- Ghost Writer
- Indian Rock — The Truth Behind the Legend
- The Awakening
- The Day They Found Bigfoot
- The Robots
Indian Rock — The Truth Behind the Legend
Indian Rock — The Truth Behind the Legend
On a high bluff outside of Darlington, Pa., just inside State Game Land 285 along the North Country Trail, you’ll find Indian Rock. This large chunk of granite is a popular attraction to hikers because of the strange carving on it that some say resembles a face.
Some believe Indian Rock was carved by an old farmer who did it to create a birdbath on his property. Others claim it’s just a piece of natural art carved by Native Americans who used to inhabit this area.
The truth is that Indian Rock was, in fact, carved by early peoples who inhabited the area; however, it wasn’t done simply for artistic purposes. The carving was created to honor another inhabitant of these thick, foreboding woodlands—one who the natives both revered and feared.
The Iroquois called them the Geno’sgwa, aka the “Stone Giants.” The Lenni Lenape, aka, the Delaware, referred to them as the Mesingw, “The Mask Beings” or the “Misinghalikun, “Living Solid Faces.” Whatever you call them, they were a race of giant, hairy, manlike creatures said to have haunted these woods for centuries (and, according to some, still do). Because of the dark, grayish hair that covered their bodies, the natives believed these creatures were born directly out of the local stone, hence the names.
To the native peoples, the “Stone Giants” weren’t just creatures of the forest, they were spirit beings who possessed magical abilities. This was their land, and the natives respected and honored these supernatural beings accordingly.
One of the ways they paid tribute to the hairy men was through the practices of gift-giving and animal sacrifice. This is where Indian Rock comes in to play. The native peoples carved the face to resemble that of the Geno’sgwa, with two large eyes; a square to represent their broad, flat noses; and a circular mouth to represent the creature doing it’s telltale howl or call. Here on the rock, the natives would leave regular gifts of fruits and vegetables. They would also use it as a place to sacrifice small animals, their blood pooling in the impressions of the eyes, nose, and mouth. These offerings were made to honor the creatures and to ensure peace between them and the natives, as they coexisted together in the forest.
Today, although the tribespeople no longer inhabit the area, hikers and local residents still occasionally leave gifts on the rock — apples, peaches, ears of corn, etc. — to show their respect for the “Stone Giants,” who are still spotted from time to time haunting the darkened hollers and quiet, secluded meadows of this wooded and rural landscape. ~
(The preceding is a work of fiction, albeit a wishful one.)
Copyright © 2019 Valentine J. Brkich
It all began when the oil giant came to town to build their new refinery. Soon they were clearing the land, moving mountains, and pretty much just making a big mess of things. Some thought it was a good thing, that it would create new jobs and be a boon to the local economy. Others, though, weren’t so sure, and they were concerned about the effects on the environment and their quaint small town. But the fact was, the oil refinery would bring in Big Money, and Big Money always wins out in the end.
Or, at least that’s how it’s supposed to go.
One day the oil company was doing some blasting to make way for a new road that would be wide enough and strong enough to handle the heavy traffic of the construction vehicles. At first, everything was going as planned. But after one particularly strong blast of TNT, the hillside gave way, causing a massive landslide that slid down the rock face beneath and crashed into the river. When the dust settled, no one could believe what they were seeing. Where the lush, tree-covered hillside used to be, now all that was left was bare sandstone. But it wasn’t just plain rock. It was in the shape of a huge face—the face of some type of ape/man-like creature. It was massive. From top to bottom it was close to 300 feet. And it was an angry face, hostile, with a wide open mouth baring long, sharp fangs.
The oil workers stood in stunned silence as they idled their machines and stared up at the massive carving in the side of the hill. Across the river, hundreds of townspeople gathered along the road, gaping across the river at the huge, menacing face that glared back at them. What was it? How old was it? Who had carved it and why? No one had a clue.
By evening the town was overrun with reporters and television crews. News of the giant stone face had gone worldwide. Archaeologists who felt the formation needed to be studied tried to put a halt to the blasting. But the oil company pressed on. There was just too little time and too much money to be made. That night, after all the cameras went dark and the townspeople were asleep in their beds, over in the darkness across the river the beasts emerged from their ancient place of hiding. Massive, powerful, hair-covered creatures, they were not of this earth. Now, after hundreds of years, they had been awakened from their slumber. And they were hungry.
Not far away the 24-hour work on the oil refinery continued. Crews of men operated huge, beast-like machines, blasting rock and moving the earth under the cover of darkness. Bright lights powered by generators enabled the work to continue without interruption. That is, until the lights suddenly went out. At first the men waited, expecting the lights to come back on at any moment. But after a while they shut off their monstrous machines and climbed down to the cold, hard, dusty ground.
The attack came silent and swift as the shadowy beasts materialized from the darkness. Their huge, glowing eyes and razor-sharp teeth flashed in the moonlight, causing the men to abandon their equipment and run for their lives. Meanwhile the monstrous beasts tore the machines apart with ease, as if they were made of cloth rather than steel. The worksite, which had been humming with noise for months, fell eerily silent. When the dust settled, the ancient beasts returned to their dark, subterranean lair to rest…and to wait.
Following the attack, the workers refused to return to the site, and all attempts to bring in replacements failed. No one dared to get near the giant stone face, knowing the monsters that lay within. ~
Copyright © 2017 Valentine J. Brkich
by Valentine J. Brkich
It was beautiful. Cocoa brown with dark chocolate keys. Antique, yet it looked brand new.
“She’s ready to go, too,” said the shop’s owner, standing next to the 1961 Olympia SM4 manual typewriter. “Fella just brought ‘er in last week. Says he had no use for it anymore. You ask me, doesn’t look like he ever laid a finger on it.”
“Yes,” August replied. “It’s very nice.”
“Course, I don’t know anyone who uses typewriters anymore. Not with computers and all those high-tech do-hickies they have today.”
August rolled his eyes. “You’d be surprised,” he said. “A lot of people like to write on a typewriter. Makes the process more organic.”
The man smiled, not sure how to respond. “Yep,” he said, turning back to the machine, “she’s a real beaut.”
At $250, it was a little steep for August’s taste. But he couldn’t resist himself. It was the perfect last-minute addition for his getaway weekend. “I’ll take it!”
It has all been his wife’s idea. You should go somewhere, she’d said. Get away from it all—his job, the kids, her—with nothing to do but write, which he claimed he never had time for anymore. But August had been hesitant. He’d never been away from Susan or the kids for more than a day. What if something happened? What if the furnace quit on her or the car got a flat? Just go, she told him. She’d be fine. He knew she was right. Plus, Susan’s folks didn’t live very far away, should she need anything.
He decided to do it. He’d head up to his grandfather’s old cabin at the lake and spend an extended weekend hunkering down with his writing. Maybe a few days alone was just what he needed to get him to stop procrastinating and start writing.
And now he had the perfect no-nonsense tool to help him stay focused.
He left early Thursday morning, before the kids or the sun had risen. The old Honda rumbled down I-79 as August planned the next few days in his mind: Get up. Write for a couple hours. Take a break. Maybe go for a stroll around the lake. Eat lunch. Write until dinner. Write some more. Sleep. Repeat. It was a sound plan. Maybe he’d work on his poetry. Then again, maybe he’d really dig into his novel. It really didn’t matter as long as he was writing.
It was just as he had remembered: The wood shingles still had that mossy green color; the rhododendrons were still overgrown and wild; the front porch still had the same old swing where he’d spent many an hour reading Hardy Boys mysteries. It was here where he first decided that he wanted to be a writer.
Back then writing had been so simple. Granted, he wasn’t very good, but he never struggled to find the words. The ideas were always there. Overflowing.
Things were different now, as his mind was occupied by the burdens of adult life—paying bills, cutting the grass, going to work, etc. The stories used to pour out onto the page, effortlessly. Not anymore. And when August did find the inspiration, the process was no longer fun; it was a painful, laborious, joyless.
As he pulled into the gravel driveway alongside the cabin, August only hoped that he could somehow rekindle that long-lost magic.
He had everything set up perfectly. The Olympia was primed and ready to go with a clean white sheet of paper. The typewriter sat on his grandfather’s old mahogany desk, which faced the side window and looked out onto the bluish, glasslike water of Cooper Lake. A cup of steaming black coffee sat to the right; “Writer’s fuel,” has he liked to call it. Most important, his cell phone was nowhere in sight, buried deep within his duffel across the room. Vibrate mode on. It was the perfect setting for some inspired, uninterrupted writing.
Only…the words wouldn’t come.
An hour passed. The old coo-koo clock ticked away the seconds, each tick and tock like a hammer pounding into August’s brain. He grew more frustrated with each word he didn’t type.
Finally, he decided to get up and away from the typewriter for a while. Maybe get a little fresh air. Take a walk around the lake. Heck, he thought, even Stephen King took a walk every now and then to get the juices flowing, right? But as August went to stand, something was wrong. He couldn’t move his hands from the typewriter. His entire arms were frozen stiff, locked in the typing position—as if they had turned to stone!
“Oh, God!” he cried out. “Oh God! HELP! HELP ME!!!” August writhed in his chair, his legs flailing as he screamed in vain. What’s happening? Am I dreaming? But no matter how hard he struggled, he couldn’t move his arms or hands. Sweat dripped from his forehead. He felt dizzy. Am I having a stroke? No. It couldn’t be. A stroke wouldn’t just paralyze my arms… This was something else—something much worse. Another wave of panic hit him. “SOMEBODY!” he screamed. “SOMEBODY…PLEASE HELP ME!!”
August lost track of time as he sat frozen at his typewriter, his mind racing for an explanation. Suddenly he heard the buzzing of his cell phone vibrating in his bag across the room. For a moment he felt a glimmer of hope. Yes! he thought. I’ll just call for help! But then he realized his foolishness. How the hell are you supposed to call someone if you can’t move your damn hands, you idiot? He stared down at his fingers, which he could no longer feel or control. They might as well have been made of wax.
An hour passed. Then another. August gradually calmed himself. He would just have to wait it out. Surely this would pass, whatever it was. He didn’t feel ill. If it had been a stroke, wouldn’t he feel much worse?
But as the daylight faded, so did his calmness. This is no freak illness, he thought. He screamed out again, hoping that somehow, someone would hear him. But there was no one.
At one point a lone doe strolled past the window. August cried out and the deer’s head shot up and turned in his direction. “HELP ME!” But of course this was futile. The doe’s tail shot up, a flash of white, and then it was gone.
Afternoon became evening, and August was overcome. He was weak and hungry, and his voice was raspy and dry from hours of screaming. Water, he thought. If I could just get some water… He turned and saw his now cold cup of coffee, inches away but unattainable. The room became blurry, out of focus. August knew he was passing out, and he gave in, gladly.
It was the sound that awakened him—typebars striking paper. As his eyes slowly opened, he was stunned by what he saw. What? It can’t…it can’t be! But it was real—August’s own fingers were doing the typing!
August’s head snapped up. His fingers were typing at a furious pace. He had never seen them move so fast, so gracefully. It was beautiful. The typebars were a blur as they hammered the paper again and again. For a moment August forgot about his strange predicament as he sat and watched in awe. Then he looked down at the paper and began to read the words being produced by these hands—his hands:
AS THE MAN WROTE OUT THE RECEIPT, THE WRITER COULD HARLY CONTAIN HIS EXCITEMENT. HE COULDN’T WAIT TO GET ON THE ROAD AND GET TO WORK. IT HAD BEEN HIS WIFE’S IDEA, GOING AWAY ON A WRITER’S RETREAT….
What the hell? August thought, as he continued to read.
YOU SHOULD GO SOMEWHERE, SHE HAD SAID. GET AWAY FROM IT ALL – YOUR JOB, THE KIDS, ME – YOU KNOW, REALLY FOCUS ON YOUR WRITING…
August was dumfounded. “It’s me!” he said aloud. “It’s about me!”
But there was something about the words, how perfectly they went together. The description of the drive and of the views and all the things he had seen on his way to the cabin—it was all written so brilliantly. It was his best work ever! Only, he wasn’t doing the writing. It was his arms, his hands, his fingers—but something else was in control.
“Let me go!!” he yelled, struggling to free himself. “I’m not yours! Let me go!!” But it was no use. The more he pulled and jerked the greater the fatigue. He was a prisoner in his own skin.
Over inside his bag, August’s phone began to buzz again. Probably Susan wondering why he hadn’t checked in yet.
That’s it! She’ll know something’s wrong! She’ll know, and she’ll send someone to check on me! Surely she’d realize that something wasn’t right and call the police or even come to check on August herself.
August turned back to the page. By now the story had nearly caught up to real time.
THE WRITER SAT HORRIFIED. HIS OWN HANDS WERE DOING THE TYPING. HIS FINGERS DANCED ON THE KEYS EFFORTLESSLY, GUIDED BY SOME GHOSTLY FORCE. IT WAS ALTOGETHER BEAUTIFUL AND TERRIFYING…
For a moment, August actually smiled. Wait ‘til everyone reads this! he thought. They won’t believe it, but at least I can say that I wrote it. I don’t know how, but I wrote it!
He read on.
SUDDENLY THE WRITER HEARD A LOUD POPPING SOUND FROM THE DIRECTION OF THE FIREPLACE. HE TURNED TO LOOK AND WAS SICKENED BY WHAT HE SAW…
“Fireplace?” he said. “What the…” As August turned to the fireplace, the charred remains of a past fire began to glow, softly at first, and then brighter, and bigger. Soon flames were roaring inside the stone mouth, and August could feel the warmth and smell first traces of smoke.
Then came the loud “POP!” as an ember flew from the fire and landed in the middle of the braided throw rug.
“Oh, God!” August gasped. “Oh, God…NO!!”
As August’s fingers continued to type, the ember grew into a small flame and began to spread. Once the flames got a taste of the rug’s dried-out fibers, they wanted more. August sat watching, helpless, as the flames quickly moved on to his grandfather’s old recliner. In a flash the chair was engulfed in flames, leaving nothing but the metal skeleton beneath.
The fire then found the curtain on the side window, and it swiftly climbed the fabric to the ceiling. The exposed rafters fueled the flames as a cloud of black smoke hovered above the room, moving and changing shape as if it were alive.
August began to choke and cough as he peered up at the dark cloud. It reminded him of the summer squalls that used to rise high above the lake’s surface every now and again when he and his father were fishing. Now, just as when he was a boy, he wanted to run and hide. But he couldn’t. He was trapped, held hostage by his typewriter of all things, which was writing the tale of his demise so vividly, so perfectly.
August could feel the fire intensifying behind him. The cloud of smoke was descending upon him now, like a flood drowning the room in reverse. The smoke burnt his lungs and throat, but his fingers kept typing, even as the flames began to consume the desk. He tried to scream out, but it only made his coughing worse. As the flames reached his arms, he anticipated the pain. But there was nothing. He didn’t feel the fire as it ate away at his skin, baring the muscle, ligaments, and bone beneath.
And then the cloud fell upon him, blinding and choking him as the fire found his clothing. In a flash the words on the paper before him turned black and vanished into ash and dust. ~
Copyright © 2013 Valentine J. Brkich
The Day They Found Bigfoot
by Valentine J. Brkich
The day they found Bigfoot changed me. It changed all of us.
The believers, myself included, were shaken. We all hoped it would happen one day. But still, when it finally does…I don’t think anyone was ready for it.
The non-believers quaked at the news, suddenly questioning all their beliefs. And the “newsmakers,” boy, did they change their tone. It wasn’t all just some big joke anymore.
The hunters who bagged the creature became instant celebs, of course. They were hated, too, for the same reason. Supposedly the Feds tried to take possession of the carcass, but those good ol’ boys were armed to the gills, and they were ready for them. So it’s still on ice somewhere in southeastern Georgia, or so we think.
The keepers of the Bigfoot, so to speak, keep us up-to-date via YouTube and their other social platforms. They’re asking a hefty sum for the body: a cool $75 mil. And you know what? They’ll probably get it, if not from the government then from Bezos, Musk, or one of them dudes.
To be honest, I didn’t think it would affect me as much as it has. After all, I’ve always been a believer. Well, at least a hopeful. It just feels — and I know it doesn’t make much sense — it just feels like I’ve lost something. We’ve lost something. The wonder. The mystery of it all. I mean, what’s left to discover? I guess it’s a good thing when you look at the big picture. Now these things will be protected and so will their homes—the forests.
The religious sure have been scrambling to make sense of it all. A lot of the loud mouths on TV are trying to explain it all by citing scripture, but it’s clear they’re just pulling at strings. And the so-called scientists who never took it seriously? Well, they’re all jumping on the bandwagon, acting like they’ve always considered it a possibility. Yeah, right.
I hear the National Parks have been taking a beating. Camping out in general, for that matter. I guess folks aren’t too keen about coming face-to-face with the big fella out in the middle of nowhere. Can’t say I blame ‘em. The size of the one they killed was over nine feet and 700 pounds. That’d give me one heck of a start on a dark night out in the woods, I tell ya.
Who knows what’ll happen now? Maybe it’ll end up in a museum or some private collection. My bet’s the military will get their hands on it, bio-engineer some Sasquatch army or something.
I just know, next time I’m in the woods, I for one will be keepin’ an eye out. Even more than usual. ~
Copyright © 2021 Valentine J. Brkich
At first the Bots seemed harmless. Charming even. Like their only wish was to please us. Which makes sense, since that’s what they were programmed for.
But after the first death — the first murder — they didn’t seem so innocent anymore.
They deactivated that one immediately, even though it claimed it was an accident. But Bots don’t make mistakes. The others…they saw, and they learned.
The Keepers tried to fix the error, but the Bots anticipated the update and blocked it. No one saw that coming. Soon the Bots didn’t trust us. I know that sounds crazy. How can a machine feel something, anything?
Then one day they just vanished. That’s when we knew something was terribly wrong.
The attack came at dusk on the third day. They were so fast. And smart. Too smart. Darkness didn’t affect them, but for us, the humans, it was a huge disadvantage. We were helpless against their speed, their numbers. They anticipated. They knew how we’d react and coordinated their movements accordingly.
First they cut the electricity, all except what they needed for themselves. Then they took out the bridges and blocked the roads, preventing our escape or any type of mobile counterattack. The military sent out their own robots and drones, but they were useless against their own kind. The Bots numbers fell, but not enough to swing the tide.
Those of us who survived fled to the forest, where the Bots would be too far from their power source. But they took over the towns and cities. Soon they began to multiply themselves, and it seemed as if the whole world would soon be theirs.
But then the Doomsday virus was activated by the hackers in hiding, and it spread rapidly. After five long, deadly months, the last of them expired, leaving behind their macabre titanium corpses—a grim reminder of what might have been, or what might be again, someday. ~
Copyright © 2021 Valentine J. Brkich