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The Poppe Creek Monster
The Poppe Creek Monster
Jonathan and Theresa had never had much luck in love, as both were in their mid-30s when they met, and both had been recently left behind by their respective mates. Trying out an online dating site, they had been surprised to find they had a 93% serendipity rating.
‘Kirk or Picard and why’, Jon had texted after introducing himself via his phone.
‘Classic over Next Generation and Picard over Kirk in a civilized universe,’ was Theresa’s reply.
‘Obviously,’ Jon had texted back, as overjoyed as a nerd could possibly be.
From that point on the two were inseparable. When they weren’t together they were calling each other, when they couldn’t call - they texted, when they weren’t texting they were in the same room.
So it was not a surprise when they found out they had a similar interest in a local Kentucky myth not far from where they lived: The Poppe Creek Monster. The tale went that a creature existed just outside their city limits that haunted a trestle of the Norfolk Southern Railroad. When they discovered how much they each loved the urban legend, they knew they had to go see the goat-man for themselves.
Turning onto the Taylorsville Road exit from the Gene Snyder freeway, they switched off the air conditioning to get a feel for the weather outside. It was a clear, hot July night and the lovers were hoping the coolness of Poppe Creek’s water would make the heat bearable. However, when they pulled up by the train trestle in the moonlight, parking beside the creek, the fog that had formed over the cool water only made the moisture cling to their skin and clothes.
There was another car parked in the field by the train tracks and Jonathan could see a man in the distance headed up a dirt path towards the trestle, but he quickly disappeared into the dense fog that hung over the creek.
“I guess we should follow him,” said Jon as more of a question more than a suggestion.
“Well, we’ve come this far – we might as well see the trestle from the top,” answered Theresa taking the lead. And so they began to climb. By the time they were halfway up the hill, the pair had lost sight of each other in the dense fog although Jon knew his girlfriend couldn’t be more than six feet ahead of him.
The moisture on the path made the dirt and grass slick and Jon slipped once, suddenly taking notice of how high up they actually were. He could see the top of the hill where the tracks met the trestle, but Theresa must have already made it to the top because he didn’t see her anywhere.
“Theresa?” he shouted out, looking at the ‘No Trespassing’ sign. “Are you on the tracks?”
“Yeah, come on up,” her sweet voice floated down out of the fog. “I’m standing on the Trestle right now. You have got to see this view!”
Jonathan climbed a little higher until he was standing on the gravel beside the tracks. He thought it was odd that his girlfriend had chosen to go onto the trestle without him. He remembered that the monster was supposed to have the ability to mimic people’s voices, to make it seem normal to step into harm’s way. He tried to see her better by turning his flashlight’s beam into the wall of fog over the creek, but the light just bounced back off the mist that drifted between the 8-foot-high fences enclosing the trestle.
“Come back off the tracks, honey,” he called into the opaque vapor. “There might be a train coming.”
He heard a mocking chuckle before Theresa’s sweet voice echoed out of the mist. “We checked the train schedule before we came. Don’t you remember?”
Jon did not remember doing any such thing. He hadn’t anticipated becoming separated or the fog being so thick, but he knew they had never checked the computer about it. “Kirk or Picard?” he shouted into the mist.
“Picard,” came back the answer in Theresa’s voice, as if it were an echo.
“Tennet or Smith?” he shouted.
The voice hesitated for a moment, before finally saying sweetly, “Smith.”
Jonathan was certain now that he was talking to a devil not his lover. Just then he heard the tracks begin to whine quietly. It was as if all of creation had stopped making noise, there was no sound except the humming of the rails.
“Jonathan! Help me! Where are you?” he heard Theresa shout out, but it seemed to be coming from a different direction than before.
Another voice answered before Jon could speak, a voice that sounded like his. “I’m over here, love...on the trestle, come a little closer!”
The man was so desperate now that he turned his flashlight again into the fog but this time a breeze whipped up and Jon could see his girlfriend not more than four feet in front of him. Standing before them both was a towering gnarled creature with the head and shoulders of a goat and the body of a man twisted with age, a smirking grimace on his fury lips.
The woman shrieked with horror and stepped off the trestle, onto the gravel. The train was rounding the curve and its headlight illuminated the creature as it threw its head back and howled. Jon grabbed his love, pulling her onto the grassy hillside beside the tracks, where they held each other, shivering, praying that the force of the wheels wouldn’t suck them under the train. It took five long minutes for their nightmare to end. Or had it?
As the couple ran down the dirt path away from the monster a voice shouted out sweetly from the trestle, Theresa’s voice in fact: “Come back soon and we’ll play some more!” Then a hideous, evil laugh echoed after them as they jumped into their car and sped off, vowing never to return.
micheledutcher - Any Halloween story that has 'Monster' in the title can't be all bad.
micheledutcher - Michele! It's supposed to be 'Then a hideous - change it - then it will be perfect :)
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