or "Lucretia", as she was called when she was in trouble,
hurried along the dirt lane.
was coming on and she knew that she was in trouble again. Her
mother had warned her, just before she had left to visit with
her friends, as she always did...
had really meant to be home before twilight, but again her friends
had kept her, talking and laughing, and all of a sudden the sun
was sinking from sight, just an orange orb now, going down.
had bade them goodnight quickly and started home across the meadows
at top speed, but she could tell there was no way to beat the
darkness. She had tarried too long.
had long been told the tales of what happened to people who had
dared to venture forth after dark near the haunted creek. The
tales crowded her mind and set up a chill of impending doom racing
up and down her back like hundreds of goose bumps on the loose.
had to cross the creek where the "water thing" roamed
in the dark. The "water thing" used to be an old man,
named Jake Donovan, who lived near their house, years before Letty
was born. He loved partying and drinking with his buddies. One
night, after a few too many, he had fallen into the creek on his
way home and drowned. After dark he was often seen, wailing, along
the creek shores, pleading for company.
if one stopped to listen to Jake's lonely song, they would come
under the spell of the creek and would fall in, to be found the
next day, lifeless and drowned. Those were the lucky ones; some
were never found at all. It was a story that fourteen year old
Letty had started, long ago, to doubt.
shadows at the edge of the meadow lengthened and fell away from
the dark woods beyond the creek. She had to cross the little bridge
in the dark and make her way as best she could on the footpath
through the woods. It was the dark of the moon and not even a
star twinkled to give her a glimmer of light.
really was wishing that she had started home earlier. She knew
her mother would start out by saying, "Now Miss Lucretia,
you know that you have disobeyed
and you know what that
the creek, she could hear the frogs and tree creepers begin their
night song. It was eerie listening to them and being surrounded
by the fog that was rising up from the creek in the heat of the
summer evening. The sad calling of mourning doves and some whippoorwills
gave evidence that the dark time was upon the land.
strained her ears for strange sounds and as she listened all the
sounds of the night suddenly stopped. The frogs and all the birds
fell strangely silent. The only sound was that of her footsteps
upon the little wooden bridge, echoing hollowly, in the thick
least she didn't hear any singing
Only a slight hissing
sound, growing steadily louder and louder.
She heard her name and turned, gasping with fear. He was there
reaching for her, but this thing was not a man, could never have
been a man or anything even nearly human! The eyes were glowing
red and oddly slanted.
claws on the ends of the arms were something that could only be
imagined. They glinted metallic-like and deadly in the gloom.
If this was Jake Donovan, he had not been human.
the depth of which Letty had never even thought possible, gripped
her and she bent low and started to run at top speed across the
bridge and into the woods toward the gleaming lights of her home.
could hear it plundering along behind and could smell the dung
smell of it, strong in her nostrils. The gravel stones in the
little lane made her running feet slip and slide, and she knew
that if she fell, she would be prey for this horrible creature.
How could it know her name? That was not possible.
scared as she was, Letty still could realize that if she went
directly to the house, the thing would follow her, and she feared
for her parents. "Lord, what shall I do?" she prayed
aloud. Changing direction slightly, Letty ran towards the old
darkened barn. The creature paused momentarily and then continued
charging after her.
barn had not been used in years, but it was still standing with
its walls and doors sturdy as ever. It had been built along time
ago, when pride was taken in building and things were meant to
hoped to make it there and shut herself in... inside with safety
behind the strong old doors.
could hear the hissing close behind and smell the putrid odor
wafting after her. The barn was easy to find in the dark, as it
was the only thing at the end of this little farm lane.
whipped inside and promptly tripped upon the hay and clutter.
Jumping up, she realized that there was no time to close the door
before the thing would be upon her. There was only one thing to
do, or else she would be trapped and killed.
crept toward the back door in the gloom of the old building, her
breath coming in short ragged gasps.
was sure the creature could hear her, so holding her breath, she
found the back door and slipped out. Quickly grabbing the rusty
old iron, she barred the door from the outside. Leaning against
it, she sobbed as silently as she could.
staggering with fear, Letty forced herself to return to the front
of the barn. It was no easy task, as there were blackberry briars
that had grown up there close to the walls over the years and
every few feet they bit into her arms and legs. Even her face
did not escape their thorns.
heard her horrible pursuer pushing and shoving against the back
door of the barn.
to the front door, Letty found the bar for that door and dropped
it into place. She heard stumbling sounds as the creature made
its way back through the pitch blackness to the front door...
called the ghostly voice. "Luuuu-cretia ." Letty shivered,
hearing it. "Letty, let me out of this barn." The voice
was changing from wheedling to angry... and it was starting to
sound very familiar. She leaned against the old wall, panting.
dress was torn in several places. She had lost a shoe and her
knees were bruised from falling. There was blood drying from a
myriad of briar scratches all over her body. She started to sob
great racking sobs and then to laugh hysterically... over and
Lucretia... Right now, young lady! Let your mother out of this
barn at once! If you think I scared you for disobeying me before...
just wait. Lucretia, I mean it. Open this door! Lucretia!
mind crossed a void at that moment, one from which it could never
return. Her trembling hands found the ancient kerosene lantern
that hung on the outside wall and her fingers felt for the wooden
matches stored next to it.
the wick, her face was a contortion of horror. Lucretia flung
the lantern as hard as she could against the boards of the barn.
The flames sprung outward and engulfed the old barn wall, fueled
by the dry underbrush and brown grass. Soon there was no sound
from within except their crackle.
was the dark of the moon and not even a star gave a glimmer, but
the flames leaped skyward and could be seen for miles in the dark
night sky, even beyond the haunted creek.