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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Contently Deranged Travelers
The civil war is over but the real fight is in Mudd Creek

Submitted: June 29, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: June 29, 2017





October harvest was over.

And so is the war.

The President killed;

The monster was home, missing a leg,

Just logs on the fire..


The train from Mudd Creek was rumbling over the underpass just as I was in the center of the tunnel. I leaned against the brick wall and felt the thunder of the tracks above me. I loved the minutes of escape the underpass and train gave me. No Otis screaming and staring at me like I was an unwanted dog. Ma tried, in her way, to protect me from his mean ways. But she was weak. A good woman but so weak. I thought she had the look of a wounded bird when Otis was up and drinking. But here with the clacking tracks above I could daydream that away. For a minute.

Otis the stepfather. Otis the soldier, shot in the leg days after the war was over. The news was slow to travel to all of the battle sites I suppose. Otis the one legged man came back meaner than ever. I imagined him just gone. Never been. Like magic.

The train was long past the underpass when I came out of my trance. It was then that I saw him. Standing at the far end of the underpass was Mommy. Tall, fat and gray bearded ; long silver hair matched his beard. He was smoking a cigar and grinning.

“ You ‘right boy?”

I didn’t answer. My knees buckled. Mommy the cannibal. Ate boys who were slow to run. I heard my Ma’s warning. Jackson, if you ever see that man you just run home. He’s not right.  I whispered a reply to the voice that was not really there. “Not exactly. “ Okay Ma. I’m running.

I pushed away from the bricks and sprinted across the fields of Quentin Hough’s farm. I heard the laughter of Mommy. It seemed too close. A shadow fell over me and I thought it was him behind me. I turned and looked. The man was smiling. Not Mommy, Mr. Hough. I was breathing fast and short.

“ You see a ghost Jackson?” Mr. Hough was smiling. Just kidding around.

“ No sir. Mommy. Down at the underpass. So I just ran. He’s not right.” My ma’s voice echoed in my ears. He’s not right Jackson. Not right…” He’s not right.” Mr. Hough started to laugh. Not mean. A nice laugh that made me laugh.

“ He is a strange sort Jackson. I think the fact he is so different causes folks think of him as a bad man. Might be or he might just be strange. Safe side is listen to your Ma.”

“ Yes sir, I sure will. A man named Mommy is sure funny, I suppose.”

“ That came about from the Hank’s boys years back. His name is Mooney and the Hanks would throw rocks, apples and whatnot at him. Called him Mommy and it stuck.”

“ Never knew any Hanks. They live in Grist Mill?”

“ How old are you now Jackson?”

“ Twelve.”  I said. “ Going on Thirteen.” This made Mr. Hough laugh again.

“ Great age. The Hanks moved south before the war. Reckon you were too small to know ‘em. You all like apple pies at your place?”

“ Well sure. I know I do. Cherry pie too. I guess I like most any pie sir.” Another good natured laugh.

“ Good then. Follow me back to the house and Mrs, Hough just might have a few for you to take home. She bakes all late fall and winter. Makes me fat.”  He smiled as he said that.

“ I won’t mind getting fat on pies. No sir.” I said it and meant it.


Hot Pies


Mrs. Hough gave me four pies. Four. I walked as fast as I could without dropping the pies. Still warm. Smelled so good too. I guessed the pie would settle Otis down a bit. I hoped. I smelled the smoke coming from our cabin. Almost there.

I had to knock on our door with my foot. I was smiling. Felt good to be bringing this treat home.

It was Otis on his crutch who opened the door. “ Damn you boy. Had to get up for this? Git in here.”

I slid past Otis as he slammed the door. I hated him more every day. Why didn’t the Rebs kill him. I prayed many nights he would not come home but damn if he didn’t.

“ What you got under that fancy napkin boy?

“ Apple pies. Mrs. Hough baked them and…”

“ Shut up. I ought to take a cane to you boy. They think we need their help? Well we sure don’t. Take ‘em back and say we have plenty here.” Ma watched from our kitchen fists pressed against her lips. She was afraid and shaking her head. “ Well? Git going.”

I walked back slow thinking about what I would say. It’s was an insult to bring back the pies. It was embarrassing. I reached the road that led to the Hough’s house and sat down being careful not to drop the pies. They had lost their warmth but still smelled fine. We never had pies. Why did Otis have to marry Ma? Bet he was as bad as Mommy. Maybe worse. I knew he would go to Hell. For sure. So I had four pies I had to take back and I wanted to eat at least one but Otis would know and the Houghs would think...what? We ate one and hated it? I got back up and walked the short road right up to the Hough’s house. I went to the porch and was about to knock when the door flew open.

“ Jackson?” Mr. Hough seemed to be confused. He looked at the pies and then back to me. “ Something wrong?”

I started to lie but decided to tell the truth. “ Otis made me bring the pies back. He was really me.”

“ What on earth for?”

“ He’s always mad. Thank you for the pies but I have to give them back.” I lifted my arms and Mr. Hough took the pies. I think he was angry but not towards me.

“ Come on in. May as well have some pie here. We won’t tell.”

I ate almost a whole pie while the Houghs talked in the front room. I knew they were talking about me, Otis and my Ma.

Full. I couldn’t eat another bite. I was about to get up when Mrs. Hough came in and brought out some milk. “ Should have thought of this straight off. Pie good?

“ Yes Ma’am, real good. Thank you.


Tracks Lead Home


After leaving the Hough’s I decided to take the long way home. I crossed two fields and headed for the train tracks. Jesse and some of the boys played up here sometimes and I might run into them. We can throw rocks at the pigeons if I do. I  doubt they will be out but it would be fun.

The fellas weren't out and so I scouted for old R.R. spikes to add to my collection. Good for nothing Otis would say. Ma said a hobby was good. Any hobby that hurt no one and pleased the collector was just fine. I loved her for coming to the loft and telling me to enjoy my collecting but wished she had said it in front of Otis. Start taking a stand.

I was in luck that day and found a brand new spike the track repairman must have dropped. I would put it on my bookshelf next to my Slade Hardy dime novels. Trash, Otis said. Don’t think he can even read.

Before I knew it the sun was setting and I was suddenly cold. Looking up I saw him again. Mommy. Trying to lure me over. He held out his cigar.

“ Ever had ‘bacca boy? Come on over and try some. I ain’t the boogeyman folks say I am.” He started laughing as I ran down the embankment and toward the cabin. I dropped my new spike. Damn Mommy. Damn Otis. I wished so hard I was already grown. I’d throw Otis out and take care of Ma. Three years I’ll be sixteen. See if Otis or Mommy want to bother me when I get good and strong.





I walked into our cabin expecting Otis to start screaming. He was in his stuffed chair next to the stove and dead drunk. An almost empty whiskey bottle dangled from his left hand. Ma was in the kitchen peering around the doorway and pressing a finger to her lips. Don’t wake the beast the finger to lip whispered. The front room in our cabin had the only real floor . That and my loft room. The planks would sometimes creaked as you stepped on them. I walked slowly toward the Kitchen. I prayed I wouldn’t wake Otis and had to walk right next to his chair.

I only remember the first blow. Otis was faking sleep and tripped me to floor with his damn crutch. Then it was raised and slammed into my face.

I woke on the kitchen’s dirt floor. It was so cold. I remember that more than the pain. Ma was crying without sound. She was trembling as she washed the blood from my face. Otis was really passed out then. I heard him snore and got up from the floor. I walked into the front room with no real plan to do harm. But I did. Grabbing a log meant for the stove I hit Otis over and over. He never moved to stop me but his body jerked and his eyes flew open in surprise. Ma was screaming. I never stopped until I knew he was dead. I began to cry. I would hang for sure.


So Many Ghosts


Ma was shaking and staring at the body of Otis. The monster was dead but I would hang. At least I had saved my Ma. “ Sorry Ma. Sorry.” I didn’t know what to say. I dropped the wood to the floor and that was when Ma took control. She swooped up the killing wood and through it in the stove.

“ Jackson, we have to hide Otis. Folks don’t come around. That’s good. Tonight. Tonight Jackson we have to do something. Let me think. He just left? Just gone one morning. We won’t even mention it unless asked. Hear me? Oh Lord. Just gone one morning. Just gone…”

It was then I got good and scared. Ma was maybe going insane. She repeated and repeated everything. She would wring her hands, cry, pull at her hair. Finally she slumped to the floor and looked up to make sure I was there. She held her arms out and I sat next to her. She hugged me until she fell into a sleep. The last thing she said was: I’m the one sorry Jackson. Forgive me? After awhile I got up real slow and headed outside.

I took the time to go through our small barn and found a pick axe and a shovel. Holding these tools I though about a spot. Not on our small farm. Maybe out by the draw that fed the Houghs pond. The dirt under the trees was black and easy to dig. I knew because I buried ‘ol Max there. My dog. I think Otis killed him. Pretty sure anyway.

I covered Ma and stoked the fire. Then I added a log. I may be gone awhile I thought. I planned the thing in my mind as I went along. Take our old mule and drag Otis. Boss, our mule, hardly ever brayed. He just went along through his last days head down and sad. Do mules know when they are almost done? I think so. Boss had been a good mule. Ma said when Pa was alive we had four mules, a horse and small herd of cattle. Never more than twelve jacson.That way we needn’t buy hay. Good days.

I used an old blanket for Otis to fall on after I pushed him from the chair, He was so heavy. I wondered how I would get him outside to hook him to the chain I had fixed to Boss’s pack saddle.

I was surprised at how easy I was able to slide him along the planked floor. I was winded but he was outside. Boss just went along with the pull. Not stubborn like he was years back. I was jumpy alright. Weak kneed and jumpy. The impact of killing Otis was not fully set in my mind. I knew I did it but excuses ran inside me. I knew it was wrong but pushed the thoughts to the mean things Otis had done.

The wind moved trees just enough to make their shadows seem alive. Even Boss brayed once; from the sudden wind or pulling the heavy load I’m not sure.

When the blanket would get caught on a root or rock I would have to push Otis around  to unsnag the cloth skid. I hope it held up until we reached the draw. The thought of chaining Otis to the mule was just too much.

I could smell the pond water and knew we were close. There was a low fog that was so thick it hid Otis as he dragged along behind Boss. That was good not to see him. It was horrible too;  I imagined him rolling off the blanket and crawling toward me under the cover of fog. Other dead watched me. So many ghosts can hide in the fog.

There are no ghosts unless you drag a murdered body through fog covered woods. I kept praying and felt a little less afraid. A little less guilty. The guilt, I knew, would flood back. The strong smell of the pond took away all other thoughts. I was at the draw.

By sheer luck we stopped at a spot loamy and easy to dig. I worked for less than an hour and was close to three feet deep when I hit hard clay. Three feet would be enough. I laid down the shovel and went for Otis.

The fog was not as thick as when I set out. I could see Otis staring at the sky. He looked alive. I wanted to shut his eyes but couldn’t touch him. I pulled the blanket To the edge of the grave and had to rest. A gurgling sound came from Otis and I almost fell in the hole to move away from him.

Once a calf died at our farm and made sounds like Otis was making. But the calf didn’t get up. Otis did. He sat up and looked at me with murder in his eyes. “ You little son of a bitch.” He pushed himself off the blanket and crawled toward me.

The shovel. I couldn’t see it. I felt the ground with my feet as Otis crawled and cursed me. There it was. I reached down and grabbed the handle. I was about to kill Otis for the second time when a large figure moved toward me. An axe blow to Otis’s head finished him. I threw up from fear. Boss brayed.  Mommy? No. Mr. Hough called out.

“ Jackson? We have work to finish here. Help me get him into the grave.”  We didn’t talk as we rolled Otis into the hole and then filled it. Before it was complete the axe was thrown in. “ Go home Jackson. I’ll finish this at dawn. We’ll talk later.”

I took the riggings off Boss and led him away from the nightmare. How long had Mr.Hough watched me? I was tired, scared and just wanted to get home as fast as possible. Mr. Hough had actually killed Otis and so he would say nothing. I hoped. Why would he?

Each step I took I felt as though I was being followed, watched. Boss was acting nervous. I turned around.

Six fog like figures of boys looked at me and pointed toward the new grave. I ran for home. Boss was running as fast as his old legs would allow. I was already wondering if I saw the apparitions. I never even read something so creepy. Never dreamed it.

Once inside i climbed to my loft and fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. I dreamed of the ghost boys and of being buried alive. I was running out of the woods when the sound of the door being pounded on woke me.


The Unwelcome Visit.


I looked over the loft’s rail and saw Ma talking to Mr. Hough. He had decided to tell about what I’d done. I sat next to my bed and thought about hanging. Would it be fast or slow? They hung Joe Blake for killing his cousin. He was twelve just like me. Everyone in town watched. I wanted to cry but that wouldn’t help with a murder falling across me. Everyone who knew was in our cabin. Except Mrs. Hough,  but I'm sure she knows if Mr. Hough is here. I crawled closer to the rail to listen. Ma was crying.

Mr. Hough was pacing back and forth, a look of pity on his face. He started to say something when Ma started to scream and cry.

“ My fault. It’s all my fault Walter. Letting that man in our life. did it happen?”

“ I think, but not sure it was Mommy, he’s always lurking about at night. I found Otis half buried and your boy there by the grave. In the grave next to Otis.

Why was Mr. Hough saying this? To get Ma confused and hurt her? I just listened.

“ Mommy must have been there actually. Same boot prints I see around the barn. Caught him sleeping there once. I’m thinking now he may have something to do with the missing boys. He is so damn strange. Sorry. I know you have your boy on your mind now…”

“ No. No I want to know.”

I sat against my bed and thought what the Hell is he talking about. The two of us had finished putting the dirt over Otis. I left and….not sure. Just remember going to bed. Now Mr. Hough telling my Ma mean lies. I moved to a better spot to listen..

Ma, it’s okay I’m right here.

Ma looked straight at me and continued to cry. “ Oh, Jackson. Not my boy.” Mr Hough just put on a sad face. I started down the loft’s ladder.

“ Did you know about…...what happened to Otis? If so there’s nothing good coming from talking to anyone about it. I’ll get the sheriff. Easy enough to put Otis and your boy on Mommy. Sheriff hates him anyway.”

“ Not right to put my sin on the man. I’ll have to tell my part. Come what may.” Ma looked straight at Mr. Hough when she said that, like she was finally strong. It was then I saw Mommy and the ghost boys standing in our open doorway.

“ Always did try to put your crimes on me Hough. Not this time.” Mommy led the wraiths in as they became putrid flesh and broken bones. They walked ,crawled towards Hough who fell to his knees crying. Victims from his past fell on him tearing him to shreds. As he bled out the boys, ghosts again, looked at me as I peered through the railing. I knew then.

I was dead. By Hough's hands. The choking was my last living thought. I imagined leading Boss home and climbing the loft. So tired I fell asleep. Hours I slept in death and never knew.

I left with the others but worried about Ma. How would she get by? Mommy was kind and talking soft to Ma. I watched until I faded away.












© Copyright 2017 Bob W. Kasch. All rights reserved.

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