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Halloween Story #2

Al Norris

Does the Story Reflect a Halloween theme?  

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  1. 1. Does the Story Reflect a Halloween theme?

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    • It's a stretch
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  2. 2. Was the story gripping and Enjoyable?

    • Definitely
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  3. 3. Were you able to connect to the main characters?

    • Definitely
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  4. 4. Did the Author develop a strong plot within the restrictions of the of the contest?

    • Definitely
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  5. 5. Would you recommend this story to others?

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  • Poll closed on 10/29/2018 at 05:59 AM

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Hinges Creek

In a remote area of east Tennessee, in a deep valley between heavily forested mountains, there flowed a clear, rushing stream. Over the centuries the cold water had carved a path through giant sandstone boulders and formed deep, dark pools before dashing noisily away downstream. There was so much energy in that narrow flood that it was the perfect place to build a mill.

The man who first saw the advantage of the free power was John Hinge. A relatively wealthy man for that area, he began to buy up land on both sides of the water. Hinge kept his plans a secret until he had accumulated enough acreage of prime forest, and then he began construction on a saw mill. It was 1905, early in a new century and a time for change.

The small local community was overjoyed by the news, because it offered a new source of employment for them, and it was the beginning of a period of happiness. Roads were improved, new houses went up, and at last there was even a small store where they could buy general merchandise and groceries.

To show their appreciation for John Hinge’s gift of prosperity they renamed their community Hinges Creek.

*** *** ***

In a modern neighborhood outside Atlanta two boys were packing suitcases. They were fifteen-year-old twins named Easton and Weston. Of course, everyone called them Easy and Wes.

Hinges Creek! Who the hell ever heard of Hinges Creek? I’ll bet it’s the middle of nowhere,” Easy scoffed in disgust as he crammed another shirt into his luggage.

You’re going to wrinkle all your clothes,” said Wes. He was calmly folding his things and packing them neatly away. Inside he was just as upset as his brother. “We have to go, so there’s no use griping about it.”

I’ll bet they don’t even have a Starbucks,” said Easy. “Just how are we related to this guy, again?”

I don’t remember. He’s like Mom’s cousin, or something. All I know is that he’s one of our few remaining relatives, so while Mom’s gone we have to stay with him.”

How come we’ve never met him?”

Wes sighed, “I don’t think he likes to leave the mountains. Mom said he doesn’t travel, and we haven’t gone there since we were little. I don’t remember anything about it, do you?”

I barely remember falling in a creek and you laughing at me. Maybe I remember it because Mom still teases me about it. I don’t remember Uncle Micah at all,” said Easy. “You know that we are old enough to stay by ourselves. We don’t need a babysitter while Mom’s in the hospital.”

I know I am, but if you hadn’t set the kitchen on fire she would probably trust us more.”

I didn’t set the kitchen on fire! It was just the microwave. And besides, you put it out before it could do any real damage.” Easy looked embarrassed.

It’s a good thing one of you remembered where the fire extinguisher is,” their mother said as she walked into their room. “How’s the packing going? I hope you didn’t forget your toothbrushes.” She glanced at their half-packed suitcases and immediately went to help Easy with his. Taking out most of his things, she began to refold them. Wes smiled.

While her sons looked identical, they had individual personalities. Easy was, as his nickname suggested, easy going and fun loving. He had a goofy sense of humor and usually ran when he should walk.

Wes was more thoughtful and cautious. He planned things. While he liked to laugh, it was never at anything cruel or hurtful. The two of them complimented each other. Wes kept his brother out of trouble and Easy kept his brother from being too serious. Together they had fun.

Wes saw that his mother looked more tired than usual. “Are you okay, Mom? How are you feeling?”

I’m fine, Son. Really. I don’t want you boys to worry while I’m in the hospital. I’m going to be just fine. The doctor said that I will have to stay for a week and that’s all. While you are at your uncle’s I want you to stay out of trouble. Wes, keep a close eye on this one.”

I will, Mom. I’m still going to worry though.”

She put an arm around each of them and hugged them tightly. “It’s okay to worry a little, but not too much,” she whispered. “Now, get a move on. I’ll take you to the bus station and your uncle will pick you up in Newport. Take something to read on the bus because it’s at least a five-hour trip.”


At the bus station she went with them inside and waited for their bus to depart. “Call me when you get to Newport. I don’t think there will be any reception at Uncle Micah’s house, but he has a landline, so I’ll be calling to check on you. Easy, try to have fun and don’t give Micah too much grief.”

The twins waved from the window as they pulled away. Once they were out of sight, they let their tears flow. They had been bravely holding them back since they kissed her good-bye. Wes put his arm around Easy’s shoulder and hugged him. “She will be fine. Really, she will,” he whispered. Easy was a sensitive boy, despite his brashness.

The trip was even more boring than Easy had predicted. As the bus chugged up the highway the only thing he saw was lots of trees and fields of cows. They stopped at a few small towns and one or two large ones, but the boys didn’t bother to get up and walk around. Easy played games on his phone while Wes read a book. Both were happy that they could sit together instead of having a stranger beside them. And there were some strange looking folks on the bus.

Finally arriving at the station in Newport, Wes pulled out his phone and called home to say that they had arrived safely. Easy couldn’t call because he had depleted his battery.

There were no pictures of their uncle at home, so the boys were not certain how they would know him, but it didn’t matter because he found them. As they collected their suitcases from under the bus they heard someone say, “Well, since you’re the only twin young’uns here, I reckon you must be East and West.”

They turned to see an old man, much older than they had expected, standing behind them. He wore bib overalls and a flannel shirt. A tattered pith helmet sat atop a thick mass of gray curls and he held out a callused hand to shake.

Hi, er, um I’m Easy.”

Yeah, and I’m Wes,” they said, giving his rough hand a quick shake.

Then I’m your uncle Micah. It’s good to see you boys. I hope you’re gonna have a good time up here. You need a hand with them bags?”

No, thanks. We got them,” said Wes. “Pleased to meet you, Sir.”

Ah, none of this Sir stuff. Just call me Micah. You’re probably glad to get off that bus, but I don’t know if my pickup is gonna be any better. She’s over this way,” the man said cheerfully. He directed them to the parking lot where an older model Chevy truck sat. They put their luggage in the bed of the truck and the three of them climbed in the cab. It was not too crowded, but the seat was rather hard, and the vinyl had been patched several times.

As they drove off into the hills, their uncle asked about their mother. “I’m real sorry to hear about her being sick and all. Doctors today can do real miracles so I’m sure she’s gonna be better in no time. I don’t want you to worry while you’re here. Try to relax and have fun. There’s lots to do around here, like fishing and hiking and church socials.”

That sounds great,” said Easy, but he didn’t sound very sincere. “How far is it to your house?”

Oh, several more miles. See that mountain over there? We’re goin’ up that way.” Micah pointed to a large mountain, one of many that rose ahead of them in the distance.

The three of them rode for a while in silence until turning off the highway onto a narrow country road. Then things became bumpy. Easy and Wes were bouncing around on the hard seat as the wheels seemed to find every pothole and bump.

When was the last time this road was paved?” asked Easy.

Aren’t there any seatbelts?” asked Wes.

Their uncle laughed and said, “Sorry about that. Yeah, this road could use some work. It gets better after a couple of miles. Just try to hang on.”

The boys stared out the windows at the seemingly endless parade of trees flashing past. Sometimes there would be a mailbox, sometimes a rundown house or trailer sitting just off the road. The only thing of interest was the wide, roaring creek that followed the road, crossing it at times. Large stones lined the bottom and sides, and the crystal water splashed with white froth as it rushed over them. Easy imagined that there were probably trout lurking in some of those pools.

Despite their uncle’s assurances, the road remained rough. The ride seemed to go on forever until they finally arrived at the town of Hinges Creek. While they had no idea what to expect from the town, they didn’t expect what they saw.

What had once been a lively settlement now looked like a ghost town. A few empty buildings sat on either side of the road, their windows broken out and one had a collapsing roof. Weeds grew beside the peeling walls.

The only business that was still in operation was the store. It looked like it had been built in the 1930’s, with a sagging porch and old soft drink signs nailed to the walls. At least the door was open, and lights were on inside. There were several houses and they seemed to be lived in, but they also looked rather shabby. The creek ran just behind the buildings on the left and the sound of its passing was loud.

As they drove through the town the twins looked at each other with wide eyes. It was so dismal and ugly that they both felt let down. “Is that it?” Easy asked.

Afraid so,” Micha said. “Here’s the house up here.” It wasn’t much better.

Micha’s house was a two-story farm style house. It needed paint but at least the roof looked solid and the windows were intact. They carried their things inside and looked around. The front room was large and furnished with thick, comfortable looking chairs and a sofa. Everything looked a bit worn but at least is seemed clean enough. A wood burning stove stood on one wall.

You fellas can have the bedroom upstairs. There’s just the one bed, so I hope you don’t mind sharing. I put fresh covers on it. Go on up and put your stuff up and I’ll fix us some supper,” he told them.

The bed was an old style one that squeaked loudly when Easy sat on it.

It’s not too bad, but it’ll make a lot of noise when we fool around,” he said.

We’ll have to do it as quietly as we can,” Wes told him and put his arm around his brother’s shoulder. He kissed him gently on the lips and whispered, “It’s a weird place, but at least we have each other.”

They didn’t mind sharing a bed, because another way that the twins were identical was that they were both gay. They had both discovered masturbation a couple of years earlier and kept no secret of it between themselves. Eventually they discovered that having someone else stroke their cock felt even better than doing it alone. They began to help each other out and it became a nightly ritual. So far, they had not gone any further than masturbation and kissing, but that was still fun. It all seemed perfectly natural and normal, because they loved each other, and their intimacy brought them even closer together.

Easy plugged his phone in to charge it so that he could play games. There was no internet reception and no phone signal. It was blocked by the mountains. The only television was the one in the living room, and it was at least twenty years old. That didn’t matter much because it only received a couple of stations, and they were fuzzy. To make things worse, dinner that night was burned fried chicken and dry cornbread. Micah heated up some canned peas to go with it, and they were mushy.

He apologized for the chicken, saying, “I ain’t too good a cook. I usually just cook for myself and I ain’t too picky.”

Maybe Easy and I could cook dinner tomorrow night,” Wes said, pushing the peas around to look as if he was eating them. “We’ve been cooking since we were twelve. Mom had to work late a lot.”

There’s not much in the pantry, but we can stock up down at DeKaye’s store tomorrow,” Micah said.


It was July and the coolness of the mountains was refreshing, especially after the Atlanta heat. The boys had to snuggle quietly that night, but they didn’t mind. They slept well and the next morning they awoke to their uncle calling them down to breakfast. It wasn’t the best, just greasy bacon and eggs, but they were hungry. After cleaning up, they decided to explore for a bit.

Micah offered to drive them down to the store, but they wanted to walk, so he gave them some money to buy groceries. It was only a half-mile walk to the store and they followed the creek instead of the road for most of the way. The water was nice to look at and there were fish that flashed silver at them now and then. Easy looked forward to trying to catch a few.

They did pass a few houses when they got nearer to town. The few faces they saw at the windows did not seem very friendly. Women and children stared silently at them without smiling. The boys waved anyway and continued on. The first smiling face they encountered was at the store.

Behind the counter was a beautiful young man, with dark hair and deep blue eyes. Those eyes seemed to light up when he saw the handsome twins walk in and he grinned as he said, “Well, hey there. You guys must be lost. I haven’t seen you around town before.”

We are visiting our uncle, Micah. I’m Wes and this is Easy.”

Are you Easy?” the boy asked with a mischievous grin. “I’m Tom. Pleased to meet you. It’s nice to have some other guys around. If you need anything while you’re here, just let me know.”

The store did not only carry food, but also various hardware, children’s toys, some clothing, and even sacks of animal feed. Things that the local people needed and didn’t want to make a long drive to buy.

Tom was pleasant, and the boys had a nice time talking with him. By the time they had picked out some things for dinner it felt as if they had made a new friend. That would make their country exile more bearable. As they walked back to the house, Wes said, “What did you think about Tom? He’s pretty hot, isn’t he?”

Yes indeed. Yes indeed. Do you think he’s gay?”

I sort of picked up on that. I think he probably is. We can ask in a subtle way and try to find out. What would you think about messing around with him, if he is?” Wes asked.

Easy grinned and said, “I’d like to see him naked.”

*** *** ***

Dinner that night was spaghetti and salad. “It’s not a great salad,” Wes apologized. “The store didn’t have much to offer in the way of fresh produce. It was mostly canned stuff.”

It tastes just great to me,” Micha said with a smile. “So, what do you boys think about the mountains? They’re beautiful, ain’t they?”

Uh, yeah,” said Wes. “There sure are a lot of trees. I didn’t see too many people though. Are there not any kids our age?”

There used to be a lot more folks here some years ago. Lots of ‘em left, some just vanished. There’s a few kids and you’ll probably run into them.”

What do you mean ‘vanished’?” Easy asked uneasily.

Oh, it’s just people talking. I mean the woods are easy to get lost in if you’re not careful. There’s bears, cougars, snakes and stuff out there, so you have to not wander too far off. Some folks claim that there’s something evil in the woods, but it’s just their imagination,” Micah said. He seemed uncomfortable and changed the subject. “I got some fishing poles out in the shed if you want to use them.”

Yeah, thanks, but what’s the evil in the woods?” Easy insisted.

Oh, don’t let it worry you. There’s always old ghost stories in places like this. Even the Indians had their legends. Whenever people get killed other folks start seeing ghosts and such. That old saw mill cost some men their lives so that’s where some of talk came from. But don’t you let the stories scare you. There’s ain’t really no headless lumberjack.”

A headless lumberjack!” Wes exclaimed. “Tell us the story, please.”

Micah smiled. He knew that boys like ghost stories, so he looked at them seriously and said, “It was years and years ago, not long after Mister Hinge built the mill. A young man, with a wife and a new baby, got killed up there. Nobody could say just how it happened, but they found his body laying by the creek. His body…, but not his head. There was a bloody axe nearby. It could have belonged to anybody, so there was never an arrest. It wasn’t long after that that people started seein’ the fellow’s ghost walking around at night, looking for his head. Now, every time somebody doesn’t come home at night they say the lumberjack got him.”

Easy stared with his mouth open for a minute until Wes laughed. Then he looked sheepish for having been scared.

*** *** ***

The next day they decided to walk back down to the store and find out more about the handsome store clerk, Tom. This time he was not alone. There were two customers, sour looking old women, who stared at them when they walked in as if they were aliens from space. Tom was behind the counter talking to a pudgy, balding man and a blond woman who was wearing thick makeup.

Tom smiled and greeted them as they entered the store. “Hey Wes, Easy. Good to see you. Back for more groceries?”

So, who are your friends, Tom? Introduce us,” said the pudgy man. He and the woman came from behind the counter.

Ewell, this is Wes and Easy. They’re Micah’s nephews, up here visiting. This is Mr. and Mrs. DeKaye. They own the store.”

Well, hey there boys. Pleased to meet you. Now you just call me Ewell, and this here’s my pretty wife Diane. Are you having a good time up here?” the man said, shaking their hands with his soft, moist hand. The twins both cringed slightly at his touch.

Easy said, “It’s a lot different from Atlanta, but I guess it’s kinda cool. We wanted to see when Tom has a day off so maybe we could hang out.”

Tom here would be a good tour guide. He knows everybody, and he’s been everywhere. We’re not busy, like I guess you can see. If he wants the day off it’s fine with me. Tom, you feel like getting out of here?”

Tom was smiling at the idea and he said, “That would be great. Let me get my jacket and we can go.”

You boys have a good time now, and … be careful out there,” Diane said as they left.

Once outside Tom said, “I’m glad you came by. I needed a break for a while. Here’s my truck. It’s not much, but it gets me around. There’s room for three in the front.” He pointed to the rusty old Chevy pickup that was even older than Micah’s sitting at the side of the store. The springs squeaked as they climbed in and it took a couple of tries for Tom to get the engine to turn, but a minute later they were on their way.

So, what’s there to do around here?” Wes asked.

Tom laughed and said, “Not a whole lot. Mostly my friends and me just hang out. We drink a lot of beer and build a little bonfire now and again. Want me to give you guys a tour of the main points of interest?”

Easy was happy just being with the friendly, handsome young man so he said, “Sure, let’s see the sights.”

The main road had several branches that went off into hollows and up hillsides.

Where do all those other roads go?” asked Wes.

There’s lots of people living back in here. Some of them like to keep their distance from the rest of us, so they built their houses up in the hollers. Most of these side roads dead-end and some of them loop around and come back to this one. This is Hinge’s road that we’re on. It goes up to the mill. Wanna see it?”

Sure,” said Wes. “So, it was a saw mill?”

Oh, yeah. Of course, it closed a long time ago, not long after the accident. That’s when most of the town moved away, when the jobs dried up,” Tom said, almost sadly. “It gets pretty lonely sometimes.”

I’ll bet you have a girlfriend to run around with,” Easy said, phrasing almost like a question.

Tom laughed, “No, no. No girlfriend. What about you guys? I’ll bet your girlfriends are beautiful.”

Wes smiled and said, “Oh, we’re both single, too. Actually, we aren’t so interested in girls, are we Easy?”

Nope. Girls are a pain. They’re just annoying most of the time.”

Tom looked slyly at them. “I know what you mean. I prefer to hang with my buds. Can I ask a personal question?”

Wes hoped that he would ask THE question. “Sure, ask me anything.”

Are you guys gay?”

Why yes, yes we are,” Easy grinned. “You?”

Oh yeah. Big time.” Tom laughed. “It’s amazing that both of you are. That must be a lot of fun. I hope you fool around with each other sometimes. That would be really hot.”

Easy answered him by placing a hand on Tom’s crotch and squeezing it gently. Tom responded in an appropriate way, but a moment later said, “Don’t make me have a wreck now.”

Just then the road curved and there sat the old mill on the other side of the creek. It was about the size of a barn, with missing boards here and there and some missing shingles. Still, it didn’t appear to be in too bad a shape. The stone foundation looked solid and so did the mill dam. There was a small pond behind the dam that once fed the sluice which turned the big mill wheel. Now the water just ran over the dam like a waterfall and the wheel had mostly fallen apart. The stacks of cut lumber were long gone, and the old lumber yard was being reclaimed by the forest. The site, which once was open to the sunlight, now was shaded by tall poplars and oaks, giving the place a gloomy feel.

Wow, it looks spooky, like something from a movie,” Easy observed.

Yeah, I can’t believe it’s still standing after all this time. Is it safe to check it out, or will it fall down on us?” Wes asked.

Oh, it’s safe enough. We go in there to drink beer and smoke a little weed. Come on,” Tom said, stopping the truck and getting out. The boys followed him to a rickety bridge that spanned the rushing stream. They hesitated before stepping on the flimsy looking boards.

It seemed like a long distance across because they went slowly, cautiously stepping over the holes where they could see white foam below. The air was cool and moist from the spray. There was an underlying odor of rotten wood which combined with the gloom and cool air to give the whole place a depressing feel, but it didn’t override the excitement they were all feeling.

The end of the building was open on the ground floor, where the men had fed logs to the saws, so the trio wandered in and took a look around. Wes had expected to see a big round saw blade, the type seen in old movies, but instead there were three vertical saws that were spaced a few inches apart. The water wheel had been geared to move them up and down, ripping through the logs and turning them into planks.

There were a lot of people working here, once upon a time. Some moved logs and some moved boards and some kept the saws running,” Tom told them. “It was a good thing, until the accident that is. After that, things just sort of fell apart. At least that’s what they tell me.”

Easy curious at hearing once again about an accident at the mill and he wanted to hear more about it, but he was also excited at being in a private place with such a hot young man.

Before he could ask about the accident, Tom said, “So, do you guys want to see where we have our parties?”

Wes grinned and said, “Lead the way.”

They went up a stair to the loft area. Sunlight pierced the roof where the shingles were missing. Shafts of light made bright patches on the dirty wooden floor and lit the room dimly. A couple of old mattresses lay off to one side and the floor was littered thickly with crushed beer cans and cigarette butts.

Looks like you have a lot of parties up here,” Wes laughed.

Yeah, there’s not a lot else going on around here. We have to drive down to Newport if we want to even see a movie. Of course, we don’t party as much as we used to, now that Chip and John are gone.”

Tom seemed suddenly sad and grew quiet for a moment. Then he said, “Hey, you guys in the mood to fool around?”

Hell yeah,” said Easy.

Wes said, “We haven’t really done too much, you know. Just jacking off.”

Don’t worry. I haven’t done too much either. There are not many guys around here to practice on. Mostly I read a lot of porn. We can just jack off if you want to, but I sure would like to blow you both. That would be amazing. I’ve never dreamed that I would meet two hot twins,” Tom assured them.

Easy was already unbuckling his belt, and Tom watched eagerly as the two boys shoved their jeans down to their knees. As they exposed themselves to his excited gaze, Tom moaned and said, “You guys are beautiful. And you’re identical all over, aren’t you?”

As he revealed himself to them, the three boys enjoyed several minutes of mutual touching and exploration. Breathing hard with excitement Tom said, “I wonder if you taste the same.”

Wes put his hand on the older boy’s shoulder and pressed down. “Why don’t you tell us,” he said.

Before they knew it, an hour had passed, and the three satisfied boys lay back on the mattress to glow and sigh. The sun had passed from overhead and the tall mountain now blocked its light so that the mill grew much darker, and spookier.

That was great,” Tom sighed. “You guys are awesome. I hope we can do this again sometime soon.”

Wes said, “Sure. I think I learned some things. It’s kind of weird to do it here, though. I mean, the place looks creepy. How many of your friends hang out here?”

There used to be six of us, but now it’s only three. Dan and Mark and I are the only ones left, now.” Tom seemed troubled.

Where did your other friends go?” asked Easy.

I don’t know. I guess they got tired of living back here in the middle of nowhere and moved off when they got old enough. We all talked about leaving some day. They left as soon as they turned eighteen. I just wish they had said good-bye, let me know how to get in touch with them. I mean, I thought we were close.”

That’s too bad,” Easy said. He kissed Tom softly on the cheek. “I’m sure you miss them. Are you going to leave someday?”

You bet. I can’t wait. I’ll be eighteen in two months and I’ve been saving my money. Hey, maybe I’ll move to Atlanta. What do you think?”

Easy grinned and said, “That would be awesome.”

Tom, tell us about the headless lumberjack. Uncle Micah talked a little about it. Did that really happen? Did some guy really get his head cut off?” Wes asked.

Let’s not talk about it here. The light is fading some and that’s the sort of story that is better told in the daylight. I’ll tell you as we head back down to the town.”

A few minutes later, as they bounced along the rough road, Tom began, “It’s a local ghost story. The way I heard it was that this man and his wife moved here to work in the mill. A lot of men came here for that. So, this fellow, Earl, was smart and it didn’t take long for him to get promoted to better jobs until they put him in charge of a crew. That didn’t sit right with some of the other men who had been there longer and some of them got mad. Then somebody said that Earl was seeing another fellow’s wife when he was at work. Whatever the reasons, there was a lot of resentment building up, and then, one morning when the first shift came to start up the operation they found Earl’s body laying in the creek. There was blood all over the rocks and in the water. There was a big axe laying nearby, but the weirdest thing was that his head was gone. Chopped right off. And there was no sign of the head anywhere. They buried him, and his wife moved away, but people talked about it for a long time. Then the stories started. People said that they had seen his ghost wandering in the woods or along the road; a tall man with no head, just a stump of a neck.”

Then people began to disappear. Not a lot, just now and then somebody would come up missing. If it was an adult that didn’t show up at church or work, then they probably moved off, but sometimes it was kids, teenagers. Everybody searched for the kids, but nothing ever turned up. They finally quit looking and said that the lumberjack had got them.”

I don’t put much stock in those old stories, but everybody around here is scared of the ghost. Nothing much happened for a long time, but a few years ago it started happening again. One by one, kids go away when they turn eighteen. Chip and John left almost two months apart. I want to think that they are living it up in a big city somewhere. I hate to think that something bad has happened to them.”

The twins had fallen silent listening to the boy’s story. “Wow,” said Easy, “It’s like something from that old TV show, The Twilight Zone, or something. It’s really creepy. I hope I don’t see it while I’m here.”

*** *** ***

After Tom dropped them off at their uncle’s house the boys were silent and thoughtful for a while. The day had been an interesting and emotional one, with a new sexual experience for them, a growing fondness for their new friend, and a mixture of sadness and fear from the ghost story he told them.

Uncle Micah noticed their mood and asked if they were alright.

Uncle Micah, Tom told us about the headless lumberjack. Is any of that stuff true?” Wes asked.

Micah smiled and said, “Have a seat and I’ll tell you what I know. Like I told you before, it was many years ago, 1907 I believe it was, when the young man came with his wife and baby. Harris was their name. Somehow, he got on the wrong side of some of the other men and I guess he mad them mad. There was a write up about it in the newspaper in Newport, but it wasn’t a long report. As far as I know, it didn’t get investigated too deeply. Nobody was ever arrested for the murder and it was eventually forgotten, even by the people in Hinges Creek. One thing I didn’t tell you before is that, well, that young man was kin to us.”

Easy and Wes both gasped. “Kin to us? How was he kin to us?” they asked excitedly.

Well, his wife took the baby and they moved to Newport, where she remarried. The son grew up and had four children. One of them, Florence, was my mother, and one of her sisters, Ruth, was your great-grandmother.”

That’s too weird. Our great-great-grandfather is a headless lumberjack? Uncle Micah, you’ve got to be kidding,” Easy laughed.

I’m not kidding. Not many people know about this. I looked it up at the library in Newport several years ago and did some research to find out what happened to Harris’ family. You’re the only ones I’ve told about it. It probably wouldn’t be a good idea to let the folks around here know. They’re a superstitious lot. Always have been.”

But you don’t believe that there’s a headless ghost wandering around out there in the woods, do you?” asked Wes. “I mean, that’s just crazy.”

There are a lot of crazy things in the world, Son. I wouldn’t be too quick to discount something, just because you don’t understand it. If I hadn’t seen computers I wouldn’t believe in them either. Don’t get too spooked by it though. I wouldn’t want you to have bad dreams,” Micah said with a laugh.

I don’t know what you two want for supper, but you might have to go back to the store for more groceries. Seems like somebody cleaned out the pantry. I suspect it was a couple of hungry young’uns. Take the truck if you want to.”

Wes said, “That’s okay. I sort of feel like walking. I’m starting to like these mountains a little more. Come on, Easy, before it gets too dark.”

Yeah, we don’t want to meet anything scary out there,” Easy said slyly. Then he shouted, “BOO!” and grabbed Wes from behind, causing him to jump. That led to a brief wrestling match before Micah broke it up.

*** *** ***

They walked along the creek again, enjoying the feel of the cold air and the sound of the water. Flashes of silver against the stony bottom reminded Easy that there were some nice trout in there, and he hadn’t tried to catch any yet. He was imagining the taste of freshly fried trout when Wes spoke to him.

Are you thinking about Tom? That was something, wasn’t it?”

Easy sighed and said, “Yeah, I’ll say. Now we’ve tried oral. I loved it, didn’t you?”

Hell, yeah. Let’s try it again tonight,” Wes answered, taking Easy’s hand in his as they walked.

Tom had taken the rest of the day off, so Ewell helped them pick out some things to take home. Once again, the twins felt that there was something weird about him. He gave off a creepy vibe, something they couldn’t quite understand, but they were happy to get their things and leave.

The light was fading as they walked back up the road. The overhanging branches blocked the early evening light and the woods looked black and eerie. Uncle Micah’s story began to have an effect on them and they started to walk a little faster. It was a relief to make it back safely and once they got to the front door they took a breath and looked at each other. They laughed a little at their own fear and felt a little foolish.

*** *** ***

Later that night Easy got up to pee. Not wanting to wake up his brother, he didn’t turn on the light. There was a bit of moonlight coming through the window, so he could see the way to the bathroom without tripping on anything. On the way back to bed he paused to look out at the lawn below. Then he froze. A chill went through him. There was someone out there in the darkness. There was a darker patch at the edge of the already dark tree line. He could make out a tall figure, someone standing motionless, a man. Then the moon came out from behind a cloud and for a moment the figure became clearer. It was a man… and he had no head.

Easy gasped loudly and jumped back onto the bed. “Wes, Wes, wake up, Wes. Come on, wake up.”

Huh? What’s going on? Let me sleep, Easy.”

No, look out the window. Come on, look.”

Wes grumbled and got up. He looked out the window with bleary eyes and said, “What am I looking at?”

Don’t you see him?” Easy stood beside him. “There, at the edge of those trees, it’s a man. Wes, it’s him, the lumberjack.”

I sort of see something, or maybe somebody. Why do you think it’s the lumberjack?”

His head. He doesn’t have one. Look closer,” his brother persisted.

I can’t see. Look, now he’s gone. Whoever it was is gone, and I’m going back to bed. Come on. It was just a trick of the light,” Wes said, trying to calm Easy down.

You don’t believe me.”

I believe you. We just can’t do anything about it now. Go to sleep and we will talk about it in the morning.”

Neither of them slept well that night.

The next morning Easy went out to see if there was any sign of an intruder in the yard, but he found nothing to indicate that someone had been there. Wes almost had him convinced that he had been dreaming, almost, but not quite. As he went about his day he kept an eye peeled for headless men. Fortunately, none appeared.

The boys decided to try their luck fishing that day. It was a great way to relax, sitting on rocks while casting their lines upstream and watching their flies drift back downstream. The trout were not huge, but they were hungry, and the boys brought home a dozen fish.

That’s a fine catch,” Uncle Micah told them. “It’s gonna make a fine supper tonight. Go ahead and clean them now.”

Us? Well, we don’t really know how. We thought maybe you would clean them for us,” Easy said hopefully.

Micah laughed. “I’ll show you how, but you have to do it. If you’re gonna be a fisherman, you’ll have to learn to put up with fish guts.”

It turned out to be a great dinner. One thing Micah could cook well was fried trout. Wes made cornbread and Easy whipped up some mashed potatoes.

Your mom called while you were out. She said that her operation went just fine, and she was feeling good. She misses both of you and she’ll call back tonight so she can talk to you.”

Did she sound okay? I mean, she was getting weaker when we left,” Wes asked.

She sounded fine, Son. You’ll see when she calls, so don’t you boys worry,” their uncle said.

They waited anxiously all day to talk to their mother and she finally called late that afternoon. Wes picked up the kitchen phone, while Easy joined in on the extension in the living room.

Everything went better than we hoped, boys. The doctor said that there were not any complications and I should mend just fine. How are you two doing? Are you having fun with Uncle Micah?” she asked them.

Yeah, Mom. It’s all good. I mean, it’s pretty nice up here. When can we come home?”

Not just yet, I’m afraid. I have to stay here in the hospital for another week and then they’ll move me to rehab center for therapy. It’ll be a while yet so you two behave up there, and I mean you Easy, and don’t give your uncle too much grief,” she said with a laugh.

The boys had mixed feelings about the news. They were happy that their mom was on the mend, but they wanted to see her. They missed home, but they were happy that they had made a friend in Tom, and their uncle was turning out to be sort of cool.

*** *** ***

The next few weeks went by quickly. Tom took them hiking and exploring. He showed them a spot where he and his friends had created a small dam in the creek to form a swimming hole. The water felt cold at first, especially because they were skinny-dipping. Eventually it felt warmer and they loved the way it felt on their bare skin.

Easy kept his eyes open and thought that he saw the lumberjack several more times. His brother never seemed to see him so Easy stopped trying to convince him that the thing was really there.

They were overjoyed when Uncle Micah told them one day that their mom was coming to get them and take them home. They took a walk down to DeKaye’s store to say good-bye to Tom.

Oh no,” Tom said at the news. “I’m really gonna miss you guys.”

Same here,” said Wes. “We’ve written down our address and email address and phone numbers. When you can, you have to come visit us. Call us when you can, too. We don’t want to lose touch.”

Thanks, I will. Let me write down my contact information for you, too. I’ll be turning eighteen in October and then I’m out of here,” Tom told them. “I was thinking about going to see my cousin in Florida and maybe finding a job there. If my old truck will make it that far, that is. I could stop and visit you on my way.”

Ewell DeKaye and his wife, Diane, listened to the boys say their farewells. They shook their hands and wished them a safe trip home.

Hurry back and see us again. You’re always welcome here,” Ewell said. His hands felt cold and damp to Easy. When Diane came over to hug them, she kissed them on the cheek. She smelled odd, sort of like creosote, or asphalt. The boys were happy to get away from them.

The next morning Uncle Micah drove them to Newport where their mother would pick them up. They were glad to see that she felt well enough to make the long drive. Their reunion was joyous and after treating their uncle to a nice lunch they headed home. The boys took turns driving so their mom could rest.

*** *** ***

For the next few months everything was fine. The boys were glad to be home, their mom was healthy, and they heard from their friend, Tom, regularly. Then one day the boys came home from school and Mrs. Scott, from next door, was there to meet them. She said, “Your mother has had a relapse and they’ve taken her to the hospital. She wants you to come see her. I can take you there.”

Wes and Easy stood by her hospital bed and looked at their mother as she tried to put on a brave face. “I’m sorry, boys. I’ve been feeling bad for a while now, and I didn’t want to worry you about it, so I didn’t say anything. But don’t worry, it’s not a big deal. They can fix it, but I’m going to be out of commission for a couple of weeks. I want you to go and stay with Uncle Micah again. Just for a bit, until I’m better.”

What about school?” Easy asked.

You won’t mind missing a few days, will you? Take the car. You’re old enough and I trust you. Think of it as an adventure. I just don’t want you to see me sick like this.”

The idea of seeing Tom again and of making a road trip by themselves was all the motivation the boys needed. They took the credit card for gas and enough cash to last for a week. It was less than a five-hour drive to Newport and they made it without any problem. It was the second part of the trip, up that old mountain road with its pot holes and rough areas that slowed them down. At least the scenery was nice. The leaves had changed to brilliant tones of red, orange and yellow, and a crisp breeze tickled their faces. Finally, they made it back to their uncle’s house to find him waiting.

I’m glad to see you made it. Sorry about your mom having more trouble. Some folks seem to have more than their share, but it’s good to see you boys again,” their uncle said.

Yeah, thanks, Uncle Micah. I thought that Mom was all well. Thanks for letting us stay again,” said Wes.

It’s pretty up here, with the colors of the trees. It’s just too bad we are going to miss Halloween back home. We always dressed up and partied with our friends,” Easy lamented.

Yeah, I guess folks back here don’t pay much attention to Halloween. They think it’s devil worship, or some such nonsense. It was different back when I was a boy.”

Being tired and hungry, and a little bit sad, the twins slept soundly that night. The first thing they did after breakfast the next morning was to go see Tom.

Their friend was stacking large bags of pig feed in the back of the store. He was surprised to see them and gave them each a strong hug to welcome them back. The DeKayes also seemed particularly glad to see them again. They stood behind the counter, shuffling papers and writing things in a notebook. The boys could feel them watching and it made them uncomfortable.

With a car at their disposal they were free to make a trip to Newport, where they stocked up on candy and bought a couple of masks. If anyone did come to trick-or-treat, they would be ready.

Back at the house, they spent as much time as they could with Tom. Halloween was only a couple of days off and the temperature in the mountains was dropping rapidly, especially at night. It was too cold to swim or get naked at the mill, so Tom visited at their place. If their uncle knew what was going on up in their bedroom, he didn’t say anything.

What are you going to do for Halloween?” Wes asked Tom.

Nothing. My buds have religious parents, so they have to stay at home that night. I usually hang out with my grandmother and watch old movies on DVD. What are you going to do?”

We want to head into Newport and see if there is anything going on there. Uncle Micah said that things are pretty dead here, no pun intended,” Easy said.

Wes agreed. “Yeah, you should come with us. There’s bound to be something fun to do there.”

It’s a plan. It’s always a treat to trick with you two,” Tom joked.

*** *** ***

The afternoon of the thirty-first, Wes and Easy told their uncle about their plan. “You boys be careful down there, now. This old road is tricky in the daytime. It’s worse at night.”

We’ll have Tom with us and we will drive slowly. Besides, we don’t drink or do drugs. We just eat candy,” Easy laughed.

They said good-bye and headed to the store. To their surprise, the place was closed. The lights were off and the ‘closed’ sign hung on the door. There was no sign of Tom. Disappointed, the boys headed to Tom’s house, thinking that he had taken the day off. Tom’s stepfather answered the door and told them that he hadn’t seen Tom since that morning. He didn’t know where he might be. The man was drunk and not too polite, but Tom’s grandmother called to them from the living room and told them to come in.

It was the first time they had seen the inside of Tom’s house. The stepfather went to the back of the house where they could hear the sound of a radio playing country music. The grandmother sat in the living room, surrounded by pictures and statues of angels. She put down a big, old Bible and told the boys to sit. All of the furniture was old and worn, and the room was lit mainly by three candles on the coffee table. The curtains were pulled back from the windows but the sun was going down so it was getting dark.

So you’re the boys that my Tom has been talking about. He has really taken a liking to you two. I hope you’re good to him.”

Yes, ma’am. We really like Tom.”

Good, good. Now, there’s something going on tonight. I ain’t sure just what it is, but I feel evil in the air. My Tom’s gone missing, from what I hear. I feel like he’s in some sort of trouble. I sense these things. My mama could sense them too, when she was alive. I don’t know what you pair have been told about these mountains, but there’s danger here. Something evil has been lurking here for a long time. Something unseen, and it’s taken a lot of people. I’m afraid for my Tom. If you boys can, please look for him. Try to keep him safe.”

Where could he be?” asked Wes.

I can’t be sure. It’s all mixed up tonight. This is the night when evil walks the earth. If you don’t know already, the heart of evil around here is that damned old sawmill. It feels like the right place to start, but boys, be real careful. Don’t let evil get you too.”

Shaken and worried, Easy and Wes headed back to their uncle’s house to ask his advice. They didn’t know what to make of the old woman’s warnings. Was she crazy? Was she right about the danger? Hopefully, Uncle Micah would know what to do.

When they got home the lights were off in the house. They went inside and were shocked to find their uncle unconscious on the floor of the kitchen. They tried to rouse him, but the lump on the back of his head told them that someone had slugged him. After a few minutes of trying, he finally began to stir.

We need to get him to a hospital,” Wes said.

Yeah, but we need to look for Tom. If what his grandmother said is true, he’s in danger. Which should we do? What if you take him to a hospital and I’ll look for Tom.”

I don’t think we should split up. What if we call an ambulance to come here. While it’s on the way we can go look for Tom. I mean, it’ll be a half-hour before they can get here,” Wes offered.

Okay, that’ll work. Let’s get him on the sofa and put a blanket on him. We’ll leave the door unlocked. I’ll write a note for them.”

Wes made the call, and even though they both felt guilty about leaving the old man on his own, they were frightened for their friend so they felt compelled to look for him. Uncle Micah was coming around some and they felt that he would be okay.

As they got back in the car, Wes looked at his brother and said, “The mill?”

The mill,” Easy agreed.

They took off up the old road. There were no children going door-to-door, no jack-o-lanterns shining in the darkness. There was no one out at all. The houses were lit, but everyone seemed to be huddled inside, in safety.

As they neared the old mill they turned off the headlights. The car’s engine was a quiet one, so the sound of their approach was only that of the tires crunching on the gravel. They stopped at the curve, just out of sight of the mill, and walked the rest of the way. They could see lights coming from the mill, and as they got closer they could hear voices. It sounded like several people talking at once. Walking as softly as they could, the twins approached the bridge to the mill. No one tried to stop them. Now they could see figures, lit by dozens of candles and a bonfire, dancing around inside. There were at least four of them and the boys were close enough now to hear that they were chanting something in a foreign language. With their hearts beating wildly they slipped to the side of the mill where they could see through the cracks between the boards, and watch unseen. They recognized the dancers as some of the older citizens of Hinges Creek. They looked as if they were drunk or stoned. The fire threw giant shadows of the dancers on the walls.

What the hell is this?” Easy whispered. His voice was as shaky as his knees.

Look, there’s Tom. Who’s that with him?” Wes whispered back.

On the far wall, tied to a beam overhead by ropes, stood Tom. He was totally naked, and in the candle light his skin was shiny with either sweat or oil. Tom seemed to be unconscious, his head hung onto his chest and his legs were bent. Only the ropes held him up.

We gotta get help,” Wes whispered. “I don’t know what this is, but we can’t take on all these people. We need the police.”

We don’t have time to get the police. They are going to hurt Tom. Come on, let’s find some weapons and maybe we can scare them off. They’re all old people. How tough can they be?”

The only thing they could find at hand were a couple of thick pieces of wood that could serve as clubs. Swallowing hard to muster their courage, they stepped into the mill and Easy shouted loudly, “Hey, you fucking creeps! Get the hell away from our friend before we beat the shit out of you!”

The two boys tried to look intimidating. The dancers stopped and stared at them.

Well, well. I knew you would come. Your hot little friend is in danger so you two came running like heroes to save him. My plan couldn’t fail and now here you are, right where I wanted you.” It was Ewell. He stepped out from the shadows with his wife behind him. The pair looked different somehow, like they were wearing masks.

Drop those clubs, boys. You don’t need them. Come on in and party with us,” Diane cooed sweetly, beckoning them to come closer. Her face looked like it had snake scales all over it. Her eyes gleamed red and her mouth seemed wider than before. A serpentine tongue flashed from her lips for a second and Easy gasped.

The twins started to back away, but Ewell commanded them to stop. “Hold on now. You don’t want anything to happen to sweet little Tom here, do you?” He held a long, vicious looking knife in his hand and he pressed it against Tom’s chest.

I could so easily slip this blade between his ribs and cut out his heart. You had better come over here or your friend dies,” the man snarled.

Easy took a step forward, raising his club as if to attack. His brother said, “Don’t, Easy. He means it.”

Yes, he does,” Diane said, behind them. They hadn’t notice her slipping around them. She also held a knife and she waved it at them. She pushed them forward. “Drop those sticks and do as you’re told.”

Easy spun quickly with his club and knocked the knife out of her hand. She punched him in the face with her other hand and the blow made him stagger. Wes caught her in the face with his club and almost knocked her down, but she recovered and snarled at him. Her teeth were sharp and pointed and as he raised his club again she slashed at him with her nails, which had turned into lethal looking claws. He drew back and heard Ewell laugh behind him.

Give it up, boys. There’s no use fighting,” he sneered. Just then he threw a handful of powder at them. It swirled around their heads and they inhaled some of it. Almost instantly, they grew dizzy and fell to the floor.

When the boys awoke they found themselves tied to posts near Tom. They too were naked and bound with thick ropes around their chests and legs. Terrified and outraged, the boys yelled at their captors.

What are you? What do you want with us? Why are you doing this?” they demanded.

What are we? I’ll tell you what we are,” Ewell said.

Tom, now awake, interrupted him, saying, “I’ll tell you what they are. They are demons from hell. They are the reason so many people disappear around here. They killed my friends, and now they have us.”

Demons? That’s such an ugly word. We prefer to think of ourselves as Dark Angels. But he’s right about one thing. We do have you. As to what we are going to do… well, I’m afraid that we are going to kill you. You will be a sacrifice to our master. Great Lucifer will be pleased when we send him not one, but three sweet young souls. I wish I could tell you that it won’t hurt, but that would be a lie. Our master loves it when you suffer, so we will prolong the pain. It will be… exquisite.” Ewell looked even more demon-like now. As he talked, he transformed further, and his scaly skin grew more pronounced. He grinned to show his savage teeth and forked tongue.

The others had been dancing and chanting around the fire during all of this. Diane shouted, “Dance, my children, dance. Sing our lord’s praises. Bring his presence to us here. I feel him wanting to cross over. Chant louder, dance, dance, dance…!”

They will come for us,” Wes screamed at them. “They will look for us and they will find us. Let us go, you bastards.”

They won’t look. They never do. We live right here among them and they never realize what we are. Even when we tell them our names, You’ll Decay, and Die and Decay. They say our names every day, but they never listen to what they’re saying. No, they’re too stupid. We have sacrificed many young men and we expect to sacrifice many more. Now, enough talking. Let’s begin with your pal Tom. I know how much you like his cock. Why don’t I cut it off and give it to you?”

The chanting had stopped, and everything fell silent. The three boys’ looks of fear now became looks of terror. Behind their captors, emerging from the darkness, they saw a figure enter the mill. A tall man with an axe. A man with no head. The lumberjack swung the axe at the unwary Diane and with one blow took off her head. Her neck spouted black blood, fountains of it, as her shocked face rolled across the dirty floor. Her body remained standing for several seconds before collapsing and turning to dust.

Ewell began to back away in fear. His face was contorted in shock and anger. Holding his knife before him, he shouted, “Lord Lucifer, protect thy servant.”

It was too late. The axe split his head from the crown to the middle of his chest. Blood and smoke issued from his sagging body, just before he too turned to grey dust.

The dancers stood silently, staring at the scene before them. They rubbed their eyes and shook their heads as if coming out of a trance. “What the hell…? Where are we? How did I get here?” They all began to ask in obvious confusion. Suddenly seeing the headless apparition that stood unmoving, his bloody axe by his side, they all screamed in terror.

Untie us,” shouted Easy. “Help us.”

The lumberjack began to back away until he disappeared back into the darkness. Emboldened by his departure, one of the men picked up Ewell’s knife and cut the bonds, freeing the three young captives. The man begged them for an explanation of what had transpired.

As they got dressed, the boys told them as much as they knew, including how the shopkeepers had confessed to being demons. Country people believe in demons, so the people had no trouble believing them.

Let’s burn this cursed place to the ground,” someone said, picking up a blaming stick from the bonfire and tossing it into a pile of leaves by the wall. Flames quickly began to lick the old, dry wood and soon spread. The spectators stood across the creek watching as the old mill burned to the ground. It was as if they needed to see it gone before they could feel safe again.

Tom hugged his friends and held them tightly. “Thank you so much for coming for me. I don’t know what would have happened without you. I’ll never forget how brave you were.”

Brave? Wes was scared shitless,” Easy laughed, kissing his brother on the cheek.

I was at your house, waiting for you with Micah. They came in and knocked us both out and I woke up in the mill. I still can’t believe that the headless lumberjack saved us all. Why would he do that?” Tom wondered.

He’s our ancestor. Uncle Micah told us about it. I guess he has been standing guard over us since we first came here. Easy has seen him plenty of times, but I never really believed him, until now. He must have known what the DeKayes were up to,” Wes told him.

They were exhausted as they stumbled back to the car and headed back down the road. They entered the house and locked the door behind them. Uncle Micah was awake and feeling better, having been treated by the paramedics. There was no permanent damage, no concussion.

What happened?” Uncle Micah asked, rubbing his head. “Who the hell hit me? And what in the world is going on with you three? You look like hell.”

It’s a long story, Uncle Micah. I don’t think you’re going to believe us, but it’s like this…” Wes began.

*** *** ***

Afterwards, their mother recovered fully from her illness, and life returned to normal for the twins, with the exception of the addition to their family. Tom had come home with them and was enrolling in the local junior college. Uncle Micah couldn’t be persuaded to leave his home in the mountains, despite their coaxing.

As bad as it is, this is my home. Besides, who am I going to sell this old place to?” he said, and he had a point.

None of them wanted to return to the mountains for a long, long time.


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