Urban Legends: The Monster of Pellicer Creek by Victoria Nations
Welcome to Urban Legends: Author & Artist #SpookyShowcase. This autumn 2019, the strange and unusual is unleashed! Featuring the best authors and artists in the horror landscape, come back each day the month of October for a scare. You can find the master posting schedule here,
Expect dark stories, myths, legends, and creepy creations that will make your spine tingle. Remember, urban legends aren’t true…are they?
The Monster of Pellicer Creek
by Victoria Nations
Inspired by tales and sightings of Bigfoot.
Lilly walked up to the front stairs carrying homemade lemon bars stacked on a plate she didn’t expect to get back. She’d made the lemon bars for the same reason her friends would have, because a voice in her head said it was tacky to visit someone new without bringing a gift. Just like a proper woman made iced tea with sugar syrup and bit her tongue when a hostess forgot to serve the dessert they’d brought. The only difference was that her friends had their mothers’ voices in their heads. The voices in Lilly’s head were a mix of aunts and neighbor ladies.
Lilly knocked and the weathered screen door bounced. A silhouette approached, straight in the askew frame.
“Mrs. Barrow? I’m Lilly Oakes.”
“Uh huh. Call me Meg.” Meg Barrow threw the screen door open as she spoke, and Lilly stepped back as it banged against the house. She had heard Meg Barrow was coarse. She’d heard a lot of things and had come to hear more.
“I knew an Oakes once.” Meg said, blatantly sizing Lilly up. “Up the river. I would’ve thought you’d know how long it took to drive down here. People from outside don’t account for how long it will take.”
“It was fine.” Lilly wasn’t going to bite to Meg’s bait. Grief made people sharp. “I brought you some bars. I appreciate you letting me visit.”
Meg dipped her chin and turned on bare feet, already moving towards the back of the house. Her widow weeds consisted of cutoff jean shorts and a loose top, but Lily didn’t comment. Her cigarette swung as she motioned Lilly to leave the plate on the kitchen counter and crabbed about yellow jackets getting them on the porch. Lilly followed, catching glimpses of the old house, until Meg pulled a chair out from an aluminum dinette on the back porch. Even through flyspecked screen, the view took Lilly’s breath away.
The backyard lawn slid into swamp, then salt marsh. Dark green rushes spread into Pellicer Creek. The afternoon sun flashed over the river and whorls of light turned in the current.
“This has been in my family for over a hundred years.” Meg was already sprawled on a chair, a can of beer and an ashtray on the table in front of her. Lilly figured iced tea wasn’t coming anytime soon and sat down, her ankles crossed.
“It’s beautiful,” Lilly said, her hands clasped on the table. “I want to start by saying I’m sorry about your loss. I heard you lost your husband recently.”
Meg tensed, then relaxed and lit her cigarette. She surveyed Lilly.
“Thank you. That’s what I’m supposed to say, right? Thank you for your concern. Doug’s been dead three months.”
“Uh huh.” The cigarette flicked up and down with a practiced twitch. The ash held fast.
“So,” Lilly said with a gentle smile. The transition felt rude to her, but she pushed forward. “The reason I wanted to visit…”
“I know why you wanted to visit.” Meg cut her off, tapping harder to loosen the ash. “You heard I know Bigfoot.”
It was a perfect opening, and Lilly fought not to blurt out an answer. A woman’s manners told her story. Even Meg, who didn’t bother to follow them, would know that.
“Yes, ma’am. I have heard that.” Lilly smiled wider. “But I wasn’t sure you knew people said those things.”
“People talk. They don’t tell the whole story, but that’s cowards for you.”
“It’s crazy to ask, but have you seen Bigfoot? Or I guess sometimes they’re called Skunk Apes?”
“Yeah, whatever. I don’t know if that Skunk Ape down in the Everglades is the same as what we have up here. I’m not interested in that part. I only care about the Bigfoot here in Pellicer Creek. They’re friends of my family.”
Lilly dropped her mouth open in shock, and Meg looked ready to crow at surprising her. That was fine with Lilly. If playing shocked got Meg talking, they were halfway there.
“Right.” Lilly pretended to collect herself and spoke slowly. “So, tell me how Bigfoot is a family friend.”
“This story is true.” Meg pointed at Lilly. She’d brought her an ice cold can of Nestea with Lemon when she grabbed another beer. Lilly popped the top and nodded.
“I believe you.”
“Do you? I’ll bet you do. No one comes looking for Bigfoot stories unless they already believe. The story is true whether you believe it or not. But it’s better that you believe it. Safer.”
Lilly sipped the iced tea. It gave her something to do with her hands while she considered Meg’s threat. She doubted Bigfoot would question her belief, but Meg was another story.
“It’s not just one Bigfoot, either,” Meg continued. “I mean the local Bigfoot clan.”
“There’s a Bigfoot family here?”
“Yeah, used to be. People don’t usually believe that part. But you never find just one, you always find a nest, right?” Meg’s grin was smug. “It’s never been a problem. They keep to themselves.
“And anyway, the women in my family can call the swamp people.”
“Call the swamp people?”
“That’s what my mother called them. Most people think they’re animals because they’re big and shaggy, and they stink.” Meg screwed up her face. “And they do, they stink worse than skunks.” Her face softened to look sly. “But they’re smart.”
“Smart like you can talk to them?”
“Smart like they do what they’re told.”
Lilly nodded, taking it in. She didn’t want to spook Meg. Lilly had heard she was a mean river rat, even if she came from money. She’d heard Meg pretended to be a witch, and here she was, spinning a story of her mysterious power. Lilly wrinkled her forehead, feigning confusion.
Meg continued, delighted at Lilly’s reaction.
“I started seeing Bigfoot when I was a little girl.” Meg adjusted her slouch, glancing from Lilly to the river. “They always looked out for my mom, so I started bringing them treats. I’d call them when they needed to come get them, and the treats would be gone the next day. They always came when I called them.
“But you’re probably here for a different story.” Meg stabbed her finger at Lilly, again, eyes narrowed. “You’re here because you heard about my cousin, Rebecca, the teenage beauty queen who got killed right off this porch. Right?”
“Thought so. It’s always the sweet Rebecca story.” Meg’s face screwed up in distaste. She took a slug of beer. “Well, I thank God in his Grace for that Bigfoot.”
Lilly held still. It was finally getting good. She had heard stories of Meg and Bigfoot in town, but details were sketchy. Folks were pretty tight lipped about Meg. Maybe the stories scared them. Lilly figured Meg liked it that way.
“I don’t understand. What do you mean?” Lilly asked.
“I mean, it was a tragedy, of course.” Meg had fully turned from Lilly, like she was telling her story to the river. “It was my eighteenth birthday party. We had set up tables on the porch, and my mother had filled them up with food. We had a boombox out there. I’d planned to ask Doug to dance, once people relaxed a bit. Once I could relax. Sometime before the cake, anyway.
“But, that witch, Rebecca, came to my party, even though I didn’t invite her. She came as Doug’s date. And she hung on him all night. He was such a dope, he never caught the nasty looks she gave me. After that, I didn’t give a hot damn what the party was like. All I could think about was slicing Rebecca up instead of the cake.
“Then Bigfoot came, and everything changed.” Meg raised her can in a toast. ”He scared sweet Cousin Rebecca. Scared Doug. Scared me and everyone else. We were all screaming and running around when it charged across the river.”
Meg took a long drink of beer, chuckling through the glugging. Lilly wondered if it was nervous laughter, something that broke the tension of screaming teenagers and a monster tearing through her party. But Meg’s satisfied grin as she put the can down proved that wrong.
“Great story, isn’t it?” Meg cackled. “That’s what those town gossips didn’t tell you. A bunch of them were there. They just ran and won’t admit it.
“Bigfoot ate all the food, tore through the drinks, and turned over the tables. It was a damn mess. I ended up looking for Doug in the house. And Rebecca, too, I guess. I looked through a window in time to see the Bigfoot leaving.”
“That sounds terrifying,” Lilly said. “Not like a friendly Bigfoot at all.”
Meg raised her finger and Lilly hushed.
“I walked down the yard, but no Bigfoot. Some of the kids came out hooting and hollering, as if they hadn’t been running scared a minute before. They were going to run along the bank and try to find footprints, but my mother kept them back. She told them Pellicer Creek wasn’t a good place to get lost in the woods, and they’d just seen why. I’d never seen my mother so troubled about one of the swamp people. We couldn’t talk about it then, though, with all my friends around. And later on, once Doug was the only one left, she let me be. She knew he was the only birthday present I’d hoped for.”
“You and Doug got together after that?”
“Yep. He looked for Rebecca at first, but figured she’d gotten spooked, so he stayed to help my mom clean up the trashed tables. He scooped a handful of cake out of the grass and tried to get me to eat it, and I let him catch me. That’s how Doug and I fell in love. Bigfoot chased us into each other’s arms.”
Lilly thought some people might moon over the story. A meet-cute with Bigfoot had its charms. But Meg looked triumphant, even after all these years. Lilly suppressed a shudder, looking at the hard woman.
“Well, that was it for my mother.” Meg’s voice was winding down, like she considered the story finished. “She never called the swamp people again. She didn’t trust them.”
Meg leered. “I was too busy hanging out with Doug by then.”
“Didn’t your mother talk to you about them? Warn you not to call them?”
“Maybe. I didn’t listen to her much once I was eighteen.” She slid her hand over the empty beer can and grabbed the pack of cigarettes instead. She looked down to pull one out and work the lighter. “Not that I listened to her before then.”
“I suppose you didn’t feel you needed to once the swamp people started listening to you.”
Meg lit the cigarette and puffed it to brighten the tip. Her eyes came up and held Lilly’s as she blew smoke to the side.
“You said they always came when you called.”
“I did.” Meg flicked her cigarette, unfazed.
“I started to tell you why I wanted to visit.” Lilly clasped her hands again. “You interrupted me earlier.”
Meg sucked her teeth, an annoyed sound.
“All this?” Lilly opened her hands to Meg. “I believe you. People talk. They tell your Bigfoot story, and they call you trash behind your back.” Meg sneered, but Lilly continued. “But they don’t call you a liar, for what it’s worth.”
“No sense lying. No one would believe them anyway.” Meg’s cigarette tapped again. “No one would believe you if you were to go telling tales.”
“I agree. Who’s going to believe a story about you sending a Bigfoot to tear through a party three decades ago? Not the police. The locals won’t back it up.”
Meg’s smile was malicious.
“Not my people,” Lilly said. “Dad’s gone now. And mom’s been gone since I was a baby.”
“I thought you were one of the Oakes.”
“They gave me their name.”
“That explains it. You’re an outside girl. That’s why you’re digging.”
“Not really. I come from here, just like you. Well, not here,” Lilly gestured around to the house, the yard, and Pellicer Creek whose rushes were turning black in the low sun. “Not as nice a place as this.”
Meg sat silent. She squeezed the cigarette between her fingers so it hung steady.
“My mom got pregnant here by her high school boyfriend. They were so in love. They’d planned to get engaged right after graduation, but then I came along. Mom went to live up the river to have me and give me up for adoption. My aunts told me how happy my dad was when she came back, and they were reunited.
“Mom kept quiet about her secret, though. She hadn’t given me up. I stayed with my aunts, waiting for when they were married, and they could raise me in a proper family.
“But my mom disappeared when she came back to Pellicer Creek. She just vanished, and no one bothered to look for her until it was too late. You know the river. There are things that would eat a girl in days if her body lays in that water. People told my aunts that Bigfoot got her. That led me to you.
“You, the hostess at the party where she disappeared. Where Bigfoot took my mom, Rebecca Spencer. Same as you, before you took my father’s name.”
Meg finally sat forward. Her eyes were furious as she stubbed out her cigarette.
“Get out. Get out of my house.”
“Your house, Cousin Meg?” Lilly stood up primly as Meg bolted out of her chair. She walked quickly as Meg tried to push her towards the front door, and pushed open the screen door enough to step through, and caught it so it didn’t slam shut. Lilly pushed open the screen door enough to step through and caught it so it didn’t slam shut. Meg glared at her through the screen.
“Go! If you come back, you know what will happen. You know I can call them.”
“We all can. Remember?” Lilly smiled sweetly at Meg’s dark form. The house glowed orange from the sunset over Pellicer Creek. “You can keep the plate. Maybe they’ll only take the treats.”
About the Author
Victoria Nations is a horror writer and biologist, and lover of spooky, spooky stories. She spends her time hiking in swamps and writing from what her family calls her dark, little heart. She emerges from the woods in late summer, damp and covered in burrs, to search out early Halloween decorations.
Victoria lives in Florida with her wife and son, who indulge her love of monsters.