The Bayou

📅 Published on May 15, 2020

“The Bayou”

Written by WordDogger
Edited by Craig Groshek
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 — 13 minutes

Rating: 10.00/10. From 4 votes.
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My name is Clem. I grew up in a little town in south Louisiana called Chickapin, about an hour west of New Orleans and right on the edge of the deep bayou. There were channels everywhere, and you could make it from my backyard all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico by boat.

We’d spent time on the water just about every day since I could remember, and we knew the waterways in Terrebonne Parish like the backs of our hands. Me and my cousin Rake were about the same age, and we partnered up a lot when we were kids. There were times when we’d spend most our days on the bayou, hunting and fishing and trapping. That’s what life was. For the longest time, that’s about all it was.

There was one particular day—or night, I should say—that stands out above all the rest, though, a night I still have bad dreams about all these years later. It happened when we were about twelve, me and Rake, and we’d gone out on the bayou late in the evening to run some traps. Daddy and Uncle Billy pretty much let us go whenever we wanted to because they knew they could trust us—they knew we knew our way around, and they knew we could handle ourselves.

We were also supposed to stay inside certain boundaries. To the south, that meant staying out of the ship channel and not portaging over any land barriers that would let us get too far from home. We usually minded those boundaries, but… well… sometimes we didn’t.

The night I’m talking about was one of those nights when we’d decided to take some liberties. There was a series of traps we’d set along a part of the bayou we couldn’t get to in our little aluminum boat unless we either skirted along the edge of the ship channel for a ways, or else portaged across a small stretch of land, about a hundred yards or so. Once we’d paddled out to the ship channel and saw that it was clear, we decided to take our chances. The wake from even a smaller ship could swamp us if it passed too close, but we could see far enough both ways to feel comfortable. Besides, portaging was always a pain, especially in the dark.

We’d made it about halfway to the channel we were heading to when things took a turn. I was in the back of our boat, so I saw it first, a small freighter coming up from behind us. I got Rake’s attention and pointed at the ship, and we both knew what to do without further discussion. We dug in deep, paddling as hard as we could. Still, I yelled at Rake to paddle harder as the ship drew near. I could see the edge of the channel we were headed to as the ship’s bow pulled up even with us. To tell the truth, I half expected to get wet, but we turned into our little channel just as the ship’s wake reached us. We rode on top of the wave for a ways until it died down; then we laughed and thanked our lucky stars. Semi-disaster avoided.

It was a pretty clear night. There was a full moon over us with only the occasional cloud, so we could see well enough to navigate even without our flashlights. There were cypress trees all about, and the Spanish moss hung thick all around, giving the trees a ghostly air. I loved that about the bayou—it always gave me a sense that I was a part of something that wasn’t quite squared away.

The first trap we came to didn’t have nothing, so we moved on toward the next one. It was around a bend and on a little peninsula that was just barely higher than the water. As we paddled nearer and Rake shined the light, we both saw it—two bright eyes shining back at us; and from the looks of them, they belonged to something large. You could always feel your heart rate get up when you caught something, especially if it was bigger than a coon or a possum. I could tell—this was bigger.

We were eager to get there, but because we were seasoned trappers, we knew to take our time—steady strokes, do nothing to get the animal more excited or scared than it already was. We must’ve still been about forty or so feet away when Rake stopped paddling, though. I stopped too, and we kept drifting slowly toward the bank. I shined my light at the trap, and finally saw what he’d already seen. It wasn’t a normal animal there on the bank, at least not one we’d expect to catch. It was a gator, and not just any gator, but maybe the biggest gator I’d ever seen. It had to’ve been sixteen, eighteen feet long, and fifteen hundred pounds if it was a pound at all.

It also wasn’t caught in our trap. It was just sitting there on the bank, looking right at us, sort of grinning, like he was inviting us on up. Come on, boys, I’ve got room. Rake had done the right thing by not making any sudden movements, but my body didn’t seem inclined to follow suit. I began paddling backward as hard as I could, and in no time flat I’d stopped our forward progress and started us back in the way we had come. By then there was no point in Rake staying still, so he started paddling as well. He turned us around so our bow was in front, and we stayed at it. By then, though, the gator had slithered into the water and disappeared beneath the surface. Talk about your heart rate going up; my heart was rattling in my chest like that playing card I’d stuck in my bicycle’s spokes.

Even though it wasn’t common for a gator to chase after a boat, we kept going till my arms burned like they were about to fall off, and then we both stopped paddling and looked behind us. Rake stood up in the front of the boat so he could shine his light at the water back toward the peninsula without me blocking it. I saw several water moccasins swimming toward the light as they were prone to do, but I didn’t see no gator. It occurred to me, though, that the light was as likely to attract a gator as it was a snake, so I yelled at Rake to put out the light. He did, but it was too late. Just as he switched it off, I saw it rise up, the topside of the gator’s massive head not more than five feet behind us, his big eyes focused right on us. I could see the water rippling, too, way back behind where his tail was swimming slow. Good lord, he was big.

Rake saw him, too, but I yelled at him anyway. I was already paddling before his butt hit the seat, and we both started digging at the water as hard as we could. It wasn’t but a few seconds later, though, that something bumped up against us on the side, so hard it almost tipped us over. Rake lost hold of his paddle and it went in the water—I didn’t care. Once the boat had settled, I kept on paddling. We had a 22-caliber rifle and a 22-caliber pistol in the boat with us. I didn’t figure either one of them would do a bit of good against that gator’s hide, but since Rake had lost his paddle, he grabbed up the pistol.

The gator pushed up against the side of our boat again, but not as solid as before; it didn’t cause me to break stride. There was another bump, then a while later it felt like the gator tried to come up from under the boat—it sort of lifted us up on the water—and then it went away. I paddled for just about as long as I could, and then I stopped. I could see the ship channel from where we were.

I told Rake that I didn’t think it wise for us to go out in the ship channel, especially since we didn’t have but one paddle. Of course, we could come across something unpleasant on land if we chose to portage; but as long as we had our guns, we should be able to manage. So, that’s what we decided to do. In any event, we didn’t need to sit where we were for very long. That gator could’ve gotten bored and moved on, but we couldn’t be sure of that. We needed to move.

Rake shined his light over to the left bank, and pretty soon he found the spot we usually used as a landing. I started moving us in that direction, but no sooner than I got us turned that way, Rake yelled at me to look out, and then he fired several shots right past my shoulder. I turned just in time to see the huge gator coming at me, his whole head out of the water with his jaws wide, and just about to come over the stern. I remember thinking in that split second how big his teeth were—they were huge. Anyway, I launched myself forward toward Rake just as the animal landed its head where I’d been sitting, and all at once the boat pitched up hard and rolled—me and Rake landed in the bayou.

The water was still deep enough to be over our heads this close to the ship channel, and I was disoriented at first having gone under in all that blackness. Of course, it didn’t help that I was completely panicked, but soon enough I remembered to stay still and look for light. I saw some pretty quick, moonbeams on the surface, and I swam up to the top. The boat was upside down, but it was just a few feet away from me. I got hold of it about the same time Rake did.

I sure was glad to see him there, but I was just as aware that we were truly in mortal danger and had to get going. Rake said it, too, that we had to get to land, we had to get to the bank. I said we should stay with the boat, and we did—him on one side and me on the other, paddling toward shore. We had just reached the point where our feet could touch bottom when I felt something brush up against my leg, something heavy and rough. No doubt it was the gator, and its body scraped on by my thigh all the way from its front leg to its back leg. I was so scared it felt like my soul was about to shoot on out of my body, and I couldn’t help but freeze; I stood perfectly still. Rake asked me what was wrong, but before I could answer, the gator took hold of him and yanked him under.

I know I screamed. I know it’s not manly and all, but I screamed. I called his name over and over, but I couldn’t see him anywhere, him or the gator for that matter, no sign at all. I wasn’t really thinking clear by then, neither, but I managed to turn the boat back over and climb in. As fate would have it, the only thing left in our boat was my paddle; no guns, no flashlights, no nothing but my paddle. It had got jammed up under my seat somehow when the gator had come crashing down on it.

Needless to say, maybe, but by then I had become hysterical; I mean, it didn’t seem real. How was it possible that my cousin was out there somewhere under the water in the jaws of a huge gator? It was too awful to consider, yet that seemed to be the story. That was what there was, that was all there was. And gators didn’t eat you right away, neither. They took you under in a death roll till you were drowned, and then they stuffed you under a ledge or log or something and left you there to rot. Once you were ready, they’d come back for you and eat you piece by piece. For all the world and everything in it, how could that be my cousin Rake’s destiny, to rot under a log and then be ate up by a huge gator?

There was nothing, though, no sound but the occasional hoot of an owl and the croak of a bullfrog, and I thought I heard a big cat growl, but other than that the bayou was quiet. Then all the sudden, not far from me there came a big splash and a fuss across the surface of the water. I saw Rake! He was trying to swim away from the gator, but the gator was practically on top of him, and only a second or so later they both went back under. This was horrible, the most horrible thing I could imagine, and I was living it.

I paddled over to where they’d gone down, but there was nothing to be seen. A few seconds later, though, they came back up, more out toward the middle. I yelled out his name. He managed to look my way for a split second, and he yelled my name, but then the gator took him under again. I don’t know how I knew, but it was clear to me right then and there that hearing him call my name like that and seeing that gator take him under would haunt me for the rest of my days.

I started toward where they’d been, but then they came up again, more toward the bank. This time, not only did he call my name, but he also screamed the word help. And scream it he had, like nothing I’d ever heard. The sound of his voice was the embodiment of terror, and hearing it made my skin crawl all over. Then, like before, they disappeared beneath the water, and the last thing I saw was Rake’s hands clawing at the air, trying to find anything to grab hold of.

I desperately paddled toward them—again—and I started looking, hollering for him, bending over the side of the boat so far trying to see under the water that I almost fell out. Too long. He’d been under too long this time. There was no way he could still be alive. I came to know that in my heart, and a feeling of evil and darkness like I never even imagined possible began to settle over me. This was more than I could bear; I didn’t see how I could ever find my way back to any form of sanity. I could feel it in my whole body, like a weight, like a poison, and I could barely breathe.

Suddenly, and without any warning at all, something came crashing through the surface of the water right beside my boat like it had been shot out of a cannon. Miracle of miracles, it was Rake, and he was most of the way in the boat before I could even get over and help drag him the rest of the way in. He flopped in on the boat’s bottom like a big fish, and before I could fully grasp the reality of what had just happened, he was screaming at me to paddle, to get to the land. He wouldn’t shut up about it; and finally, I made my way to my seat and started paddling for shore.

Rake was breathing hard and moaning just about every other breath, but I couldn’t tend to him just then. I had to get us to shore. I was afraid to look over my shoulder to see if we were being followed, but finally I couldn’t help it. Sure enough, there it was. That big gator was right behind us, no more than three feet back, just skimming along with nothing showing but the top of its head and back, with its tail swishing back and forth real slow.

Just a few seconds later I ran the boat aground, and I hopped over Rake and out the front so I could drag it all the way up. Once I’d done it, I looked out over the water, fully expecting to see the gator coming up after us, but to my surprise, I didn’t see him nowhere. I didn’t quite trust it—I mean, it could’ve popped out of the water at any moment—but the relief I felt in that instant was indescribable.

Anyway, whether the gator was coming after us or not, I had to get farther from the water, so I dragged the boat a good twenty yards inland. Only then did I dare give Rake a good look, and what I saw was ghoulish. He had blood on him in lots of places, but the thing that got to me the most was his leg, his right leg. From the knee all the way down to his foot, there was nothing but bone. No skin, no meat, just bone. The little bone in back was just hanging loose, and I could see where the big bone was almost broke in two. The thing that I found so odd, though, was that his shoe was still on his foot. His leg had gone through all that, and somehow his shoe had managed to stay on his foot.

Anyway, I tried to talk to him, but he wasn’t making no sense. I could see that his leg was bleeding bad from just below his knee, and I knew that he was bound to bleed to death if I couldn’t find a way to stop it, or at least slow it down. Frankly, I don’t know how I managed the presence of mind, but somehow right then I knew what I had to do. I took off my belt and wrapped it around his thigh right above the knee, and I pulled it tight, tight as I could, and then I wrapped it around again and tied it off. I could see the bleeding slow down—seemed like by a lot.

No sooner than I got the belt cinched in place, though, I heard the low growl of a big cat, maybe the one I’d heard when I’d still been out on the water, somewhere real close. Maybe it’d been watching, stalking us, waiting to see if we’d manage to escape the gator and make it to dry land. By then, no doubt, smelling all that blood was whetting its appetite. I had to admit that my imagination was in fear-fueled overdrive, but there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that there was a panther nearby, and that it was going to come for us.

I couldn’t just sit there waiting for it to attack, though, so I hopped out of the boat and started dragging it, which wasn’t that easy by myself, in the dark, with Rake lying up toward the front end. I almost tripped several times over roots and such, but I managed to keep my balance and to keep going. I could hear it, though. I could hear the big cat pacing us, probably waiting for the right moment. I stopped to listen, and it stopped. I started back up, and it came along. It was crazy; I felt completely vulnerable, yet I was unable to do anything about it. If only our guns weren’t at the bottom of the bayou.

I’d made it about three-quarters of the way across, and I had to stop to rest—just for a minute, but I had to stop. That’s when it happened. The panther came at me in a flash, and it knocked me back into the boat. I came down on top of Rake, and the panther came down on top of me. I knew in my heart that we’d come to the end, because there was a full-grown cat on me, and I was just a boy, all alone and without any means to protect myself. The moment was near—I could feel it. Just when my will to live was about to succumb to the panther’s desire to eat, though, I heard it. It was a shot, coming from very near, and in that instant the big cat went limp and fell lifeless upon me.

I scrambled out from under it and managed to find my feet in a hurry. What a strange memory, the sight of seeing Rake and that panther lying side by side in the bottom of that boat, one barely alive, the other dead as a stone. It all seemed like a dream—even then—but I knew it wasn’t. Just then I felt a hand on my shoulder—it was my daddy. I can say with complete confidence that I’d never been so glad to see somebody in all my life, before or since.

Him and Uncle Billy and two of their friends had come looking for us when we hadn’t made it back for supper, and lucky for us they had. I told them what had happened real quick, and just as quick, Daddy and Uncle Billy carried us to their boat and took us back to the house so they could get Rake to the hospital. Their friends stayed back—they had a gator to hunt and kill.

Rake lost his leg below the knee, but he kept his life. I still don’t understand how he managed to get away from that big gator, but he had. I can’t even imagine what those few minutes must’ve been like for him, fighting against that beast under that dark water. Unlike me and the panther, I’ve always thought that maybe his will to live had been stronger than the gator’s desire to eat. Maybe that’s true, maybe it’s not. All I know for sure is that all these years later I still travel all over those bayou channels, and so does Rake. And just like when we were kids, sometimes we follow the rules, and sometimes we don’t.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 4 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Written by WordDogger
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: WordDogger


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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kenya smith
kenya smith
1 month ago

Amazing!

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