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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 its people and surrounding areas, places, and things are simply that Similarities.





Sometimes, there be glamour. Sometimes, there be magik, and yes friends and neighbors, sometimes, there be monsters.






The Mid-August sun sank slowly toward the horizon like a hot molten ball of liquid fire. Sweat continuously ran into his eyes, and the wind scorched his face as if it came from the pits of hell itself.

“Why in blue blazes did I ever think this door to door salesmen job was such a great idea anyhow?” Billy Ray grumbled to himself as he trudged slowly up the graveled road toward the old dilapidated looking house at the end of the lane. “Anyone living in a house like that probably don’t have the money to buy even one bible.” He thought out loud, but he had to try, now more than ever to sell a case of bibles before end of the day, and so far he’d not managed to sell any at all. His worn-out station wagon had broken down a mile or two back and he had to have the money to have that old redneck mechanic he’d talked to at the gas station while he was filling up earlier come out and see if he could fix the blasted thing. If he couldn’t do anything for it, he’d have to have it towed.

“WAHOO! WEE!” The three blond haired dirt streaked boys shouted as they came barreling out of the woods to his left. Billy Ray jumped back with a nay of surprise, dropping his satchel full of bibles as he did, and the boys stopped dead in their tracks at the sight of him.

“S…S…Sorry sir.” the biggest of the three stammered. “Didn’t know you was there.         We didn’t mean no harm. Just havin’ a little fun is all.”

Billy Ray took a breath to steady himself and wiping the sweat from his face he said, “Ah, it’s alright. You just startled me. It’s not been so long ago since I was a young pup runnin’ through the woods with my friends like a bunch of wild Indians.”

The boy who had spoken stood looking at the salesman with mischievous curious green eyes for a moment then asked, “Where ya headed anyhow, if ya don’t mind my askin’.”

“Out to that old house there at the end of the lane.” Billy ray answered, pointing a finger in the direction of the old house, that looked like a good puff of wind would blow it down. “Last house marked on my route for the day.”

“Ah, I wouldn’t if I’s you sir. Miss Mazie aint likely to buy one of them bibles from ya, let alone a whole case.”

The other boys who had gathered around the spokesman for the group giggled shyly behind their hands.

“Don’t think so?” Billy Ray asked dejectedly. “Why not? Don’t she go to church like most other folks in town?”

“Nah. She’s a strange lady to be sure mister.” The middle-sized boy observed. “Keeps to herself, and don’t hardly talk to nobody when she comes to town to buy supplies. Says she’s gonna fix up that old house this year, but it’s middle of summer already and she aint done a thing about it yet. She keeps a big black brute of a dog out there with her too, and while I aint never heard of old Bubba biting no one, it’s a safe bet he might if she told him too.”

Billy Ray sighed. “Well, I’ve got to try. Damned old car broke down a mile or so back and I got to get it looked at.

“Well, good luck.” The spokesman for the group who looked to be about 13 or so said. “if it was me, I’d charge the bill to Uncle Harvey and move on. Some say Miss Mazie’s a witch. Say if she don’t like ya and don’t want ya on her place, she’s just liable to turn the demons loose on ya.”

“Ah now. TSK…TSK… a smart boy such as yourself surely don’t believe such nonsense?” Billy Ray chuckled as he picked up his satchel of bibles and made to head out again.

“Sir.” The oldest boy said urgently, grabbing Billy Ray’s sleeve. “I don’t know what I believe and what I don’t. All I know is that strange things been happening since Miss Mazie came here in the middle of spring and I wouldn’t go out there if I was you.”

“I’ll use the upmost caution.” Billy Ray said with a smile as he began walking again. “I’ll see you round boys. Maybe at the Friedman Chemicals Company ice cream supper tomorrow. Saw a sign for it at the gas station when I was talking to the mechanic while I was filling up. Did you say he was your uncle?”

“Nah, he aint nobody’s uncle that I know of, just a nice old man the town took in long time ago. See ya round, and don’t say I didn’t warn you. Momma says we’re supposed to show kindness to strangers.”

Billy Ray stopped and turned around, leveling his gaze on the boy. “Don’t that include your Miss Mazie?”

The big boy lowered his head and dug a hole in the gravel with his dirty big toe, “Well, yeah, I suppose so, but I aint got to get the hounds of hell set on me in the process.”

“Well, thanks for the tip. I’ll keep it in mind. By the way? What’s your names?”

“Oh! Excuse our manners sir.” The boy said looking up his strawberry blond hair falling into his eyes, and a flush of embarrassment reddening his cheeks. “I’m Joe, the middle-man here’s Ronnie, and the runt of the pack is Jake.”

“I aint no runt!” The smallest of the three shouted squaring his shoulders rounding on his brother with his grimy hands balled into fists.

“Ah, heck Jake, I’m just messin’ with ya. Don’t get your fur up.” Joe said ruffling Jake’s dark blond hair and brushing a leaf off his chubby freckled face.

Billy Ray laughed. “Yawl sound like brothers. It’s nice to meet you, and you can call me Billy Ray. My daddy was sir.”

Gathering the younger boys around him the oldest boy said, “We are brothers. I’m 12, getting ready to turn 13, Ronnie’s 10, and Jake, who aint a runt is 8 soon to be 9, and It’s nice to meet you too Billy Ray. See ya round.”

“Turned on your southern talk just a bit thick didn’t you Joe?” Ronnie laughed as they walked away. “Shush. He’ll hear you.” “Yeah, and momma’ll switch you if she hears you going on with that junk.” Jake warned. “Whatever. He ought not go out there.” Joe hissed.”

Billy Ray stood watching the 3 boys as they walked off together, grouped into a tight little knot whispering to one another as they went. Laughing to himself he turned and started again toward the house. “That Joe’s a jokester if I ever saw one. A lot more educated too, I’m sure.” Billy Ray observed. “Well, if nothing else, maybe Miss Mazie will offer me a glass of iced tea or lemonade. Hotter than all hell out here.”

Just as he stepped from the heat baked road into the dooryard a huge black dog slowly raised itself up out from underneath an overgrown bush and lumbering purposefully toward Billy Ray began to growl and show his teeth. “Well, you must be Bubba.”

“That’s right.” A gruff woman’s voice called from somewhere ahead in the shadows, and just who might you be?”






Eddy Joe pulled off his work boots and sat them onto the cracked kitchen Linoleum floor beside his chair, then sat about pealing his sweat soaked socks from his bone-tired aching feet. “Lord, it’s hot enough to bake Sissie’s pies right on the front porch.” He sighed as Cindy handed him a frosty beer from the rumbling frig with its dented door in the corner of the small kitchen.

“Rough day honey?” She asked, rubbing his tired shoulders and leaning over to give him a kiss. “You’ve been working so much overtime lately me and the boys hardly see you. Not complaining mind you, just worried about you.”

Turning to her he snapped, “How the hell else am I supposed to feed us?” She stepped away from him, and he immediately regretted his temper. “Honey, I’m sorry.” He said, reaching out his arms. “You’re right. I’m worn out and being gone away from you and the boys all the time has me hatefuller than a bear waking up in spring. Come here, sit with me a minute.”

Settling her onto his lap and letting the cool air from the window air conditioner over the kitchen sink wash over them he asked, “Speaking of the boys, where are they?”

She laughed. “They blew in here a couple hours ago, gobbled down some peanut butter sandwiches and milk, and flew back out the door yammering to each other about some bible salesman they’d met up with as they’d run out of the woods near the edge of town. They were all excited cause he was on his way out to try and sell Miss Mazie a case of bibles.”

“Ha!” Eddy roared. “Ha Ha! Miss Mazie, buy a case of bibles? I’ll be surprised if she lets him on the place. He’s liable to come back with a good-sized hole in the seat of his britches for his trouble.”

“Oh honey.” Cindy giggled. “Old Bubba aint gonna bite no one. He’s a sweet old dog, and Miss Mazie’s just a different sort of lady. I’ve had her preserves, and I have to say, anyone who can put up blackberry preserves like her can’t be all bad.”

“Well,” He said, ruffling her hair, “You got me there.” Kissing her he asked, “How long you think till the boys come back?”

Wriggling closer into him she said with a smile, “Not till dark. You know how they are. Outside at sunrise, and not back till sundown. Just like we were, and to be honest, I’m glad of it. So many big city kids today are all stuck to those TV Music videos and junk. Other than missing a few conveniences, I’m glad we moved back home.”

Snuggling her close and breathing in her sweet honeysuckle perfume he asked, “Really? I’ve been so worried what with me gone all the time, and the money not as good as Friedman Chemicals promised that you’d be on the next bus back to New York.” Shocked, she looked up into his face her long golden braids falling over her shoulders, “Honey, there’s not enough money in the world to drag me back to that awful city. It’s a concrete jungle filled with crime, unhappy people, and way too much violence for our sweet boys to grow up in.”

Standing with her in his arms, heading toward the bedroom he sighed, “That thing with Joe last year really rattled you didn’t it?” Throwing her arms around his neck in mock fear of falling she said, “Honey, that mugger could’ve killed our boy. We never belonged in that place, and I was never so happy when Roy called and offered you that job. I just didn’t know how much work it was going to be for you.”

Lying her gently onto the bed, and stripping off his work clothes he said, “Well, there’s a promotion in it for me if I can help bring their equipment up to code, and we’re getting there. It’s just going to take time. In the meantime, let’s enjoy the quiet before our boys come trooping back wanting their supper.”

Later as lightning flashed over the outskirts of town, and Cindy and Edy Joe played a game of tag in the small yard of dirt and dead grass in front of their trailer with Joe, Ronnie, and Jake Eddy felt better about things than he had since they’d moved back. The time alone with Cindy earlier had helped lots, but this fun time with the boys was best of all. Not that he hadn’t enjoyed the feel of Cindy in his arms as they’d made love, but it was good to kick back and relax with the family for a change. Usually by the time he got home at night even Joe their oldest was in bed, and Cindy was ready to drop. How soon he hoped she could leave that job in Sissie’s Bakery and go back to her artwork. He wanted so much to be able to afford to build her that house with a studio attached like he promised, and…

Just then he was jarred from his thoughts by a bone rattling boom of thunder. “Holy Cow!” Jake yelled, streaking across the yard to his dad. “It’s alright son, but we’d best get inside before we’re all soaked. Eddy said gathering Jake into his arms. “Looks like a good one’s coming.”

Running for the door, Joe looked back over his shoulder and saw a large black curtain of rain falling just at the edge of town, and it was headed their way. He watched mesmerized by the unusually bright red zig zag patterns of flashing lightning arcing through the rain and then he thought, “Wonder what happened to Billy Ray?”

“Son!” Eddy Joe yelled from the door. “Come on. That’s not a storm to be fooling round outside in.”

“Coming sir.” Joe answered turning away, but somehow, he couldn’t shake the worry he felt for his new friend. “Was he a friend?” What made him think some bible salesman was his friend? But, that’s just what he did think.

Somehow, he just knew their paths would cross again.






Rain slammed viciously against the little room’s windows, as Billy Ray lay flat-out on his back, arms spread above his head on the old bed in the corner. It had been one more long day, and in the end he’d not even needed to worry about going out to that old house to try and sell another few bibles because when he’d finally made it back to his car for a wonder the thing had started right back up as if it had never missed a lick. In fact, if asked he’d have sworn it was running better now than ever before.

Running a hand distractedly through his sweat dampened gray flecked hair, he thought again of the strange woman named Miss Mazie he’d met earlier that evening. He hated like hell to call her strange, maybe a better word for her would be unusual, but either way she was as the middle boy had said, “different.”

Making himself more comfortable he let his mind drift back running through the visit yet again.

“You must be Bubba.” Billy Ray had allowed.

“That’s right.” A woman’s gruff voice confirmed from somewhere in the shadows ahead, “And who might you be?”

Billy Ray had tried to see into the shadowed yard, but somehow, he simply couldn’t see a darn thing but the big dog moving slowly but deliberately closer and closer. Part of him had wanted to turn and run, but he’d been afraid that to do so would’ve enraged the dog and he’d have been on him before he could even make it back onto the road from the yard.

“That’s right.” The voice had agreed. “You wanta stand where you are sir, Bubba don’t fancy a game of chase quite as much as he used to but if you rile him, he’s just liable to get the idea back into his old head.”

“How in all hell had she known what he was thinking.” He wondered, replaying the scene in his mind.

“Name’s Billy Ray Ma’am, and I mean you and your dog here no harm. Just out selling Bibles for the Angel Network.”

A peel of deepthroated rich laughter had drifted out of the shadows toward him. “Me and Bubba don’t need any bibles son, but you look like you’re about to fall over with heatstroke and Miss Mazie never let anyone fall out in her yard from the heat, so you’d best come on up onto the porch and sit a spell and cool off.”

“What about Bubba here?” Billy Ray had asked. Hating himself for sounding afraid of what was very obviously an old dog.

“Bubba! Stop that! Leave It! Go on back to your nappin’ and Let the man pass son.”

The big dog had given him another hard look, shown his teeth one last time, then lumbered back to his overgrown bush settling himself back down with a satisfied sigh as if nothing whatsoever had disturbed him.

“OK. Come on. It’s hot as blazes there in the sun. Want iced tea or lemonade?”

Once again, Billy Ray had been totally taken aback. “How on earth does this woman know what’s in my mind.”

Coming up onto the porch, letting the screen door squeak shut behind him chimes overhead jingling he’d seen Miss Mazie for the first time, and he’d had to admit she’d not been at all what he’d expected. She’d stood there in the doorway of the old house dressed in a pair of faded denim jeans and white tank top, flipflops on her feet. Her long salt and pepper hair had been gathered back into one long ponytail that went almost to her waste, and her dark brown eyes had looked him over with an intensity which had seemed to momentarily look straight into his very soul. Her darkly tanned skin was as smooth as a baby’s, and she was just a little shy of six-feet tall, and heavyset in a country woman sort of way. She looked like a woman who could give any man a run for his money out in the field or anywhere else she happened to want to work.

“Well,” she demanded, hands on expansive hips, “Lemonade or tea?”

“L…Lemonade sounds wonderful.” He’d stammered, and neither then nor now could he understand why she’d knocked him so far off his game.

“Have a seat in one of the rockers there. Want a little shine in that?” She’d asked, heading through the door into the kitchen a smile flickering round the corners of her mouth.

“Shine? Oh, No thanks. Plane’s fine.”

“You sure?” She called, with a snort of laughter. You seem a bit rattled. Surely old Bubba didn’t scare you that much. If so, bathroom’s just inside here down the hall.”

“Oh, no ma’am. I suppose I’m just warn out from walking. My car broke down a couple miles back as I was finishing my sales route for the day, and I made the mistake of misjudging the heat.”

“Thought you’d just pop on in on Miss Mazie and save her soul with one of them bibles, did you?”

“Huh? I don’t reckon I’m in the business of saving anybody’s soul ma’am, I’m just trying to make enough money to get a little better place to live than the little room I live in above Sissie’s Bakery.”

“Oh goodness. You living up there?” She’d asked as she’d handed him a wonderfully frosty cold glass of honey lemonade with fresh sprigs of lavender sticking out of the top. “Hot as hell this time of year in that little room I’d bet.” Miss Mazie allowed.

“Yes ma’am.”

“Look, Billy Ray is it?” She asked, removing a big green-eyed tabby cat out of her way before settling herself into the rocker opposite his, tossing her ponytail over her shoulder as she began to rock. “You got to quit that calling me ma’am. You’re making me feel older than Mother Gaia and I aint quite that old no matter what them three boys told you.”

He’d nearly dropped his glass of lemonade. “How in all hell?” He thought again.

“You don’t happen to have any handyman knowhow, do you?” She’d asked.

“Um? Actually yes, Ma’am… um? Miss Mazie, I do. My dad and I used to have a business together, but he had an accident and passed away.

“Oh, I am real sorry to hear that. Well, anyhow, I bought this house as a fixer upper and now can’t seem to find anyone willing to do the fixing up. There’s a decent apartment overtop that old garage in back, and if you’re not afraid of the town’s folk and their talk, I’d be happy to give you a place to stay and a little pay in return for your work on the place.”

To say that the offer had taken him by surprise would’ve been a huge understatement, but he’d accepted it without even giving it any thought. In fact, it seemed to him as he thought it all over now, he’d said yes before she’d quite finished speaking.

Turning onto his side, and drifting toward sleep he thought, “Strange indeed. But beats the hell out of selling bibles and living in this oven like room.”






Dusk settled over the town park and the music of summer drifted through the air with a joyful rhythm of children’s laughter, old women’s gossip, and insects buzzing in the trees. The Friedman Chemicals ice cream supper was in full swing and all of James Landing seemed to be there.

“Miss Mazie,” Sissie called, “Your blackberry ice cream is so good I’m considering having you make it to sell in the bakery alongside the cobbler.”

“Well, I think you Sissie, but I don’t know as I’d have time to make enough to satisfy all your customers. It’s all I can do to keep you stocked with preserves.”

Just then Old Dog Bubba darted across the field with a large blob of ice cream on the end of his nose. “Bubba, what in blue blazes are you doing? Have you been into the ice cream son?” A burst of laughter sounded, and Jake Blaire streaked passed in hot pursuit. “Bubba you come back here with my ice cream.” Jake squealed. A moment later Billy Ray came puffing up calling, “Jake do you really want it back now?” Sissie and Mazie looked at one another and burst into girlish laughter. “Lord, let me go see if I can wrangle that dog of mine.”

“Ah, now Miss Mazie, let the old feller be.” Roy Dingus laughed, dropping her a wink as he sauntered up to the table with a cone of ice cream in his hand. “He just wanted a bit for himself. You should’ve seen the look on Jake’s face when he slurped up his cone.”

“Why, Roy, if I didn’t know better, I’d say you were enjoying yourself.” Sissie teased.

“And why not? What’s not to love about an ice cream supper?” Roy asked cheerfully. I don’t know how we could end summer without one, do you?”

“Well, you got me there. And, it was mighty nice of you to give Eddie Joe the night off too.”

“Well, he’s done a fine job whipping that crew of his into shape, and he deserved it. I tell you Sissie, I couldn’t have done all I’ve done with Friedman had it not been for that brother-in-law of mine. He’s got more crew boss in him than any man I ever saw, and the boys love working for him.”

“Where are he and Cindy anyhow?” Mazie wondered.

“They loaded up their car with a couple ice cream freezers full of homemade ice cream and a big box of hotdogs and fries and took them over to the crew on duty at the plant.”

“How nice, no wonder the boys love working for him. aint everyone who would take the time to do that.”

“bribery will get you everywhere.” A grumpy voice chimed in.

“Oh Duff, get over it.” Roy snapped, his dark green eyes flashing as he turned to the heavyset whiskered old man who had walked up without a sound. “You’re just pissed off because Eddie’s crew puts out twice as much work as yours.”

“Maybe if he’d wipe that hateful frown off his face every now and then someone would want to do something extra for him.” Sissie allowed.

“My men work cause they like their paychecks, not because I coddle them with ice cream and hotdogs.” Duff Growled.

“Well, if it aint old Walrus Sims.” Mazie called in mock joy. “It’s a sure bet they don’t do it cause they like you. I hear tell they’d just as likely dip you in a vat of acid as look at you.” Mazie jabbed back. “You are, I believe the most odious man I ever had the not so great pleasure of knowing.”

“Alright now, you two let’s try, just for tonight to get along.” Roy urged, dropping Mazie another wink when he thought no one was looking.

“I’d have an easier time of it if that old walrus there would get along somewhere else.” Mazie said. “I tell you Roy I don’t know why you keep him around. He’s got to be bad for business.”

Roy stood quietly eating a double scoop cone of Mrs. Deal’s fudge delight watching as Duff Sims waddled away, and Bubba came loping passed going back the way he’d come wagging his tail looking rather pleased with himself.

“Mazie, I might could’ve replaced him if you’d not stolen away the new man in town. I hear you’ve talked old Billy Ray here into working out at your place.” Roy observed waving his cone in Billy Ray’s direction.

“Nothing like town gossip to spread the word.” Mazie grunted. “Aint been out there a whole day and already all over town. Why do we need a newspaper anyhow?”

“Well, I didn’t know it was a secret.” Roy smiled a drip of ice cream lingering on his chin.

“Don’t reckon it is, just surprised everyone already knows.”

“You can thank the Blaire boys for that.” Billy Ray said. “Lord, those kids. They’ve been telling anyone who would listen that Billy Ray the bible salesman has turned trade and is now Miss Mazie’s handyman.”

“Nothing wrong with that now is there?” Sissie asked, handing him a cone of peanut butter cream, bouncing her auburn curls and giving him one of her sweetest smiles.

“I don’t suppose, I guess I just don’t understand what all the fuss is. Mazie needed someone to work on her house before winter sets in, and I’m just not cut out for the Angel Network.”

“What’s wrong with it is that damned old Preacher John Carrol and Duff Sims Miss Mazie grumbled. “They’ve got every old lady in town believing I’m some sort of wicked witch from the north or something.”

“Ah, Mazie honey.” Sissie soothed, “Those old gnarled up Blue haired biddies don’t really mean no harm. They’re just afraid of what they don’t understand.”

“What’s to understand?” Mazie huffed. “People have been using herbal medications since time out of mind. I mean for crying out loud! One of Jesus’ own disciples was a doctor, wasn’t he?”

“Of course, he was, but those old gossipy women don’t know anything but what Preacher John Carrol tells them. They don’t study nothing on their own.”

Just then Jake came up to the table. “Miss Mazie.” He wheedled. “I don’t mind sharing my ice cream every now and again, but could you please ask Bubba there to stop runnin’ off with my ball?” Mazie turned to see her big brute of a dog scrambling underneath the fence with a tattered baseball in his mouth. “Bubba! Drop! It! Come!” The old Labrador lifted his head, turned and looked at his mistress and promptly kept right on going. “Oh dear. I reckon his selective hearing has kicked in.”

“Ah! Nuts! I wanted to play ball!” Jake whined.

“Hey, Jake.” Roy called. See that old yellow truck there in the lot?”

“Yeah.” Jake answered.

“Here’s my keys. You go have a look in the glovebox, and you’ll find a ball and glove. Glove might be just a tad big but I’m betting old Billy Ray there can be convinced to catch for you.”

“Would you?” Jake asked, turning hopefully to Billy Ray who was just finishing his second peanut butter cream cone.

“Sure. Just let me rest my stomach a minute or two.”

“Game of ball will do you good.” Sissie laughed leaning over and wiping a streak of cream from his face with a damp cloth. “You’ve had more ice cream than those kids.”

“Well, a man’s gotta keep up his strength, don’t he?” Billy Ray Harrumphed as he headed off after Jake.

“Sissie.” Roy observed, “I believe he’s sweet on you.”

“Sweet on my cakes, cookies, and peanut butter cream ice cream.” She allowed. “Besides, I believe Miss Mazie’s done gone and put a spell on him.”

“Oh! Girl! Not you too?” Mazie declared in exasperation.

“I’m just teasing you sweetie. I’m glad he’s working for you. I was starting to worry about how you were going to manage that big old place during the winter if you didn’t get it patched up.”

“Well, I’ve got to say, he’s already done a fair amount of work. Fixed both the front and back doors, and even got a couple screens mended all on his first day. I wanted him to fix up his apartment first, but he wouldn’t hear of it. Said he’d work on it on his days off. He’s a good old boy and this town’s lucky he’s come along. Mark my words, before the year’s end we’ll be glad he’s hear.”






It was just passed 11:00 when Billy Ray and Mazie pulled into the gravel turnaround behind the old ramshackle house at the edge of town. “Billy Ray, I do appreciate the ride home, but I wish you’d have let me walk. I really should’ve seen to finding Bubba before I started back. Not like him to go off too far on his own.” Mazie worried as she unfolded her long legs and stood looking out into the shadows cast by the trees waving in the hot summer breeze.

“Oh, I bet he’s already back home just waiting to come lumbering round the side of the house to show me his teeth.” Billy Ray chuckled as he lifted the ice cream freezer from the back of the wagon. “Shame there’s no more ice cream in this.” He lamented sitting it onto the back porch then coming back down to unload the rest of the picnic supplies.

“Son!” Mazie declared, “You cannot possibly have any more room!”

“Not tonight, but ice cream makes a wonderful breakfast. I love it with coffee.” Despite her worry for her old dog Mazie had to laugh. “What you need is some good home cooking.”

“Well, maybe one of these days you can cook me some of your famous pancakes. I hear you make a good stack. In the meantime, did you enjoy the ice cream supper?”

“Actually, yes. Other than that old fat walrus Duff Sims it was a lovely evening. You and Sissie were right, it’s time for the town to get to know me rather than letting them make it up as they go along.”

“Why do you call Old Man Sims a walrus?”

“Just look at him and those tusk like tufts of whiskers of his sometime.” Mazie answered distractedly as she continued scanning the woods at the back of her property.

“Something wrong?” Billy Ray asked walking up beside her trying to see whatever it was she was looking at in the woods.

“Something’s in the woods.” She answered in a hushed voice.

“Of course, something’s in the woods.” He laughed. “Lots of…”

“Hush!” She hissed. “I’m serious. Something’s there, and it don’t belong.”

Billy Ray stopped talking and stood still. He heard and saw nothing but then again, she knew the area better than he. Come to think of it, now he was truly listening, he realized the night had fallen eerily still. The crickets and tree frogs which always seemed to be in concert together were no longer singing and the hoot owl which had been hooting its pleasure for the night had abruptly stopped.

Just then a low growl sounded beyond the edge of the trees. “Bubba?” Mazie called. “Bubba? That you boy? Come here. Come here to your momma.” She called as she Started forward toward the sound.

“Wait!” Billy Ray urged. “Just wait. That don’t sound much like old Bubba. I mean I ought to know. He growled at me at least six or seven times today.”

“He’s just…” Before Mazie could finish her sentence the volume of the growling rose to a thunderous roar and then was accompanied by a loud volley of barks. “It is Bubba!” She observed urgently, but as she started toward the noise two animal like shapes, one large and one small, rearing up onto their hind legs began to materialize along the edge of the trees which were now fairly bending from the wind which had started as a summer’s breeze and was now thanks to the energy caused by Miss Mazie’s upset raised to almost a howling windstorm.

“What in all hell?” Billy Ray demanded. “Is that a bear?”

“aint like no bear I ever saw.” Mazie shouted back over her shoulder breaking into a run. “Come on, that thing, whatever in hell it is has my dog.” Racing toward the trees she stopped only long enough to pick up a couple good sized rocks and then headed once again toward what had turned into what sounded like an all-out war. “Bubba! Come!” Mazie cried in desperation dried brush swirling all around her. “Come on son! You’re no match for…!”

Whang! Just as she started into the trees a shot rang out. Whang! Whang! Then as the echoes from the shots faded away a hideous howling could be heard and then it too faded away. the night grew still. For a moment there was no sound, then the brush at the edge of the woods quavered and Bubba shambled through whimpering and limping toward Mazie. “Oh! Bubba!” She cried, in evident relief. “Come here boy. Let me check you over. Come here, let me see you.”

“He alright?” Billy Ray asked as he came up beside her.

“I don’t know.” Her words died in her throat as she looked up at him from her place by the injured dog on the ground and saw the pistol in his hand. “Gods son! You could’ve shot Bubba here.”

“But I didn’t. Check him.” Billy Ray demanded. “I don’t believe any of his injuries came from me. In fact, why don’t you take him and go into the house? I’m going to go see if I hit that damn thing that was trying to kill him back there.”

“Just you wait.” Mazie ordered her voice trembling with fear. “We’ve no idea what that was, and if you only wounded it it could be very dangerous.”

“Had to be a bear.” Billy Ray insisted.

“Not a bear.” Mazie disagreed running her hands over the big dog checking for broken bones as he coward there at her feet. “No bears that big in these woods.”

“You’re awfully sure of yourself. I mean, no offense but you’ve only lived here since spring. What makes you an expert on these woods?”

“I’m telling you that was not a bear.” She insisted. “Don’t believe me look at those prints.”

He followed her pointing finger and started in surprise as his eyes took in the fresh prints all alongside the back wall of the house there in the light from the back porch. “What in all hell?”

“Billy Ray. I think your suggestion of taking Bubba into the house is a good one, and furthermore I think another good one is for you to see us safely inside. Here, help me with the dog, and don’t argue with me.” She commanded, stepping away from the dog to allow Billy Ray to pick him up as she spoke.

Laying Bubba gently onto his bed in the corner of the kitchen Billy Ray straightened and turned to Mazie who was coming back into the room from having gone to retrieve her medicine bag of herbs and creams. “Miss Mazie? What in all hell is going on round here? I mean, when I first met the Blaire boys, they told me strange things had been happening round town since spring, but I thought they were just joshing me.”

“You mean since I came here don’t you? That’s what Joe said isn’t it?”


Raising her hands in a shushing gesture she continued, “Don’t worry about how I know. Is that what he said?”

“Yes, but I’m sure he’s just repeating the gossip of the town. Those kids.”

“Billy Ray, I know those kids mean no harm. They’re good boys. That little one, Jake, he’s sweet as he can be. Makes you just want to hug him he’s so cute. But, that sort of gossip’s dangerous. It can if allowed whip the town folk into a nasty frenzy, especially now that we’ve actually seen that animal.”

“Well, we didn’t really get a very good look at it but those prints. What in all mighty hell are they from?” Billy Ray asked watching her clean and medicate the big dog’s nasty looking wounds.

“Looked like some kind of giant wolf prints to me.” She allowed, patting the big dog reassuringly and straightening up from her work.

“Wolf. Those were far too big to be a wolf’s prints.” Billy Ray countered.

“Well, whatever in hell they are, we’ve got to let folks know. Kids play in those woods and sooner or later someone’s going to get hurt or worse.”

“No one’s going to believe us.”

“They might not want to believe but you cannot argue with those prints or the claw and bite marks on Bubba’s body. Much as I hate to do it, you’d best call the sheriff.”






Billy Ray sank exhausted into his bed in the garage apartment he’d moved into early Saturday morning. His head spun. He had a hard time believing only a few hours before he’d been playing catch with Jake, eating ice cream and wishing he could work up the courage to ask Sissie Wheeler for a date.

Sheriff Dickson and Deputy Johnson had taken forever questioning he and Mazie and then twice as long going over the place at the edge of the woods where Bubba had been attacked and taking pictures of the prints.

At first, they’d not wanted to believe anything either of them said, then they’d gotten a good look at the claw and bite marks on Bubba’s body and the prints left by the unidentified animal out back of Mazie’s house and there had been no way even they could deny.

Now, try as he might he couldn’t make sense of it all. When they’d gone into the woods to look for tracks though they’d found a lot of broken low hanging tree limbs, and mashed down weeds, there had been no trail. It was as if the thing began and ended right there at the edge of the woods.

After trying unsuccessfully for an hour to go to sleep, Billy Ray struggled up out of the tangle of covers. Threw on a pair of jeans, ran a comb through his disheveled hair and climbed down the ladder to the first floor of the garage, and pushed through the side door out into the false dawn.

Walking alongside the house where he, the sheriff and Deputy Johnson had walked earlier he felt a chill run through him as he breathed in the musky wild animal smell the thing had left behind along with its prints. “definitely not your average wolf.” He muttered to himself as he circled round the house and yard.

“Can’t sleep?” Mazie’s voice asked from the shadow of the porch as he made his final lap.

“Leapin’ creepin’ Jesus! woman! You scared the daylights out of me!”

“Sorry. I figured you heard the door when I came out.” She said as she walked down the steps and handed him a steaming mug of coffee.

“Oh! That smells amazing. Thanks.” He took a sip and then another more appreciative sip as he relished the strong rich flavor of freshly ground dark roast coffee mixed with heavy sweet cream.

“How’d you know what I took in it?” He asked, giving her a quizzical look.

“Sissie told me.” She laughed. “No magik there.”


“Billy Ray, me and you got to have us a little talk. Come on up onto the porch and let’s sit a spell. There are a few things you ought to know about old Miss Mazie if you’re going to live and work here.”

Once Mazie had satisfied herself that Bubba was comfortable, and Billy Ray had topped off their mugs from the coffee pot on the stove, the two of them settled comfortably into the rockers on the screened in porch Mazie once again moving Miss Tabby before she sat down. For a moment they sipped their coffee in silence and then Mazie spoke.

“Lots of town folk got bunches of ideas about me, and who or what I am, and I’d like to set the record straight.”

“Mazie, I don’t…”

“Just hush son and listen.” Mazie scolded sternly. “There’s a good reason the creator gave us two ears and one mouth. Try and put that into play every now and again and you’ll go far in this old world.”

Billy Ray sat back, closing his mouth with a snap, feeling a bit like a naughty schoolboy in front of the head mistress.

Continuing Mazie said, “As you may or may not know, I’m part Indian. Got a mishmash of tribes in my blood, but what kind don’t really matter, in fact, the fact that there’s more than one has turned out to be a good thing. At least that’s the way I see it.

Now, you’ve been asking yourself how I knew certain things which took place around the time you and I met. Some’s simply because I hear the town gossip and can guess what those Blaire boys and others have told you since you came into town. Some however is because I’ve got a very strong sixth sense. Sometimes, for good or ill, I know things. When I was a young girl, it scared me. When I got a bit older, I misused it. Now, I’m finally coming to grips with who and what I am, and I’m learning to use it as the good creator meant for me to do. I’m not some kind of crazy witch, and I don’t have a bunch of supernatural powers. What I do have is the ability to know certain things along with some very tried and true knowledge of the power of the elements and the use of herbs, and folks round here, not being educated in such fear what they don’t understand and make up what they don’t know. I hope that sets your mind at ease.”

Billy Ray sat rocking quietly for a moment, then took a deep breath, let it out, took another and spoke. “I must admit I did wonder how you always seemed to know what was in my mind, I was a bit taken aback when I first came here, and you answered my questioning thought of whether I should turn tale and run or stand my ground with Bubba.”

Mazie chuckled. “That weren’t no intuition that was from the look on your face. Old Bubba can be right intimidating when he wants to be, but, he’s a sweet thing that wouldn’t hurt a flea. As for the rest, like I say, a bit of knowing the town gossip and a bit of my good old third eye opening up and letting me see what I needed to know.”

“O.K.” Billy Ray said, “Now that’s settled what in all hell are we going to do about what happened last night? That hairbrained sheriff and his Deputy Do Little are in my mind little to no help.”

“Well, therein lies the rub. For the first time, I want my powers of intuition to show me something and they’ve shut up my third eye like Tutt’s Tomb. And one thing I’ve learned is if I try and push, either I see half-truths, or out and out jumbled up lies. If I’m not careful I’ll pick up on the town folk speculations and will make a mess of the whole thing. My immediate advice? Be careful and don’t go out and about in the woods unarmed.”

“Well, Sheriff Dickson did say he was gonna round up a few men and go looking more thoroughly in the woods today so maybe…?”

“If that old fool isn’t careful, he’s liable to piss the thing off and get someone killed.” Just then as if on cue a long, low mournful howl rose from somewhere deep in the woods, Miss Tabby hissed and puffed up her tail, Bubba Growled from his bed, and then the early morning fell still once again.




When last we left the folks of James Landing Miss Mazie’s Old Bubba Dog had been attacked by some hideous wolf looking monster in the woods behind her property, the sheriff had been called, and the town put on alert.

Now, summer has waned, fall has come, and Halloween appears to be at risk for the town’s children.

Join us as we continue with our mysterious Halloween tale.





Over the next few weeks, Billy Ray would learn just what Mazie had meant when she’d said that gossip could be dangerous if allowed to fester and spread. Rumors were running wild throughout town about what the animal which had attacked Bubba could have possibly been and several people had claimed to have seen something creeping through the woods late at night. Parents were demanding a curfew be set now fall had come and the time was soon to change and as the days became shorter and tensions grew he worried that the frensy Mazie had predicted would soon be upon them with a force which might not be stopped before serious damage was done.

As September gave way to October, and Halloween drew ever near, the children were dismayed to learn that a special townhall meeting had been called to decide what to do about trick-or-treating.

“But dad.” Joe demanded; his boyish face with a young man lurking just underneath filled with dismay. This is my last year for Trick-Or-Treating in full costume with mask and all. You have to make the town’s folk see reason! If we kids stick together we should be able to go trick-or-treating safely enough. Besides, that wolf, monster, whatever it is, it aint gonna come into town. I mean those who claim to have seen it only say they’ve seen it at the edges of the woods. Some say it’s terrified of light, so what harm can there be?” “Yeah, Dad, Come On!” Ronnie and Jake chimed in.

“Look boys. I agree that we ought to be able to do something for you kids for Halloween, but what that will be remains to be seen. Uncle Roy has talked about putting up a big haunted house and having a town Halloween party. Doesn’t that sound like something you kids would enjoy? I mean we could let you Trick-Or-Treat downtown from shop to shop and have the haunted house in the park. We could have a weeny roast and all. Don’t you think that might be fun?”

“Maybe.” Joe said, “But it’s somehow not the same.”

“Dad.” Jake said, “Do you really think Miss Mazie is a witch? I mean some of the kids at school…”

“Hush!” Cindy demanded sharply speaking for the first time. “You hush that and don’t let me hear you or any of the rest of you boys say that else none of you will do anything on Halloween but sit home and watch rented DVDS. Mazie is a kind lady who has done absolutely nothing to a single soul in this damned town and people need to keep their mouths shut about her.”

The boys and Eddy Joe all stared open mouthed at her. Cindy hardly ever raised her voice and even more rarely cursed. Finally Joe broke the uncomfortable silence saying, “Mom, he’s just repeating what other kids say at school. We like Miss Mazie and we don’t believe any of that. It’s just some folks say she ought to go on back to wherever she came from.”

“Listen.” Eddy Joe snapped. “I agree with your mother on this. I’ll admit when Mazie first came to town I didn’t know quite what to make of her. But since she came to the ice cream supper and has started joining in on other things about town I’ve gotten to know her and she’s a sweet lady who means not one of us any harm. Don’t forget, it was Old Bubba who was attacked. If she had something to do with that creature, whatever it is do you think she’d have let it try to kill that old dog of hers? She loves that dog much as me and your momma love you boys.”

Cindy smiled. “He used to be her sister Penny’s guide dog you know. She took him after Penny died, and she’d kill anyone or anything that even so much as had a thought about harming him.”

“I know mom.” Joe allowed. It’s just things are so awful now. We don’t have nighttime ball anymore in the park unless at least three men can be there with us and what with all the overtime going on at Friedman these days well…”

“Listen boys.” Eddy Joe said. “This weekend if all goes as planned, we’ll have all the equipment online and up to code at the plant and things can go back to normal for our shift schedule. Soon as that’s done I promise things are going to get back to something at least partly like normal round here. OK?”

“Alright.” Joe said, “I just hope Halloween doesn’t have to be ruined by all this crazy talk of monsters in the woods, and Miss Mazie being some kind of evil witch.”

Later, as Cindy and Eddy Joe enjoyed a quiet drink on the porch Cindy said, “Gees, I don’t think I’ve seen the kids that upset in a while. Things are a lot harder for them than I knew. I mean I knew things were tense in town, but I had no idea the kids were so bothered by it all.”

Eddy sighed, put his beer on the table by the porch swing and taking her in his arms he observed, “Halloween is as sacred now as it was when we were kids. Remember how much fun we used to have playing pranks on the older folks living on the outskirts of town? I’d lay odds those older boys at school have dared the younger ones to go out to Miss Mazie’s house to soap her windows or some such nonsense.”

Cindy sat up in alarm. “That wouldn’t be a good idea. Mazie says Billy Ray’s taken to keeping his pistol with him and he’s liable to accidentally shoot someone with it if he saw a shadow or something he thought was that thing. He’s gotten quite protective of Miss Mazie and from what I understand he and Old Bubba called a truce after he helped take care of him after he was attacked. I’d recommend parents have a good talk with their kids before someone gets themselves seriously hurt.”






The Meeting hall was standing room only by the time the meeting was called to order. Everyone had different ideas about what should be done about Halloween celebrations.

“In light of the continued strange animal sightings, I really do believe we should have some sort of organized celebration.” Roy Dingus said as he walked up to the front of the room. “I know, some of you think we ought to scrap it all and not allow anything, but that to my mind is overkill. We don’t want to become known as one of those fanatical towns who won’t let our town folk believe like they wish.”

Suddenly everyone was talking at once, “Ya wanta get someone killed? We’re not talking about making some kind of law against things, just think we ought to keep folks at home until this thing’s caught. “Yeah! That’s crazy. I’m not living in a town where we run and hide in fear first time some oversized bear or wolf pokes its head up out of the woods. “Yeah! Yeah!”

“Alright! Alright! Now, let’s all settle down.” The mayor called in an attempt to be heard. Just then a sharp whistle sounded, and the room fell still. As everyone turned to see who had made the offensive noise, Billy Ray stood and walked deliberately to the front of the room to stand next to Roy. “Look.” He said in a commanding voice no one knew he possessed. “I grew up with the kind of father who believed in solving problems not running from them. Yes, that animal, whatever it is, is quite real. Yes, I believe it’s dangerous. I saw what it did to Miss Mazie’s dog. What I don’t believe is that our children ought to be punished because we cannot catch the thing. I think Roy here has a great idea with his plans for a town celebration and I don’t think we ought to allow Preacher Carrol and his Angel Network to turn our town into something it was never intended to be.”

“I don’t appreciate your tone son.”

“Be quiet you old Walrus.” Mazie snapped, turning to give Duff Sims a withering look. Billy Ray’s got the floor.

. “Anyway.” Billy Ray continued smoothly. “You men who have been working all this overtime out at Friedman, do you know why you’ve been doing that? Not just to bring your factory up to code and bring online the latest and greatest equipment in chemical manufacturing. You’ve been doing that to help grow your town. In the last month I’ve heard more happy chatter from business owners in the area concerning growth then I’ve heard in any town I’ve lived in for many a moon. Do you want to destroy that by allowing Halloween to be totally canceled? Think about it folks. If we do what Roy here wants to do not only do we make our kids happy, but we bring even more business to our little town here. If we advertise it people will come from surrounding areas to join in the celebration. More and more people are looking for safe ways to celebrate this holiday, let’s give it to them. The local news stations and newspapers are full of great reports concerning James Landing. Don’t ruin that.” And with that, Billy Ray turned and walked back to his seat beside Miss Mazie on the back row.
Meanwhile, the Blaire boys were having a meeting of their own.

“Look.” Joe said, as he leaned on the doorframe of his room looking at his brothers. “Dad and Billy Ray aren’t going to let Preacher Carrol and his band of angels ruin Halloween. That’s for sure. And I don’t reckon that having a big haunted house and town trick-or-treating is the worst thing that can happen. But the real problem that no one is doing anything about is that darn monster. It’s killing dogs, cats, and other animals. Sooner or later it’s gonna hurt somebody. We have got to get the kids together and we’ve got to do something about the thing.”

“But, Joe” Ronnie said, “What can we do about it? I mean…”

“Listen, I know it’s just a story, but yawl remember that old Stephen King movie IT? You remember how that group of misfit kids banded together and got rid of the clown monster that was killing the kids in the town? We could do that. I know we could. I’ve been talking to Jonny and Mathew. They’ll help and so will Jack and Susi. We can take our town back if we all get together and try.”

“But, when are we gonna be able to go and do this? Mom and dad won’t let us out of the house after dark, and the thing don’t come out during the day.” Ronnie wondered.

“Yeah,” Jake agreed. “Besides, what are we gonna kill it with?”

“Jack’s got an idea about that.” Joe said, “And, I’ve been thinking. We need to go out into the woods and find out where it is living. Then we could catch it while it’s sleeping during the day.”

“Maybe…?” Ronnie said.

“Well, whatever we do I aint staying home no matter what you two say.” Jake demanded. “Either I go or…” He let his words drop.

“We’re all going, but you cannot tell no one.” Jo said firmly. “Especially Little Mark Sims. He’s a known rat, he’d rat us out to that old Walrus grandpa of his and then we’d be so grounded wouldn’t matter what kind of celebration was happening, we’d be here and standing up doing it too.”


Back at the townhall the mayor said, “Dang son. You keep making speeches like that there, and I’ll have to start worrying come next election.” There was a smattering of laughter and then continuing he said, “Alright. We’ve heard all the arguments both for and against a town Halloween celebration. Let’s put it to a vote. All in favor, raise your hand and say I. All hands but 20 in the room shot up and a resounding I filled the room. The mayor’s aldermen took a moment to count them just to be sure.

“All opposed?” Preacher Carrol, and his men silently raised their hands. As they did it dawned on Billy Ray that not one of their wives had come to this meeting. “How sad that those women and their children had to live in such fear. What on earth makes men so?” He wondered to himself.

“Alright. The I’s have it. We go forward with our town celebration. We meet back here in two days to start plans. Roy, you make sure you have your needs list ready to share with the planning committee. Meeting adjourned.”






For the next few weeks all anyone could talk of were the decorations going up all over town, and the haunted house taking shape in the park. At school the kids talked about their costumes and through it all, Joe, Ronnie, and Jake quietly set about putting their own plan in motion.

Just as class was letting out the Friday before Halloween Joe, Ronnie and their friends, Jonny, Mathew, Jack and Susi met on the edge of the supply road out back of the school. “Yawl boys get permission to stay at my house this weekend?” Joe asked.

“Yes.” The boys answered. Jack asked, “You get what we needed from Uncle Harvey?”

Walking backward facing the others Joe answered, “It’ll be ready in the morning.”

“How’d you get him to do it?” Susi asked.

“Gave him all the silver dollars I had so he could melt it into an arrowhead and told him I wanted it for my costume. Which is partly true. I am going as a hunter, and I do have a bow and arrow, so I did need an arrowhead. I told him I was pretending to be an Indian brave hunting for a dangerous beast which was terrorizing our village, and that a silver arrowhead was the only thing that would kill it.”

“A little close to home, don’t you think?” Matt asked, his bright blue eyes flashing merrily.

“Well, he didn’t seem to be curious about it. Just told me to come by in the morning to pick it up.”

“So, how are we going to get this done and be back before someone misses us?” Jonny wondered.

“I asked permission for us to camp out in the woods just behind our house. I figure we’ll head out early in the morning. Go straight to Uncle Harvey’s house before he has to leave to open the station, then out to the woods. I’ve got an idea where to look thanks to overhearing dad and some men talking the other day at the barbershop. Dad said that the Caster’s calf was killed night before last and that Mr. Caster tracked the bloody prints all the way to the pathway leading up to Hawk Cave. Said the only reason that he didn’t go on up there was cause it was getting ready to storm and he didn’t want to get caught up there in a blow.”

“Asked me, he was scared.” Jack allowed.

“Maybe, but it’s as good a place as any to start. Maybe the thing’s living up there. Maybe we can catch it sleeping and just shoot the thing and be done with it.”

“And if we can’t?” Susi asked, brushing her dark brown bangs out of her eyes a worried frown on her face.

“I don’t know. But we have to do something. That calf is the fifth animal to be killed since that thing attacked Old Dog Bubba. That poor thing’s just now getting so he can walk right again. Miss Mazie told Billy Ray that if they’d not been there to care for him right when it happened he might have died. I wasn’t sure about Miss Mazie until Billy Ray moved out there to work on her house, but I’ve helped him some and she’s a nice lady and she aint nothing like those old stupid ladies say.”

Matt smiled, his braces glinting in the sun. “She gave me cookies the other day when I went out to mow her yard. Billy Ray had me do it so he could finish painting. That old house is starting to look right nice.”

“Yeah.” Jonny agreed, bouncing excitedly up onto his toes. “I took some jars out there for momma the other day. Miss Mazie’s making some Blackberry preserves for us.”

“Yawl know if we get caught at this and we’ve not done what we went for beforehand we’re all gonna be in a lot of trouble right?” Joe asked, hands in his pockets. “If you want out. Now’s the time. Once we start this there’s no stopping till it’s done.”

“I’m in.” Matt said.

“Me too.” Jonny, Jack, and Susi echoed.

“All for one, and all that.” Ronnie put in.

Just then Jake came pounding up. “Joe! We got a problem! He panted. Oh! God do we got a problem. I mean a big problem!”

“Calm down and tell me.” Joe demanded.

“Mark Sims.” Jake said breathlessly.

“Ah Shit!” Ronnie Roared. “You didn’t?”

“No! He don’t know. He’s been attacked! I just heard. He wasn’t in class today. So, after school I went up to his sister Janey and asked where he was.”

“Any excuse to talk to her huh Bro?” Ronnie teased.

“Hush!” Joe demanded. “Go ahead Jake. What did she say?”

Taking a deep breath Jake said, “She started to cry, and she said her papa Sims told her not to tell any of the kids at school but the she had to tell someone. I told her she could tell me, and she said that Mark was late coming home last evening from helping at the church and that when her grandpa went out to see what was keeping him he found him alongside the road behind the church cemetery. Said he was all chewed up like a big dog had gotten hold of him. Clawed places all up and down one whole side of his body. One of his arms bit clean off.”

“Well, that settles it. No matter what the risk we have to do something.” Joe decided.

“Wait. There’s more.” Jake said. “There’s an emergency town meeting happening this evening. They’re going to get a big group of men together and go hunt the thing.”

“Hunting party or not. We have to go ahead with our own plan. Unless they find and kill that thing we have to do it. Personally I don’t think a regular gun can kill it. I don’t think it’s some oversized wolf like everyone thinks. I saw the teeth marks on Bubba’s body. Those weren’t no regular wolf bites. Not even an extra big one. I don’t know what it is but it’s up to us and our silver arrow to do the job.”

“I wanta help.” Said a voice from the bushes. As Joe turned around Janey Sims walked out onto the road. Joe and the others all looked at one another and then turned their accusing eyes onto Jake. “I did not tell!” Jake insisted.

“No. He didn’t.” Janey said, flipping her long blond braid over her shoulders and looking Joe straight in the eyes. “I followed him and got into those bushes back there just before he ran up. Something in the way he said that things were going to be alright told me something was up. I wanted to know what, so I followed him. Look, I could threaten to tattle but that’s Mark’s way not mine. But, tattletale or not Mark’s my little brother and I want to help. I won’t tell if you guys say no, but My Papa Sims has something that just might help. I heard yawl talking, and it sounded like to me you got Uncle Harvey to make you some sort of silver tipped arrowhead and that’s fine, but my Papa’s got a real honest to goodness silver bow and arrowhead. Don’t know where he got it, and he’ll switch me so’s I can’t sit for a month of Sundays if he catches me with it, maybe worse. He’s right handy with the strap too but I got to help. That thing hurt my brother. Please?”

The older kids went into a huddle leaving Jake and Janey standing together at the side of the road. After a few minutes of whispered argument They came back.

“Alright.” Joe said. “We’ve agreed to let you help. In fact, why don’t you and Susi spend the night together. That way you can meet us at Uncle Harvey’s house at 7 sharp in the morning. Don’t be late and don’t get caught leaving or we’ll all be cooked.” And with that he turned and started for home.






Joe lie huddled in his sleeping bag shivering from the sounds of sirens echoing in the distance. He couldn’t know for sure, but he had a bad feeling there had been another attack.

It had been nearly impossible to get his parents to agree to let them campout in the woods at the edge of their property but finally they’d come to an agreement that everyone could live with. The boys had agreed to leave the flood lights on in the backyard and to keep a small campfire going all night. Everything that had been learned about the animal stalking the town said the thing didn’t like bright lights or fire.

They had readily agreed to this for on this night the object of their campout wasn’t to have an adventure of roughing it, but rather to have a way to make an early escape so they could once and for all take care of the business of ridding their town of the hideous creature running amuck leaving bloody destruction in its wake.

They’d crept close to the house when his parents had come out onto the porch to talk after they’d thought the boys asleep, and Joe still felt sick when he thought about what his father had said concerning little Mark Sims.

“Cindy, I don’t know what we’re dealing with. I can no longer go along with the opinion that this thing is some kind of oversized bear or wolf. The damage done to that child’s body was horrific. His arm was torn clean off. I’m talking about shoulder and all. The doctors have decided as soon as he’s able they’re going to fly him to the children’s hospital down state. If he lives the reconstruction that’s going to have to be done to replace his arm with an artificial one alone will take months. He also lost an eye, and part of his side was ripped open as if the thing just took its hands and scooped him out. I’ve never seen anything like that in my life. My father took us boys hunting when I was a kid. He showed us kills animals had made in the woods when they were feeding. He wanted us to realize the power of the beast. I’ve seen some bad shit in my day, but nothing compares to that.”

The swing creaked as Cindy snuggled closer into Eddie’s arms. “Sounds like Old Dog Bubba’s very lucky to be alive.”

“Absolutely.” Eddie replied. “Honestly I wasn’t too thrilled when the boys asked to sleep in their tent outside, but I’ve been checking on them and they seem to be OK. The light is shining directly on their tent and their fire is going fine. We’ll keep the monitor on tonight and if I hear one noise out of place they’re coming back in.”

“Eddie, honey, much as I worry about them we cannot let this thing make us afraid to live our lives.”

“I agree, but we don’t have to leave food out for it either. But, you cannot help admiring their courage. I felt right proud of Jake when he said, ‘I aint fraid of no monster’”

Just before sunrise Joe shook the others awake. “Let’s get a move on. I don’t know what happened last night, but I heard sirens around 2 and I’m afraid there may have been another attack. If we don’t get going before mom and dad wake up we’ll not get away. They’ll have us down to the park helping with the decorations.”

When the boys had eaten and made sure their fire was out, they quietly made their escape. As they walked toward Uncle Harvey’s house Jake wondered, “You think Janey and Susi will show?”

“I don’t know.” Joe answered. “Her papa Sims is pretty strict. If he catches her sneaking out he’ll blister her good. Not to mention telling Susi’s parents.”

“He’s a mean old cuss.” Ronnie allowed.

“Yeah.” Jonny agreed, “Once I accidentally let my ball roll into his backyard and when I came in to get it he came charging out of his garage hollering at me like a crazy person to get off his property and to never come back.”

“Well, we cannot wait for her and Susi if they’re not there by the time we’ve picked up Joe’s arrowhead.” Jack said. “We’ve got to get up to Hawk Cave and find this damned thing and get rid of it once and for all. Mark Sims wasn’t my favorite kid on the block, but he didn’t deserve what happened to him.”

“Did you hear what dad said about how broken up Old Man Sims was?” Ronnie asked.

“Well,” Joe observed, “he may be a hateful cuss and maybe he’s a bit heavy handed with the switch or strap, but I know he loves Mark and Janey. He’s very protective since his daughter and son in law died. I don’t know if he’s really mean or if he’s just scared to death something will happen to Janey and Mark, and now that Mark’s been attacked he’ll be half crazy with worry, so Janey best be careful. I overheard Billy Ray and Miss Mazie talking the other day while I was out there helping Billy Ray do some painting. They said the circumstances around his family’s death were strange. Said they were killed in an accident at Friedman’s.”

“Yeah.” Jonny agreed. “Happened right before yawl moved here. Pretty sure it’s what made Mr. Dingus call your dad and ask him to come back.”

“Well, I’m glad we did. I like this town. New York was nice and all, I mean lots of things to do but here, people are friendly we all know each other and when something happens like what happened to Mark, everyone pulls together. In New York, it would’ve just been one more headline.”

Just as they rounded the corner onto the road where Uncle Harvey lived Janey popped out of the bushes from the side of the road.

“Gees! Girl!” Joe demanded in a hoarse whisper. “Do you always go sneaking about in the bushes? You scared the crap out of me popping out of there like that. By the way? Where’s Susi?”

“I’m sorry.” Janey said, covering her mouth to stifle a nervous giggle. “I was trying to stay hidden. Papa sims left in the middle of the night with a group of men and I don’t know where they might be. There was another attack and a bunch of men got together to go hunting the thing. That’s why Susi’s not here. Her Dad made her go home. Didn’t you know? Your dad went with them.” She said, pointing a finger at Joe.

“No. I guess he left after I dozed off. I heard the sirens, but I didn’t hear him leave. Who’s hurt?”

“Ellen Raymie.” Janey answered, falling in beside Jake. “Clawed her up right good when she went out to look for her cat sometime in the night. Told the doctor she heard it yowling and thought it had gotten stuck in a tree. Said she didn’t think, just ran out in her nightgown to see if she could get it down. Least that’s what I heard one of the men telling my papa when they came to pick him up. This thing is killing animals and hurting kids.” She said emotion filling her voice. “We have to end this thing. We have to, and I have just what we need.”

With that all the kids stopped in their tracks and turned to her. Jack, the oldest of the group demanded, “Let’s see it!” Janey, a bit taken aback by his stern tone hesitated a moment. Then Jake stepped up beside her and said, “Take it easy Jack. You might be older and bigger than we are but you aint got to be mean.”

“Easy everybody.” Matt advised. “Won’t do any good to go fighting amongst ourselves. Janey let’s see what you brought.”

Janey smiled gratefully at Jake and Matt then reaching into her backpack she drew out the silver bow and arrow. For a moment no one spoke. They could only stand and stare in amazement at the thing glittering in the sun.

“Gees.” Jack breathed, reaching out a finger to touch it. “Honestly, I thought you were putting us on, but this is the real deal. Where on earth did your Papa get such a thing?”

“I don’t know, but if we manage to kill this thing and we get out of this with our skin, I’ll not keep mine much longer than it takes me to go home and get caught. All I can do is hope we can do what we need to and get home before Papa and the other men get back.”

“Oh shit!” Ronnie declared. “Do you think Uncle Harvey went with them? What if we cannot get Joe’s Arrowhead?”

“Mayhap we won’t need it.” Joe allowed, but we’d best go see. Mom will surely be checking in on us soon and when she sees we’ve left without letting her know where we’ve gone off to she’s liable to send people hunting for us.”

Reaching Harvey’s front porch, Joe stepped up and knocked on the door. after knocking a second time and still he’d not come they were just about to leave when Janey spied a note stuck to the inside of the glass. Reaching in and plucking it up she read, “Hi boys. Sorry I missed you. I’ve gone with the others to hunt that evil creature. I’ve left your arrowhead round the side of the house in the shed. I don’t know what you’re up to, but I don’t believe for one moment your story of needing this arrowhead simply to complete your costume. My advice. Turn around and go home. You’re just liable to get your fool selves killed. If though, you’re like I was when I was a boy I’m doubtful you’ll take my advice, in which case I’ve left something else for you in the shed. Be careful when you use it. The effects of its use can have everlasting changes that you don’t want if it’s used incorrectly.”

“What in the world?” Jack asked.

“Don’t know.” Joe said, but there’s only one way to find out. Let’s go see.






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 glass 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 an herb and 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 lamented.

“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 raged charging back into the shed, Janey close on his heels.

“We’re not going back. We’ll end 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 end 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 ones’ 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 they 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 shouted back angrily.

“I’m saying…”

“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 kids 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 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 uncorcking it as he did. “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 Jonny 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. I don’t think the end result, that is to say this monster was their intent but regardless of what went wrong we have to try and at least end this thing once and for all and I believe this can help.”

“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 cut off 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 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 hit 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 once been a dying monster began transforming into first a horse, then a bird and then to their horror a half human man.

“Daddy!” Janey shrieked, and dropping her bow started toward the hideous bird 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 screaming, “Let me go! My Daddy! Let me go!” But just before she managed it Jack and Jonny 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 the kids 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 stand. 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 thrust his one remaining good hand which now held Joe’s arrowhead 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!” Joe 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, “Papa! 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 still did 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 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 Sheriff Dickson began to speak…

“Earlier this evening there was a standoff 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 on those who may be responsible. 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. The full investigation into exactly what happened will be ongoing for quite some time, but the most important thing is that our town is safe once again.

In the morning Duff and Janey here will go with Mark to the children’s hospital to see what if anything can be done to heal Mark and our hopes and prayers go with them. That having been said, Duff has something he’d like to say.”

For a moment the old man stood taking slow shaky breaths trying to calm himself. Then…

“First, I’d like to apologize to you Janey. I’ll have to say this to Mark later, but I think after all you risked you deserve to hear it here in front of all your friends. I’ve treated you and your brother harshly. I was angry, bitter and very frightened. Rather than being honest, which is what I’ve been demanding of you, I lied. I withheld information that could’ve stopped all this long before and maybe I could’ve with help from Roy and Eddy Joe even saved your dad. I let my fear and pride stand in the way and for that I’m eternally sorry. I beg your forgiveness knowing while I do so I don’t deserve it.”

For a moment Janey stood frozen in place. Her eyes were wide and brimming with tears. Then her paralysis broke, and she flung herself into the old man’s arms. If Billy Ray hadn’t reached out to steady them the two of them would’ve surely toppled off into the crowd.

“Papa. I love you. It’s alright. I forgive you and I know Mark will too. If he lives, no matter what shape he ends up being in he will love and forgive you. We’re a family and we must try and love each other through this.”

“Oh baby girl. You’re so much like your mother.” The old man’s voice was choked with tears as he continued, now speaking to all who gathered before him. “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! I’m glad you’re feeling better but get your head out of there! You quit that bobbing for apples!”” and just like that the party was begun.







Later, while the town celebrated its victory in the park, at the mouth of 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 through the scuttling clouds 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 like substance that once was a man and boy forever changed. Then again, only time will tell.





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 (Volume One Second Edition).

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 part of a memoir trilogy called, ‘Pathway To Freedom: Broken and Healed’.

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