One more Halloween flash fiction for you all! In honor of Halloween, Poised Pen Productions is hosting a flash fiction giveaway with a prize filled with books, gift cards, and swag. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway simply by signing up with your email, and you’ll be given options for earning additional entries. Good luck!
If you missed it, I already shared my short story, Haunting Beauty. If you missed the others, check out The Hunt and A Simple Mistake, Ghostly Contact and The Witch’s Wand, and Samhain Surprise and Tall, Dark, and Handsome. And now for the last but definitely not least of the Halloween flash fiction stories!
The Bush Indian
Copyright (c) Cherime MacFarlane
Author’s Note: There is a tale in that country of a “Bush Indian.” What little I’ve heard of it, people don’t say much, I’ve taken license with. But people do disappear in Alaska and are never seen or heard of again. A few thousand so far. Don’t go out in the bush alone.
Dedicated to: The elders I once knew.
Gunrik sat in one of the old office chairs. The two old men sat in their favorites, each one much the worse for wear. The wood stove warmed the interior of the building the men, hunting partners for years, called their shop. Built into the hillside of the property they had called home for over eighty years, it had one door and one window. He hoped the two Athabaskan elders would flesh out the information on a tale he’d run across while gathering stories for his employer, the Native Corporation.
He’d asked politely if the old men would tell him about the Bush Indian after church several months ago. They had exchanged glances. Some communication had passed between them.
Erik looked past Gunrik’s shoulder, staring at the mountains on the far side of the lake. David sighed. “Maybe. Him and me.” He waved a hand between them. “We’ll talk, send word if it feels right.”
Eventually, he’d had a call from Lila Jones, the great-grands granddaughter. The old men had decided it would be alright to discuss the legend. But they must do it on a Sunday afternoon, after church and when the moon was full.
Erik struck a match and lit a decrepit old pipe. The smoke didn’t smell like tobacco. Gunrik waited.
“Chelth-en-ee.” The word came out of the blue cloud around Erik. “Spell it how ya please. Him and me ain’t gonna say it again. Naw…”
“Once is enough.” David finished Erik’s thought. Gunrik had seen the two old hunters do that often enough. “Ya see spirit’s smoke coming from Wrangell? Tha kay-you-nee-thled-eh? That’s what we was waitin for. We’re thinking maybe we can get clear o trouble now. But we ain’t gonna speak o this again. Get it all now cause it’s askin for trouble to be too loud about that.”
“Yes, sir. Can I record you both?”
“Naw. Ya write this down.” Erik said.
David nodded. “Ya record it an that wrong spirit could hear it. They come after us. Can’t have that trash after DeDe, Alva Mae and the young ones.”
“Yep.” David spat on the ground while Erik took another puff and blue smoke filled the air. “Evil as evil can be. They stole children. Took ‘em right out of their beds.” David said.
“Ya. Hunters go looking and find bones. Chewed.” Erik shook his white head. “Lost a few to that goo.”
He knew ‘goo’ meant monster. “They ate the children?” Gunrik leaned forward. He understood why no one wanted to talk about the thing he’d been trying to clarify.
Neither old man spoke, but they did nod in agreement. Erik blew another puff of smoke into the air. They exchanged another glance.
“They ain’t above taking a lone hunter, neither.” David said.
“Yup. Never go without ah huntin partner.” Erik took another draw on the pipe.
“Uh huh. They hung out in caves in the cliffs above tha river.” David leaned forward. “Ya know there’s still hunters, hikers go missin and nothing’s found.”
Gunrik nodded. He knew that. “Like that show about the Alaska Triangle.”
Both old men laughed. “They don’t know much. And ain’t no one going to tell them more. Tha only reason you’re hearing about it from us is we know we can trust ya. You’ve seen things here. Stuff ya can’t talk about cause ain’t any of em gonna believe ya.” David grinned at him.
“Ya. His great-great grandpa and his huntin partner followed em and traced tha evil back to their hole.” Erik gestured with the stem of the pipe.
“Uh huh and ran back and got every man, woman, and child in tha camp.” David grinned at him. “Since it was summer, they built fires on the land above the entrance, rolled bundles of brush down to keep tha lot trapped.”
“Collapsed the stuff above. Sealed tha goo in.” Erik said.
“Ya. That time they got most o them.” David looked at his hunting partner. “But we must have missed a few.”
Gunrik understood the ‘we’ to be the village collectively. “You think there are some still out there?”
“We do. Don’t ya be traipsing out there alone. Take our advice and always take a huntin partner. Keep each other safe.” Erik put the pipe stem to his lips.
“Now, we’s done talking. Said enough.” David touched Erik’s shoulder. “Look. Ya see that?”
“Yup.” David pointed out the window. “Wrangell is smoking up a storm. Tha wind’s rising. Storm comin up from tha gulf. Get on home, Gunrik. Stick close ta home for tha next few days.”
The entire drive down the Edgerton Highway to the cabin he shared with his wife, he felt off somehow. But he would call Jay Leighton as soon as he got home. The moose hunt he’d thought to do alone would be put off until he could get a hunting partner. He hoped Jay would go with him.
The old men were right. He’d seen too much in this country to not pay attention. And the hair on the back of his neck rose every time he looked at the big volcano with the plume of smoke above it. Cannibals had once terrorized the people here. As the old men said, evil had once roamed this vast valley and might still be waiting to snatch a lone hunter.
What a great story to wrap up the Halloween flash fiction series! Never go out hunting alone, my friends, whether for moose or candy!
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