Why am I here? Because I want to be able to talk about what happened, at least to my sister. She can’t talk about it, either. Or won’t. It’s been two years, and we still don’t talk about Mom and Dad, not even about the good times we had growing up, the trips we took, the family picnics out at the lake, all that.

As soon as I try to remember the good times, up comes what happened, and I just can’t go there. The way I see it, being able to talk to you about what happened is probably the first step. If I don’t take it, I’m afraid a big part of my life will be gone.

You probably want to know what this is all about, right?

Only if I want to talk about it? No, I don’t want to; but I know I have to.

Up to me? Okay, I’ll start at the beginning and see how far I get.

Everything started when Mom and Dad decided to move. They had a nice place here in the city, overlooking the lake, and we assumed they’d stay until they couldn’t take care of themselves anymore. The problem was, the house was perched on a hillside, and they had to climb a bunch of stairs just to get inside, and then more stairs to reach the living room, and even more stairs to reach their bedroom. Their knees were giving out; so, they decided they needed a house that was on one level and wasn’t on a steep hill.

It wasn’t long before they found a place right outside a quaint little town a couple of hours away. You’ve probably been there, or least have driven by it, if you’ve ever gone up to Hurricane Ridge to take in the view.

Yes, that’s it.

Anyway, they told us the house didn’t have a view of any lake, but it was the right size, and was all on one level. Plus, it was on ten acres, all heavily wooded. They’d have their own little forest.

“Think of all the wildlife,” they said, “And besides, it’s an easy walk to a bakery and coffee shop, and only a little further to grocery stores and a medical clinic.”

We asked how much the owners wanted for it.

“Ah,” they said, “That’s what sold us. They wanted practically nothing. The previous owners died, and their two kids wanted it sold right away. The broker said the kids were young, in their early twenties, and were offering a sizeable discount for a quick sale.”

The place needed work, but Mom and Dad said they could spend a fair amount on repairs and improvements, and it would still be a terrific bargain. So, they went for it.

When Sis and I heard about the age of the sellers, we wondered what had happened to their folks. They couldn’t have been very old, and it appeared they died at the same time. The documents Mom and Dad received said the kids inherited the property from both parents, not just one of them. Car accident that killed them both, perhaps? Now I wish we’d dug into this a little deeper.

Sis and I drove out to take a look a few days after they moved in. Out in the woods, just like Mom and Dad said, and it was pretty isolated, but even so, they were only a few minutes from civilization.

We’re coming to the hard part, so if I have to stop, I hope you’ll understand.

Thank you. I’ll do what I can.

Okay, I’ll cut to the chase. It was almost noon on a Sunday, the day after Sis and I visited, when I got the call from the sheriff of the county where Mom and Dad now lived. He told me that Sis and I needed to get to his office, as soon as possible. It involved Mom and Dad, but he wasn’t going say anything else until we arrived. “You needn’t call your folks,” he said; “They won’t answer.”

I can hardly tell you how awful the drive was, but it was nothing compared to what lay ahead. Sis and I were frantic by the time we found the sheriff. Right away we told him we wanted to know what was going on.

The sheriff wasn’t a man to waste words. “Your folks are dead, at least we think they’re your folks. The medical examiner is pretty sure the two people in there, what’s left of them anyway, are a man and a woman, but he wants the State forensic lab to take a look.”

We told him we wanted to know what he was talking about.

“Okay,” he said, “The woman who delivers your folks’ Sunday morning paper called us a few hours ago and said their door was wide open. She went up to check, and saw bloody tracks on the front steps. She called 911. I sent a deputy out, and here we are.”

“Ordinarily,” he said, “I’d ask you to make a positive identification, but I’m afraid that’s not possible in this case.”

Not possible? We wanted to see our folks, and told him so.

“No, you don’t,” he said; “There’s nothing left but a lot of bones and some bloody clothes. You can help by telling me whether you recognize the clothes in this bag.”

Sis and I were now holding each other, and could barely say anything for a few minutes. What happened? Did bears get inside? Wolves?

“That’s what we thought at first,” he said, “but there aren’t any grizzlies or wolves in this part of the state, and besides, we’ve never seen animal tracks anything like these. All we know is that whatever attacked your folks is big, and that it craves human flesh. It left two skulls and two piles of bones with nothing but little pieces of flesh still attached. Most of their intestines are gone as well.”

A little later, after Sis was sedated and lying down, I asked the sheriff if he’d seen anything like this before.

He hesitated a moment, then said, “Once before. Same place, not long ago. We decided to keep a lid on it until we know more. Last thing we want is to cause panic. People would be moving away in droves.”

I guess you know more now, I told him. He looked at me, eyebrows raised like he couldn’t imagine I knew something he didn’t.

That’s when I told him it’s still in those woods, and probably will stay as long as it gets fed. Might even be reproducing. He didn’t have anything to say to this.

After that, Sis and I came back home, and haven’t said anything about it since that day. We felt it was only right to tell the relatives that Mom and Dad had passed away, but that’s all we said. Most of them assumed we were overcome by grief and didn’t press us for details. A few got testy when we wouldn’t say what happened, but they just had to accept it. We were doing them a favor, whether they knew it or not.

We still have the property, of course. Wouldn’t dream of selling it until whatever is out there is gone. Wish I could say everyone who lives in that area feels the same, but I can’t. If any of the nearby landowners have an idea about what happened, there could be some real bargains being offered right now, if you know what I mean.

That’s it, Doc. The whole story. Thanks for listening. I think it’s helped.

By the way, I can’t tell you how glad I am you were willing to see me. The person who gave me your name said you were close to retiring, and that you and your wife are moving out of the city.

Say, Doc, you don’t look so good. Are you alright? …. Talk to me, okay?

Wait a minute. Don’t tell me you’ve bought a place out in the woods in the same area where my folks lived. And please don’t tell me your wife has already moved out there to get everything ready. Talk to me, Doc. I need to hear you say something, okay?


David Summers is a graduate of Knox College, and enjoys life in the Pacific Northwest where he writes short fiction and teaches literature at Bellevue College. His writing has appeared publications, including “Flash Fiction Magazine,” “Seattle Star,” “Rathalla Review,” “Close to the Bone,” RavensPerch,” “Erotic Review,” “Dissections” and “Mystery Tribune.”