I hope you have enjoyed our guest blogger, Todd Serad and his wonderful, scary tale, “The Albertville Black Bear”. Please take a moment and wish him a Happy Birthday. Say thanks for letting us enter his world for a few nights of thrills.
Legends started as tales told around the fire, whispered and spoken in quiet voices. Every culture has its myths or stories about things that can't be explained. The chupacabra, big foot, the thunderbird, or boogie man. They’re the tales that as kids kept us up late at night, afraid in our beds. So as adults we can tell ourselves there is nothing to fear. Its only a story right?….. Or is it?
The Albertville Black Bear“Crap,” said Zach in a clear and direct manner. Ben and Seth looked over at him. Ben then glanced over at Jasper. He was still in his corner, still shaking violently. He had not fired a shot. Ben considered that too, probably be a good thing. Seth slowly walked toward the bullet ridden wall. He lined his eye up with a rather pronounced hole and suddenly lurched back in fear. He fell backwards and landed on his bottom side. He scrambled back to his feet and shuffled to the opposite wall never taking his eyes off the holes in which he just peered through.
“What, what was it? What did you see,” asked Ben.
“A man?” said Ben.
“No. Nothing I have ever seen. Old eyes, eyes of knowing. These eyes knew things,” said Seth as he limply slid down toward the floor. “We are going to die here tonight,” he added.
“The hell we are,” said Ben, “get up, reload, we’re going out there.” Zach looked over at Seth, who was weakly shaking his head no, but got up begrudgingly to reload.
Shortly the three brothers were outside again. There was still no wind, no sound, just heavy snowfall. The three stood examining the savagely attacked wall. Huge claw marks had been driven inches deep into the slats.
“This is no black bear,” said Seth. There was no acknowledgement from the other two. Ben took a knee as his fingers sifted through the top layer of snow.
“Blood,” Ben said, “we hit it, this thing can be killed.” Ben stood, turned and looked into the woods with his eyes searching for any movement at all. For a moment, he found himself in awe of the pristine beauty of the woods but was simultaneously terrified of the horror they held within. He then noticed some branches that were missing snow. A pathway of an array of branches with missing snow.
“It came, or left, from that direction,” said Ben pointing out into the dark snowy forest.
“And what, you would like to go in and chase after it,” said Seth, “no thank you. I think we should just leave here now.” Ben turned to evaluate his brother’s well being.
“Feel this air? It is cold, nothing moves,” said Seth. The snow began to come down even heavier. Large flakes that made them blink when coming in contact with their eyes.
“We should go back inside,” said Ben. Seth nervously looked out over the woods as both Ben and Zach turned to head back. As the two of them rounded the corner to the front door, they heard Seth shout followed by a loud gunshot blast. Ben spun around just in time to avoid being shot as Jasper had blasted a hole through the front door. As he yelled for Seth, he could hear a quick thrashing followed by immediate cracking sounds on the other side of the shack where he was standing by the woods. Ben and Zach dashed to where Seth was standing within seconds. There was no sign of him. The snow was tossed about. Ben saw drops of blood. Zach pointed to a tree stump with something on it about twenty feet in the woods. Ben rushed in and as he neared the stump he could see that Seth was stretched over the top of it. His head hung over the one side of the stump with his eyes wide open, frozen in terror from his final seconds of life. His chest was facing upward. Ben had never seen anything like it before, but his chest was pulled apart by its ribs. As if some magnificent pair of wicked and evil hands dove straight into the middle of his chest and yanked his ribs ferociously outward and away. The snapped front ribs hung down a few inches along each side of his torso by nothing more than layers of skin and muscle.
Zach pulled Ben away. Ben noticed Seth’s gun by a tree. The steel barrel had been twisted around it.
At the moment they reached the cabin Zach noticed the tall, thin shadowy, twisted horned figure standing by the edge of the front corner of the cabin. It was on the way to the front door. The heavy snow made Ben blink. He tried to get a good look at this thing, but could only make out its size, and with unnatural speed it advanced. Both Zach and Ben turned to run.
They scrambled around the opposite corner of the cabin, and then Ben rounded the next corner to head back toward the front.
He stopped immediately when he saw a shadowy leg step out at the front of the shack. It had back tracked Ben thought and within a second he spun around to retreat toward the back of the cabin. He half expecting to collide with Zach, but he did not. Hearing the heavy crunching steps approaching from the wooded side, and he changed direction and bolted toward another nearby shack and leaned against the outside wall as flat as he could.
He heard a distant scream. Silence. Quiet. His heart raced. Then he heard it, a guttural sound from around the corner of the shack where he was standing. His grip tightened on his rifle. He wanted to jump out in front of it, to get a good look at what demon this creature was that tormented them. Fear kept him adhered to the side of the wall. He looked ahead to the woods in front of him.
All he saw was the still heavy falling snow. The crunching sound grew closer. He saw a dizzying number of limbs, branches, and brush all of which covered in heaps of white powdery snow. Crunch, closer. He wondered in which direction Zach ran. Crunch, still closer. Who let out that scream that he just heard moments ago? Crunch, just around the corner, breathing. Loud nostril breathing packed with snotty mucus. A snort was followed by a scratching sound and then with an alarming degree of delicacy there was a slight touch on his upper arm. A slender dagger of a claw gently slid down his arm in a caress like motion.
Immediate fear welled up within Ben, and he ran with adrenaline fueled speed into the woods. The snow was deep, but it seemed to Ben that his feet were not even touching the white substance. He ran with such speed, slamming and knocking away limbs and branches. He dodged trees, legs never slowing down, nothing on his mind except to run as hard and fast as possible. Ahead there was a thicket. It was not even a second thought, Ben plowed directly through it. He felt several hundred miniature teeth bite into and cling to various parts of his flesh. As he continued through the thicket, those same teeth began to rip away at this skin. He felt fire across his left cheek. A vine reached up and ensnared his boot causing him to sail through the air several feet before landing with a soft puff in the snow. He picked his head up immediately listening for the sound of his pursuer. Nothing. He rolled onto his back and sat up while feeling his cheek. He smeared the hot, viscous fluid. Blood Ben thought. He realized he had just plummeted through a sticker bush. He began to feel other areas of burn. The top of one hand ached, both pant legs were shredded, and his shins were sliced. He soon realized that he had lost his rifle in the snow during the fall. He pulled out his pistol and thought to himself that it does bleed and that it can be hurt. Ben stood and began to walk slowly not knowing where he was heading.
He came to a long narrow clearing and quickly realized it was a creek. The area had a significant snowfall in the last two days, but the weather had not been that cold prior. He heard a branch snap behind him about fifty yards. He stood still and listened. There was another snap and a few crunches. Ben moved without hesitation over the creek. Nearly across his foot broke through the ice, and he tumbled into the creek up to his knee. He leapt out with astonishing strength and speed and scurried to the bank on the other side where he sat against a tree while carefully screening the woods on the other side of the creek.
He saw movement. He raised his pistol and took aim, but did not fire. He was going to make his shots count. The creature slid from behind one tree to the next with supernatural ease. It was tall; it was thinner than he thought it would be. Ben thought the creature had a creepy unnaturally long and angular body structure. Only seeing a silhouette, he could see the sinewy muscularity of it.
The four twisted horns shooting off its head were the most unnerving. Several feet long, they twisted and curled in a number of different directions. All coming to what looked like a tapered and wickedly sharp point. He wondered how it did not impale itself.
The creature stopped and stooped down behind a large old pine tree. It watched Ben, and Ben watched it. Neither moved. Ben thought to himself that his foot was very cold. He leaned his head against a tree to rest it for a moment while quietly wishing for daylight; it could not be long now. As he looked up at the treetops, and realized that the snow had stopped falling, when had that happened he thought. It also occurred to him that there was still no sound anywhere. Quiet. Peaceful and tranquil. He realized that the sky, although gray, was beginning to lighten a little. Daylight. A loud snap followed by a crunch was heard to his left. Ben looked over in the direction of the noise and saw nothing. He then looked to where he saw the creature last; it was not there.
Lurching upright, Ben began to move away in the opposite direction of the sound. The beast began pursuit. Fear quickly ignited Ben’s adrenaline and the surge filled his body instantaneously once again. He sprinted.
After running some distance, he heard the creature alongside him. Some hundred yards away he could see its silhouette moving in an effortless loping fashion. Amazed and terrified he saw another clearing just ahead, and at the same time the world around him was becoming clearer with the grayish sunrise. Ben continued running, he began to see that it was more than just a clearing, he could see houses. Ben ran with a renewed spirit. He tapped into all remaining energy. He could hear the beast behind him, gaining on him. He could hear its immensity crashing through the woods easily. Ben dared not turn to look for fear of falling and becoming prey at the brink of salvation. With one last burst, he sprinted out of the woods and into the clearing. Before him were several homes. He could not see them, but he heard children playing, dogs barking.
He stopped and spun around to face the woods. Breathing heavily he searched with his eyes for the creature. He saw nothing. He took a few steps backward toward the village while still watching the woods. After several steps, he turned and jogged away, looking back over his shoulder two more times. Nothing.
***“And that’s the God’s honest truth, I swear it,” said Ben. He had made his way to a town named “Conner’s Way” just south of Albertville. That very same evening Ben sat at a long and narrow pine table with two other men at the local tavern. Each had a stein of beer in front of him. All of them already consumed a fair share of beer when Ben had just finished his story.
“That’s quite a tale I must say,” said a bald, stocky man with alcohol glazed eyes. The other man with a short and slender build nodded in agreement. He too was equally inebriated.
“I need to go back to find my brother. I need to go back to kill this thing,” said Ben, “it bleeds like everything else.”
“I do have one question,” said the bald man, “if what you say is true, this thing being as swift and powerful as you say, how is it that you alone survived? How is that you live to talk about it when it could have easily killed you at any time?”
“I have considered that,” Ben said, “I believe it wants me, expects me to do exactly what I am doing, bringing more people for slaughter, I don’t know.”
“Tell you what mister, I don’t think you actually met the Pine Barren’s demon. More than likely an enormous and very hungry black bear, that’s what I think.” Said the bald man, “Gunther, and I will help you go find your brother first thing in the morning.”
Ben leaned back in relief.
“Thank you,” said Ben, “I’ll see the two of you tomorrow morning at the edge of town, the far end of the meadow at 8am.”
“We’ll be there,” said the bald man, “we’re always up for a good hunt, we’ll get that bear.”
***The following morning after waiting since dawn, the recruits from the evening prior had not shown, and he did not blame them. After the haze of beer wore off they probably came to their senses, he thought. Ben took one last look at the friendly confines of the town and then turned toward the woods. The sun was out today and created a brilliant glare off the icy covered snow. Ben noticed the gentle breeze, and the sounds of some birds. Animal sounds, he missed those sounds. He tapped various parts of his body checking for ammo, guns, and knives. A mental checklist. He took a deep breath, thought about Seth, Zach, Jasper, Abe, and his family. He began walking forward and slowly vanished into the woods.
This concludes our guest blog,story. I hope you enjoyed it and got a Halloween thrill. A special thank you to Todd Serad for sharing his tale. I know I loved it and so did many of you.