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Patty Leon: The search for Little Man
Patty Leon new

Editor’s note: This is part II of a Halloween short story. Part I was in last week’s Courier. 

“We must save Little Man,” I cried, shuttering at the thought that the Sunbury Swamp Ape had taken my dog. Was he still alive? Would he be eaten like all the others? Frank, Ashley and I searched the area around the destroyed van. I was looking for anything we could use to track down the beast. My brother retrieved his shotgun and my handgun. Ashley found the thermal camera. It was still operational. I managed to find my parabolic microphone. I could use that to listen out for the beast.

The fog was still dense, visibility minimal. We weren’t sure if the beast remained on land. Had it taken my dog into the water? Was Little Man drowning?

I had to push those thoughts from my mind. We needed to remain focused. We were dealing with something not of this world, a creature with sufficient rage and strength that could kill us all. I hooked up the parabolic microphone and put on the headset. “Do you hear anything?” Frank asked.

The microphone amplified all the sounds. I heard the trees rustle, the crickets, an owl.

“Not the beast,” I said. Frank scanned the area with his flashlight. Ashley scanned the area with the thermal camera. Not hits, no howls from the beast. I listened intently. There aren’t many houses in the area between the boat ramp and the wood line that separates the community from Fort Morris State Park. It looked like the beast had run in that direction but we weren’t sure. That is until I heard something “I hear a howling sound off in the distance toward Fort Morris,” I said. We grabbed our gear and headed in that direction.

We used our night vision googles as we forged ahead through the trees and woods. We made it to the museum building where we hunkered down to scope the landscape.

“What do we do now,” Frank said. “That thing could be hiding anywhere in this place. Suddenly a loud roar penetrated the night. A howling so terrifying it made the hairs on the back of our necks stand up. It was here and by the sounds of it, maybe just a few yards away. And it sounded pissed.

“It’s coming toward us,”

Senior

Ashley said. Frank propped up his shotgun and I steadied my handgun. We were ready to take this thing down. The thumping of his steps was getting louder, closer.

“When you see those blood red eyes shoot it,” Frank said. The ground shook as the beast approved, moving at a rapid pace. We hid behind the museum building, waiting. The beast ran past the building. It kept running down the road, back toward the Villages of Sunbury. It never slowed down and disappeared just as quick as it had emerged.

“Dang, that sucker was fast,” Frank said. “Now what do we do?” “Nothing, I said,” as I started to laugh. “What’s so funny?” Ashley asked.

“Look what it was running away from,” I said. There he was, huffing and growling and baring his teeth.

“Come here Little Man, good boy,” I said.

He came limping toward me. A lit bit bruised up but otherwise all in one piece, thank goodness. Once safe in my arms, he whimpered for affection. I wrapped him up in a towel and gave him some treats. We returned to the van where I gave him some water.

Frank found his cellphone and called our other partners to come pick us up. We had to regroup. We had to recover from this eerie encounter. I wanted to get Little Man checked out. We needed rest and time to analyze the items we had collected. We also needed to buy a new van. We saw the Swamp Ape. We proved it was real. And we will be back to catch it. Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. Creating or finding the perfect costume was always a special time. Sitting around a bonfire and sharing scary stories was something I enjoyed and continue to enjoy doing to this day. Hope you enjoyed a little Halloween fiction to commemorate the holiday. Or maybe it wasn’t fiction at all. You’ll have to ask those who live in the East end of the County if they’ve heard the howl of the Swamp Ape.

Patty Leon is senior editor of the Courier.

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