must’ve been referring to in his note, but he had no earthly idea what in blue blazes it might be.
Gingerly picking up the bottle off the shelf he read, “Changeling Tonic.”
“What in the heck?” Ronnie asked.
“Wait.” Joe whispered, “Let me read the label here.”
He stood silent a moment then read out loud, “Empty your mind. Focus only on what you want to be. Then, take one swallow for each hour you want to be it. Don’t take more than three swallows for three hours because if you stay too long as something else you might not come back.”
Jack sighed in disgust and then declared, “That’s a load of crap!”
“Hush. There’s a note on the back. It says, I know what you’re thinking but this does work. It’s a chemical compound that comes from Friedman itself. I know it works. It was part of the accident.” Janey drew in a sharp breath and turned quickly away to hide her shock and tears but Jake had seen and turned to follow her out the door.
“Damn it! I read it before I realized what it was going to say.” Joe demanded.
“Nothing to do for it now.” Jack said.
“You don’t have to be so damned heartless.” Joe said angrily, turning to face Jack. “That aint no way to find out how your parents died.”
“I didn’t say it was. I am sorry but we’ve got business to tend to. Maybe Jake best take her on home and then go on home himself. I already told you how…”
“You just shut your mouth! You just shut it right the hell now!” Jake roared charging back into the shed, Janey close on his heels.
“We’re not going back. We’ll finish this thing right alongside you.”
“Jake,” Janey soothed, laying a gentle hand on his arm. “It’s alright. No, Jack, we’ll not go home. Yes, we’ll finish this thing right alongside you because if I go my bow and arrow go with me. Besides, if this mess has something to do with my mom and dad’s death I want to see it through. Now the choice is yours.”
No one spoke for a moment and then Jack relented saying, “Well, reckon the little one’s got spunk after all. Come on, let’s get going. We’ll figure out what to do about that tonic and all on the way.”
“Mayhap,” Joe allowed, “Jake and Janey will show you just what they’re made of before this is over.”
***The small group of men walked quietly along the trail leading toward Hawk Cave. They’d been tracking the thing for hours and as they’d followed it deeper into the woods noted the tracks had changed. First they’d been gigantically wolf like. Then as it had walked along, they’d changed from wolf like to something akin to a bear, now they were starting to look more like horse’s hooves.
“What in all hell does this mean?” Billy Ray asked. “I mean we cannot deny it’s the same damn trail all the way through. “Just what in hell are we dealing with?”
“I told you.” Duff Sims demanded. “It’s magik. Got to be. Some kind of deviltry that Damned Mazie’s done and…”
Billy Ray stopped and rounding on the old man shouted, “And I told you that’s a load of horse shit. Mazie would never create something like this. In fact, I’m starting to believe you know just a little more about all this than you’re letting on and that you’d rather us not know.”
“Just what the hell are you saying?” Duff roared.
“Billy Ray.” Uncle Harvey said in a soft but urgent tone. “Let’s just find and get rid of the thing. We’ll figure out who, if anyone’s to blame later. Alright?”
“Alright.” Billy Ray huffed, “But if he says one more God Pounding Word about Miss Mazie…”
“OK gentlemen.” The sheriff said speaking in a tone of authority that didn’t quite fit his stature. “That’s enough. Both of you. We’ve got a job to do. Now, let’s get back to it.”
The day wore on and soon the sun was headed toward the horizon and thick dark clouds had begun to gather in the sky. Just when even Jack thought they could go no farther they rounded the bend at the top of the steep trail and there in front of them was the entrance to Hawk Cave.
“phew!” Joe breathed with a sigh of relief. “I was beginning to think we’d never get here. Not to mention whether we’d beat the hunting party that’s been almost matching us mile for mile on that other trail.”
“What hunting party?” Jack demanded.
“The group of men that are coming up the trail to our left about two miles off.” Matt answered. “What’s the matter slick? Your eyes and ears full of tree moss?”
“I heard and saw nothing.” Jack insisted. “Yawl must be imagining things.”
“We’re imagining nothing.” Joe said, “And furthermore, we’re all about to get tired of your snide, smartassed remarks. We get that you’re older and bigger than us and we also get that your uncle is the sheriff and you think you’ve got something to prove. I cannot stop you from being here but from here on out you either work with us as part of the team or you break off from us because if we don’t band together we’re liable to end up dead. This damn thing aint nothing to play around with and on top of that we have to decide once and for all if we’re going to use this bottle of stuff Uncle Harvey left.”
“I’ve already decided.” Matt said taking the bottle from Joe and twisting off the lid. “I’ve been thinking about it all the way here, and it makes perfect sense.”
“Explain.” Ronnie said.
“Well, it’s like this.” Matt observed. “You, Jake, and Joe are brothers and you need to stick together. Joe you and Janey have weapons, Jake you’ve got to help Janey and you Ronnie need to keep being the lookout. You’ve got better tracking skill than any of us and your hearing is better than all the rest too. Jack, you only half believe, and I’ve got an idea that would keep this stuff from working.”
“You believe?” Joe asked.
“Yes. As a matter of fact I do. I read a lot and I’ve been studying up on chemical stuff for a while now. I believe this thing whatever it is has something to do with Friedman. I think that it may very well be the result of the spill they had a few months ago right after Mr. Dingus bought the place.”
“Do you think that’s what Uncle Harvey was talking about in his note?” Janey asked in a slightly quivering voice.
“Yes I do. I think we have to get rid of this thing because if we don’t it’s just going to keep rampaging and ravaging until it’s so strong nothing can kill it. I think it gets stronger every time it kills.”
Jack stood quiet the whole time Matt had been talking and now he looked them all straight in the face. “Yawl are right. All of you. I’ve been a real shithead and I’m sorry. To be quite honest with yawl I’m terrified of what this thing might be. Furthermore I know a little more about it than I let on. Matt you’re not the only one who’s been studying.”
“What do you…” Janey’s words were cutoff by a monstrous roar that made the ground under their feet tremble and the bottle fall from Matt’s hands splattering its contents all over him.
“What in all hell?” Joe demanded. But before he and the others could do more than turn the wolf like monster was charging out of the cave straight for them. After that everything happened very fast.
“Oh Shit!” the sheriff declared. “Look!” He pointed toward the sound of the noise and as the other men turned to look they saw not one but two monsters standing at the mouth of the cave.
The sheriff raised his gun but just before he got off the first shot Billy Ray stayed his hand. “Wait! One of those is not the one we’re looking for.”
“How can you know that?” The Sheriff demanded.
“Because, look. One of them is smaller.”
“So, maybe the damn thing’s got young of its own.”
“No!” Billy Ray decreed. “No. Look at its feet.”
Duff started to reply and then he saw with some dismay his granddaughter Janey standing on a bolder about 50 yards back aiming the bow and arrow from his collection.
“Oh My God!” He cried. “Janey! No! God! No!”
Dropping the pack he’d been carrying he started toward the scene unfolding on the trail by the mouth of the cave but before he could go more than just a few steps there was a twanging sound and Janey loosed the arrow.
At the same time, the smaller of the two monsters charged the larger one and knocking it off balance the two went struggling and sprawling in the dirt. Then as the arrow hit its mark there was an earsplitting roar and the larger of the two monsters began to howl and then as it began to change it screamed.
For a moment no one moved and then Billy Ray took off at a dead run toward the group of kids and the two monsters.
Just then Jake cried out, “Oh! Janey, you killed it. You… But before he could continue he saw what was happening to the thing her arrow had hit and as they watched what had been a dying monster began to transform into first a horse, and then to their horror a half human man.
“Daddy!” Janey screamed, and dropping her bow started toward the hideous horse man thing on the ground.
“No!” Jake screamed in horror, and lunging forward with all his might knocked Janey to the ground landing on top of her. She tried to struggle out from underneath but just before she managed it Jack joined the pile saying, “No. Janey No. That thing’s not your dad. It looks like it but it’s not. Maybe it once was but…”
Just then the group of men reached them and while Duff and the sheriff went to Jake, Jack and Janey on the ground the rest turned to the scene still playing out a few feet away on the trail next to the cave.
The smaller of the two monsters had regained its feet and though one arm was fountaining blood in an alarming rate it shambled toward the continuously changing thing which was trying to regain its feet. Before anyone could reach them the smaller monster which Billy Ray saw with horror was really Matt Boils reached the dying thing and as he began to bleed out he leaned down and ran his one remaining good hand into the things rapidly changing face crushing it in as if it were nothing more than a paper decoration from the Halloween festival. Then the two fell together in a heap of blood and dissolving skin, fur, and bones.
“No! Oh! No!” Billy Ray cried. “Matt. No.” Then as the two creatures turned into nothing more than a pile of jelly like substance all fell deathly still.
For a moment no one spoke and then in a sobbing strangled voice Janey screamed, “Grandpa! You knew! You knew and you did nothing! You knew and you let it keep killing and killing and even after it attacked Mark you said nothing. Why?”
“Girl you don’t understand.” Duff demanded. But, to Billy Ray and the rest it seemed as though all the fight had gone out of the old man.
“So, explain it to me.” Janey demanded. “Explain how you could’ve kept quiet when that thing was killing animals and attacking kids. You make me understand damn you!”
“Because I thought I could cure him. Janey that thing was once your daddy. When that Godawful spill happened at Friedman it got all over him. Mercifully it killed your momma but your daddy, well, it changed him and for a while I had him locked out in the garage and I thought I was on the verge of curing him and then he got loose, and I didn’t know what to do. I thought if I could catch him again I might could help but now… Well, now…” His voice broke and he sank to the ground burying his face in his arms rocking back and forth with great howling grief stricken sobs.
“Janey.” Jake said in a small voice, “He’s your grandpa. He loves you and Mark, and he was only doing what he thought was the right thing to do. He couldn’t know how all this would turn out. Go to him. Love him. It’s what your mom and dad would’ve wanted.”
Later that evening as the town gathered in the town park the hunting party both young and old stood on the band stand readying to make the announcement that the monster was dead and that while all was safe again there had indeed been casualties. Matt’s parents had already been notified and as the sheriff stood staring out into the crowd gathering before them he shivered at the remembering of it.
When everyone had gathered, and all had fallen still the sheriff began to speak…
“Earlier this evening there was a stand off up at Hawk Cave between these young folks here and the monster that’s been terrorizing our town. This brave young girl standing here beside me and her equally brave young men took the thing down. I’m sorry to say, Mathew Boils did not come back from the kill and for that I’ll never quite forgive myself. Jack, my nephew here has been trying to tell me for quite a while that there was more to this monster thing than an inbred wolf and I wouldn’t listen. Now, the damage is done and there’s nothing to be done. Mathew’s parents have told me they want no revenge. They’re proud of their son’s bravery and they say to do anything other than to celebrate his memory and the fact that the monster can hurt no one else would be a dishonor to him and all he and his friends stood for in the face of such an evil thing.
The rumors of the monster’s having had something to do with the chemical spill at Friedman’s a few months back are true. A lot of us grown folks have made mistakes not believing in our young ones. We’ve also made mistakes blaming Miss Mazie for things she had nothing to do with.
Now, I know that we’re all sad, and the normal reaction is to turn and go home but I’m going to suggest we not do that. In fact, I believe that we need to gather together as a town and celebrate the season with joy and relief that we’re all safe once again. I’ll leave it up to you, but I hope you’ll consider staying and having a bit of food and fellowship together. Maybe we don’t quite feel like going through the haunted house, but I think a little food and candy is just what the doctor ordered.”
As he stepped away from the mike there was a long moment of silence and then Miss Mazie’s voice rang out…
“Bubba! Get your head out of there! You quit that bobbing for apples!”” and just like that the party was begun.
Later as the town celebrated its victory up at Hawk Cave the wind moaned through the trees and the half frozen jelly like substance the two monstrous creatures had made when they’d died there on the ground began to quiver, and as the moon shown yellow and bloated in the sky somewhere deep in the woods a wolf began to howl.
For now, this ends the tale. Mayhap nothing will come of that quivering mass of jelly up by Hawk Cave. Then again…
*** Author’s Note I’ll be editing this story and putting it onto the blog in its whole form.
I’m sorry this has taken me so long to complete, and I thank you for reading.
ABOUT PATTY L. FLETCHER
Patty L. Fletcher lives in Kingsport Tennessee where she works full time as a Writer with the goal of bridging the great chasm which separates the disAbled from the non-disAbled. And as a Social Media Promotional Assistant.
She is the owner and creator of Tell-It-To-The-World Marketing, and is the published author of two books, Campbell’s Rambles: How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life and Bubba Tails From the Puppy Nursery At The Seeing Eye.
She can also be found in two anthologies which are, December Awethology Light
And A Treasure Chest of Children’s Tales.
She is now working on her third book which is to be a memoir trilogy called, ‘Pathway To Freedom: Broken and Healed’.
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