By Lyonel Doherty
The weird tales my dad used to tell freaked me right out.
Especially the one about the poor farmer who went looking for his cows one night. After a couple of hours the old codger sat on a stump, a stone’s throw away from a satyr, a woodland god. When the beast told the farmer to look down at his feet, he nervously took off his boots and was horrified to see two goat hooves protruding there.
The story burned into my psyche and it was a long time before I ventured into the woods again.
My dad never told the rest of the tale, and I’m not sure if there really was an ending. But turn off the lights, put another log on the fire and use your imagination . . .
The old coot’s first inclination was to run like there was no tomorrow (because there probably wouldn’t be). But he summoned every ounce of courage he had and sat frozen in fear, wondering how he would survive this hellish nightmare.
“Are you the devil?” the farmer asked the abomination.
The thing raised its gnarly head and grunted, “Merely a disciple.”
“Why do you torment me so?” the farmer continued, his voice shaking.
“You have what our Lord wants,” the horned satyr replied, sitting on a rotting spruce tree.
“What could you possibly want from an old guy like me?”
The farmer was careful not to draw much attention to the weathered old .45 pistol he had tucked in his coat. He didn’t want the satyr knowing what was coming, but clearing leather fast enough was gonna be the challenge that night.
“We want your cattle, old man, and after we’ve bathed in their blood, we want your wife and children, too.”
The farmer suddenly felt sick; his insides knotting up like mating dew worms. His beloved Marta and girls (Ginny and Lou-Ann) were likely preparing dinner right now in the farmhouse only a mile away.
With a boldness that he could scarcely muster, the grizzled ol’ crank said, “You could have done that already.”
The mighty beast rose to its feet and the ground seemed to tremor. “Yes, but where would be the fun in that without a fine audience such as yourself?”
The wind died, setting the stage for a deafening silence.
His 50 years of tilling soil and pulling triggers served him well as the Colt came up and the muzzle flashed like lightning.
The satyr stumbled backward and roared as the bullet tunneled under its left eye. Two more shots ripped holes in its chest, laying the beast to earth.
The codger then bolted through the trees, wincing in agony as the arthritis gnawed at his hips.
Gotta get home to Marta and the girls, his mind screamed as the wind cackled among the pines, masking any sound of pursuit. He thought he heard a crashing sound to his left but couldn’t be sure; he never looked back until he nearly broke down the door to the house.
“Marta . . . Ginny . . . Lou-Ann!” he yelled.
The crackling fireplace was the only sound as the farmer stumbled into the room where shadows danced.
“They were delicious,” said the hellspawn, stepping into the firelight and dripping with blood from horn to hoof.
“The cows were good, too.”