Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Search for the Creekbluff Monster

This is a story I wrote for an anthology. Tell me what you think!

The Safari of Bull Creek: The Search for the Creekbluff Monster

It was our most dangerous expedition yet. With only a bottle of water, our helmet and our bicycles, we approached the ledge carefully. My Dad looked down and grinned at our concerned faces. “Come on, you can ride this down,” he said, jumping on his back and scaling down gracefully. My sister Danielle and I looked at each other unsurely.

At the ripe age of ten, riding down the curved cement bank to go hiking under the bridge didn’t seem that safe to me. But- it was the Safari of Bull Creek. We had fought many battles in order to get here, and we would not turn back. So gritting my teeth, I jumped on my back and went down slowly, using my feet as brakes.

My little sister made it to the ground before I did, smirking at me in triumph. “I did it Daddy!” she cried, a superior rider than I at six. I made a face and followed them as we rode up the rocky path.

As we rode up the path, I looked around me. We were passing oak trees and green creek water running over a limestone bed. It was a beautiful scene, and the further we rode, the prettier the creek got. We saw small foot high waterfalls, the water pouring over the mossy rocks quickly. It was a beautiful sight, even in the Texas Hill Country.

“Are there snakes, Daddy?” Danielle asked fearfully. She looked around wide eyed. “I don’t like snakes.”

“You might see a few,” he replied. “What do you do when you see a snake?”

“Run away!” we chorused, both pedaling harder.

We rode deeper into the trees, road getting bumpier and thinner as we went along. We stopped in an open clearing with some oak trees for shade.

“Drink your water,” Dad said, handing us our water bottles. We sat there, hot and sweaty.

“Ok,” Dad said, preparing to test us. “What direction is that moss growing?”

“North!” my sister cried proudly.

“That’s right,” Dad said. “So we ride this way. Are you girls ready?”

I stared at him in disbelief. “How far have we ridden?”

“About a mile or so.”

“What are we looking for?” I whined. “You never told us what this safari was about.”

Dad looked around mischievously, looking at my sister, than at me.

“Can you keep a secret?” he asked in a whisper.

We both nodded eagerly, leaning in.

“We’re hunting for the Creekbluff Monster,” he said dramatically. We gasped. “You see,” he continued, “There’s a big tunnel that leads into a hill down here, where the creek starts. Inside that tunnel lives the Creekbluff Monster. At night, he comes out and walks up and down our street.”

“Is he bad?” Danielle’s face puckered up like she was going to cry. “Is he gonna eat me?”

“Oh no,” my dad reassured her. “He doesn’t eat children or puppies or kitties. He only eats plants. He comes at night and just munches away on whatever plants he can find.”

Danielle gasped and clasped her hands. “So he’s the one eating Mama’s flowers!”

My dad nodded gravely. “So what we do you see,” he whispered, “We have a Safari. We follow Bull Creek down to the tube, and that’s where we find the Creekbluff Monster. And after we find the monster, we come home and have dinner. And our safari will be complete!”

“He won’t eat us?” Danielle asked again suspiciously. “I don’t want to be eaten. I don’t think I’d taste very good.”

“Well let’s keep riding,” I said bravely. “If we see the Monster, I don’t want to face him at dark. Mama said she was going to make spegetti tonight. I love spegetti. I’d prefer to have it.”

We got back onto our bicycles and rode for what it seemed forever. The trees seemed fewer and fewer, and the sun beat down upon our heads. Sweat rode down my back and pooled at the waistband of my shorts. My legs were screaming with pain, and Danielle was whining.

“Are we there yet,” she asked.

“No, keep going,” Dad would say. “We’re almost there.”

She’d pant in silence for awhile, then ask again. “Are we there yet?”

When we stopped again for water, I felt like I was dying. This safari wasn’t fun at all. This was the longest safari we had ever taken. Before now, we had just gone up and explored the neighborhood. One time, we walked behind our neighbors house into the creek bed there. And once, we crossed the road to the other side of the creek on the opposite side of the highway in front of our neighborhood. But we had never had a safari this long. We didn’t even have anything to bring back. On our other safaris, we brought back rocks, lizards and bugs. This time, we didn’t even have a baggie to put anything in. How were we supposed to have proof we had seen the Creekbluff Monster? No one would believe us.

“How much further is it,” I panted, gulping down warm water. I wiped my mouth and made a face. It tasted awful. What I wouldn’t do for a cold cup of water!

“Daddy, I’m tired,” Danielle whined. “I want to go home.”

“How far have we ridden?” I asked.

“2 miles,” Dad said. “We’re almost there. Just a few more minutes, and you’ll see the tunnel. See how wide the creek is here? We’re so close! Think you can make it?”

I stuck out my chin stubbornly. I was no wimp.

“I can make it,” I said confidently. “I’m tough.”

“So’m I,” Danielle said, scrambling up from her perch on a rock. She dusted off her shorts and perched back on her bike.

Legs screaming, we started up the rocky road. We were going slightly uphill, so each push felt like I was ripping my muscles apart. We passed the skeleton of a dead rattlesnake and a dead raccoon.

“The Monster ate them!” Danielle cried fearfully, riding quickly to catch up to Dad. “Dad, you said the Monster doesn’t eat animals!”

“Danielle, coyotes ate those animals,” Dad said patiently. Suddenly, he hopped off his bike and pointed. “There, do you see it? There’s the tunnel.”

I shaded my eyes with my hand and looked ahead. There it was, a large cement tunnel with water flowing out of it at a steady rate.

“It provides run off for Bull Creek,” Dad said, riding ahead. “Come on girls, follow me!”

“So the Monster can eat us all together?” I muttered. But I pushed ahead quickly.

We stopped at the mouth of the creek. It smelled like moldy water and had trash all around it. It didn’t look like the home of the Creekbluff Monster.

“Where’s the Monster?” I said.

“Just wait,” Dad said.

As we waited, Danielle picked up mossy rocks. “At least I can say that we have the Monsters rocks,” she said. “Everyone will have to believe me then.”

Suddenly, we heard a terrible noise from the tunnel. A loud echoing screech pierced our eardrums, along with a low moaning sound. We each plastered ourselves to Dad.

“I’m scared!” Danielle said.

“I don’t want to be eaten!” I said, hiding my face in his arm.

The noises got louder and louder and turned into a yowl. Suddenly, two small yellow eyes appeared.

“It’s the Monster!” Danielle screamed, hiding onto Dad for dear life.

The eyes got larger and larger, until a cat stepped into the sunlight. An orange and white cat looked at us with large yellow eyes and yowled loudly. He then sat down and began to clean himself.

“This is the Creekbluff Monster?” I said in disbelief.

“But he’s a kitty cat!” Danielle said, confused. “Besides, he’s too small to eat Mama’s plants. Those plants are high up. And kitties don’t eat plants.”

I looked at Dad, who was laughing. I finally began to understand and grinned a little.

“This was all a joke, wasn’t it Dad?”

“Yup,” he said. “I just wanted to take you girls on a hike and thought I’d tease you about the Creekbluff Monster. I didn’t know the cat would be in there though. I thought it would be a fun safari for you.”

Danielle had picked up the cat who was mewing unhappily.

“Dad, can we take the Monster home?” she said. “So my friends can all see it?”

“No,” Dad said, putting the cat back on the ground. “The Monster stays here. Let’s ride on back girls. It’s getting late.”

As we rode back, the sun became covered with clouds, and the ride became much cooler. We rode toward the shrinking river, passing the dead raccoon and rattlesnake skeleton. We passed the trees and mossy rocks, and finally reached the cement ledge. I struggle to walk up the steep edge with my bike, but I made it to the top where we rode down the street to our house. When I opened the front door, Mom was standing there with a smile.

“So how was your Safari?” she asked. “Did you enjoy the creek?”

I looked at my father and Danielle and grinned. “It was the best safari ever.”