In the Bayou :
If you want to understand why I left the place I was at, you’re really just going to have to hear the entire story. You won’t believe it, of course. But your skepticism means nothing. Because what I saw that night on the bayou has been with me ever since. In my mind, in my thoughts, and sometimes even in my dreams. It exists as a disturbing memory that I cannot shake away. That will never go away, just so long as I live. It will be one of those things so terrifying that it’ll still be just as keen in my mind on my deathbed as it was the day it occurred.
But whether or not you believe me, I’ll tell it to you anyway. If not only to serve as a warning, a plea for caution, if you ever find yourself near the swamps late at night…
At the time I was working at a shitty little fast food place.
The only thing worse than working at a shitty fast food place is working at a shitty fast food place on the night shift, by yourself, without a vehicle. Especially when you just so happen to live in the heart of rural Louisiana. Such was my case some years ago, the night this event happened to me.
During this time I lived quite a few miles away from the restaurant I worked at, and due to my lack of a vehicle or any access to a public bus system, I was dependent on others for my transportation to and from work.
One night, after a busy evening of serving customers, I closed the store and locked up the restaurant. When I phoned for my ride nobody answered. Now, I’m not here to throw a pity party, but I can’t help but to express anger at the fact that the person who drove me to and fro to work was my roommate, who had a car but no fucking job, and I was basically the only person in our house who paid the rent at this time. And this loser had the carelessness to fall asleep, leaving me with no fucking option but to walk– again. This was not the first time that this had happened.
The first time this had happened, it took me an hour and a half to get home, walking briskly. And to those of you who have never been to the rural regions of Louisiana, you have no clue. Here we have what is called a Bayou. It’s basically swamp. Thick, murky, moist, frog laden, mosquito swarming, gator infested, crappy smelling swamp– with thick tall grass, cattails, cypress trees, and heaves of pond scum.
And I just so happened to live on the Bayou, all the way down a long dirt road with hardly any street lights and thick swamp on both sides of the road. There are no side roads, and the houses down this street are separated sometimes by more than a quarter-mile apart.
It’s not merely spooky walking down this road at night– it’s fucking terrifying. You hear sounds, both real and imagined, coming from the bayou. Chirping, croaking, howling, grunting animals.The rustling of leaves and branches in the canopy of the cypress trees, and the splashing water from underneath them. That’s the worst. You can hear the sound of something lurking nearby abruptly dunk under water. It can be a turtle, a snake, or an alligator. You never know; you just keep walking, with your teeth and hands clenched tight, hoping nothing crawls through the tall grass next to you and onto the road. Or, even worse than the subtle dunking sounds, the sudden splashes that happen when you’re walking and scare a toad or frog and it jumps into the water. The sound makes you almost shit yourself as you begin a running spree that lasts about three seconds before you realize what it was– and then you’re left with your heart pounding so hard that the sound of your blood gushing in your temples scares you just as much. These are the types of things that happen when you’re in the Bayou.
This is what I had to look forward to that night as my asshole roommate slept sprawled out on the sofa with the television set probably tuned into re-runs of the Three Stooges and the Marx Brothers.
And don’t get the impression that I simply called once and gave up. You can trust that his cell had around seven or so missed calls, three very unfriendly voice mails, and several aggressive text messages. I could just imagine his phone laying in another room of the house softly vibrating in my desperate attempts to reach him as he snored.
But eventually I gave up, and having just about no other friends to contact in the area as a recourse, I stopped by the nearby gas station, grabbed an energy drink, and began my ways back home.
Now, you must understand, the first thirty or so minutes of my walk isn’t that bad. I’m still in the most populated part of town, and there are street lights, stores, houses, and cars passing by in large numbers. That’s important, if there are a lot of cars going by you feel safer than when there are very few cars going by. Because when there are only one or two cars that pass you every three minutes that means that there could be a psychopath in one of those cars, and they may have enough time to stop by and murder you without being caught. But if there are a lot of cars around, there may be psychopaths passing by, but they’ll most likely not kill you then because there are too many people around to witness the crime. At least that’s my reasoning. I digress.
No psychopaths pulled up next to me as I walked about this part of town.
Next there comes a time in my journey where I have to turn down several suburban neighborhoods, and walk some streets to get where I am going. And here’s where things get a little less safe, and I have to be a little more cautious. There’s less traffic down these roads and you never know when some punk or gang may be hanging out in some empty lot or house, who might mess with you are try to pick a fight or mug you or just take an empty bottle of malt liquor and bash your skull in– you know, as an initiation ritual or something. These are the thoughts that go through my head as I walk this region, and they keep me on my toes, until I reach the point where houses become fewer and fewer, and the bayou begins. This is where the dirt road leading to my home is. And that’s where I found myself this night– on foot.
I looked down the narrow road. You can only see so far before it fades into misty darkness. I resented that I would have to spend the next hour walking its distance until I reached home. But anger took hold of fear when I thought about how all of this could be spared if not for the neglect and carelessness of my roommate. When I got home, I was really going to have it in for him. I truly considered at that time the possibility of physically smacking his damned face.
And with this thought in mind I launched defiantly down the road. And the further I walked, the darker it became, until no light shined but the stars and a sliver of the moon above me. Very soon the sound of any vehicle was completely non existent. There was just me, the road, and the bayou. And whatever creatures dwelt there. I heard the crickets chirp and the frogs croak and the occasional bird coo. To avoid fear, I focused on their chorus and let their sounds preoccupy my mind. I walked watching my shoes press into the sandy dirt as I placed one foot in front of the other. I would count my steps until I reached one hundred, and then I’d begin again. I tried to lose myself in the repetition.
My shoes became damper and damper, and I felt the soles of my feet become moist. I stopped counting to ponder whether I should smack my roommate with a wet sock, but my thought was interrupted when I glanced up for a moment, and saw that I was not alone on this road. A sharp panic seized my heart and I became very nervous. A long distance up ahead of me I could discern the soft silhouette of a figure. It was so far away that I couldn’t tell whether it was moving ahead, or in my direction. I froze, and I could feel the blood gushing in my temples.
What where the chances of their being some malicious punk wandering this street at night looking to rob me or pick a fight?
This was the reassuring thought I had as I tried to convince myself that I was safe. I tried to keep calm, to not let my nerves get the best of me. I mean, whoever this was was probably just as frightened of the prospects of me as I was of them, if they had already detected me… that is.
I didn’t know what to do. Run? There was only two directions. Continue walking? What were the risks? As I stood there I saw that the figure was indeed moving in my direction, and its form was becoming more defined. And this was the time I began to notice how awkward it was moving. The figure didn’t walk normal. It didn’t bob up and down, like how a normal person looks like as they walk. What was coming towards me, it would seem from my perspective, moved in short, quick, jerking movements.
And I could see from what light was present how its twitchy limbs projected from its torso. And how it was getting closer.
And how its head stuck out from a neck that was longer than any human neck should be.
And how at this time I could now faintly hear the noises that it seemed to make. The sound of suckling. And how It was moving quicker.
And how its face lifted, and I could see its eyes glare like glowing yellow beads.
And how these wide beady eyes locked onto mine, staring at me.
And how it stopped.
And how we both were there, motionless, yards away. Looking at each other.
And how it then let out the most ungodly, inhuman screech I have ever heard. Like a pig being gutted. It squealed violently, and the sound resounded through the bayou. And the chirping and croaking of crickets and frogs stopped. Everything stopped.
And the rumbling and humming was all that could be heard afterwards.
The rumbling and humming of a motor ahead, a vehicle speeding towards us, tires racing loudly– the thing in front of me hunched over and turned to see the headlights beaming our way. It hissed, getting down on all fours, only pausing for a moment to turn back towards me, gawking at me with its wide eyes, before crawling hastily into the swamp.
The vehicle that scared the thing away was my roommate’s car. He never saw it, whatever it was. And I never wanted to see it again.
I moved as soon as I could. And haven’t been there since.