He Never Came Back

He Never Came Back

The title story from my sci-fi/fantasy/horror collection.

"Shore gonna be a fine night for fox hunting, Zeke."

"Yep, I reckon it will Jody."

"Has ya ever seen such a bright moon?"

"Can't say that I has, Jody."

"Listen yonder, sounds like old Jeff has started one."

"Yep, I can hear Lady joining him. Did you bring your bag Jody?"

"Shore did. I rolled up six fat joints."

"Well, fire one up."

"Here ya go;......what the hell is that over there Zeke?"

"I don't know Jody, but let's get the hell out of here!"

Time: The present.

Place: The mountains of south eastern Kentucky.

"Where's that report on that double murder, down in Pike County, Johnson?"

"I'm just finishing it up right now, Captain Tracy. Strangest thing I've ever seen."

"Did the coroner make his report yet?"

"No sir, we haven't found enough of them to fill an envelope, parts of them were found in Virginia. The only reason we know who they are is the DNA tests that came back this morning. Since the remains were found in two states the boss has called in the FBI. They've sent an agent down and he's waiting in your office, Captain."

"I'll go talk with him now. You keep on it Sergeant!"

"Yes sir."

"Captain Tracy? I'm Special Agent Brown, James Brown, FBI."

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"Glad to meet you Agent Brown. How can I be of service?"

"Well Captain, I've read the report and I find it hard to believe. Is there anything you can add to it?"

"Just that we know who they were and what they were doing there. Their names were Jonah Grey and Ezekiel Williams. They were farm boys from Pike County and were out running foxes with their hounds."

"Did you find any more of them?"

"We've found traces of them over 400 acres extending into Virginia. There is nothing left. What ever hit them is something new. No one's ever seen anything like it."

"Well, I'm going to take a drive down there and see for myself. If I find out anything, I'll be in touch. Good day to you Captain."

"Good Luck to you Agent Brown and good hunting."

When I left Lexington that hot August afternoon and pointed the car toward Pike County, I had no idea what I was looking for. The report had made no sense. Two good ole boys murdered and their remains spread over two states? Short of atomics, what in the hell could do that? Well, I had a couple of hours to mull it over, as I drove toward eastern Kentucky.

The flat farm lands fell away as I approached the mountains and my destination. This was coal country and the land was scarred from open pit strip mines. As I left the freeway and headed into the back woods I found myself surrounded by giant coal trucks, a very uncomfortable feeling. The sun was beginning to set as I reached my destination, the sprawling metropolis of Little Creek, Kentucky population 342. Most of that staggering figure lived up in the hills.

The only hotel in town was the two rooms over the building that served as post office, bar and grill, gas station and morgue. These rooms were normally used when a trucker would misjudge a curve and he and his rig would sail off into Limbo. On Saturday nights this was the noisiest morgue in town. The only other building in town was a Protestant church, which by the looks of it hadn't seen any services in fifty years.

However even this didn't keep me from my duties. My "date" didn't seem to be thrilled by the two late truck drivers, stacked in the bed beside us. I had checked in and the girl behind the desk had knocked on my door moments later, carrying towels and a smile. The next thing I knew she was all over me, and the rest is history. My two truck driving friends slept late, at least they hadn't arisen when I awoke, around noon. Strange I thought, as I normally get up around 7 a.m. I quickly washed up in the bowl and pitcher provided and made my way down stairs.

There, waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs, was the proprietor of this little complex, a Mr. Benjamin Baldwell. He kindly opened the bar for me and after a couple of eye openers he introduced himself and insisted I call him "Uncle Ben." I however, addressed him as Mr. Baldwell as he didn't look a thing like my Uncle Ben.

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He introduced me to his daughter Cindy Lou, whom I had met the night before, but never got her name. He assured me that she was 18, a high school graduate, quite a good cook and was going to make someone a fine wife.

He also said she knew where the boys had been the other night and suggested she show me around. I took him up on that offer and left with my guide and native interpreter, good ole Cindy Lou. As we left the building and made our way to the car, Uncle Ben walked out after us and smiled and waved good-bye, as we pulled away.

Our first stop was at the victims farms, where I met the grieving parents and siblings. They had nothing to add to the Kentucky State Police reports, so I had Cindy Lou direct me to the area where the bodies were found. After a two mile hike back into the woods we came upon the murder scene. It was a complete mess. Everything in sight had a slight red tint to it. It was like the bodies had been placed in a wood chipper again and again and what was left was sprayed over everything. There was a sweet smell to the place that couldn't be explained. After searching the area we made our way back to the car, where good ole Cindy Lou turned to me, with that space cadet glow in her eyes. After a time... or a few times, I returned to the car with that glow in my eyes.

Cindy Lou turned to me and said, "Folks around here say it was the "Swamp Monster" that got'em."

"The Swamp Monster?"

"Shore, daddy says that the monster been taking folks since the end of the war."

"Which war was that," I queried. "Vietnam, Korea, World War Two?"

"The War of Northern Aggression," she replied.

So what we have here is an ALF, running lose for over a hundred and fifty years? I knew the people around here haven't trusted the Federal Government since the whiskey tax of the 1790's and who could blame them. I also realized that most government employees were there, because they couldn't make it in the real world, except, for me, of course. However, I wasn't going to fall for this old wives tale.

"Well then, where does this monster live," I asked?

"In a cave over by Red Ridge. If you like, I can show you where, but I'm not going in," she replied.

"No problem, you can wait in the car while I go check it out," I said.

She gave me the directions and we headed out toward the monster's lair. It was about a half hour drive down two track roads over the hills and across the valley to the next ridge. When we arrived at the bottom of the ridge she pointed out the cave and with the help of a pair of binoculars I finally found it. I left good ole Cindy Lou in the car and after checking the clip and laser sights on my 10 mm. I started the climb up the mountain.

"You be careful James," she cried as I watched her lock the doors on the MKS.

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I set out in the general direction of the cave and in about 45 minutes I finally found it. It was dark, deep and cool as I entered and again I noticed the same sweet smell. I had the distinct impression that I was being watched and I drew my service pistol and nervously flicked the laser sight on. The cave itself, though wide at the mouth soon narrowed to almost nothing and then came to an abrupt end. Well, if the monster lived here it wasn't at home nor was there any sign other than the sweet odor that it had ever been here. After a thorough search of the cave I began to make my way back down the mountain when I heard a blood curdling scream.

I could see the car through the tree tops and as I made my way down I began to see a change come over it. It's bright shiny white paint job had now turn to a bright red. I didn't like the feeling of Deja Vu I was beginning to have either.

When I at last broke through the bushes and came upon the car my worst fears came true. All that was left of Cindy Lou was sprayed around the entire area. Although I searched the entire area around the car there were no clues, evidence or even a track in the soft earth. Whatever had attack Cindy Lou had managed to do it without even opening the door to the car, as it was still locked. However, the inside of the car was completely clean as if she had left the car when she was attacked. As Alice in Wonderland once stated, "Curiouser and Curiouser!"

After an ever widening search around the area, I finally gave up and headed back to Little Creek. On the way back to town I was hit by a thunderstorm and by the time I arrived the Lincoln was back to its pristine white condition. As I arrived back at the hotel I was greeted by "Uncle Ben", who was sitting on the porch, rocking in a rocking chair.

"Howdy there boy, where's my daughter?" he asked.

"Oh I dropped her off down the road, she said she wanted to visit some friends," I lied.

"Well then, come up here and sit a spell and lets jaw fur a while," he replied.

As I walked to the porch and took a seat he asked me if I'd found the swamp monster? I told him no and ask him to tell me what he knew about it.

"I reckon the critter been roaming these hills for over a 150 years. My great grand pappy's pap told him that the monster came one night in 1864 when them 'Damn Yankees' were a driving our boys back into Virginia. There was a big explosion up on Red Ridge and when the sun come up the Yankee's were gone, the entire ridge had turned red and all the trees for a square mile had been knocked down. Since then folks stay away from up there," he said.

"Is that all there is to the story," I asked? "Does any one know any more about it?"

"Well thare's Grandpa Jones, he's a 114 years old and if anybody knows more about it than me it would be him. He lives with his great granddaughter, over in Piney Hollor. Let me get my other daughter, Candy Jane and she can take you by there, if you have a mind to," he said, as he got up and shuffled back inside.

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He soon reappeared with his other daughter good ole Candy Jane. She was either an identical twin of Cindy Lou or else Uncle Ben was playing head games with me. Either way, I was beginning to smell a rat and it smelled just like Uncle Ben.

"Hi, I'm Candy Jane; she said as she shook my hand, you must be Agent Brown? My daddy has told me all about you. Pleased to meet you."

"Please, call me James. Your daddy tells me you can direct me to Grandpa Jones house," I asked.

"Why sure I can, it's just down the road a piece, over in Piney Hollor. My you have a purdey car," she said with a big grin.

"It's a government perk," I said as I turn the Lincoln around and headed off to Piney Hollor, er, Hollow.

"You take the left fork up ahead and then look for an old barn with a Mail Pouch sign painted on it. You turn right there and Grandpa Jones farm is the first one on the left," she said.

As I followed Candy Jane's instructions I watched her out of the corner of my eye and had to laugh to myself as she explored the car. It was like watching a child at Christmas. It was all so new and exciting to her. I almost missed our turn because the barn in question had fallen in upon itself and was now just a pile of rotting lumber. As I turned off the paved road and down into the hollow I began to smell that sweet odor again and when we turned into the Jones farm I was met by a familiar sight.

The house, barn and out buildings were covered by a red slime, a fact that wasn't lost on Candy Jane.

"Look James, the Swamp Monster got'em," she noted.

I pulled the Lincoln up to the house and quickly got out drawing my gun.

"Stay in the car," I said as I made my way into the house.

"Uh uh," she replied as she quickly joined me on the porch. "I ain't staying in the car with the monster about."

"Well then stay close to me but keep out of my line of sight," I told her as I took her hand in my left hand while I flipped the safety off the automatic with my right.

I cautiously open the front door and entered the house. The inside was much like the outside, covered floor to ceiling in a slick red gore. We searched the house top to bottom but there was no one at home. There was a dinner set out on the table and the food was still warm. What ever happened here had just happened. I could feel the hairs on the nape of my neck standing on end. As we left the house a shot rang out and tore a chunk out of the door as I dropped to a crouch and fired off a couple rounds in the general direction of the sniper. Another shot rang out and dropped Candy Jane at my feet. A neat hole through the center of her forehead stared back at me, giving her the appearance of having three eyes.

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I dove off the porch, firing the rest of the clip, as I scrambled for cover. I crawled under the porch, and slipped another clip in the gun, while I scanned the area looking for a target. It suddenly came to me that it was dead quiet. There was absolutely no sound of any kind except for the beating of my heart. Not a bird, insect or even the trembling of a leaf. An absolute hush had descended on Piney Hollow. The Lincoln was parked about ten yards away and if I could get to it I could call for back up on the cell phone. I waited about ten minutes and as there was no more fire from the sniper I began to crawl to the car. I made the car and got in and "fired that mother up." As I looked back at the porch I noticed that Candy Jane was gone!

Well, what the hell. As I headed out the drive way and onto the road the back and front wind shields exploded as another round whistled past my ear. I had been told the car was equipped with bullet proof glass. I didn't give it another thought as I found the paved road and turned on to it and headed back to town. When I had covered about a mile I pulled out the cell phone to call Washington but for some reason the phone wasn't working. I'd have to find a pay phone somewhere. Although I took the same route back I couldn't find Little Creek. After a couple of hours search I found myself fast approaching the city of London, Kentucky. How in the hell had I gotten here? I was at least a hundred miles away from Little Creek. I pulled into a Ford dealership to use the phone and see about repairs to the car. I left the car in the lot and made my way to the office.

After seeing about the car I ask to use the phone and placed a call to my boss in Washington. When I reached him I gave my report, knowing full well the kind of reception it was going to meet. I wasn't disappointed by his reaction.

"Brown are you drunk? Have you been smoking those funny cigarettes and watching the X-Files again? I can't give the Director your report if I want to keep my job. What in the hell is going on out there? You better put that Kentucky Bourbon down if you want to keep your job," he kindly spoke.

"Sir, I know it's hard to believe but every word is true," I replied.

"Well, where are you now," he asked?

"I'm at a Ford dealership in London waiting to get the cars wind shields fixed."

"You just stay there. I'm sending out a team to join you. They'll be there in two hours. Don't move a muscle. Do you understand me, Brown?"

"Yes sir, not to move a muscle," I replied.

"Good, it will give you time to sober up. Good bye," he said as he hung up.

"Well there goes the raise I had been expecting. I didn't have time to muse about this turn of events as I was approached by the head mechanic, Floyd, who had some disturbing news for me.

"Excuse me sir, are you Agent Brown."

"Yes I am. What can I do for you, uh Floyd?"

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"Well sir, it's about your car," he said.

"What about it."

"Well sir, we couldn't find anything wrong with it. There's not a scratch on it."

Well that was par for the course. Maybe the chief was right. Maybe I was losing my mind. No. I knew I wasn't hallucinating. There was something going on in Little Creek and I was going to get to the bottom of it before the other agents hit town.

"Uh, Floyd, can you give me directions back to Little Creek?

"Sorry Agent Brown, I've never heard of it but let me ask the boys," he replied.

He left but soon returned with an elderly gentleman in tow.

"Mr. Campbell here says he knows how to get there. Go ahead Bill tell this fellar how to get to Little Creek," Floyd said.

"Well sir, if I recollect it's just a little south of Pikeville over by the Virginia line but why would you want to go there. No bodies lived there since the end of the War Between the States. Taint nothin' there but a ghost town," he said.

Oh joy, I was afraid of something like that. He gave me directions and I left them to talk about the crazy G-man and headed off in the direction he gave me. The cars wind screens were intact and when I saw that I felt my hairs stand up on my neck again. I had an hour and half to think about what had transpired in the last couple days and something that JFK was said to say stuck in my mind, "Don't get mad, get even!" Well payback was going to be Hell. This was no longer a job but had gotten really personal and I was going to get to the bottom of this come hell or high water.

When I crossed the last ridge I could see Little Creek in the valley below and what the old man said seemed to be true. Where the hotel had been was a pile of rubble and across the street the church was in the same condition. Still I drove on down into the valley. As I drove over the last rise and into town I found myself confronted with the town as I had left it this morning. There on the porch sat Uncle Ben rocking in his chair and next to him sat a very much alive Candy Jane.

"Well that's that. I just gave up smoking and drinking I thought, as I pulled up in front of the general store, gas station, bar and grill, morgue and hotel.

I see you made it back Agent Brown. They fixed up your car as good as new," said Uncle Ben with a big ear to ear grin.

"Would someone like to let me in on the joke," I said.

"What joke is that," replied Uncle Ben?

"Oh and by the way Candy Jane how are you feeling? What happened to that beauty mark you had on your fore head, honey child? You're much prettier without it," I said.

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"Why James whatever do you mean?" Candy Jane replied.

I was just about to get really pissed off when we were joined by Cindy Lou, carrying a pitcher of iced tea and some glasses. As she placed the pitcher and glasses down she pulled a third arm out and began to comb her hair with it. As the world started to spin around the last thing I remember is Uncle Ben slapping his sides and roaring with laughter.

When I awoke, the town had turned back into rubble. Over on my left, I can see what appears to be a space craft. It's hard to say as the images around it are all slippery. It seems to be fading in and out of my vision. Cindy Lou and Candy Jane are waving to me. I think I'll go see what they want. I'm leaving this digital report for you and turning on the emergency beeper. I hope to finish it up before you arrive.

"And that's the entire report Inspector?"

"I'm afraid it is chief. That's all we found, sir."

"Now what in the hell can I tell the Director? A tale of space ships and three armed girls. He'll have my guts for garters. Did you drag me down here to see a burnt spot in the grass? Well, maybe, if I bring the Director Agent Brown's head on a silver platter, I can keep my job. And where in the hell is Brown anyway, Inspector?"

"Brown sir? He never came back!"


Christopher Rabbit's Big Easter Adventure
A Death Wish
The God
Hansel And Grethel Revisited
The Lady And The Dragon
Murder At The Museum
The Trouble With Earthlings
Winky Tinky's Christmas Adventure

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