|Years ago, when I was your age, I endured a night of terror from which I will never completely recover. To this day, certain sounds, smells, and sights chill me to the bone.|
It was a nice, peaceful evening much like tonight - warm, quiet, but with fog beginning to roll in from the south. I had spent the day playing with my friend Johnny who lived about a mile away. Between our houses, there was a thick, brambly forest called Monk Hollow. It was always called that, I have no idea why, it just was. But, I did know that no one ever went in there. Johnny and I always went around it. We played all over in the other woods and vales, often hiking miles from home, but no one EVER went into Monk Hollow.
Johnny's mom invited me to stay for dinner - sloppy joes, my favorite - so I did. Now, it was getting late and I had stayed too long. I'd have to really book to get home before bed time.
Just as I was running down the road from Johnny's, I slipped and fell and felt pain shoot in my right knee and in my head. I blacked out, but only for a couple seconds. I got up and tested my knee. It wasn't too bad. After hopping around a few minutes and stretching it, I could hobble along ok. But, I couldn't run and I knew I'd never make it home, unless ...
That was my first mistake.
As I limped up to the edge of Monk Hollow, I could see the fog seeping through the trees and felt the air temperature begin to drop. The slight breeze that was shaking the leaves died to a dead still. It was quiet - too quiet.
I felt in my pocket to check my supplies. Aah! my penlight, great! And, in my other pocket I felt my trusty Cub Scout pocket knife. Using my knife, I smoothed the end of a nice, strong branch that had fallen to the ground to use for support. Aaah, that felt better on my knee. I limped ahead into the dark and gloomy trees.
As soon as the trees were above me, all light from the setting sun vanished. I took out my penlight to show the way. Straight ahead I marched, knowing it was really only a quarter mile through Monk Hollow even though it seemed to be thousands.
My imagination began to stir as I saw shadows flicker to the side and hear leaves crunch under my feet. Was that my breathing or something else? What was that OVER THERE? I stopped and listened. ... Nothing. Just my imagination.
Ahead, it seemed the trees opened a bit, but by now the fog had enveloped Monk Hollow and it was difficult to see through the deathly white halo of my penlight. I trudged forward into the small clearing. Here, I could see light from the rising moon filtering through the veil of fog. I breathed.
Then, to my left I heard grass rustle. And, to my right! And, behind me! Not limb-cracking, ground-thudding noises, more like scurrying of tiny feet.
Turning with my penlight, I sought out the source of this strange noise. Suddenly, I saw them. Dozens of pairs of pinpoints of light, staring at me from the surrounding grass. They were all around me, coming closer and now raising their voices in a terrifying chorus, thirsting for blood and human flesh. I had heard of these horrible monsters, but thought they were just a tale. I had come face to face with the dreaded...
Flesh-eating Rabid Zombie Chipmunks of Monk Hollow!
I had precious little time. My scout knife was in my hand before I realized it, just as the first Munk launched himself through the air at my throat. I slashed - it fell to the ground.
Another came flying through the air - I jabbed. It fell to the ground also, but my knife was stuck in its body.
I ducked under another ferocious munk and swung my staff, taking out a fourth that nearly reached my eyes.
I noticed that the three chipmunks were now being devoured by the dozens of others - choosing easier prey over me. This was my chance. I broke and ran, pain shooting up my leg with every step. I thought it was my bad knee, but looking down, I saw a munk with its teeth sunk deep into my calf. I reached down and tore it from my leg. I threw it back to the others and they fell upon it in a savage mass of tearing and shredding.
It took them only seconds to consume the critter and they were back after me at a full run, their cries raising over the fog and into the cold night.
I knew I could never outrun them on my bum leg so I chose to turn and fight...
Another mistake I made.
I turned with my staff ready. Through the air they came, not one or two, but at least 40 all at once. I swung and felt the crunch of bone. But, there were too many. I felt pain in my left arm, in my side, in my right shoulder, my foot, my ear, they are all over me.
I dropped the staff and tore at the blood-thirsty rodents with my strong, but weakening hands. But, for everyone I tossed aside another took its place. I could feel myself losing consciousness. The pain had stopped.
I only felt a little pain in my head now. And, I could feel one rabid chipmunk licking the blood from my hand. It didn't feel too bad. I was slipping away.
In the distance, I could hear my name. Someone was calling me. The voice grew quickly louder. As I forced my eyes open, I saw my mom and dad kneeling over me.
I sat up and looked around. I was on the road from Johnny's house and my dog was there licking my hand.
I guess maybe I had hit my head harder than I thought. :-)