“Dad! Wake up!”
Axl groaned as he stretched out his arms. He had only been sleeping a few hours when his son shook him from his sleep in the middle of the night. “What’s the matter, Junior?” Axl mumbled.
“Listen, dad,” whispered Junior, huddling near the safety of his father’s side.
Axl leaned forward holding himself up by his arms, as he listened to the unusual noise in the distance. Although the sound was mechanical, he was unsure what device could be the source of such a sound. His first thought was that the engine must belong to someone driving a dirt bike over the hills, but the more he listened, the more he began to think the source was a gardening tool like a weed eater or perhaps… A CHAINSAW!”
With that thought in his mind, he heard the engine beginning to rev up once again. Axl sprang to his feet from his sleeping bag, grabbing his son by the arm. With his foot, he nudged Iggy who was still deep in his sleep.
“Let me sleep in, mom…” Iggy mumbled turning onto his side.
“Iggy!” scolded Axl again, nudging him. “Get up! There’s somebody out there!”
Iggy groaned as he reluctantly sat up from his mat. “What are you doing?”
“Listen,” whispered Junior, wide eyed with fear.
“Holy smokes! Is that a chainsaw?” said Iggy with a look of concern overtaking his face. Iggy jumped to his feet, joining Junior and Axl. Axl and Iggy both pulled out their switchblades as they listened to the sound while gazing in the darkness of the woods.
“Axl rushed over to his four wheeler, opening the back case to retrieve his pistol before rejoining Iggy. The noise had now grown louder since Junior first awakened him, sounding as though the intruder was lurking just in front of them, hiding in the shadows. They continued standing their waiting for the source of the noise to emerge from the darkness.
“Junior, stay here,” ordered Axl in a low voice as he and Iggy approached the tree line.
“Hey, punk!” taunted Iggy. “You think you’re tough hiding back there?! Why don’t yah come out and face us like a man!”
“Iggy!” protested Junior.
“I’ve got a gun!” threatened Axl cocking his pistol. He could feel Junior hanging fearfully from the side of his left leg. The reptiles lost track of time as they stood there listening to the chainsaw continuing to idle. Iggy began shining his flashlight into the wilderness only for the sound of the engine to abruptly stop. The reptiles froze in their tracks, listening for any hint of movement, hearing only the sound of the wind hissing through branches of leaves. “Stay with Junior,” said Axl to Iggy.
“Axl!” scolded Iggy.
“Don’t go, dad!” protested Junior.
“I’m just gonna get a little closer,” whispered Axl. Iggy sighed as he stood beside Junior placing his hands on his shoulders.
“Dad,” quivered Junior with worry in his voice.
“I’ll be careful,” assured Axl picking up a flashlight. With the gun in one hand and the flashlight in the other, he slowly began approaching the tree line. As he neared it, another strong gust of wind swept through the swamp causing the branches to sway like monstrous claws reaching out to grab him.
Axl flicked his tongue, smelling the air for any scent, but with the many combating smells all he could make out was the stench of stagnant water and plant life. Once entering through the tree line he began scanning the wilderness with his flashlights searching for any sign of the intruder. His flashlight caught the glimpse of what appeared to be a furry animal splashing into a nearby bog. He also heard the screeching of a small lizard animal from somewhere nearby. Axl felt his foot sink into damp muddy ground, causing him to stagger forward. “Darn, it!” Axl shook his feet, as he struggled to remove the mud which now caked them.
His thoughts were immediately diverted to the sound of raucous laughter echoing in the distance. “Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, haa….” Axl raised his gun aiming in the direction of the noise. As soon as the laughter died down, the wind again began to again pick up.
“If you come back here, I’ll shoot!” shouted Axl in his efforts to intimidate. He stood there for a moment scanning the wilderness around him as he listened for any more signs of the intruder. In response to the unseen threat, he could feel his tail beginning to involuntarily whip back and forth. Despite his alert state, nothing but wind and branches could be discerned in the darkness of the forest.
“Dad?” said Junior, calling out for his father.
He felt Iggy place his hand over the end of his lizard snout. “Shh…” They continued standing there together waiting for Axl to reappear.
Junior could hear Iggy grumbling something to himself in a low voice. “That was just horror movie stupidity goin’ out there, Axl. Horror movie stupidity…”
“What did you say?” asked Junior.
“Nothing,” Iggy responded, appearing startled from the realization that he was speaking aloud. “I just wish Axl wouldn’t have left us for so long.”
“Are you scared again?” asked Junior.
Iggy snorted frustratingly in response. “Once again, Junior, your uncle Iggy doesn’t get scared. But he does have survival instincts like anyone else.”
“Like jumping into the river?” queried Junior.
“No, not like jumping into the lake,” Iggy retorted. “I just tripped, that’s all.”
“It was kind of funny,” answered Junior, unable to hide the grin overtaking his face.
Iggy laughed before patting Junior on the head. “It was, wasn‘t it.”
The diversion of the conversation proved to be short lived as Junior’s thoughts immediately returned to his father. “What is taking dad so long?”
Iggy sighed. “I don’t know. Maybe we should…” his response was interrupted by the sound of twigs snapping as footsteps approached.
Junior’s face lit up with relief as the silhouette of his father appeared out of the darkness. “Dad!” Junior ran towards his father tightly embracing him in a hug. He felt the large strong arms of his father comfortingly stroke his back.
“Did you find anything out there?” asked Iggy.
Axl shook his head. “No, but I think they were just some people messing with us.”
“With a chainsaw?!” scoffed Iggy.
“We don’t know if that was a chainsaw!” countered Axl. “And even if it was, it’s probably just some loggers working overtime.”
“Yeah…” sarcastically replied Iggy. “Because cutting down trees in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night is a completely normal thing to do!”
“Dad, I don’t know if I still want to stay here,” said Junior still clinging to Axl’s leg.
Junior felt his father place a consoling hand on his shoulder. “I know son. But it’s probably nothing to worry about. We can’t leave at night anyways. It would be too easy to get lost, even with the trail. Our best bet is to wait until dawn to head out.”
“What if the guy comes back?” asked Junior
“Then he’ll be sorry because we’ve got a gun,” said raising Axl the barrel. He then looked up returning his attention to Iggy. “How about we take turns keeping watch. I’ll start off the first four hours while you two get some rest then you can take over for me. Does that sound like a plan?”
Iggy shrugged reluctantly. “Sure.”
“I’m not going to sleep, dad,” answered Junior.
“You’ve got to try,” Axl replied. “I promise either myself or Iggy will be awake keeping watch. We’re armed so you’ve got nothing to worry about.”
“This trip really stinks,” Junior grumbled, kicking the ground.
“Sorry, Junior,” Axl replied. “I just wanted you to get in touch with your inner reptile out at the swamp. Next time I’m taking you to the beach.”
As soon as those words had left his father’s mouth, a laughter of insanity echoed through the woods. “Ahhh, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha…”
“What the heck!” his father shouted again. Axl raised his gun pointing it into the wilderness.
“Get outta here or we’re gonna blow your head off!” growled uncle Iggy, grabbing a piece of firewood. Junior instinctively grasped his father’s leg tightly as a scene more horrifying than anything he could ever have imagined emerged from the shadows of the woods. They wore clothing you would expect from rednecks in the swamp in the form of overalls and dirty shirts with suspenders. One of them appeared to be female wearing a dress. What made their emergence so horrifying though was the white cloth masks that hid the intruders’ faces, giving them a ghostly appearance. Grasped tightly in their hands were pick axes, hoes, hedge trimmers, and other yardwork tools. One of them was even armed with a weed eater.
Axl raised his gun preparing to fire. “Alright, last warning! Step back or I’ll shoot!”
Suddenly, the sound of a motor roaring to life came from behind, causing Junior to cry in terror. He turned around to see a large, burly green skinned figure dressed in a red plaid shirt, walking towards them with a chainsaw.
“What the?!” cried Axl. Junior wanted to close his eyes as his father unloaded his gun onto the masked figure with the chainsaw, but he was too frightened. As the chainsaw attacker fell to the ground, the other approaching figures simultaneously released a hideous chorus of screams as the launched into a mad dash towards them.
“Holy swamp turds!” yelled Iggy.
Junior felt his father grab him tightly by the arm, as they began to run. They did not get far before another masked figure in a red plaid shirt dashed out before them from the nearby brush, crashing a shovel onto his father’s head.
“Arg!” with a loud painful grunt, he watched as his father collapsed onto the ground.
“No!” cried Junior, as he helplessly watched the other masked figures crowd around his father’s now unconscious body. The one holding the weed eater, jerked the pull string igniting the two cycle engine. Junior stood there, frozen in fear not wanting to leave his father, but also dreading the thought of being near their horrifying masked attackers. Junior began to slowly back away as the weed eater man began to take slow subtle steps in his direction.
The weed eater man at first appeared to be walking in a silly playful manner with loud stomping steps. At this point, Junior’s attention had been completely diverted from his father. All he could do was gaze in terror at the end of the weed eater spinning wildly what appeared to be blades rather than whip.
Junior staggered back, trying to hide his fearful trembling, waiting for what he knew would turn into an inevitable chase with him fleeing for his life. As the weed eater man began to charge towards him, Junior immediately sprang into action, running as fast as his kid legs would take him. He could hear the sound of the weed eater running full throttle from behind as the monstrous figure pursued him. Eventually, Junior tripped over some unseen object causing him to tumble to the ground onto his chest. He listened in horror as the humming of the weed eater roared directly above him. Junior rolled onto his back gasping in fear as he saw his masked pursuer towering above him holding the weed eater over his head as it spun like a fan of razors. Junior laid there on the ground frozen in fear as he waited for what he thought would be his inevitable end.
Out of the darkness he heard the growling and hissing of uncle Iggy who tackled the figure causing them both to tumble to the ground. “Yahhhh!”
The weed eater landed on the ground, barely missing Junior driving him to quickly drag himself away. He watched as Iggy and the masked man continued to struggle on the ground returning punches to one another. Junior grabbed a large rock which lied beside him and rushed over to where they continued to wrestle. Grunting as he raised the heavy rock above his head, Junior tossed it on top of the head of the masked man.
The figure became limp from losing consciousness as he laid there sprawled on the ground.
Iggy sent Junior an acknowledging nod, as they both panted from the struggle. “Take that, mister yard work gone wrong!” jeered Iggy, as he kicked the weed eater man one last time.
With his concern returning to his father, Junior grabbed another stone. “We’ve gotta save dad!” Junior had only taken a few steps before Iggy restrained him by grabbing his tail.
“No, Junior! We’ve gotta head for the four wheeler and get out of here!”
“We can’t go without dad!” cried Junior, frantically.
“They took him, Junior!” shouted Iggy.
“No!” cried Junior, no longer able to fight back the tears.
He felt Iggy consolingly embrace him in a hug. “Junior, we’re going to get your dad help, but we need the authorities. Your father is counting on us, but we’ve gotta be smart and get outta here now!”
Junior reluctantly nodded his head as he glanced one last time at the unconscious body still lying on the ground.”
Illustrations by the-fire-prince
Thanks for reading!
Nightriders TSFA: Terror in the Swamp Part 3
Nightriders TFSA: Terror in the Swamp Part 1
I mean, in our language when we call a person "cold blooded" or "reptilian" it's meant as an insult to their character. It's a lot of fun to think what a thinking, talking reptile would think of our choice of words.
Meanwhile, they must get Axl back up!
Great stories, Axl! I also like how the illustrations style is a little different from work by the-fire-prince, to make it distinguished.
I'm quite enjoying writing this story. It's something different. And yes, I LOVE Fire Princes more cartoon style. Although I'm very happy having Bluepices illustrate the main story, I believe something like his style would have worked just as well with the cartoonish concepts of Nightriders. They both bring a very neat take to the stories as do you.
Indeed, Junior will.
Ya know, that one that you killed, which is weird over you say no one dies in your stories, sparked up...Uncle Hayseed, a monitor lizard actor for a kid's tv show dressed up as your typical farmer stereotype.