Let the Wind Whisper Without Me
... and howl, and shriek, and moan, and ...
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 Category:  Horror and Thriller Fiction
  Posted: February 22, 2021      Views: 96

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Exceptional
This work has reached the exceptional level
Wrong place at the wrong time.
"Rougarou Nights" by Ric Myworld



Spanish moss hung from bald cypress trees like droopy eyelids and blocked most of the sun’s descending rays.
 
Swarms of female mosquitos—the only biters—bigger than hypodermic-beaked hummingbirds. Their suction straws pierced my skin like harpoons, raising more wheals than the coco-fiber blades in a not-so-welcome mat.
 
Gators waddled off into the water, splashes from all directions. Rectangular rows of jagged teeth partially hidden just beneath the swamp water’s surface slime. Intense red eyes blazing along the banks, zeroed in on any movement as dusk dimmed toward darkness.
 
A smarter person might have figured it best to get the hell out of there, rather than waiting for a leaky pirogue to sink and serve him up as fresh meat á la carte. But hard as it might be to imagine, I felt safer surrounded by armies of stalking predators and man-eaters than anywhere else I could be at that moment.  
 
The sun faded fast. Leaving me lost in the marsh without a torch, lantern, flashlight, or even a match. Flimsy limbs supported slithering snake silhouettes just above head high, soon to be hidden from view. Kite-sized spiderwebs fanned in all directions, tended by leggy, multi-colored killers ready to pounce on unsuspecting prey, soon to leave a stringy, tangled mess on unsuspecting heads and faces drifting blindly past in the dark.
 
Horror stories of the swamp’s boggy-terrain nights replayed in my head. My eyes darted in all directions, feet dancing a little jig in place—my resourcefulness, or lack thereof—searching for an inkling of hope.
 
The legendary Rougarou surely lurked in wait, somewhere in the hazy murk that shrouded the full moon’s radiance to a muted flicker. Cajun folklore, or for real, his one or three drops-of-blood spells are said to destine victims to commit suicide. Of course, examining the surroundings, I wondered if a do-it-yourselfer might be the most merciful death.
 
Something hairy and wet leapt from the nearby tree onto my shoulder, slid across my neck and down my chest. It scampered the length of the pirogue, claws clicking as it chattered.

Frozen in fear as I floated along; the swamp was blanketed in darkness and an ominous silence. I listened intently for the Nutria or Louisiana swamp rat that I figured for the wild critter in the pirogue. A snake’s hiss passed right beside my ear as a branch brushed my face. I jumped away and let out a hideous, shriek. Birds squawked and a crescendo of wings flapped in a frenzied stampede. Then, an ear-splitting howl furthered my panic and rocked me to my knees. The chilling wolf call couldn’t have been more than six or eight feet behind me. Leaving me nowhere to go and no way to hide.  
 
In the distance, I heard a conversation of coonass-slang, jumbled words of French and English, barely louder than a whisper. “Ah-e-e-e-e,” a high-pitched squeal rang out. Then, all went quiet again. Besides the buzzing bloodsuckers, crickets, and swooping bats, with an occasional swish of a beast’s tail in the water. One big smorgasbord, the nocturnal bayou had come to life for the night. Hidden creatures lying in wait, set to devour some dumb-city sucker lost in the swamp.
  
*****
Oh, how quickly things can change. Yesterday afternoon, I was excited and on my way for dinner and a fervid rendezvous with the stunning caramel-skinned, green-eyed Latin doll that I had had the pleasure of meeting two nights before. Trying to impress, I had been the perfect gentleman, treating her with nothing but respect and appreciation. Even after I drove her home and she asked me in. I refused, wanting to put my best foot forward. It didn’t seem so foolish at the time, passing up my only chance to get frisky with such a foxy babe. Then, when she called to invite me over for a home-cooked meal, I knew my instincts had been spot on. I had handled the situation with the charm and restraint of a true southern gentleman, now ready to reap his rewards.
 
As usual, the maddening dinnertime traffic had me so frustrated that I drove like an Andretti on crack. In, out, and around any vehicle that got in my way. I wheeled into her driveway and came to a screeching halt. I finger fluffed my hair making sure it didn’t look too fixed and checked in the rearview mirror for anything stuck between my teeth. Slow and cool, I strutted to the front porch, ready to get my groove on.
 
After knocking twice, I waited. Then, when no one answered—the main door partially ajar—I opened the security door and pushed against the heavy oak. Thump! The door banged into something solid and stopped. “Hello, anybody home? Hello!” No one answered.
 
I leaned against the door. It opened six or eight inches and light revealed a puddle of blood and a hand tangled in black hair. As I strained to focus, boom, boom, two shots rang out at close range with a blast of pellets that blew basketball-sized holes in the door right beside me. I turned and ran, spitting splinters. From the rear of the house, two brutes came running and shooting, one from around each side. Bullets pinged off my car as I opened the driver's-side door and crouched behind it. Unable to slide in and get the car started fast enough to avoid being riddled with more holes than a sponge, I raced on across the street, through backyards and alleyways for what seemed like an hour.
 
My car’s license plate and glovebox paperwork left in the driveway would supply the shooters and cops with an express map of my whereabouts and particulars. Set in for the chase, like greyhound pursuers they would be racing to nail my not-so mechanical rabbit-lure rump.   
 
Finally, after catching my breath, I called 911 and explained exactly what had just happened. The telecommunicator kept asking too many questions, so I hung up and ran on.
 
The woman now having my number, called me back in a few minutes. Again, asking more rapid-fire questions for which I didn’t have answers. Click . . . so, I hung up again. Sure, I would have to answer a barrage of questions soon, but in that instant, it seemed more pertinent to escape the danger and get as far away as possible.
 
*****
For once, jail could have proved a blessing. The elements creeping in at the pace of quicksand from all directions. Then, from out of nowhere came a quivering, ear-splitting howl that made my skin crawl, and off in the distance echoes of howling wolves, or the Rougarou’s cry.
 
The first shot rang out. A rifle shot. Then, an army’s barrage of bangs and booms from pistols, shotguns, and automatic weapons were tearing trees apart. Bullets ripped and pinged off wood and metal, presumably boats. A war of screams and thuds and splashes. Then, before long, all was quiet again.
 
The pirogue banged against a tree, and unable to see a thing, I reached out and tied my end off at its base. Exhausted, I rolled up inside two wool blankets, lined seat cushions on the deck or floor and stretched out. I fell asleep and didn’t wake until sunrise.
 
As the fog burned off, there were three boats littered with bullet-ridden bodies. Some in the boats, others half in and half out or floating nearby. Many in pieces. Gators chomped and snatched. Skin stretching tighter than taffy. Bones snapped, crunching like Lay’s potato chips. I waited, expecting one of those mangled carcasses to sit up and say, “Bet-cha can’t eat just one.”
    
I spent all day finding my way back to shore. And, had no sooner stepped onto the dock than cops came running from behind every bush to surround me. Some fat bastard slammed me face down, yanked my arms behind my back and, slapped on handcuffs that dug into my wrists and cut the circulation off. Dizzy-headed, blood pouring into my eyes, they dragged me to the cruiser and bumped my head again as they pitched me in the back seat.
 
At the station, they gave me a rag. I wiped my eyes enough to see, but everything was still blurry. They seated me at a metal table, on the opposite side of bulldog jaws with a glare, and miss pretty, a petite blonde dressed for a day at the park. She turned out to be the lead detective. Who would have guessed? After a couple hours of questions, they opened the door and in walked my dinner date from the previous night. She was ravishing, anything but dead.
 
As it turned out, I had gone to the wrong house. The next-door neighbor was the girl I had seen on the floor. Caught up in the melee of her boyfriend mistaking a would-be robber for his girlfriend’s other lover. She got shoved against the door casing. Temporarily knocked out, a small gash on her head pooled blood. But she’s expected to be fine.   
 
The two buffoons hadn’t been after me at all. The robber was just trying to defend himself or get away, and the jealous boyfriend had mistaken me for the robber who he thought was his girlfriend’s lover. As the pursuing robber and boyfriend rounded opposite corners of the house and came face to face in the front yard, they unloaded their magazines and killed each other. The wrong place at the wrong time for all of us.
 
Finally, released, I headed for the safety of home, crawled up in my bed, and fell asleep no sooner than my head hit the pillow. Not long after midnight, I was awakened by a vicious howl from just outside my window. The Rougarou had found me.    

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