Sunday, October 19, 2008

On Kennebago Lake

After receiving my acceptance to "Northern Haunts," I got greedy and wrote another short called "Kennebago Lake." Whether the anthology was full or they already had their share of my . . . creature . . . or whether it just wasn't good enough, I don't know. But here it is!

I'd been in the cabin four days. It was small and barely furnished, but that didn't matter. It was the view overlooking Kennebago Lake you paid for. It was here me and my four-legged friend would recharge our batteries for the next two weeks.

The previous tenants left behind some supermarket tabloids. Caught up in reading about an alien-human hybrid, a familiar tinkling made me look up. The sun was almost down, but through the murky dusk I saw a man standing on the earthen dam that jutted across the lake.

Turning to MacGuff, I asked, "Wanna go out pup?" He thumped his tail against the doorway. I grabbed my coat and opened the door. The dog scampered down the steps.

I caught up to him in a small clearing. We walked through the woods and onto the seawall, where a slight breeze caused small waves to lap gently against concrete. I looked up to see the man had stopped at the spillway, where water flowed from the lake into the swamp below.

Crouched over, perhaps kneeling, he was reaching his arms into the falling water. I froze mid-step. Because beneath the sound of falling water, I heard high-pitched whistles and jungle like screams.

I felt MacGuff brush against me. Soft whimpering came from his throat. Looking down, I watched him take the cuff of my jeans in his teeth and begin pulling me backwards.

It was then I smelled a sulfurous, foul odor, of animal sweat and burnt rubber and dirty diapers. Gagging, I pulled my jacket over my face. The dog's whimpering was now a low, deep growl. I took the hint.

I found the cover of a large tree and went to my knees, pulling the dog close before turning again toward the creature. There was no doubt now this was the word to describe it.

I saw then that it was kneeling, yet still tall as a man. And it wasn't a dark suit or overcoat hanging from its body, but a reddish pelt of some sort. I blinked hard and told myself I was being silly.

Smiling, I recalled spending the last few hours reading about UFO's and strange phenomenon. This was simply a bear that had snuck out of its cave for a drink or . . . I shivered to think maybe it was something gone rabid.

As the moon peeked over the treetops, the creature stood. I watched mesmerized as it brought itself to full height of about ten feet.

After a moment, it began shaking itself the way MacGuff did after a swim or a bath. It was then MacGuff let loose a bark that shattered the stillness of the night. The creature snapped its head in our direction. My bowels loosened when I saw its orange-red eyes.

I shivered to realize that if I could see it, it could see me. There was something in those eyes that made me understand it had far better eyesight than me. Tearing my eyes from the creature's stare, I lunged behind the tree.

My sudden movement allowed MacGuff to leap from my arms. He ran to the lakeshore and began barking furiously. Without thinking, I followed, grabbing him by the collar and pulling him close.

Answering the dog's barks, the creature raised its head and let out a piercing howl. A shiver ran down MacGuff's back the same moment one ran along my own. The dog went silent, but the echo of the creatures howl lingered.

The creature turned toward us one last time before turning away again. It began to walk away. Upright. On two legs. MacGuff and I crouched together silently. The creature disappeared into the woods on the other side.

It was another few minutes before I finally dared stand and stretch my cramped and tired muscles.

I looked again toward where the creature stood, still smelling a faint hint of its musk. Bending down, I ruffled MacGuff's deep fur."Let's go home," I said, turning back the way we had come.

It was another moment before - as I knew I would - I heard the familiar tinkling of the dog's collar come from behind.

Copyright © 2008 Brendan P. Myers

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