Song: “Something in the Way” by Nirvana from Nevermind
(Picture from http://article.wn.com)
Every town has legends and Stone Gulch was no different. There was the story of the angel statue that we take wing if a virgin ever graduated from the high school and the one about the ghost that haunted the old bus station that stood as a crumbling monument to the town’s better days before the rise of interstate highways. But the legend everyone knew, the one that everyone in a generation grew up with the Fisherman.
The legend was simple. He lived by the river that rang through the woods that lined the southern tip of the town. He lived amongst animals…many, many animals. Cats and dogs and squirrels and bears and raccoons…all flocked to him. Some people used to say he commanded them. That he’d send them into town to do his bidding. Get supplies, find food, and, in some rare cases fetch him a woman or kill who dared sully his “kingdom.”
No one really believes it. Everyone is wrong.
I’ve seen the Fisherman. I’ve been close to him. I’ve seen his animals. I believe the stories now.
I wasn’t supposed to be there. I never intended to be. Those jerks from the 11th grade, Brad and Greg, were chasing me again, threatening to kick my ass, and I ducked into the forest to escape them. When they still followed, I panicked, stop paying attention, and ended up tripping down a hill.
There it was. The camp. He was there, cooking a fish over the fire. He obviously lived there, which was an odd, but not odd enough to make me feel like I felt when I saw him. Everything looked…if not normal, logical. But it felt wrong. The way he moved, the way the animals interacted with him. It made my stomach feel horrible…like it wanted to wretch but was empty.
Brad and Greg barreled through, overturning cans and bottles, in their search for me. When they saw the Fisherman, their faces twisted, horror playing across their features. He didn’t say a word but they turned and sprinted away. While they distracted him, I forced myself to move, slowly, quietly crawling away until I felt safe enough to stand and run the rest of the way home.
Greg and Brad were in school the next day and the day after that, looking pale, almost ashen. Then, on Friday, neither showed up. And later in the day, the police came and asked us if any of us had seen them. No one had. And after that, no one ever did. Not the police searching. Not their parents. Not the numerous volunteers from towns near and far, not the several private investigators their family hired.
As soon as I could, I moved away. Far away. I don’t think he…it…the Fisherman saw me. I’m almost sure he didn’t because I’m still here. But I won’t risk it. I invite my family to see me on holidays, I’ll never attend a reunion. I’ll never go back to Stone Gulch. I know the Fisherman is real. I’ll never go back.