Out of the Depths of Abandon
A Tale from Cutters Notch
By Mike DeCamp
October 31, 2012
If you were soaring high above the neighboring tree tops, Tim and his ten year-old son, Tony looked like ants as they moved back and forth on the grass. They would fill the wheelbarrow with weeds, sticks, brush, and soil. Then they would cart it off to the nearby woods to dump it. Slowly, but surely they cleared out the camouflage that kept the great old slab of limestone hidden from view in the middle of their new home’s backyard.
It was an odd hunk of stone sitting all alone in that spot for no apparent reason. Flat on top and almost perfectly round, it appeared to have been fashioned into that shape and then moved into that spot for a reason that was lost on everyone. Even the real estate agent that had handled their purchase could find no historical reason for it to be there; no old grain mill, no old limestone mine. Limestone mines were common in this area, but it seemed that this stone’s location had been established long before the mining had even begun.
Despite its longevity in that spot, and since it seemed to have no historical significance, Tim decided it needed to go. A swimming pool was destined to take its spot as the focal point of the property.
It was lunch time when the man and his son finally cleared out the last load and stood side-by-side, shovel in hand, looking at their handiwork.
Tim looked at the rock for a long time, then: “That is such an odd place for that stone.”
“What’s so weird about it, dad” replied the boy.
“Well,” he started as he scratched his chin. “It looks like it was moved here on purpose, like someone meant for it to be here, but there is no record of who did it or why it was done. It’s almost like it was done prehistorically.”
“Like, maybe the Indians did it?” asked Tony.
“Maybe…” Tim trailed off in thought. Then said, “It could have been the Adena-Hopewell people.”
“Do you remember when we went up to Mounds State Park in Anderson and saw the Great Mound?”
“Well, they used to live throughout this area. Just as the reasons why they built that mound are long gone, maybe the same people fashioned and put this rock here…for who knows why. Some of the mounds were burial places or ceremonial places, but nobody knows why they built some of the other mounds ‘cause they just disappeared. Nobody knows where they went or what happened to them.”
“That’s weird, Dad.”
“Yes, it is. Weird is a good word for it.”
The man and boy heard the back door of their house open, so they turned to look. Framed by the ornate old wooden pillars that held up the roof over the porch that spanned the length of the rear of the two-story, red brick house was Tim’s beautiful young wife of sixteen years. Traci was wearing tan shorts and a short sleeve, red polka dot top that buttoned down the front. Her auburn hair was pulled back in a ponytail. The shade of the giant sycamore tree that stood at the corner of their house like a lone sentry of the surrounding Hoosier National Forest caused the sunshine to cast shifting shadows across her lightly freckled face.
“Lunch is ready!” she called. “Wash up and I’ll set it up here on the porch.”
A few minutes later, they were seated at the rectangular glass patio table that fit nicely onto their spacious porch that was enclosed by a wooden railing that matched the pillars in ornamentation. Tim’s fifteen year-old daughter, Teresa had joined them. She had plopped down with her back to the yard and had carefully arranged a notebook and accompanying Bible to the left of her plate.
“Are you going somewhere after lunch?” asked her mom.
“Yeah, the teen group has an afternoon devo today. Jilly is picking me up.”
Jilly was a new friend from school, and also daughter to one of the elders at their new local church. Tim and his family had only recently moved to Cutters Notch, Indiana from Indianapolis, and it was helpful that Teresa had been able to make at least one new friend so quickly. Already this seemed like a really good move because Tim had begun to worry that his little girl might get wrapped up in the wrong crowd in the big city. Now, she seemed all about Jilly and her new church group. Tim was proud of her apparently innocent faith and he wished his matched hers in its unwavering nature.
Turning to Tim, Traci asked: “Is it ready to move yet?”
“Yep,” he answered. “I’ll get Jim to bring over his tractor tomorrow and we’ll drag it over to the woods.”
“You can’t move it with the truck, Dad?” Tony asked.
“Nope. Way too heavy for the Chevy. But, Jim’s John Deere will make light work of it.”
“Cool,” said the boy.
Traci was looking at a paper she’d pulled out of a folder. The folder seemed to be stuffed with white pages printed with articles and pictures, plus some old newspaper clippings.
“Did you know,” she randomly interjected, “that this property has a reputation for being haunted?”
Tim gave her a skeptical look. “No. I’m afraid I hadn’t heard that. Care to share?”
“Well, over the years there have been various sightings of native Americans appearing and disappearing right around our house.”
“Indians?!” Tony’s interest was piqued.
“Native Americans, Tony. Indians live in Asia. But, yeah. Seems that is the reason this house has had so many owners over the years. People move in, get spooked, then move out.”
“I guess I should have checked this out before I bought it, but how many owners has it had?” Tim asked his wife.
She answered: “It was built in 1858, which makes it over one hundred and fifty years old. In that time, it has had seventy-five owners and countless other tenants.”
“Good grief!” exclaimed Tim. “I just don’t understand that. It’s a beautiful old house on a beautiful piece of property. I just don’t understand why anyone would ever want to leave it.”
“Unless it is actually haunted,” said his wife.
“That would explain it,” said Tim with more than a hint of sarcasm. “No ghost is gonna get me out of here, though. I love this place already.”
“The Lord is greater than any ghost,” added Teresa. “He would protect us anyway.” The rest of the family just turned and looked at her.
Ignoring their stares, she grabbed her Bible and sprinted off around the house to meet her friend. Over her shoulder she yelled, “The Lord is my shepherd…right?!” Then she disappeared past the sycamore and around the corner.
Traci looked at Tim. “I think she might be going a little overboard on this Bible stuff. Don’t you?”
“She’ll be fine,” Tim answered. “It’s a phase.”
It had been a phase for Tim. His parents had dragged him to church every week as a boy until at age thirteen he had been baptized. He figured he couldn’t beat them, so he might as well join them. Besides, he had friends in the youth group and they did a lot of fun things. Reds games. Summer camp. Things that boys his age loved to do. So, he put on the God clothes and passed through that phase of his life. Then he grew up, reality took the place of spirituality, and God was relegated to whatever time he had left after everything else was done.
Six hours later, the sun was beginning to set in the October sky and the multi-colored leaves were drifting down creating a collage of autumn color that stretched from the still green lawn up through the angled and twisted limbs of the forest. The giant leaves of their home’s lone sycamore gathered on the porch and around the rose bushes that formed a prickly barrier between the house and the outside world. Tim was reading a history book. Teresa was reading her Bible. Tony was driving his Tonka dump truck around on the oak floorboards, pulling through tunnels formed by table legs and down highways created by carpet runners. Traci was cooking dinner and looking out at the beauty of the changing forest before her.
Inspired by the great tree outside the kitchen window, Traci said: “Tim, how tall will the sycamore grow?”
“Well, if I cut it down, you’ll never know.” He replied with a snicker.
“No! No way!” exclaimed Teresa! “You can’t! I love that tree!”
Tim ignored her. Tony was oblivious. Only her mother noticed her pained expression.
“It’s okay, Teresa. He was only joking with me. It’s a line from the movie Pocahontas, remember?”
She could see the relief sweep across her daughter’s eyes, so she turned her attention back to the fading panorama of her new yard and the neighboring forest. Almost mesmerized by the drifting yellow and orange leaves, her mind was floating back to times past when things were simpler for her; times when all she had to do was run and play in the leaves. Running. Laughing. Jumping into raked up piles. A smile crept across her face, and for the first time in several years she was beginning to feel a measure of contentment.
She had married Tim right after high school and had dropped out of college when she became pregnant with Teresa. From then on, it was life on a shoestring, and she felt the constant pressure to maintain the household. The truth was that she sometimes doubted her love for her husband. She wondered if she had jumped in too young, and she wondered what her life might have been. In a sense, she envied her daughter now because she could see the faith building in her and she yearned for that youthful innocence that she once had. Now that they were living in Cutters Notch, away from the need to keep up appearances in Indianapolis, she was starting to feel like she could regain a sense of balance in her life again. Maybe. Looking out the window at the beauty of the falling leaves, she thought just maybe.
That was went she saw it. Just a glimpse. It darted from behind a large, wild honeysuckle and then ducked in behind a large old oak. It was just a form, a shadow really. But, it looked like a man. A man in odd, sort of primitive clothing.
Suddenly, the forest no longer looked beautiful. The sun had drifted lower and now the shadows were overtaking the fluttering leaves. Darkness was encroaching from every angle and she remembered the file of old “ghost” stories she had been reading earlier.
She shook her head. It was just her unconscious mind playing tricks with her. Her overactive imagination was at work again. It had plagued her at night since she was a small girl, and this was no different. She had learned to use her rational mind to overcome the irrational fears of her creative side.
Then, she saw it again!
This time the figure darted from behind the oak toward the great old sycamore.
“Tim!” she nearly screamed! “There’s an Indian in the yard!”
“What?” asked Tim.
“You mean ‘Native American’, mom,” said Tony.
Ignoring the boy, she said: “Tim, there a man in the yard! I’ve seen him twice! He looked like he’s an India…..I mean Native American. He’s sneaking around.”
“You’re just messin’ with me,” said Tim. “Trying to get my goat over those stories you told me.”
“No!” she said. “I mean it! I saw him.”
Tim looked at his wife and saw the genuine fear in her eyes. As he stood up, he heard a thump on the wooden planks that formed the floor of his porch. Now, the situation had everyone’s attention.
Two more thumps.
Undaunted, Tim strode over to the door, threw it open, and stepped out onto the cedar decking only to be confronted by one of the largest men he had ever seen. Standing just to the right of the doorway and silhouetted by the great old tree was an oddly dressed man with long feather-tipped hair, draped in fur and carrying a large spear. His bright blue eyes pierced through Tim with an icy stare that seemed to be able to freeze even the hottest oceans of courage.
Tim stopped on a dime and almost fell back in surprise. However, he quickly gathered his wits, tried to stand more upright, and confronted the man.
“Hey! What do you want? What do you mean by sneaking around my property?”
The man stood there quietly. He seemed to be evaluating Tim. His right hand held the spear, but his left hand rested on the hilt of a very large knife.
Nervously, Tim pressed on. “Speak man! What do you want? Do I need to call the sheriff?”
After a few more moments of silence, the huge figure spoke: “My name is Tomba. I am the guardian of the stone.”
His stare did not weaken and his hand did not move away from the knife. Never the less, Tim was determined to show that he was man enough to deal with this apparent threat.
“Okay, Tomba. My name is Tim and I own this place. I’d like you to leave.”
“You must not move the sacred stone,” the man said with a deep monotone voice that seemed to boom from his throat with very little effort. “Do not move the stone.” With that last said, he lifted his right hand and pointed the spear toward the large limestone slab in the middle of the backyard.
“My people have guarded that stone for season upon season. It must not be moved.”
“Well, Tomba, apparently your job is done. I own that stone now and it sits where my pool needs to go. I’ll be moving it tomorrow.”
For the first time, Tim saw a shift in the man’s eyes. Interpreting it as doubt and hesitation, he pressed on.
“Now, if you aren’t off my property in about thirty seconds, I’m going to do two things. First, I’m going to call 911. Then, I am going to get my shotgun.”
The focus of the ancient figure’s eyes reset upon Tim, and he stepped forward into that uncomfortable space directly in front of the smaller man. Since Tomba was several inches taller, he stared down upon Tim’s face. The spear again rested upon the surface of the porch, but the tip was above Tim’s head.
“I warn you. You must not move the sacred stone. It contains a great evil that must not be released. Long seasons ago, it claimed many of my people, but the Great Spirit has banished it to the depths for as long as the stone remains unmoved.”
“Traci, call the sheriff,” Tim yelled to his wife who was watching the whole thing from the kitchen window. “Look Tomba, if that is really your name, get off my porch and get off my property. I am going to get my shotgun, and if you are not gone when I get back, you will find buckshot in your butt.”
As Tim moved back toward his door, Tomba stepped off the porch decking. “I warn you small pale man. Destruction will come to many if you do not heed my words. You must not move the stone.” As he said those words, he strode to the far side of the Sycamore. Tim watched him go, and when he did not emerge past the tree, Tim strode after him to ensure he kept going. But, when he reached the tree, the unusual man was nowhere to be seen. Looking around the tree and past the side of the house, Tim could not find him. It was almost as if he had simply stepped off into a shadowy realm.
The sheriff came and went, chuckling at another Indian sighting at the old house. “Probably some local teens playing a practical joke,” he had suggested. Eventually, the family settled down. It was a restless night, but they tried to sleep. Both Tony and Teresa slept on pallets on their parents’ bedroom floor.
Sunday morning finally dawned bright and chilly. The family rose to start the day with Traci headed to the kitchen to pull together a breakfast, Teresa snagged the bathroom to perform her beauty rituals, and Tim and Tony slipped outside to answer the call of nature. After all, pressure was pressure, and as nice as the place was, it still only had one bathroom.
As they stepped out the backdoor, the guys were confronted with an astonishing sight. The large stone had been encased in hundreds of small stones ranging from three inches to six inches in diameter. Around the stone works, twelve large spears had been driven into the ground. Each had feathers and strips of cloth fluttering from the shafts at various heights. Outside of the ring of spears was another ring of twelve larger stones, large enough to sit on. On top of the limestone was a small fire, or more accurately, the remnants of a small fire. A small stream of smoke still rose from the center.
“Traci! Come see this!” He called.
“Whaaa….?” Her question drifted off as her mouth fell open.
“Some prank, huh?” Tim asked with a sarcastic tone. “It’s gonna take Tony and me all morning to clear that away!”
“What about church?” Teresa asked. She had slipped out behind her mother. “We’ve gotta go to church.”
“You and your mom can go. Me and Tony will clean this up. We’ve got to get it done ‘cause Jim’s coming over after lunch with the tractor.”
“Tim, maybe we should just leave it alone,” said Traci. “I’m kind of freaked out by all this. Maybe it is a sacred site for Native Americans. Maybe we should just let it be.”
“Oh, come on, Traci. If it were a sacred site, we’d have been officially notified. There wouldn’t be a strange guy on our porch or spears in the yard. I’m not sure what the deal really is, but I’m not letting some crackpots keep us from building our pool on our own property.”
An hour later, breakfast was done. The girls headed off to church and the guys started carting stones off to the woods. It was almost noon when the last rock was removed. Tim was using a scoop shovel to lift the charred wood off the top when he noticed some shallow markings on the top surface. They were so faint that he couldn’t easily make out the images, but they seemed very old and weathered. He could see a large image in the center that seems to have eight jagged legs extending around an oval figure. Dozens of smaller figures were scattered around the larger one, some seemed to be standing with spears in hand, while others were reclining.
Showing the figures to his son, he said: “I think maybe we do have an old Indian relic here.”
“Are we not gonna move it then?” asked the boy.
“Oh, yeah. We’re moving it,” he replied. “But we’ll keep it safe in another spot so we can show someone who maybe can make sense of it.”
Shortly after noon, Traci and Teresa returned home from church to find Tim sipping lemonade while Tony was trying to throw a spear at the sycamore tree. He was failing miserably to the great benefit of the tree because each spear was almost twice as long as he was tall.
“Your daughter has a guy interested in her,” announced Traci.
“Aw Mom!” Teresa whined and ran inside.
“Great,” Tim answered. “Just what we need.”
“Yeah, and he’s a real cutie too.” You could hear the sneer in her voice.
“Stop it, Mom!” Teresa yelled from inside.
“Mom!” Tony emerged from his submersion in the art of spear-throwing to see that she had come home. “Dad says we really do have an Indian relic!”
“Oh, yeah?” Traci looked at her husband with curiosity. “Is that right Tim?”
“Seems so. It’s covered with markings that look extremely old. Looks like a drawing of a battle with a giant creature of some sort. Don’t know what kind….just has a lot of legs.”
They walked over together, kicking leaves along the way. More leaves were drifting down, tossed to and fro on the wind. Tim pointed out the ancient designs, tracing the lines with his finger.
“Are you going to leave it alone then?” she asked. “I mean, maybe we should respect Tomba’s request.”
“First, Tomba didn’t make a request. Tomba made a demand. I don’t like strange men, dressed in dead animals, showing up on my porch in the dark, and making demands. Second,…Yes,…I am still moving it. Jim will be here any minute.”
“No buts. If we wait until some historian gets wind of this, we’ll never be able to move it. I’m gonna move it, but I’m also going to be real careful and we’ll keep it safe…and out of the way. Okay?”
“Look. I promise we won’t even scratch it.” Tim put his arm around his bride’s shoulders. “Seriously. I promise to take good care of it. Besides, it might be worth a bunch of money.” A sneaky smile crossed his lips as he mentioned the money.
“Oh, okay,” said Traci. “Just you remember your promise, though.”
About that time, Jim Abbott from a mile south on Robbins Creek Road rumbled into the driveway on his huge, green John Deere tractor. He was about as big as a small elephant, but the tractor made him look tiny in comparison. It was convenient to be able to hire out the tractor on occasion, but Tim didn’t relish the idea too much because Jim was an unpleasant sort of man. He swore with every breath, smoked huge cigars, and leered at his wife and daughter whenever they were around. He wore bib overalls, a long-sleeve red, flannel shirt, and a camouflage cap with the Rebel Battle Flag emblazoned on the front.
Tim directed him around the house to the big stone in the yard. When he got the Deere positioned, he shut it down and without a word (at least not a word fit for young ears) he lumbered over to the woods and relieved himself in the brush. He must have been holding a gallon of water because it took him about five minutes to finish the job.
By the time he returned, Tim had secured a chain around the stone and fastened it to the tractor.
“Drag it over there by the woods,” said Tim. “Take it easy. I don’t want the chain to slip. It’s got some markings on the top I want to protect.”
“Got it, Chief,” replied Jim. “I’ll ease it over like I’m sneakin’ past my old lady on a Friday night.”
As the mammoth of a man jumped back up on the mighty machine, the words of Tomba returned to Tim’s mind: “I warn you. You must not move the sacred stone. It contains a great evil that must not be released. Long seasons ago, it claimed many of my people, but the Great Spirit has banished it to the depths for as long as the stone remains unmoved.” Along with the words, a hint of doubt arose in the man’s mind. A ‘great evil.’ Tim wondered what that could have meant.
“Are you ready for me to do this or not?” the redneck in the rebellious hat demanded. “I got other stuff to do ya know.”
Tim motioned for him to proceed, and then watched with some trepidation as the great stone moved aside. First, the chain grew taunt, and Tim thought maybe it would snap under the weight of the relic, but then the slab began to move. Soon, it was on its way to its new resting place, and Tim ambled over to look at the spot where it had been stationed for God knows how many hundreds of years.
Reaching the spot, he stopped short and looked in amazement.
“What the…?” he started.
Tony had been watching from the house, but now he ran down to join his dad.
“What is it?” he asked as he trotted up beside him. “What’s there?”
His dad did not respond. Rather, he just stood there looking at what seemed to be a manhole cover in the earth. It was about three feet in diameter, made of stone, and covered with hundreds of strange curved markings. They were not the same as the rough drawings on the stone. Rather, the characters wound around the outer rim in a circle. More characters formed additional rings that grew smaller as they were formed toward the center of the stone like age rings in the center of a tree. In the very center, there was an oval with a circle in the center that gave the impression of an eye.
The circular stone was set in a depression that was only slightly larger in diameter. It was perfectly centered, leaving only about a quarter of an inch of clearance. The base that contained the stone seemed to be formed from some sort of marble, while the stone itself had the appearance of granite.
“What the blazes is that, City Slicker?” asked Jim. “Got yerself a well or somethin’?”
“No idea. I think it’s too old to be a well.”
Tim scratched his chin. Jim scratched his privates.
“Tony! Go to the barn and get me that old pry bar.”
A couple of minutes later, Tony returned with the tool. Tim took it and then walked around the stone, examining it from various angles. He seemed to be trying to decide if lifting it up was a good idea or not. He could be unearthing an ancient grave. If that was the case, he would be in for a world of hurt. He would have to report it, and that would lead to officials, archeologists, reporters, and definitely no swimming pool. Special care would be required of the site and his property would fall into the hands of the government.
He was still thinking it over when his thoughts were interrupted by a whistle, the kind of whistle some men make as an attractive woman walks by. Teresa, Bible in hand, had stepped out on the porch and Jim was staring at her, and he had made the whistle.
“Boy, that girl’s a hot one!” he said with a lustful tone.
“Are you kidding me?” Tim responded. “Are you going to say that kind of crap right in front of me? I’m her dad, you know!”
“Well, I’m not,” The supersized redneck said with a chuckle.
“Jim. I cannot believe you would say something like that. I think I’m done with you. I’ll pay you, and then you can leave. Got it?”
“Sure enough. Game’s on TV anyway. That’ll be fifty bucks.”
“Tony, run in and get this jerk his money from your mom. Tell her fifty dollars.”
As the boy retreated to the house, Tim returned his attention to the round stone tablet set in the earth. He made his decision and slipped the pry bar into the slight gap and lifted it. Working carefully, he was able to maneuver the bar further under the lip and slide it over. Once it was propped on the edge, he set the bar aside and used his hands to push it further off the hole revealing a dark, deep hole that his eyes couldn’t penetrate.
“Tony!” he called. “Bring the flashlight from the kitchen drawer when you come back out.”
“I got a Maglite here on my belt,” said the disgusting local tractor driver, and he handed it over to Tim. “What’s down there?”
“I dunno,” Tim answered, so consumed with the possibilities of the hole that he forgot how disgusted he was with the flashlight owner. “I can’t really see anything.”
Tim was shining the light at the hole, examining the edges, and running the beam down the cylindrical sides. The appearance of marble along the rim was extended into the hole as far as he could see. It was perfectly smooth on the sides and the appearance was almost crystalline. Tony returned with the man’s money and the other light so they flashed both beams into the hole and still couldn’t see the bottom.
“Shhhh,” Tim said as he dropped a large stone into the abyss. They listened for several seconds but never heard it hit the bottom. It was obviously crazy deep!
“What have you done?” boomed a deep voice from behind them. “You have brought disaster upon yourselves and many others as well!”
The two men and the boy turned to see Tomba standing beside the great, old sycamore. He seemed even larger in the daylight, and a look of sheer terror blanketed his face.
“Quickly, return the cover! You must replace the lid before he awakens! Perhaps it is not too late. Be quick!”
The man moved as he spoke and rushed toward the hole with the obvious intent of putting the stone back in place, but before he reached his target, a great and horrible screech erupted from the darkness at their feet. It pierced the tranquility of the autumn afternoon, rattling the windows and causing hundreds of birds to leap into the air from the forest trees. The screech ended as quickly as it began, but it was followed by a cacophony of clicking sounds, like thousands of fingers tapping a table top at once.
Click, click, click, clickclickclickclickclickclickclickclick.
It grew louder, and louder.
“Doom! We are all doomed!” shouted Tomba. “It is too late to stop him from returning. Run! Run for your lives!”
Turning toward the house, Tim and Tony intended to get inside. Jim, being slow to move at any time, had not yet comprehended the situation. Tomba joined the father and son and headed toward the old house. Before they made it more than ten feet, a thick fog burst forth from the darkness. Spurting well above the tree tops, it spread out into a great dome that enveloped the entire open yard and house. It formed walls on every side that prevented view beyond that gray membrane in any direction. The previously bright October afternoon was now transformed into what felt like a gloomy overcast winter evening with most of the sun being filtered out.
“Get into your house!” Tomba yelled.
Now, even the rude redneck was beginning to move.
The fog ceased to flow from the hole, but the clicking sound became even more intense. Louder. Louder still!
As the two men and the boy reached the back porch, they turned to urge the fat man to move. He had only gone a few feet before the clicking reached the surface, and a sea of small, black creatures swelled up over the lip of the hole and scattered in every direction as they poured out. With bulbous abdomens of about a foot in diameter and multi-jointed legs that jutted in every angle, it became quickly obvious that they were huge spiders!
“Inside!” Tim ordered his children! He shoved them inside and was immediately followed by the Native American guardian. Once inside, they turned in anticipation that Jim would be on their heels. Instead, they were witness to two things. First, they saw him trip over the pry bar. Second, he was overwhelmed by the spider horde and both bitten and then spun into a silk cocoon.
Tim slammed the door and then ran to the kitchen window to make sure it was closed. It was open, and he barely had slammed it down when black legs scrambled over the glass.
“Quick! Make sure all of the other windows are closed!” he ordered.
With haste, all of the windows and doors were successfully secured, and everyone was gathered in the family room. Traci was holding Teresa. Tony was holding on to his mother’s right leg. Everyone was looking at Tomba with a mixture of fear and hopefulness. They were fearful of both what was emerging from the hole and of the reaction that Tomba may have at Tim’s disregard of his warnings. At the same time, they all were hoping against hope that Tomba would harbor some answer to how they might escape with their lives. That hope was quickly dispelled.
“We are doomed,” he simply announced. “You have killed us all with what you have done. Us, and perhaps many, many more.”
Tim was looking out the window. Between the flittering legs, he could see that his yard was being transformed into a magnificent globe of intertwining spider silk which created the largest web that anyone had ever seen, at least anyone in modern history. As he looked closer, he could see that leering, insulting Jim was now suspended in the air. He was hanging from a line that stretched to the domed ceiling, dangling like a deer carcass after the hunt.
The clicking sound was now all around them. It was echoing from every corner of the house as they were quickly being encased in their own web cocoon.
The Indian had continued his depressing description of how their lives would end. “…and, then when he is done toying with us, he will drain our bodies and move on to find other prey.”
Tim turned on him. “Shut up! Just shut up, will you?!”
Stunned, the stone sentry fell silent.
“There must be a way out of this,” suggested Traci. “How did your people survive?”
“Most did not,” began Tomba. “He claimed nearly our entire clan and this after he had wiped other clans from the earth throughout our trading area.”
“You keep saying ‘he.’ All I see are huge spiders,” said Tim. “What are we missing?”
“The spiders you see are only his servants. He has not yet arisen. He will soon follow. And when he does, we will perish.”
Teresa was weeping. She was now sitting on the couch, rocking back and forth, and mumbling a prayer between sobs. Tony had fallen silent and was sitting with his back to the sofa, leaning to one side against his sister’s legs. She had wrapped one arm around his neck.
“But Tomba, you obviously defeated him before,” Traci pointed out. “There must be a way to live through this. How did your people do it?”
He explained: “The Great Evil was a man, a shaman to a clan that lived nearer where the sun rises. He became obsessed with dark magic, with the ability to manipulate his form and change his body into that of various creatures. One night, he shifted into the form of a small, black spider. While in that form, he was seduced by the wiles of a she-spider, and as with all female spiders, she meant to have him as a meal in the end. However, before she could finish him, he cast a hasty spell of self-preservation and attempted to revert to human form. It was an imperfect spell that left him trapped between forms, condemned to spend the future as part man and part spider. The result was an angry insanity, and he began to wipe his own people from the earth as he feasted upon the flesh of his family and his clan. Once he had eaten all of his own people, he began to seek out other clans, and soon most of our peaceful people were gone.
Those of us who were left had gathered here to call upon the Great Spirit to take vengeance upon the Great Evil. We danced and we prayed. We called out in our great fear and desperation. In His great mercy, He heard our pleas. When the shaman found us, the Great Spirit drove him into the depths below this place and held him there while we fashioned the stones of containment. There he has been kept until your foolishness today. Now, he is free and we will die.”
Tim grabbed his shotgun, inserted several shells, and pumped a round into the chamber. Pulling aside the curtains, he took a glimpse outside to assess the situation. He found that the web work was completed, and now a thousand spider eyes were positioned between the house and the hole, staring eagerly at him and his trapped family as if knowing that it was only a matter of time.
As he watched them watching him, he noticed that the darkness of the abyss had been replaced with a blue luminescence.
“The hole is glowing,” he announced.
“He is coming now,” replied Tomba. “The walls of this wooden abode will not resist him for very long.”
Traci was near panic. “Call out to your Great Spirit again! Ask him to spare us! We will not be so stupid again! Please! Ask him to rescue us!”
“It is not possible,” he answered. “We have not made the preparations. We do not have the herbs and the fire. We do not have the dancers and the wise men. I do not know the words to speak.”
The house began to rumble, pictures fell from the walls, lamps rattled on tables, and a crack split a window over the kitchen sink. The blue glow now lit up the entire web dome and leaked into the room giving everyone an eerie appearance. From outside, there arose a chorus of high-pitched squeals as the minions greeted their master. Inside the home, curiosity drove five sets of human eyes to cluster into the two rear windows to see the sight. Terror consumed any hint of hope that they had retained.
Standing in the middle of the yard between the house and where the old stone had once been stationed with hundreds, perhaps thousands of squirming spiders swarming around his eight multi-jointed legs was a massive creature with the abdomen of a spider and the torso of a man. His face was shaped like a human, but he had large, bulbous eyes and pincers extended from each side of his jaw. As he studied the house and the human eyes at the windows, the pincers moved in and out in anticipation.
Then, as if he had only then noticed, he turned his attention to the fat morsel in the cocoon. Moving so quickly that he was a blur, he came up beside the immobilized man. Bringing his huge eyes up evenly with the Jim’s, he seemed to savor the moment briefly and then the pincers sunk deeply into the man’s throat. The man-spider then began to drain him of the juices of life until he was nothing more than a gunny sack of dry human bones.
“Ahhhhhhh, it has been so long,” exclaimed the creature. “Ah ha ha ha ha!”
As if the large man were only an appetizer, the insane arachnid turned his attention back to the house. Moving up to the porch, he used his front feet to delicately examine the wood frame, the support posts, and the gutters along the porch roof.
“Come out. Come out. Let us discuss your fates.” His voice was like the screech of a squeaky hinge. “Come out now and perhaps I may spare some of you.”
Tomba said: “He lies. He will spare none.”
“I am not going to sit here and wait for him to come get us!” Tim exclaimed. “I’ll see how he likes the taste of buckshot!” He grabbed up the shotgun and reached for the door knob.
“No!” Teresa screamed! “Don’t go out there Dad! Don’t do it! Oh, God no!”
Tony latched onto Tim’s arm and pulled. Traci tried to get in the way.
“Look!” he said. “We have two choices. First, we can sit in here and wait for that thing to tear the walls down and find us. Or, we can take it to him. I’m not going to cower in here like a beaten dog. He may kill us, but he’ll have to do it the hard way!”
“Come out!” shouted the man-spider. “Perhaps I will be quick and you will feel no pain. If you make me work, I will be slow and you will feel your life drain from your feeble bodies!”
Tim looked each member of his family in the eyes. He apologized for bringing this upon them and he told each of them that he loved them deeply. After several moments of quiet closeness, he looked over at Tomba and opened the door.
Stepping outside, he leveled the shotgun at the giant being. He could sense the evil intent and dread settled on his soul.
“Taste this!” he shouted. Then he fired the shotgun into the body of the shaman. He slid another round into place and fired into the abdomen. Neither shot had any effect.
“Ah ha ha ha.” The man-spider just laughed. “Do you think your silly weapon is any match for my magic? You are weak and stupid. Ah ha ha ha.”
From the point at the end of the thing’s abdomen, a huge stream of silk burst forth and enveloped Tim. He was pulled from the porch and immediately strung up next to the remains of the tractor driver. Tomba had followed Tim through the door and he began to chant and call on the Great Spirit following the few rituals that he knew.
“Ah ha ha ha,” squealed the creature. “You are of my race! You still rely on the words, but you know not the meaning. Your words are lost on the wind.” Another stream of silk grabbed up the guardian and soon he hung next to Tim.
From inside, the evil presence could hear Traci trying to pray. She was trying to call up a faith that she had not cultivated. She was appealing to the Great Spirit to which Tomba’s people had called upon hundreds of years before. With a sweep of one massive forefoot, the giant spider swept away a rear wall. Spotting the praying mother inside, he snagged her with more silk and strung her up leaving only Teresa and Tony.
The two children were huddled in a corner with Teresa shielding her younger brother. She was holding her Bible, and with her eyes closed she was praying with all of her heart.
“Ahhhhh. One of innocent faith,” said the evil one. “But will that faith save you? We will see. But, first I think I will test you. I will take your brother before you.”
“No!” shouted the girl. “Leave him alone!”
“I will take him and I will eat him first. Sometimes the youngest are the sweetest!”
“Oh, God. Oh, Lord! Please rescue us!”
“I will take him slowly. I will sip him like a pool of cool water. Unless. Oh, here is an idea. Unless you renounce your faith. If you will admit that your faith is worthless, I will only eat you and spare your brother.”
“Never!” she shouted at the abomination before her. “I will never turn from my God. I love Him completely and even if you eat us, He will bring us close to Himself and you will still be alone in your pain!”
The blue light in the man-spider’s abdomen turned red and his eyes focused on the girl until the hatred was palpable. With no further words, two streams of silk erupted encasing both Teresa and Tony. They were hung beside the others, and the hateful being surveyed his handiwork. Looking at the girl, he moved in on her brother.
“Ah ha ha ha ha. Now, you will wish you had taken my suggestion. Now, you will see your brother die.”
Still watching the terror in the girl’s eyes, he moved his pincers into place beside the boy’s neck. Moving slowly as he promised, he slid them into place until they were depressing the skin above Tony’s carotid arteries. The boy’s eyes were desperate, but he would not beg for his own life.
Teresa closed her eyes and prayed one more time. “Please, oh God. Please. You know my heart. You know how much I love you and how much I love my family. Please save us.”
“Your faith is truly pure, but you do not know the right words,” said the ancient shaman. “Let us end this.”
The pincers punctured the boy’s neck, but before he could take even a tiny taste, another sound rose above the sound of his squirming horde. It was the sound of a trumpet!
The gloomy web-structured fog split from east to west and was torn aside. In a flash, another being descended, a being dressed all in white. He had wings that extended high above his head and he carried a sword that gleamed with a brightness that exceeded the light of the sun. Luminescent eyes caught sight of the man-spider and immediately he struck out with his blade, slicing through the tips of the pincers. He then shoved the creature aside and stood between the thing and the children. The hundreds of smaller spiders fled, spilling into the abyss faster than they had emerged.
“I am Gabriel,” declared the rescuer. “The Lord of Hosts has heard the cries of his beloved daughter. The sincerity of her faith and the purity of her love have summoned me here. Now, you will be gone. Go back to the abyss. Stay there until that day when you will be called to account. Be gone to the darkness that matches your soul. Be gone now!”
With a squeal, the man-spider retreated to the hole leaving the results of his destruction behind. The angel swept his hand and the cover plate returned to its spot. He then swept his hand again and the great stone slid across the leaf-covered grass and was repositioned on top. That completed, Gabriel glided over to Teresa. Staring deeply into her eyes, he smiled and the affection he felt for her warmed her heart.
“You have done well, young one. Your love for the Mighty One and your love for your family are evident. You have a bright future for the Lord of Hosts makes all things work out for the benefit of those that love Him. Continue to walk in faith.”
Having said this last, he moved to the center of the yard and began to spin. As he spun, a light bloomed from him and the web fell free and was wrapped up into the spin. The fog followed and an instant later the autumn sunlight had returned. Teresa, Tomba, and the rest of the family fell free of their cocoons which were then swept up into the whirling light. When all was returned to normal, the light that was Gabriel ascended into the sky until it disappeared from view.
Teresa sat there weeping, holding her brother. Tim, Traci, and Tomba embraced above them. Behind them, they heard a belch. Turning around, they saw Jim, the obnoxious redneck sitting with his back to the great stone. He was alive and restored!
Obviously dazed, he said: “Um, excuse me. I apologize. That was rude.” He continued to rattle on a bit: “Um, I’m not sure what just happened, but I’m not feeling real good. I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to get my tractor and go home. And, I think I’ll go to church tonight. I don’t know why, but it just seems like a good idea. Maybe I could come back next week and move that rock for you?”
“I don’t think that will be necessary,” replied Tim. “I’ve decided not to move it after all. Instead, I think I’ll make it the centerpiece of a new pavilion.”
As Jim got up and walked to his tractor, Tomba approached Tim, Traci, Teresa, and Tony. “Thank you,” he said. “I am grateful for your new plan.” To Teresa, he said: “I am most grateful for your faith, young one. Your faith has set us free.”
Turning away, he headed toward that old sycamore and said this last: “I am your friend, and now I am your guardian as well.” Rounding the huge trunk of the great tree, he vanished as if walking through an unseen door.
And the family was left sitting together on their lawn. Fallen leaves blew here and there. The sun formed mottled shadows as it shone down through the crooked branches of the mighty sycamore. Somewhere deep, deep below them a creature was held captive in the depths of Abandon.