or "Lucretia", as she was called when she was in trouble, hurried along the dirt lane.
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.
She 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
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
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.
The 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
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 means."
Nearing 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.
Letty 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 darkness.
At 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.
The 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.
She 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.
As 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 last.
Letty hoped to make it there and
shut herself in... inside with safety behind the strong old doors.
She 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.
Hurrying 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... and then...
“Luuuuu-cretia,” 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.
Her 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 over.
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!”
Letty's 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.
Lighting 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.
©2006 Faye Sizemore