Local Legend

📅 Published on March 22, 2022

“Local Legend”

Written by Christopher Howard “Slimebeast” Wolf
Edited by Craig Groshek and Seth Paul
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

ESTIMATED READING TIME — 11 minutes

Rating: 9.67/10. From 3 votes.
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Leonard Skye was a bit of a local celebrity in the absurdly small town where I grew up.

Hunter, survivalist, general “man’s man,” Leonard was both respected and feared.  You would never catch him wearing anything other than jeans, a t-shirt, and flannel.  The silver ring that hung on a string around his neck drove everyone crazy with gossip.  Had he been secretly married in another town over?  Did it belong to his sainted mother, who died in childbirth?  Some more whimsical residents suspected he had a vision somewhere in the deep forest, and the jewelry was for his future soul mate.

The area spinsters were crazy about him, behaving like a human conveyor belt of baked goods delivered routinely to his door.  Pies, cakes, even the occasional loaf of banana bread from old lady Guthrie.  Some were clearly too old for him; others were awkwardly young.  At the end of the day, none of them seemed to be a good fit, and he remained a bachelor.

When the local cub scout troop wanted to spend a night in the woods and do some “real camping,” Leonard was the first guy to call.  The den mothers swooned as he ordered the kids into some wooded property, keeping them in a regimented and obedient line.  Some of the kids were horrified when he killed a rabbit and served it to them over a campfire that night, but most thought it was awesome.

So, as you can imagine, losing a local hero like Leonard came as a big shock to the community.  One day, he went out bear hunting.  The next, he didn’t return.  Day two, day three, and four…no sign of Leonard Skye.  His home remained locked, hunting magazines piled up in his mailbox.

I was there where they held Leonard’s funeral.  His body was never found.  The grizzled old men insisted the bears had eaten him whole.  The teary-eyed girls insisted it couldn’t be true.  Still, we buried an empty coffin in a county-owned park beneath a tree almost as huge and hearty as the man’s legacy.

Leonard’s absence was felt in almost every aspect of small-town life.  Froggy’s General Store kept stocking his favorite beer for months after he was gone, even though no one else could stomach it.  The River View Diner had a reserved table for him, and the last ketchup bottle he used stood there, untouched and half-full for a year or more.  If I recall correctly, a trucker who was passing through sat himself down when the diner was busy and desecrated the monument for his cheeseburger and onion rings.

No one was more affected by the disappearance than my boss, Waylon Faircloth.  He owned a gun shop smack dab in the heart of town, and I had taken a job there with the hope of using his gun range to try out every weapon I could get my hands on.  As it turned out, however, Waylon was incredibly strict, and I ended up doing nothing but cleaning, stocking, and handling customers when the boss was otherwise engaged.

I focused my discontent by wondering which would take over first – his broom of a mustache or his embarrassing amount of ear hair.

Waylon had been a star football player in high school.  They called him “Wailin’ Waylon” and would egg him on whenever he physically accosted rival mascots on the field.  When I met him, though, he was an older man with a pronounced limp and a cane that unscrewed to reveal a wicked skinning knife.  He inherited the gun shop from his father, who had gotten it from his father, and so on.  I think that, even if he hadn’t been injured during a game, Waylon still wouldn’t have been able to escape that town and his heritage.

The back office of the gun shop was like a shrine to Leonard Skye.  Newspaper clippings, photos of the forest where he disappeared, articles about strange animal sightings in the area.  It was a wall of crazy, and I was honestly surprised there were no thumbtacks or strings connecting the scraps together in a conspiracy chart.

“Whoa.  Is this about Mr. Skye?” I stupidly asked when I first saw the wall.

“Hmm?”  Waylon looked up from his shabby, bug-eaten wooden desk.  “Oh. Yep.  Tell me, kid.  A man like that…best hunter I ever saw…lived and breathed wilderness…how the Hell does someone like that let a fuckin’ brown bear get the best of him?  Don’t make sense.”

I nodded, half agreeing with him, half concerned with upsetting an elder, and half worried I might get fired if I didn’t believe him.  “Doesn’t make sense,” I repeated.

It was Lee that suggested looking for Leonard’s remains.

Lee was a beast of a girl.  Six foot plus, strong as an ox.  Many years after Wailin’ Waylon was the talk of the school, Lee rose to fame as an aggressive and unforgiving volleyball champion.  She, too, had a fall from grace that prevented her from pursuing a career in sports, but her handicap was a blonde cheerleader named Maribelle and the bitchy classmates who spread a compromising photo of them in the locker room after a game.

“Mr. Faircloth is like, Leonard Skye’s number one fan,” I had mentioned.  Lee and I were watching college football over a pizza.  Two twenty-somethings with our ankles caught in the bear trap of small-town purgatory.

“They ever organize a search party, or what?” she asked.

“I dunno.” I folded a slice of pizza and stuffed my face.

“Cops around here are lazy as shit,” Lee mused.  “Remember a while back when that lady got killed up the highway?  Family came by to leave a wreath on the spot, and they found her purse in a sticker bush.  Police ain’t even looking for shit.”

Drunk and partially stoned, the two of us hatched a plan.  The next day, we approached Waylon and floated the idea of going out to where Leonard disappeared and seeing what we could find.  It had been so long at that point that we could realistically expect to find bones or tattered cloth at most.  Maybe we could spot the ring if we had eagle eyes and the sunlight caught it just right.

To say Waylon was a fan of the idea would be an understatement.  He already had maps prepared.  An almost gleeful glint shone in his otherwise cloudy eyes as he started pulling out guns and provisions.  Lee and I exchanged a smirk.  Waylon had been quietly living for this moment, and no one had even thought to ask.

Our silly little hunting party would’ve been fine with three people.  When the bell above the front door of the shop rang, we were all prepared to ignore the customer just get out there.  Still, Waylon’s better judgment took over, and he gestured for me to go see who was there.

Colt.  The loon who claimed to be “Part Native American,” “Part Mexican,” and more depending on who he happened to be talking to at the time.  His family history was too much of a criss-crossing mess to make heads or tails of his claims.  He came into the shop now and then, mostly to browse and start arguments about politics, never to buy anything.

“Sorry, Colt, we’re about to go do some stuff,” I said, poking my head out of the office door.

“Colt!” Waylon shouted suddenly.  He pushed past me and waved for the wiry, underfed non-customer to join us.  “You’re a native.  We could use a tracker.”

I gritted my teeth and felt my eyebrows raise in response to Waylon’s blunt statement.  Colt, however, just seemed happy to be included and quickly asked what we were up to.  I guess he really just wanted to fit in with people.

Over the next hour or so, Waylon drew up plans, issued orders, and then took them all back when problems became apparent.  By the fifth or sixth draft, we had a solid course of action.

Waylon would administrate, naturally.  Since he was, as he put it, “crippled up like an old dog,” I would be his arms and legs.  I’d carry provisions and gear.  Lee was more than capable of clearing brush and removing hazards.  If we came across a rabid raccoon, she’d take a rock to its head in an instant.  Colt would be there to read the land, supposedly, but I had the feeling he’d mostly concern himself with getting worked up about the government and who “really pulls the strings.”

The spot where Leonard Skye entered the tree line was no secret.  There had been a meeting about closing the path off to the public due to the danger, but in the end, it felt disrespectful to someone who encouraged everyone to try camping out at least once in their life.

We left in the early morning hours.  Surprisingly, no one was late.  I showed up last, even though I had made sure to arrive ten minutes before the agreed time.  Everyone had a different idea of search and rescue attire.  Waylon was wrapped up in layers with a fur-lined coat.  Lee had already tied her shirt around her tree trunk waist, her black sports bra required for nothing other than modesty.  Colt was wearing a fringed leather jacket and ludicrous hat with a pheasant feather.

It wasn’t exactly legal for us to be carrying Waylon’s guns, but Lee was right.  The police were nothing to be afraid of unless you were an out-of-towner who might pay their way out of a citation.

We trudged through the harsh overgrowth.  Our spirits started high.  We were excited to become a part of the legend, even if none of us realized it at the time.  Those spirits slowly dimmed, however, with every cut and bruise that marked our bodies.  The thickening tree canopy and gloom of archaic forest also did well to bring a growing sense of doom.  As things came into focus, we each separately realized we were treading on the ground where a very real man had met a very real death.

It was late afternoon when we came to a clearing.  We had circled and weaved through the area carefully, following Waylon’s plans to the very detail.  If there had been anything to find, we would have discovered it.  No question.

“What if he ran away from it all?” Lee mused as we reached the center of the clearing.

I dropped my backpack and rubbed my aching shoulders.  Colt sat down on a log and brushed the angry termites from his lap rather than get on his tired feet again.

“That sounds possible.”  I cleared a gnat out of my throat with a cough.  “Small town.  Everyone knows each other.  Someone like him, so important to everyone…it’d be easier to just disappear one night than say goodbye.  No one would let him go.”

Waylon, refusing to rest, thrust the point of his cane into the log, breaking away rotted splinters and causing Colt to jump.

“He would never leave like that,” Waylon insisted.  “Never.  He loved this place, and this place loved him.  Sneaking away?  In the night?  That’s a coward’s way.  I’ll thank you not to speak ill of the dead.”

“Kidnapping,” Colt added.  “I guarantee you, he knew too much.  Saw something he shouldn’t have.  Look at this clearing.  Could set a black helicopter down here, easy.  Zip-zip, you’re in and out before anyone knows you’re here.”

I rolled my eyes and bent down to pick up my pack.

CRACK.

A gunshot.

I felt the sudden, chilling breeze of a bullet as it moved past my head.  If I hadn’t ducked at that exact moment for the sole reason of getting my pack, I would’ve been killed instantly.

“Oh, fuck!” Lee shouted.

“Dumb son of a bitch!” Waylon growled, waving his hand and hobbling in a circle as if trying to signal whoever had shot from the tree line.  “Do we look like a fuckin’ herd of deer?”

CRACK.

Everyone jumped in shock as a second gunshot rang out.  Instantly, we knew it wasn’t a mistake anymore.  Someone had tried to kill me.

Colt doubled over slowly, slumping forward and dropping from the log with a sprawling thud.  Blood instantly started pooling around his head.  A sickening spurt of crimson gushed from a fresh hole in the back of his partially-exposed skull.

“Jesus Christ!” Waylon screamed in horror.  He was stupefied, staring at Colt’s body as it violently twitched on the grass.

Lee and I flanked him, each grabbing an arm as we carried him off his feet and ushered him to the ground behind the log.

“Stay down,” Lee snapped.  “It’s not a hunter.  It’s not a hunter.”

“Colt was right,” I whispered, a cold chill tingling up my back and raising the hair on my scalp.  “It’s the goddamned government.”

Waylon shook his head and blinked a few times.  Either he was coming out of shock, or he was in a sort of shock that dulled his sense of fear.

“We’re in a bad spot,” he stammered.  “Laid out behind rotten firewood.  That motherfucker is already creeping up on us, I guarantee it.  Soon as he has a good angle, we’re dead.”

“Wha’ d’we do?” I croaked, dread quickly closing my throat.

Lee lifted her shotgun and checked if it was still loaded, as if that would’ve changed at some point.

Taking her cue, Waylon dug the fancy yet mostly useless revolver from his thick jacket.

With shaking hands, I lifted my hunting rifle and cocked it, ejecting a perfectly good bullet out of the chamber.  Waylon gave me a side-eye glance but didn’t call me on the thoughtless mistake.

Prepared to face our would-be killer but still filled with the fear of our own mortality, we each waited for someone else to make the first move.  There was no plan.  Not anymore.  I didn’t know if we were going to fire at the mystery man or if we’d make a run for it…I didn’t know in which direction we were supposed to run.

“Now!” Lee shouted, sliding herself out from beside the log and firing two rapid shots into something I couldn’t see.

Waylon fumbled a bit, pulling himself up over the log, following suit with six wild pulls of the trigger.

Once again, I was the last one.  I peeked carefully over the log, focusing my vision down the scope of my rifle…of Waylon’s rifle, technically speaking.

I saw what they shot at.

Through the scope lens, I saw the dark, human-like form standing in the clearing, about thirty feet away.  It was tall, thin, draped in the fetid pelts of random animals.  The rot-flecked skull of a buck, an 8-pointed trophy to be sure, sat over his head like a twisted helmet.

In its hands, a rusted, weather-worn rifle with mangy tails tied around the barrel.

The thing fired again, taking out a chunk of the log as Lee rolled away and into the open.

I centered my shot and pulled the trigger, sending a bullet directly through the left eye socket of the skull with a spray of black mist.  Don’t get me wrong – it was a very lucky shot.

The creature reeled back from the impact but didn’t seem to be in pain.  I studied it in awe, surveying its awkward, gnarled body through the scope.

Then, I saw the ring.

A silver ring, suspended by string, worn around the beast’s neck.

“Guys…” I swallowed hard, “It’s him.  It’s him.  The ring…”

Waylon instantly yanked the rifle away from me and balanced it on the log, pressing his own eye to the lens.  I watched, confused, as a tear beaded up in the wrinkles at the corner of his eye and slowly rolled down his spotted cheek.

Within seconds, Waylon was crying.  Loud, halting sounds of choked sadness rose from his chest and escaped from between his gritted teeth.

“What the fuck are you doing?” Lee asked as Waylon dropped the rifle and stood, as best he could, in full view of the monster.

“Get down!” I insisted, tugging at his pant leg, only to be weakly kicked away

Waylon sat over the log, pushing himself to the other side, then wobbled toward the creature, leaning on his unsteady cane that was digging into the soil.

Lee and I could only watch as the creature once again leveled its weapon, this time taking aim at the old man’s face.  Waylon reached into his coat, pulling something from behind his collar.

I caught a glimpse of the object Waylon held as the light danced across it.

A ring.

A second silver ring on a necklace.

The creature stood stock still.  It didn’t move an inch.  Didn’t lower its gun.

“Lenny!” Waylon called out, his voice wracked with grief.  “My God, Lenny…what happened to you?”

The monster…Leonard Skye…dropped its long, lean arms to its sides as Waylon came close and threw his arms around it.

I couldn’t hear properly at that distance, but I really think Waylon apologized for not looking for him sooner.  I think, looking back on it, that he was always afraid of what he would find…though no one would have expected this.

The creature raised a hand to the old man’s head, and a slow, thoughtful motion, stroked his hair.

Lee and I jumped as Waylon pulled the skinning knife from his cane.  He thrust it into the creature’s gut and pulled upward, spilling its dead insides on the ground.

There was a piercing cry of pain, but it came from Waylon.

The creature threw Waylon aside with tremendous strength, sending him flying into a cluster of half-buried stones with a crack.  It stepped forward, raising its gun again, only to collapse under its own weight, its soiled feet tied up in its own entrails.

In moments, the thing was motionless.  Dead.  As Lee and I gathered the courage to approach, guns at the ready, we discovered nothing more than a pile of exposed meat and bone.

I hate funerals.

Leonard Skye’s ceremony seemed like ages ago.  The distant past.  In retrospect, it was easier to bury a coffin with no one in it.  Waylon and Colt were a different story.  We had to tell everyone they got into a physical fight over Colt’s conspiracy theories, that Waylon shot him in the chaos.  The recoil from the gunshot toppled Waylon, who was always so unsure on his feet, causing him to smack his head on a rock.

It was the best two scared dumbasses could think of on the way back to town.

It felt really bad, lying to their families, tarnishing the reputations of dead men.  But then again, reputation didn’t do much for Leonard Skye in the end.  The man everyone loved, the man who loved someone he could never admit to.

At least someone knows the truth.

The legend will live forever, but the man is finally at rest.

Rating: 9.67/10. From 3 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Written by Christopher Howard “Slimebeast” Wolf
Edited by Craig Groshek and Seth Paul
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Christopher Howard “Slimebeast” Wolf


Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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