Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Beware Aniwye By Jeff Whichello

 Word Count: 999: FCA     Beware Aniwye

     Set on a slight oversized forehead with a balding top, Russell’s roundish gray-blue eyes peered through the driver’s side window. With an index finger aimed at the approaching Gator Bait Bar, he said,   


     “Gotta get beer anyways,” said Edmond who then proceeded to slow the vehicle and its following boat trailer.

     The thirtyish-aged men of similar slender build and dress of ragged edged blue jeans, white tank top undershirts, and checkered flannels, passed through the screened-door entrance. Inside, they sat at a high top table across from a group of native men playing cards. Edmond’s slim pointy chin ran up the sides of a narrow face and disappeared into a matted bowl of black hair. His eyes squinted above a short nose at the map that Russell unfolded.

     “Moccasin road takes you back to the spot,” said Russell, pointing. A native from the game rose to his feet, stumbled across the room, and steadied himself on a stool. Staring with glossy red eyes and a leathery weathered face, he blew a foul odor of rotten teeth, tobacco, and liquor,

     “Aniwye … beware Aniwye …”

     “Excuse me?” said Edmond.

     “Get back Crazy Joe,” said the elderly bartender, “natives believe the swamp to be haunted by a giant man-eating skunk monster. Load of horse manure. It’s the real-life gators that I’d be looking out for.”

     “We ain’t scared no gators,” said Russell.

     “Still there’s been some unexplained deaths,” said the barkeep, “best to stay clear.”


     Russell held the aluminum boat’s side and guided it from the half submerged trailer into the river at the end of Moccasin road. Like a routine act in a play, he felt the scene repeating itself for they had poached together numerous times in the course of their two year friendship.


     In an hour after sunset, moon-glow made dark shadows of the trees and river banks and lured the frogs and crickets from their slumber. Spray from Russell’s insecticide attempted to repel a mosquito swarm while he flailed with his flashlight.

     “Shine that out the front,” said Edmond. His counterpart directed the beam and panned left to right and stopped. Two red embers like hot coals hovered as the swamp looked back at them. Edmond put his paddle down, picked up his rifle, and fired. The discharge sent a shockwave through the wilderness.

     “Holy moly that’s a big gator,” said Edmond when the boat reached the spot where it floated. After a scuffle with the rope, they heaved it into the craft.

     “Too easy,” said Russell.

     “We’re going to need another boat if this keeps up,” said Edmond, rolling up his soaked sleeves. Russell noticed that Edmond became harder and harder to see.

     “Seems like the moon is going behind a cloud,” he said. Edmond trembled from a chill.


     “What?” said Russell.

     “I don’t hear a single frog, bug, gator, nothing.”

     “That blast woke half the place,” said Russell.

     “Shhh.” A low intense growl like a raging dog flooded the trees, its volume increased with each second but then dissolved into an echo and then to silence. The gator’s armored tail smacked Edmond’s leg causing his hand to flinch and fire off a round into the boat. In that instance Russell half-stood, lurched backwards, caught his foot on the seat, and catapulted overboard into the murky abyss. Russell’s head broke the surface and he screamed for help. “Something’s pulling me under!” Edmond grabbed a paddle but Russell was nowhere to be found. While the boat filled with water Edmond rowed to the shore and leaped into the soggy mud. From downriver came a voice,

     “Edmond!” The rifle man hurried inland through the brush.

     “I’m coming!”

     When Edmond reached Russell he found him lying on his side.

     “Gotta catch my breath.”

     “I thought you a gonner,” said Edmond.

     A screeching roar seized their attention and they stiffened with fear.

      “What do you suppose that is?” said Russell.

      “Maybe a panther. I still got the gun.” They heard branches cracking and a tree fall.

      “It’s coming and we can’t see a damn thing,” said Edmond. They heard a rumbling angry snarl.

     “It’s very close,” said Russell who searched with desperation for some branch for a weapon. In the near total black they waited for the impending arrival of the adversary and then they saw its red violent eyes darting between trees moving closer until it was upon them. Resembling a giant shaggy bear it opened a rodent-shaped massive mouth full of razor-teeth. Its eyes were angry flames. Edmond took a shot and then another until the gun clicked out of ammo. The beast stretched out two enormous, hairy, animal paws and invoked a rushing wind. Edmond fell on his back convulsing and vomiting after which he crumpled into a fetal ball. Russell ran through vines, between pine trees, and then burrowed through thick undergrowth in a mad-scramble to get away, but with every step of progress his feet slipped on dry leaves. Tripping and tumbling, he landed in dense saw grass that sliced his flesh. He lay on the plants screaming and then heard the gurgling howl of the beast. Upon bounding to his feet, he ran most of a mile before diving face first into a pile of dirt. While trying to gather strength, there was a sharp pain on his face and then another. In moments he was covered in a viscous frenzy of ants. He smelled a sickening odor and heard a haunting wail. To his feet again, he hobbled forward, wavered, and fell unconscious.


     A morning bird’s song woke Russell. He rolled from his stomach onto his back and sat cross-legged. He watched the silent woods and tried to sort out the night. Even in daylight the dense vegetation and close-fitting trees made it seem more like a cave. A breeze fanned his ear and its wisp brought a faint echo and an unexplained shiver when he heard a distinct whisper,

     “Russell … help … me … help … me …”



  1. Wonderful, I was literally on the edge of my seat with this one. It's late; gosh, I hope my sleep is dreamless! LOL

    I remember the first time I saw a documentary about a Swamp Monster, and it really scared the heck out of me. A dark forest has always scared me, but a swamp – will not go there at all! Well written with two men doing what they shouldn't but the fact that they both lived through the night was a real surprise, and then that ending. Will he get the help he's looking for or has the monster set a trap – I'm running in the opposite direction. LOL

    Great submission for the WEP Halloween Challenge! Thanks so much for participating. I hope you'll consider joining us in December for Holiday Celebrations that are out of this world.
    Happy Halloween!

  2. Awesome pacing and description Jeff. I too was surprised by the end; but who knows how long a swamp monster keeps its food alive, somewhat. Lots of fear and creepy going on here.

  3. The woesome tale of Edmond and Russel and the 'gators! This was definitely edge-of-the-seat good, Jeff. Lots of atmosphere in the settings. The dialogue was realistic between the two guys. The ending really slapped at the reader like a 'gator's tail. Great stuff!

    Great submission for the WEP Halloween Challenge! Thanks so much for joining us. Maybe we'll see you again in December for Holiday Celebrations, hopefully a sci-fi take on the season.

    Happy Halloween!

    Denise :-)

  4. Well, you know.. poachers get what's coming to them! Really great pacing on this one! Suspenseful even though I felt sure they'd stumble upon a monster even before it's mentioned in the bar. Something about the inevitability of it!

  5. I would not want to be in their shoes right now. I'm surprised they made it through the night, but I bet they didn't last much longer.

  6. Interesting story. I am surprised that Russell survived all that. And who knows if Edmond is alive or dead. They should have listened to the warning.

  7. Always listen to the natives. Never tempt fate. And where I live, you learn to respect the swamp and its dangers. Good story.

  8. Hi, just returning to answer your question. I chose not to give the characters names because the ghost wouldn't have known their names. In the original draft they all had names, but I changed it when I decided to re-write it from the ghost's POV :)

    1. That for sure makes sense. I should have read it closer.

  9. Boats and bears
    and evil stairs
    gators that die
    red fiery eyes

    nice tail you tail

  10. Ohhh...scary. I guess their poaching days are past. I've never been in the swamp but so many creepy stories mean I probably won't venture into one. Good job.

  11. They shouldn't have gone there, poaching gets you into trouble! Hope they make it out alive. Great action packed scary story with gators and unknown bear monster. Reminded me of Wilbur Smith's writing. Well done.

  12. 'as the swamp looked back at them' was the line which sang to me. All of the swamp. If they escape the skunk (and its bigger, meaner cousins) they are luckier than they deserve...

  13. Gator country poachers probably needed a lesson. The tension is constant in this story and doesn't let up even at the end. . .is that his partner whispering on the wind? Creepy when one can't see, yet one hears unidentifiable growls and snarls. Enjoyed your story, well done.

  14. Creepy stuff.

    A skunk monster definitely sounds like something comical, but when it's bearing down on you and about to claw your face off, I imagine it's not so funny anymore...

  15. Nice job. I feel like I'm there, and the gaters are coming for me!