I remember I used to be fond of the summer, but it seems to have grown on me. When I say grown on me, I mean it's starting to piss me off. I don't know exactly why I had enjoyed the previous summers, and it's weird because I was really anticipating this one. The only conclusion I could come to was that I am just less happy than I have been in a long time. Though, over these summer days I have learned what it is truly like to be unhappy. I was taught the meanings of fear, agony, and pain.
Me and my older brother, Mark, were sent to live with our grandparents from my father's side when our mother passed away from being severely ill. Me and Mark never had the chance to meet our father, but we had always been in contact with our grandparents. They would tell us stories about him, and how he met our mother. They were always welcoming, and we had absolutely no problem with that whatsoever. When we moved here, it was a week before my birthday and by that time I would have finally reached seventeen years old. Mark was about a year ahead of me, so he was always a good friend growing up; a true brother. My grandparents lived in a small town area and had a house out by the countryside. We moved in and settled our belongings in the room they provided us with. Me and Mark had to share a room, and ultimately, a bed. Mark had a small problem with that, but he was able to wave it off after a few nights. Our room was a square room with a full-size bed that was placed against the wall. The wall just opposite of the wall that the bed leaned against had a slidable window door with a screen door behind it. This was a nice little feature. We could get some nice breeze in the room when we felt like being lazy. Just outside of the window was the few acres that my grandparents owned. I remembering the first time I looked out there, I noticed a lone swing for children hung down by the trees. It seemed weird to me, but I paid no attention. Overall, it wasn't a bad move, and it seemed like a nice spot of paradise as we mourned our lost mother whom we loved dearly. We thought it was paradise.
"Fuck this." I grumbled, laying on the bed with my hands behind my head.
"Fuck what?" Mark responded, who was slouching in a chair with his feet propped up on a desk, book in hand.
"The weather, I'm sick of it. It's too hot." I sat up against the bedstand with my knees bent in towards me and my arms extended out to rest on my legs. I exhaled distressfully.
Mark went back to reading his book. His eyes did not leave the pages as he turned them. "You never used to hate this weather." He smirked.
My arms stretched up to crack and relieve the joints. "Yeah, I guess things change when you get older." I made sure all joints were relieved before I got up, and made for the screen door. "I'm going for some air."
Mark made no effort to respond as I left the room to go outside. I walked over to Gramps' shed, where he would usually be working on smithing horseshoes. My grandparents didn't have any livestock, though Gramps seemed to enjoy forging them for sport and selling them off to horse breeders. He made a quick buck and never had a problem putting them together. I stepped into the garage and found my grandfather dropping a hammered horseshoe into a cooling bath. He looked over his shoulder and saw me enter. "Hey there, Jimmy boy!" He greeted in his rough, weathered voice. He slid off his leather gloves and tossed them aside. "What brings ya' here?"
I plopped down in one of the dirtied lawn chairs he had just laying around the shed. It was a bit uncomfortable, but comfort was the least of my concerns. "I just thought I'd get some air. This wea-" Gramps interrupted.
"Yes, this drought is taking toll on plenty of farms out here." He rambled on for a little while about how the heat was affecting the crops locally. Eventually he stopped himself and looked over to me. He smiled. "Say, actually, I have something for you." He turned to one of the walls of the shed looking for something.
I peeked up from my seat and tried to get a view of what Gramps was reaching for. "You do? What is it?" I questioned curiously.
Gramps turned around with a bow in his hands. He walked over to me as I sat, and offered it to me. "I know you're a little old for this kind of thing, but it's your birthday tomorrow!" He grinned happily. "And you're never too old for craftsmanship!"
I looked at the bow, then back up to Gramps. I took hold of the bow and felt around the sides of it. It was nicely whittled and the surface of it was textured very smoothly. As I ran my fingers down the string of the bow, I smiled like a little boy. "Thanks Gramps! Did you make this yourself? It's perfect." I gave the string of the bow a couple light flicks.
Gramps' smile never faded. He went back to his spot to take a seat and rested his chin on his fingers tips. "I didn't, your father did."
I looked up, surprised by the words of my grandfather. I did hear about my father living here in his childhood, but nothing about crafting things like this. "Really? I never knew. This is very nice." I felt somewhat proud of this bow, knowing that it was made by my father himself, even if I had never met him. I just felt comfortable knowing.
Gramps yawned and stretched his achy arms. "It's all yours. He meant to give it to you in the first place."
"What? How?" All of this was so shocking to me. These were things that I have never heard about my father. There was a question that I never thought about asking until now. Maybe it was because before I didn't want to know. I was just fine making do without knowing. Suddenly, though, I had the urge to ask. "Gramps, what happened to my dad?"
Gramps bellowed a sigh. "He left here in such a rush when he knew your mother was pregnant. His bags were packed and all before he told us he was leaving."
He held a horseshoe in his hand and twirled it as he spoke, his eyes focused directly on the metal. Before he could continue, we heard Grandma call us in for supper. We got up, and left the shed to meet Mark and my grandmother prepared to eat at the table. It was something that me and Mark hadn't experienced for a long time, a home cooked meal. Though, throughout the entire meal I couldn't help but wonder what happened to my father. It was something that I almost never thought about, and it confused me why it was bothering me now of all times.
Gramps didn't speak to me at all afterwards. I tried not to think about it, but that damn question kept haunting my mind. It was growing to be a mystery that I had to have solved. Me and Mark were back together in our room, though he was on the bed now, still enjoying that book of his. I leaned on the side of the screen door as I sipped at my root beer pleasantly, and deep in thought. It was starting to get dark, and the night was quietly still. Barely even a cricket would chirp from time to time. I stared out to the trees, observing the lonely swing that hung sadly.
"You should get some sleep tonight, Jim." Mark explained to me as he read from his book. "You seem really stressed lately."
He was right. I felt really stressed over the last few days and I didn't know why. I assumed it was just because of all the events that had happened up to this moment. I looked over to Mark, frowning. "Yeah, I think you're right. I've been thinking a lot."
Mark finally looked up from his book. He had blue eyes likes our mother's. His blonde hair resembled that of her as well. "Thinking about what?" He questioned me, curious of my thoughts.
I looked back outside. "Just stuff, I guess." I fixed my sight on that swing again. There was something strange this time, though. The swing was swinging back and forth as if somebody shoved it. What scared me was that there was no wind at all, the night air was deathly still. I squinted my eyes, and suddenly I was able to spot what looked like two devious glowing eyes. "What the hell..." I whispered to myself.
"What? What is it?" Mark looked up to me, and saw that I was peering out of the window trying to eye something that seemed far away. "What are you looking at, Jim?" He joined me, looking out the window also. Just as Mark came to my side, the glowing eyes had vanished from sight. "Is there something outside?" Mark's head turned, scanning for anything suspicious.
"I uh, I guess it was nothing." I passed it off, believing that it was my mind playing tricks on me. I was tired, and I needed sleep. I closed the slidable glass door behind the screen door and went over to the bed. I laid down again with my hands behind my head. Mark shrugged and followed behind me. He picked his spot next to me, reached to turn off the lamp next to the bed, and covered up to sleep. I did the same, though I laid there for a little while longer thinking before my brain put me to sleep.
The next day was a pretty special day for me. It was the day that I turn seventeen years old. When I woke up, I nearly forgot that it was my birthday. We spent the day mostly just celebrating it. My grandmother made a cake for me. It was chocolate with vanilla frosting covering the top of it. We shared the cake equally between the four of us. The taste of it was almost just like a piece happiness in each bite. I was so grateful that my grandmother put so much effort into it, and that itself reminded me of the warm welcome they offered. However, that night as I was just drifting into a slumber, something woke me. A high-pitch screech that sounded almost like a small, dying animal. The sound was just so loud, it couldn't have possibly been a small animal. The screeching lasted for ten minutes, and then it finally came to a stop and silence. It was something so strange, so chilling. That night it took me a while to go back to sleep, but somehow I managed.
The nights after then were pretty peaceful. There was nothing odd that would throw me off during the night. At the same time, my grandfather didn't seem to make any contact with me. He would keep his shed locked as he worked and never really tried to make the effort to communicate. It bothered me, honestly. It made me feel like there was something he was hiding, and didn't want me to know. Any time I would try to talk to him, he was friendly, but he shooed me off with some excuse most of the time. It was becoming increasingly difficult to get answers to my questions. Then, another night came when I heard that terrible screeching. My eyes shot open to the sound of it. It was a lot louder than the last time I heard it, like it was closer to the house than before. I wasn't going to stand for it this time. I threw my covers off of me and worked to get out of the room silently.
"Where are you going?" Mark asked in a tired voice. I turned to him and saw him lifting the covers up and leaning in my direction. "It's late, Jim. Where the hell are you going?" Then, I'm sure he heard it when another loud screech burrowed in through the darkness. I could see Mark's jaw drop slightly to the sound of it.
Before I left the room, I saw those glowing eyes again in the distance from the window. I pointed to the window intently. "I'm going to figure out what the hell that thing is." I knew it was a stupid idea, but I just couldn't stand it anymore. With all this on my mind, I couldn't have this stupid thing ruling my fears.
As soon as I left the room, Mark walked up in front of me and took the lead. "I'll go with you. We'll grab a rifle from the shed and look." He nodded to me. I didn't know Mark would do something like this. I felt that I should have protested against it, but deep down I was still scared and needed someone with me.
Me and Mark went out the door and made way for the shed. There, I was able to pull a rifle off the wall. Mark scrambled through a toolbox until he found a workable flashlight. We both went out onto the property, sticking very close to each other. We made it out to the swing that was still swinging ever so lightly. Mark flicked the flashlight about in search of anything out of the ordinary, though it was completely silent and still. The screeching could not be heard, but there was a sense of dread about the night.
"We should get back, Jim. It's too damn dark." Mark encouraged to go back to the house. We couldn't see a thing, but I had this feeling we were being watched. My palms were sweating like hell, and my heart was pumping as fast as ever.
"Yeah, you're probably right; as always." I turned to Mark. "We'll look around in the-" I froze, and my face went pale. I couldn't speak, I couldn't scream, and I couldn't move. Just as I looked back to Mark, a hissing sound emitted from behind him.
"What? What's.." Above Mark's head was the jaws of something horrible. It was so close to Mark that it's face was so clearly visible to me. It's neck was long and had thick feathered ripples going down it's body. It's long disgusting snout dripped horrendous drool from the bottom jaw. The creature's very being looked as if it had been rotting through its entire lifetime. Just as it noticed I saw it, it released the very terrible screech that I had heard on those sleepless nights. The thing grabbed Mark and threw him to the ground, ripping at his sides. Mark screamed in agony as the monster attacked him, and I finally forced myself to move.
"You fucker!" I ran at the thing. It was a lot larger up close. It wreaked of death and rotten flesh, but that didn't stop me. I lifted the rifle and shot at it. The shot grazed the shoulder of the beast. The monster let out a painful cry, and then turned to me, leaping. At that moment, my heart stopped. The creature was on top of me, trying to snap me in its massive maws. I couldn't aim at the monster, I was using the rifle in both my hands to keep the sharp teeth of the monstrosity away. The mouth of the monster was wrapped around the gun as I pushed with all my might to keep it away. After a while of fighting, the monster was able to chop the rifle in two with a great chomp of its bite. My eyes shut tight, and I expected the worst.
Suddenly, the sound of a shotgun blasted through the air. I opened my eyes and the creature rolled off and scurried into the darkness. I looked to my left, and saw Gramps wielding a double barrel shotgun. "Get your ass up!" He yelled at me. He walked his way over to me as I lay on the ground, shocked. He grabbed me by the back of my collar and lugged me up on my feet. "Do you want to die?! Damn it!"
I was looking around for Mark, but I couldn't find him. I was in a panic, though Gramps paid no attention to Mark's disappearance. "Where the fuck is Mark?!" I yelled back at Gramps. Gramps only pushed me all the way back to shed, checking behind him constantly for the beast. As soon as we got back to the shed, he grabbed a box of shotgun shells and loaded another buck into his double barrel. "We're killing this fucking thing, kid." Gramps spat. His face was calm and unhindered by the sights of that monster. I, however, was still scarred by the eyes of the nightmare. When the thing tackled me, I was so deathly close to it that it burned a mental image into my head. My heart was still beating so fast, and I could hardly breathe.
"Did it take Mark? God, we just left him there!" Gramps grabbed another flashlight and flicked it on and off to make sure it was working. He looked over to me with a serious glare. I didn't know what to do, the face of the creature terrified me.
"I said we're killing it, Jim. Grab something, or it'll get away." Gramps stepped out of the shed with his shotgun in one hand and a flashlight in the other. I looked around, not knowing what to do. Then I saw it, the bow. I went over to it, scooped it up, and threw it over my shoulder. Just as I exited the shed, I grabbed a quiver filled with freshly fletched arrows tipped with sharp piercing arrowheads. I caught up with Gramps and walked side by side with him.
Gramps looked at me, then back to the trail towards the lone swing. "The damn thing killed your dad, Jim." He said in a low and mournful voice. "It's been hunting our family in these woods for ages, and it didn't want your father to leave." The words that I were hearing from Gramps were nonsense to me. I couldn't believe anything that I saw, or heard on this night. I was scared, but I felt this anger inside of me that made me want this thing dead. "I think Mark is fine though, kid. He's your mom's boy. Not our blood."
I had to think about it for a little bit, Mark wasn't our blood? I had always thought that Mark was born from my dad and mom, though Gramps said otherwise. I had to hope for the best. I was praying that Mark was alive, somewhere.
Eventually, we made it back up to the swing where Gramps shined the flashlight in the direction of where the beast was seen. A trail of blood lead into the woods. Gramps then looked at me, nodded, and started in the path of the blood. We walked for five minutes before Gramps put his hand to my chest and stopped me. "Stop." He whispered. "Listen."
It was silent and all that could be heard was the light breeze that riddled the branches of the woods. Then, we heard it, a hissing sound. The sound of the hissing grew louder and louder and we knew it was coming. The beast was getting closer to us again. The hissing turned to another one of the beast's light screeches and leaped toward Gramps. Gramps pumped his shotgun at the monster, but it was a complete miss. The monster grabbed Gramps by the head with its huge claws and bit into his shoulder. Gramps yelled in pain as the beast threw him aside into a tree with a snap of its arm. I stared in terrible dread at the horrific monster. It turned to me, and it looked into my eyes with a frightening glare.
Then, the beast hissed again. This time, though, it hissed my name in a low and miserable tone. It said it, Jimmy. My heart sank, my stomach curled, and I wanted throw up then and there, but I couldn't. I had to move before it did. I went to draw an arrow and load it into my bow and aimed for it's disgusting face. The monster got ready to run at me, and I hesitated releasing an arrow into the leg of the monster. It screeched and shrieked in pain as the arrow stuck in its large thigh. I didn't stop. I drew another arrow, loaded it, and aimed. The creature didn't stop either and charged at me. Just as it made it to me, my arrow flew right into the eye of the creature with a heart chilling slosh of blood escaping it's head.
The thing thrashed and screamed about, then landed right on top of me, still alive. It was crazed and attacking at random, slashing at my shoulders and arms. My heart raced with each blow made to my arm. I wasn't going to die here, I wasn't going to let it kill me. My free arm grabbed another arrow and I began stabbing it repeatedly in the neck. My eyes were shut tight the entire time, but with each stab it yelped and squealed as I pressed the sharp arrow into the rotting flesh. The blows began to slow down, and get weaker. The sounds it made got low and quiet, but I kept stabbing. My eyes stayed shut, I didn't want to open them. I didn't want to look at it.
It felt as though I was there forever. The only thing that I could think to do was keeping stabbing. I only stopped because I couldn't move my arm when it started to hurt. My eyes creaked open, and the monster laid there with its jaws gaping. It didn't move, and it's blood leaked profusely all over my body. I wiggled myself free and scrambled away from the monster's corpse. I looked at my arm and shoulder, searching for deep wounds. Luckily, there wasn't anything severe. They were practically just scratches. I sighed, getting up with tears streaming down my face. I looked over to where Gramps was thrown, and saw his lifeless body. I didn't want to stay here. I started towards the shed, and walked until I made it back to the swing.
I heard coughing. I looked around with the bloody arrow still in my hands, and noticed that the flashlight was still on the ground. I picked up, and shined it about until I saw his face. It was Mark, sitting down against a tree. I ran to him, scanning his body. He was breathing so deeply and had large gashes at the sides of his body.
"Mark! Jesus Christ! Are you okay?!" He cracked his eyes open a bit.
"Is it gone, Jim? Is.. is it gone?" His voice was weak, and blood trickled at the sides of his mouth. I knew I couldn't leave him here, I was both amazed and relieved that he was alive. I made to comfort him.
"Yeah, it's gone Mark. It's gone." I wiped the tears out of his eyes, trying to keep his attention on me. "Stay with me, okay?" I picked him up, and put his arm over my shoulders to get him on his feet. We limped our way back to the shed and called for grandmother to help.
Just as we made it back to the shed, we heard it. The terrible, petrifying shriek emitting from the woods.