Creak in the woods

“Creak in the woods”
Juan Bautista

 

“Get up son. It’s time.” Rico’s father beamed in excitement. For that day was hunt day. They were about to go to the woods for a two day hunting. “Comin’ Pops.” Rico answered scornfully. It was a cold four  o’clock in the morning and his body didn’t want to leave his bed that early. And in fact, he doesn’t even have a mite of interest. A ten year old boy should be watching TV, playing and sleeping on the weekends. Not to crawl and crouch in the middle of the desolated woods, and wait patiently for hours in a chilling weather holding a crossbow and binoculars.

Behold Rico boy, this is going to be really, really boring as hell. Thought Rico while tying his boot laces.

After barely half an hour, father and son Rick and Rico were hitting the wet roads and they’re about to travel for four long hours aboard their truck, then walk for another hour to reach the hunting site. The two were about to stay overnight with just a jug of water and some survival tools.

“We don’t need to bring food son. We are going hunting, this is not a typical family picnic. As early as now you need to learn bush crafts. You know, seven to nine out of ten just don’t care about the, ‘what ifs’. But we’ll never know. We gotta prepare. Always.” Rick said to his son. Focused on the road and unaware of his son’s sulking.

“Yeah Pops.” Rico. As if he wanted to yell that he’s actually one of those seven to nine out of ten.

Rick is a survival enthusiast. He always believe anything could happen within the day. From making camp fires to small and big hunting games, he is the man. And such weekends are so precious to a steel worker working his ass off for nine to twelve hours a day, five days a week. And that day, he along with his son was set to hunt on a place that he have not yet visited and explored. And he was more thrilled hearing stories about Bigfoot and some other sighthings of unknown creatures on the location. Though skeptical, Rick believed stories like that adds excitement to the trip. And after sharing the stories to his young fella, Rico boy just turned from being uninterested to hesitant. It actually scared the living hell out of him, but of course he’s holding his fear as possible as he could; for he don’t want to spoil anything.

The Red Woods. One of the most sought-after places by big game hunters. Deers, hogs and specially, quails were taken home by Rick’s hunting aquaintances everytime. Unfortunately for Rick, he never had the chance to go along in Red Woods because they just had a new member of the family. His four-month old daughter Lily. And that day was the perfect chance because his wife, along with the baby decided to stay with her folks for the weekend.

It’s been almost a year and a half since his last hunting trip with his friends prior to that day. And what adds to his thrill at that moment was that last hunt actually end up a disaster. No catch, all they got is flu due to the unforeseen rain.

“Pops. I need to pee.”

“In a short while, son. Hold it. We are very near.”


After a long drive, the two finally reached their destination.
Rick beamed as he saw Rico ran on a nearby tree to pee. And while he’s preparing some stuffs to carry with them, he noticed a strange drawing etched on one of the trees near the truck. And as he curiously gazed, the image resembles a wolf-like creature that stands on two foot, holding a cluster of heads. Well, human heads he suppose. But he shrug it off.

Then they went.

Three hours, Rico can’t believe how his father managed to wait and aim for nothing for three hours. His boredom was killing him slowly. He wanted to shout so all living things on the woods will go haywire. So his father could shoot at least something. “Lord what am I doing here? – ”, “Shut up. Don’t make a sound. I heard something.” Rick muttered.

Rico boy smirked and took a peep on his binocular when suddenly, he got mystified. “What the – “.

“Hey. I said shut up.” Said Rico. But he got a bit worried when he saw his son’s bemused face. “What is it?”

“I saw something Pops.”

“Where?”

Rico just stared to his father. His eyes are begging, yelling ‘let’s get the hell out of here’. The boy was speechless. He can’t tell what he just saw. All he can remember is the pair of red glowing eyes from that obscured creature staring right at him.  “Pops can we –“, and he was halted by that snapping sound from his father’s crossbow. “Yes! That’s a hit. That’s our meal right there. Did you saw that? What a hit. That’s my first Quail right there.”

“Pops – “

“Go pick it up!” Rick, reloading a bolt on his crossbow.

The boy, in hesitation, ran as quick as he can to pick up the quail. He himself can’t believe that he just moved as quick as a fox to pick up the catch.

“Good son. My partner.” Rick rubbed his son’s head. “Let’s go for now and set up our camp site. Later, after lunch will be more exciting I promise. Proud of you son.”

Rico was restless as those red eyes constantly appear on his young, troubled mind. What in the hell was that? Thought Rico. He knew his father will just ignore him once he open up again about the creature. But he will remain nimble for the rest of the trip. How he wish it will be tomorrow after a blink of an eye.

“Pops can I have that?” Rico, as he stares on his father’s medium sized hunting knife.

“Sure son, here.” Rick tossed the knife. “Be careful with that thing alright?”

“Thanks Pops.” Rico picked up the knife.

“Son – don’t be afraid. Whatever you saw earlier can’t outdo me. Whatever the hell it is.” Rick beamed and raise his machete.

Rico smiled back with a little relief. At least. And as he was watching his father wiping his knife’s older comrade,  he was convincing himself that whatever that woods keep, they will rule.

 

                Rico managed to take away the red eyes in his mind that is bothering him after a while. The roasted quail helped, for it actually tasted good and while he’s washing their stainless utensils in a nearby small spring, his peace suddenly got interrupted by an ear-splitting growl from afar. Birds gone wild and tree branches swung like the forest has been moved by that deafening force only God knew whom it came from.

“Pops! Did you hear that?”

“Yeah. Wow. That’s one big ass of a bear. Or wolf. Or a bigfoot. Could be.”

Rico was terrified. He’s not sure if his father was trying hard to be calm and keep the serenity but one thing’s  for sure, his father doesn’t know what kind of a humongous being is able to produce that deafening sound to silence the woods’ entirety. Then Rick picked up his crossbow and load a bolt in it. “Come on son. I got this ominous feeling…”

“Feeling for what?” Rico asked.

“A fine dinner.” Rick winked to his son and went.

I can’t believe this. Thought Rico. Every step they make is like an invitation, invitation to something that don’t have any respect to human life. “Stop.” His father crouched smoothly, “I heard something.”

“Did you hear that?” asked Rico. “Yes and don’t make a sound. It’s getting near us. No. It’s fast approaching. Stay down.” Rick muttered.

Rico felt sudden drops from his pee-hole. He can hear his heart beat as clear as the swaying tree branches and munching squirrels nearby. Then a rushing sound that gets louder and louder as it approaches.

“Pops!”

Rick turned to the back and he’s stunned seeing a raging wild boar charging at them. Too late. Before he raise his crossbow the boar pounced him with its head right on the chest. Rico saw his father flung away by the boar and dragged to the ground.

Rick stood as fast as he could and pulled out his machete. “Come on you dirty bastard!”

The terrified boy was hiding on a tree watching his father face to face with a wild ragged boar with protruding fangs and oversized claws. Rick wags his machete waiting for the beast to charge again when suddenly, an arrow penetrated right on the boar’s hairy grey neck.

Rick turned to his son, shaking, with his crossbow still aimed at the wiggling beast.

 

                “Wow. This bastard got a jurassic gristly meat. Tasty though. What can I say? I just had my first quail ever and my son, just took down an eighty pound pig on his first hunting trip.” Rick, staring at his eldest in disbelief and amazement.

“I’ve never been scared in my life, Pops.”

“You’re not scared, son. I never saw fear in your eyes, never. Just questions, since that moment after you peeped on your binoculars, the growl and the boar. I see no fear in your eyes, Rico. Like most boys out there, you’re just confused. But not all at your age got the balls. You shot your father’s assailant with a goddamn arrow. You are one, brave little man son. I’m very proud of you.”

“Thanks Pops.” Rico felt relieved. But a part of his mind wanted to disagree. It’s his feelings not his father’s, he can’t even recall exactly what happened earlier. All he can remember, was himself, standing barely four meters away from the boar, and shot it with a crossbow.

“Listen, Rico. A day will come and you’ll understand. You can’t imagine the feeling of a father, who just realized that he doesn’t need to fear death anymore. Because his son can, and will protect his mother and sister against anything and anyone in this mischievous  world.”

The boy stares in awe. And he’ll keep his father’s words in mind, forever.

“Go get some sleep. I’ll take care of the mess.” Rick said.

 

                Rico looked at his wrist watch. It was eleven fifteen. While he’s hearing his father’s snoring, a strange sound near their tent caught his attention. It was a slow, but heavy creaking sound. “Pops?”

Rico slowly peeked from the zipped opening of their tent and as the cold starts to numb his face, he start to hear cracking sounds as if someone is walking over a pile of brittle tree branches and dry leaves. Then it followed by the sound of bushes and creaking rocks.

Then suddenly, the mighty growl. The woods once again, was deafened.

“What the hell was that?” Rick got up and grope for his senses. “Pops. There’s something outside!”

Melon sized rocks thrown straight at them and Rick got hit right at the back of his shoulder. Rick and Rico left the  tent in haste and look around in the middle of darkness. Rick picked up his bag and crossbow and drag his son to lean against a tree.

“Pops. What is that?”

“I don’t know. Don’t be afraid, son. I’ll get the bastard. Stay with me.”

Rick took his flashlight. But was hesitant to use it for it may be easier for whatever that attacker was to find them. Instead, he pulled out his machete.

Then again, the mighty growl. Followed by fallen rocks and tree branches aimed everywhere. From the sound it makes Rick is absolutely convinced that no man has the power to throw away large, heavy rocks that strong and fast.

“Let’s go son! Don’t let go of my hand.”

Rick and Rico ran as fast as they could. They didn’t hear a struggle, but the strength of that god forbidden growl didn’t changed either. They are moving, but they feel like the beast just stares right at them just a couple of feet away. Then suddenly, the two halt in terror after they almost got struck by something, they can’t figure it out until Rick hesitantly beamed the flashlight. It was a decapitated Elk.

“Alright.” Rick load a bolt in his crossbow and decided to wait for the thing to appear. “Son. If this bloody bastard showed up – run. And don’t look back.”

Silence is deafening, the father and son stand in the middle of the woods waiting for the creature to appear, and it did. And it’s massive.

Rick and Rico look at the black hairy ape like creature with a peculiar head that seemed to be a combined horse and a wolf. The father and son can’t move a muscle whilst staring at the most horrifying being a person could ever see. Slowly, Rick was getting ready to strike his machete anytime the beast showed a sign of attack. Rick, with all his might will not let that beast touch his son Rico, and as he was eye to eye with the beast, Rick muttered, “Son, your mom and sister is waiting….

Run.”

***

 

Twelve years has passed, but the story of ‘father and son in the woods’ didn’t fade. Some children normally heard the story in their households, for their folks use the story of Rick and Rico to make sure their kids will stay out on the woods. But one person just can’t get away with the nightmare brought by that fateful night.

He kissed his sister and mother goodbye in their sleep. Then he went.

Twelve years has passed. And once again, he’s standing right in front of the ghastly face of that forbidden place. But this time, he is fearless, irreverent. Rico checked his arrows, hang his crossbow on his shoulder, and pulled out his machete.

“I’m comin’ Pops. I’ll get the bastard…”

And he heard an inviting yet terrifying growl, challenging his valor to go back in the woods.

 

END

 

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