Mark J. Wilcoxen
Adding five sugars to my coffee, I sit down back at my desk. It was Monday night so it was my job to take any calls that came in and I’d need the caffeine and sugar to stay awake. Other than the ritualistic call from old Mrs. Anderson insisting that someone was lurking around her duck coop, my shift was a quiet one.
Even crooks and miscreants hated working Mondays. It wasn’t like I wanted shit to go sideways, but sitting at a desk staring at a silent phone was the definition of boredom. If I was allowed to fiddle with my cellphone things wouldn’t be so bad but my hardass uncle actually wrote me up for that last week. Matching gems together to stave off the mounting boredom wasn’t worth losing my job. I had enough trouble dealing with his heckling when it came to my academy scores; giving him an excuse to fire me would make my life a living hell.
With how seriously he took his job you’d swear he was the chief of police of New York instead of a small Florida town you could walk through in ten minutes. Animal control were the real heroes in this community, with all the pythons and gators that they had to deal with.
As I sat there debating to get myself another sweet cup of coffee, and increase my odds of developing diabetes, the phone rang. The ringing causes me to jump. I sit there hardly believing that someone is actually calling until the phone rings again. I spring into action grabbing an empty pad, pen and answered the phone.
“911, what’s your emergency?” I said, trying not to sound nervous.
I heard soft sobbing from the other end of the line. I sit up in my chair and furrow my brow. Looked like my first call for the night, my job for that matter, was going to a doozy.
“Hello, if you’re in trouble I need ya to talk to me,” I said as I started tracing the call.
A whimper was my only response. I shifted in my seat uncomfortably as I mentally begged the computer to hurry tracking down my caller. Even though they hadn’t said anything, the person on the other end of the line was in clear distress. Maybe they couldn’t speak due to injury or a nearby danger but it made my job that much harder.
“Okay, can you tell me what happened and where you’re located?” I said softly hoping to coax them into talking.
Each beat of my heart sounded like a peal of thunder as I listened for the slightest hint of an intelligible sound from the phone. To my relief the trace came in.
“Hey, Mitchel there’s some sort of disturbance at the Gator Acres on Old Country Rd. Be careful,” speaking into my walkie talkie on my shoulder.
“Ah I didn’t know ya cared Rookie Reject,” came the response.
Rolling my eyes I turned my attention back to the gentle sobbing on the phone saying, “Okay, an officer is on the way he should be there in twelve min-”
“Tell him to burn down the house. It’s the only way,” said a female voice on the line; it sounded like Audrey Wellspring’s voice but meek.
My eyes go wide at her tone and statement. She sounded completely out of character by what she just asked. Sure I’ve heard stories from some veteran cops, on how onlookers would egg them on but asking a cop to commit arson was a first. And this was Audrey. The woman raised and slaughtered gators with her husband Jeb.
“Ah setting fire isn’t-”
“You can’t risk it getting loose and going after my son,” said Audrey, voice trembling.
I was dumbfounded by her words. ‘Risk it getting loose’ ; what the hell was that supposed to mean? Did one of her and her husband’s gators get loose? So far none of my training was helping me communicate with this woman. I needed more information that I could then radio to Mitchel.
“Okay, Audrey, can you tell me what happened?”
She didn’t respond; even her earlier whimpering had stopped. With each passing heartbeat my anxiety grew. Before I could form a question she inhaled shakily.
“We thought it was just a toy. How were we to know Jed’s great uncle had it trapped in that musty chest for a reason.”
I was lost at this point, “Uh huh. You said something about it going after your son,” I paused trying to remember the kids name, “Gilbert, is he currently with you?”
“No, he was small enough to squeeze out the bathroom window. So I told him to run to the storage shred and lock the door.”
“And are you still in the bathroom?”
“Yeah, it was the closest room with a lock.”
Okay, so we were dealing with a home invasion either by a person or an animal. I wasn’t sure which. I needed to get another officer over there and back up Mitchel. Wait, was she in the house she wanted us to burn down? She clearly wasn’t thinking straight. I radioed Mitchel, “Hey Mitchel, be careful. Audrey is in the bathroom. Whatever happened really shook her up. Her son, Gilbert, is in the storage shed. I’ll get Henest to give you a hand.”
Henest was patrolling way over on the opposite side of town so it’ll take him nearly twenty minutes to get there. He didn’t answer the radio the first couple of times, but I eventually got through to him. He sounded out of breath as he related how he’d caught a drunk old man Maythorn throwing rocks through the Greyfield’s windows.
With Shirly out sick, the station was down a fifth it’s manpower. With the nature of this call I’d likely have no choice but to call the sheriff in. Shit, my uncle was already in a sour mood with the town doc insisting that he cut red meat from his diet. This ought to be fun.
“Hey Sheriff Redcliff. There’s a situation at Gator Acres,” I said waiting for the curt reply.
“Is that so? And here I was twiddling my thumbs completely unaware,” barked my uncle.
“Mitchel has been keeping me updated.”
Figures. Mitchel was a brown nosing tool. For some reason my uncle treated him like a long lost son. It was practically written in stone that he’d take over the role of sheriff when my uncle retired.
“I’m on Jaycons. I’ll swing by the office, pick you up and give you a few lessons in proper police work. Maybe something’ll stick.”
Before I could ask about leaving the station unattended Audrey started crying again.
“Audrey, is everything okay?”
Her voice trembled as she said, “It’s at the door.”
A second later I heard the sound of something sharp scraping across wood. It was slow and drawn out, like whatever was making the sound wanted it to last as long as possible. After about two or three times the sound started to accelerate. By this point Audrey was in full meltdown mode. She was both crying and begging to not die like this; not to be torn apart slowly like Jed.
“Damnit Mitchel! Something is breaking down the bathroom door! Where the hell are you?!?” I yelled into the radio.
“Easy rookie,” growled Mitchel, “I’m pulling into the driveway now.”
Switching back to the phone I spit out, “Audrey, an officer is pulling up now! Hang on a little longer.”
By this point the scratching at the door sounded more like a wood chipper. It was so loud that it easily drowned out her sobbing pleas. My stomach sank when a loud crack and squeak came through the line. The bathroom door had been destroyed, leaving Audrey vulnerable. Once again the only sound was that of the woman openly sobbing like a terrified child.
“Damn, that was a long driveway,” said Mitchel over the radio, “I’m at the door.”
She was going to make it. We were going… Well Mitchel was going to save her. But I didn’t care if he got a parade at this point. Just as long as he got her out of this alive.
A strange voice came over the phone, “Do you love Mon-key?”
Though it was phrased as a question, it was spoken more like a statement. More strange was the sound of the voice; a creepy monotone, like how the voicebox in a doll or stuffed animal sounds. Also, the way it exaggerated the first syllable of “monkey” with a drawl was oddly disturbing.
Audrey whimpered once more before she released the most blood curdling scream I’ve ever heard. A grizzly series of wet pffft! sounds could be heard in the background; like the sound a knife makes when it is plunged into raw meat and pulled out. Cold shivers traveled up my spine and an iron vice seized my stomach when a sickly gurgling came over the line. That was the sound of Audrey drowning in her own blood. After a couple seconds the gurgling stopped and a horrible silence took hold. It was broken by a single word from the assailant, “Mon-key.” Once again the first part of the word was elongated.
I barely registered the sound of a car outside. I just sat there, my insides quivering like jelly over what I just heard. There was no doubt in my mind that Audrey had just been savagely murdered. But why the hell ask, “Do you love Mon-key?”
“Jack! Get your ass out here now!” growled Sheriff Redcliff through my shoulder walkie talkie, “Mitchel’s throwing up on the radio.”
As I ran out of the station the full weight of my uncle’s last sentence struck me. Mitchel, while he was a major kiss ass, had been on the beat for over ten years; four of which he spent in Jacksonville so he’d seen some shit. Whatever happened at Gator Acres had to be bad.
My uncle grilled me as though he caught me with a pair of bolt cutters or been lurking around a playground. “Did you get a description? You hear how they entered the house? Were they armed?”
My answers to each of his questions was either no or I don’t know.
Which resulted in him saying, “After this business is over, clear out your desk. There’s no room in my department for want-a-be’s that just passed the academy by the skin of their teeth.”
His words struck an angry nerve within me; causing me to glare right back at him. So he was going to use this as an excuse to strip me of my badge. Okay! When I handed it to him I’d make damn sure to tell him how much of a miserable bastard he was to deal with on and off the job.
“I just finished sweeping through the home,” came Mitchel’s voice weakly over the radio, “It’s a real shit show.”
My uncle met my glare with one of his own then spoke into the cruiser’s radio, “Mitchel, can you make heads or tails what happened out there?”
Mitchel didn’t respond right away like he was choosing his words carefully; something that was completely out of character for him.
“I think I found Jeb.”
“You think you found Jeb,” quipped my uncle, “Why do you think you found him?”
Once again Mitchel paused to pick his words carefully.
“There was this giant old fashioned chest in the living room,” Mitchel began but stopped short when he started to gag.
My uncle pressed down hard on the accelerator and I watched our speed increase to triple the posted speed limit. I silently thanked God that the road was mostly straight and completely empty.
“Talk to me Mitchel,” said my uncle with a slight edge to his tone.
“It looked like someone threw raw hamburger all over the room,” Mitchel barely managed to get out, “All the soft tissue is mangled into a pulp. I only think it’s Jeb because of the bones; even they have deep gashes in them.”
“What about Audrey?” I ask, already knowing the answer.
My uncle hit me with a cold stare but didn’t say anything.
“I found her body in the bathroom. She was still whole and recognizable but she had to’ve been stabbed over a dozen times.”
I pressed my head in my hand and pinch my sinuses. She had been alive only a few minutes ago. Then someone had to come along and butchered her. Why!?! What reason was there to not only kill someone in their own home but mutilate them. Maybe my uncle was right. Maybe I was a lousy cop because I was incapable of grasping the twisted logic of a psychopath.
“When I heard the scream I kicked in the front door and ran up to the bathroom,” said Mitchel still sounding ill, “I was sure I’d catch the perp and stop the attack, but… there was no sign of them. It doesn’t make any sense. The front and back door are nowhere near the bathroom and that’s the only room with a broken window. How the hell did they leave the house?”
I heard my uncle sigh through his nose. Then I felt the cruiser jostle as we pulled off Old County Rd and into the driveway of Gator Acres. Looking up I saw how several pine trees were just a couple of inches from the side of the cruiser. I’d never been up this way but I wasn’t surprised by the overgrowth. I’d only met the Wellsprings a couple of times in town but they embodied the redneck stereotype. Which is why Audrey’s fearful tone was so uncharacteristic.
The house came into view and my eyes darted all over its simple design; searching for anything of note. Mitchel stood by his cruiser wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. Poor bastard must have thrown up again.
My uncle pulled up beside him and hastily got out of the car. Mitchel related his findings as I too exited the vehicle. It was mostly the same that he’d reported over the radio with the addition of him searching around the house. Like the interior there was nothing amiss other than the butchered corpses of the Wellsprings.
“So there’s nothing?” asked my uncle as we walked up to the house.
“Well there was this odd stuffed animal in the bathroom with Audrey,” said Mitchel walking to the door but refusing to step inside.
“Stuffed animal?” I asked.
“Yeah, an odd looking sock monkey,” Mitchel replied without the demeaning tone he always had whenever he answered me, “It’s face down in a pool of Audrey’s blood.”
Seeing that Mitchel wasn’t going to reenter the house my uncle sent him to go find Gilbert. He told me to go search the bathroom while he took the living room. I was thankful my route to the bathroom didn’t take me near the Jeb splattered living room. Anything that could make Mitchel lose his lunch had to be bad.
Reaching the bathroom the first thing I noticed was the fragments that used to be the door. The barrier had been reduced to mere stripes of wood and sawdust. My stomach recoiled when I saw Audrey. Her slumped over position hid most of her injuries but it was clear what had happened in her final moments. Given the circumstances the blood pool should have been larger; not that I wasn’t nauseated enough, but given the violence of her death it didn’t make sense. At the edge of the pool lay an odd looking, two foot long, sock monkey.
Putting on a pair of latex gloves I gingerly picked up the toy and turned it to face me. Instead of being gray and white its body was a solid light brown with the ears and faces, that was currently soaked in Audrey’s blood, were a light tan. The thing also felt heavier than it should be. The eyes were the most off putting with how unnaturally black they were. Together with it’s frown gave the toy an oddly menacing expression. I nearly fell over when I gave its belly a light squeeze resulting in the toy saying, “Mon-key.”
This was what I’d heard over the phone. Same word. Same elongated syllable. So the assailant had used this as a twisted prop in the murder.
“Sick son of a bitch,” I said with a grimace.
Realizing something else, I gave the toy another squeeze. This time it said, “Mon-key love you.” That was new. While I was unsettled with how this thing’s dialog had been used in Audrey’s murder it wasn’t what my attention was focused on. Once more I pressed its belly noting how it squooshed and rippled almost like a waterbed.
“Egh, what is this thing stuffed with?”
I crammed the thing in a large evidence bag just as I heard my uncle approach. Turning I’m surprised to see him pale. Unlike Mitchel he’d been able to suppress the urge to vomit, but just barely. He took one look at the bathroom and shook his head.
“Thirty years on the force… and nothing even close to this,” he muttered under his breath.
Without another word he walked out of the house. I cast one last sad look at Audrey and followed him out. Mitchel was squatting by the open door of his cruiser trying to comfort the only survivor of the Wellspring family.
Gilbert held his head in his hands sobbing. The poor kid was only eight years old. Being small for his age I thought he was five when I first met him at Barry’s Barbershop a couple months back. Not liking that I got his age wrong he proudly marched up to me, stared me right in the eye and told me that he was eight. What he lacked in size he certainly made up for in spunk. Seeing him broken like this was soul tearing.
Mitchel came over nodding toward Gilbert, “Found him in the storage shed like you said. Can’t get a word out of him, not that I blame the kid. So what’s our next move here Sheriff?”
My uncle glanced at Gilbert then back at the house.
“Jack, get that piece of evidence stashed in the cruiser and get Henest down here along with the coroner. Then head back to the station with Gilbert. Mitchel and I are going to break out the shotguns and check the gator pens.”
I looked at him incredulously, “You think a gator did that?”
He marched up to my face and gave me a hard look.
“You have a better explanation for that mess in there,” he growled quietly so Gilbert wouldn’t overhear.
I didn’t flinch under my uncle’s gaze; something that I think surprised him. From the corner of my eye I could see that Mitchel wasn’t convinced a gator was responsible for the carnage either. Trying to retake control of the situation my uncle then added, “You know that the Wellsprings breed their own gators in the giant pit out back. They have several monster reptiles in there; chief among them is Clyde. That one is certainly strong and mean enough to…”
My uncle stopped short and glanced back. Gilbert, red eyed and whimpering, was staring at the three of us. My uncle cursed himself under his breath then motioned for Mitchel to follow him. I watched them head for my uncle’s cruiser for the shotguns then turned my attention back to Gilbert.
The boy's eyes were wide with terror and his mouth opened and closed rapidly, like he couldn’t decide between screaming or calling out a warning. What caused chills to raise up my spine and neck was that he was pointing at me. No… not me... the evidence bag containing the sock monkey.
Glancing down my eyes met those of the stuffed monkey. All the blood on its face was gone; there wasn’t even the slightest trace of discoloration to be found. Then its head tilted to the side like how a dog does when it's thinking. The simple movement caused my pulse to skyrocket and my body to freeze. Then it spoke one word, “Mon-key.”
Three things happened at once. First I dropped the evidence bag and jumped back as though it was a venomous snake. Then my right hand pulled my firearm free of its holster and I pointed it at the bagged sock monkey. Lastly, Gilbert finally emitted a scream of unbridled terror.
The sock monkey moved in the bag; testing the strength of the plastic. After pushing a few times against the interior of the bag the sock monkey looked at me then to its right paw. A sharp bony chip, similar to a shark tooth, stuck out of the rounded limb where a thumb would be. I swallowed a hard lump in my throat when the sock monkey cut itself out of the bag and stood up. It swayed side to side as its dark eyes studied mine. My mouth opened to command this thing to get back down on the ground but nothing came out. I mentally cursed myself for my inaction and growing sense of terror but deep down I realized that I was justified for being frozen with fear. A frickin toy was moving on its own and somehow I knew it wasn’t due to any motors, batteries or any other gadgetry.
The monkey then turned to stare at Gilbert, who continued screaming and pointing at the leering toy. Somehow I heard, “Do you love Mon-key?” over Gilbert's piercing cries. It was when the monkey took a step toward the boy that I found my voice again.
The toy turned its head toward me and took another step to Gilbert.
“I said FREEZE!”
Still keeping its eye on me it took another step and added its signature, “Mon-key,” as though daring me to do something. I can’t believe it. I was getting taunted by a frickin sock monkey.
It takes another step toward Gilbert and I respond by squeezing the trigger.
The bullet strikes it in the leg at the knee if it had one. The monkey stumbles on its ruined leg but somehow manages to correct its balance and remain standing. My shot tore out an inch wide clunk of the monkey’s leg. Around the edge of the wound I could see what looked like flesh inside the monkey. This thing was stuffed with a gorey flesh paste!
I nearly swallowed my tongue when the flesh stuffing extended outward and repaired the damage I’d inflicted. In a couple heartbeats any trace of the bullet wound was utterly erased. The monkey then turned sharply toward me. Even though its expression was unchanged I knew it was pissed.
“Do you love Mon-key?” it said as a dozen bony blades extended out of each one of its hands. It then charged me. Knowing my life was at stake, instinct took over and I fired round after round at the sock monkey. The monkey was only two feet tall and ran toward me at surprising speed. While I wasn’t the best shot at the academy, each one of my shots landed. Despite the hail of bullets and chunks that came flying off of it the thing wouldn’t stop. I emptied my clip just as it reached me.
With a skill it had homed over an unknown number of victims it raked one of its bone razor hands across the outside of my right thigh. My leg instantly buckled due to the searing pain. I let out a panicked yelp when I saw how bloody and shredded my right pants leg was.
Behind me I hear, “Mon-key.” Breaking into a cold sweat I look over my shoulder in time to see the sock monkey jump at me; its razor clad paws pulled back to strike at my head. I watch my death approach; knowing this must have been how Audrey felt.
Just before it could land its murderous strike, a large portion of the monkey exploded into a red mist coating my face in copper smelling fluid. A split second later I heard the roar of a shotgun. Shaking slightly I turn to see both Mitchel and my uncle coming over to me, both of them sporting a tactical shotgun; with Mitchel’s still slightly smoking.
Hearing a sickly wet slapping sound behind me, I slowly turn my head toward the sound. Five feet away I see the Monkey trying to stand back up. The fleshy paste inside it was working overtime to repair the damage that Mitchel had inflicted on it.
“God in Heaven,” I say when the sock monkey makes it back up on its feet and turns to face me.
I feel a strong hand grip me under the armpit and yank me upward. Turning I see my uncle ruffly hoisting me back up on my feet. I see Mitchel cock his gun and take aim at the sock monkey.
“Get your ass to the cruiser,” my uncle growled as he helped me, “And get the fu…”
I couldn’t catch the rest over the sound of Mitchel’s shotgun but I got the gist of what he was saying. My uncle helped me walk for a couple of steps then left to help Mitchel blast the sock monkey apart. While it was possible for me to walk er… hobble it was excruciatingly painful. Several times I almost lost my balance and fell back to the ground but the shotgun blasts behind me were great motivators.
Only when I reached and supported my weight against the cruiser that held a whimpering Gilbert did I chance a look back. I wish I hadn’t. My uncle and Mitchel had retreated themselves as they continued to pump round after round into the sock monkey. The monkey looked nothing like it had before save for the face. Its body had stretched with intestine-like structures until it was nearly seven feet tall. At this new size it rapidly closed the distance between itself and the retreating men.
It then pulled one of its lanky blade coated arms back and backhanded my uncle. The sheriff was airborne for a few seconds before he struck the side of the house with a thud. It then cornered Mitchel who continued to fire even though his efforts were pointless. Hoping to save him I scooted Gilbert over to the passenger seat and pressed the horn.
“Hey sock monkey! My cat and dog eat and shit toys like you!” I yell.
The monstrous sock monkey turns to face me. My eyes dart toward Mitchel. Realizing what I’m trying to do he slowly backs away from the demented nightmare. He made it two steps before the monkey brought down both its mace-like paws on him; all the while staring right at me.
Then it said, “Mon-key,” as it continued to both smash and impale Mitchel’s body. Knowing there was nothing more I could do I quickly started the car and peeled out of there. I was pissed. That damn thing got Mitchel and my uncle; both of them heavily armed. Adding Audrey and Jeb, that was four people dead. All of them, killed by some sort of hellish sock monkey. At least I could get Gilbert to safety; that was the least I could do. Maybe I could get reinforcements; it was doubtful anyone would believe my story.
Just before I made the driveway I felt the vehicle lurch. Looking to the rearview mirror I see the gory monkey crouching against the trunk like a giant spider.
After saying, “Mon-key,” it scampers up to the roof. There it starts smashing the cruiser’s top in, all the while saying, “Mon-key. Mon-key love you. Do you love Mon-key? Mon-key. Mon-key love you. Do you love Mon-key?”
Over and over again it repeated as it dented and punctured the roof of the cruiser. I spun the wheel to the right and the left trying to shake the thing off. Evidently, my crazy steering led us back to the Wellspring house. Seeing my uncle’s cruiser I got an idea. I turned toward the vehicle and floored it. I yelled for Gilbert to buckle up as we picked up speed.
The crunch of metal fills the night air as I bang my head on the steering wheel. Sitting back I try to slowly shake off the ringing in my head. To my right I’m glad to see that Gilbert heeded my warning though he’s still shaken. The pounding on the car’s roof had stopped but where…
Despite the pain in my head, my eyes darted to the sound’s source. There at the Wellspring’s doorway, on the porch, was the grotesque monkey. It lay in a crumpled heap; thrown by the force of the crash. It stared at me as it struggled to stand back up. I could see the red, pink and blue flesh of its body moving to repair the damage it had sustained.
I try to reverse but the cruiser refuses to budge from the driver’s side of my uncle’s car.
“Gilbert. We need to go. Now!”
Needing no other prompting the boy quickly exits the vehicle. My exit is nowhere as fluent or fast, but I still make it out and stagger off after the boy in the direction of the gator farm. Maybe there I can find somewhere safe enough to radio for help. Hearing another, “Monkey,” spurs me on; amazing how terror can override pain.
Gilbert reaches the supply shed, opens the door and waves for me to hurry. Then I heard, “Do you love Money?”
It must have healed up and followed us. It had to be close. It’ll likely reach me before I can make it to the shed. Then it’ll go after Gilbert. I motion for Gilbert to get into the shed and lock the door. He doesn’t move at first but when another, “Mon-key,” cuts through the air he dashes inside and locks the shed up tight. Reloading my firearm and I hobble farther into the farm. Hopefully the thing will follow me and leave the boy alone; that was my plan so far.
Wait! My radio! I could call for help. Why the hell didn’t I think of this before.
“Henest! I got two officers down!” I spit out quickly. Then my heart stopped when I realized there wasn’t any static over the radio. I check the radio on the right side of my belt and groan in defeat. The device had a large gash running through it. Must of gotten hit when the monkey attacked me.
That was close. Taking my flashlight from my belt I raise both it and my gun as I survey my surroundings. At this point I knew my gun was useless but having it gave me some comfort and maybe I’d get a lucky shot. There were a few light poles to illuminate the grounds but all of them either flickered or were horribly dim. They probably worked well enough to help the Wellsprings navigate around since they were familiar with the layout, but for a first time visitor who was fleeing a monster sock monkey would be royally screwed.
“Do you love Mon-key?”
My breathing grew more ragged not only from the pain but the mounting fear as well. Slowly I swipe my gun across my field of vision. Shadows from stacked piles of cages flickered along the side of a nearby garage. Inside I see several tractors in various conditions ranging from piece of shit to brand new. Ahead of me sat some waist high wall.
“Mon-key love you.”
That came from right beside me. I whirl to my left as fast as my injury will allow. Before I can even bring my gun to bear, I receive a powerful blow that launches me off my feet. I crash against the wall with a thud. My body is screaming at me with a series of new injuries. My left shoulder had a similar searing to my right thigh. My back also feels as though it's been worked over with a sledgehammer.
With a groan I use my left arm to prop myself into a sitting position. I wince and let out a groan when I lean my back against the wall I’d slammed into a moment ago. Looking up I see the horrid flesh form of the monkey leering down at me. My eyes met those glossy voids of the monster.
“Mon-key. Mon-key love you. Do you love Mon-key?” it started saying.
The damn thing was mocking me again. Anger built up in my chest: this thing had killed Jeb, Audrey, Mitchel and my uncle; terrified Gilbert into speechlessness and was about to butcher me. Then it had the gall to mock me again. Dammit did I hate this frickin monkey!
“Mon-key. Mon-key love you. Do you love Mon-key?”
Setting my jaw I brace myself against the wall and stand up. The process is slow and incredibly painful but if I was going to die it’ll be on my feet. All the while the monkey watched me chanting its three bits of dialog, “Mon-key. Mon-key love you. Do you love Mon-key?” over and over again. Despite its face and tone never changing in any way, I knew that it was amused.
Breathing heavily, I held onto the wall to remain standing. That’s when I heard a hiss behind and below me. Being born and raised in the state I knew instinctively what it was; a gator. A desperate plan started to form in my head.
“Do you love Mon-key?” ask the nightmarish monkey as it raised its right arm to strike at me.
I needed to time this just right. Putting all my weight on my left leg I looked at the monkey once more and said, “Hell no!”
The monkey took its swing. Thankfully, it wasn’t expecting me to move. So when I jumped to its left, it was utterly surprised. The momentum from it’s attack nearly caused the monkey to tip over the wall and into the pen below. The landing after my jump was the most painful experience I’ve ever felt. My dodge roll intensified the injuries to my head, right thigh, left shoulder and entire length of my spine. With the whole of my willpower I bought my gun up, aimed carefully and fired repeatedly.
My bullets struck the monkey's face. The monkey staggered under the second surprise I’d dealt it within the last ten seconds but didn’t fall over the wall.
“Come on! Come on! Fall over you damn sock monkey!” I yell as the last bullet leaves the barrel of my gun and strikes one of the monkey’s glossy black eyes. The monkey reeled backward over the wall; falling into the gator pen below.
The splash is quickly followed by an angry hiss. From beyond and below the wall comes another, “Mon-key,” accompanied with the thrashing of water. It was evident from the sound that the sock monkey couldn’t swim, given how furiously it batted at the water. Good! The more trouble it had maneuvering in the water increased the gator’s odds of tearing it apart.
Needing to see this through, I slowly drag myself back to the pit wall. There’s another hiss that was answered with a “Mon-key.” Inching my battered body toward the wall intensifies the pain in my numerous injuries. When I finally reach the wall the sounds of a grizzly battle can be heard from the breeding pit below. The sound of teeth and bony claws tearing into flesh and leathery hide fills the night air.
Grasping my flashlight from where it landed after the sock monkey ambushed me, I raised myself onto the wall and shined it down into the pit below. The scene before me was one of carnage. I counted three dead or dying gators with the beam of my light. Each sporting a ugly series of gashes to the head or torso. Dread started to grow in me when I spotted a fourth down gator. What the hell was this thing! If it killed all the gators it’ll be coming after me next.
Anxiously, I pointed the light in the direction of the accursed sound. I didn’t see the monstrous sock monkey at first but I spotted its torn form bobbing in the water. All of its limbs were missed save for one arm. I could just make out the outline of a gator’s head clamped down on the monkey’s arm.
“Mon-key. Mon-key love you. Do you love Mon-key?” It started again as it stared back at me. I nearly jumped out of my skin when a massive gator popped out of the water and chopped down on the monkey’s head. That must be Clid. I cheered as the giant gator, likely a fourteen footer, started to deathroll. With his mouth clamped down on the monkey Clid tore it apart as he spun rapidly. Soon Clid, the sock monkey and the other gator sank below the water’s surface.
Not wanting to lower my guard I stood there; my flashlight’s beam darting around the pen. I continued my vigil ignoring the pain of my juries. I had to know if the thing was still alive. I don’t know how long I stood there surveying the pen below; long enough for Henest to arrive.
Despite being out of shape Henest was an excellent officer. Being the only able bodied cop left he found and secured Gilbert, kept my uncle from bleeding out and radioed for backup. He even tried several times to get me to sit so he could inspect my injuries but I refused stating, “I need to know it’s dead.”
Not long after Henest’s arrival the paramedic showed up. Unlike Henest they didn’t give me a choice of whether I’d remain by the gator pen or not. I was shoved into a stretcher and strapped down when I tried to stand back up. One of them injected me with something to keep me from struggling so they could tend to my injuries.
My eyes start to close as the sedative and the trauma my body’s been through take effect. Sweet black oblivion engulfs my being, filling me with a blissful peace. Maybe I can rest and begin to heal.
Then from somewhere far off farther than my senses should be able to reach I hear one word that shreds all notions of peace. “Mon-key.”