Purple People Eater
Frying Pan Park, Herndon, VA
Placed by Rich.
Adopted by Scarab, Oct 2006
Short, easy hike from the original Frying Pan Park Letterbox.
See the Frying Pan Park box clues for directions and background info.
Warning: really bad fiction ahead.
It was a dark, and stormy night.
Sally could barely hold back the tears as she and John stood over the little, shallow hole in the ground that would be the last resting place of the Frying Pan Park letterbox. John said a few words. Sally could hear his voice crack, but decided not to say anything.
"That's it," John said, "I guess we should pile some leaves and sticks on top."
"Yea, that's probably best."
So they stood there, wondering if that was all their last memory of the box would be, the short pause turning into a long silence broken only by the rustling leaves behind them.
"Did you hear that?" said Sally.
"It's just the leaves, you worry too much." replied John, unconcernedly.
"No, there's no wind, and I don't hear anything else except behind us. If it was windy-"
But Sally could not utter another word. Neither could John. The snort of an animal told them both that it was definitely not the wind they were hearing. Not the complacent exhale of a pet or rodent. This came from something wild, something ferrule, something small and angry.
"Come on!" yelled Sally as she grabbed John, still too stunned to react. She yanked his arm and they both took off back down the path they had followed to get here, turning through the underbrush, heading for the creek.
Sally cursed under her breath as she remembered the metal bridge behind them, crossing over the street to human company and safety. Instead, they were deep in ITS territory. The woods.
Water splashed everywhere as they tore through the creek, soaking their shorts and shoes to the core with icy, cold water. An evening like this was not the time to be in the woods.
"What was that?" blurted Sally, but John was already too intent on running to hear her. John, blinded by water splashed in his eyes and a determination to escape, tripped on the roots. He went down in a heap, pulling Sally with her.
"Do you hear it?" said Sally, listening intently to the nothingness around them.
"No, maybe it's gone?"
His question was answered by the sounds of heavy footfalls through the water just behind them. There was no mistaking it. They were being tracked like prey. Whatever it was, was intent on meeting them, and they were sure it wasn't selling Amway.
Sally was first on her feet, pulling John as best as she could. She looked both ways, not remembering where they came from originally. Here at the water's edge she turned right and dragged her love over the rocky trail wondering to herself if this was the way back to her car---the trail they took to the letterbox. Unknown to Sally, her fate was already chosen for her. This was not the path to safety.
Her feet and ankles ached as she stumbled over the roots and rocks that made the trail and was relieved to see it smooth out ahead. She felt the pain John felt at the water's edge as her ankles bent at funny angles as she tried to navigate the rocky ground.
Shortly ahead the trail came to a "T". John's senses, in tune with the animal behind them, told him to go right.
"Right!" he screamed to Sally. She jumped, not expecting John to be lucid through the pain in his ankles. Under his own power, he pulled himself to his feet and free of Sally. He urged her to the right as he broke into a outright run.
They were paralleling the river that ran with them on the right. John was thinking that only 5 minutes ago they were lost in thought on the other side by the letterbox. Who knew they would be running for their lives only 5 minutes later?
They fled across two wooden bridges, up to where the path narrowed through forest undergrowth, hearing the not-so-distant sounds of a pursuer hot on their heels. Its sound echoed closer as it crossed the bridges in turn.
Then nothing. The nothingness behind them was so overpowering Sally and John stopped at the un-sound. Where had it gone? Was it lying in wait or confused itself? Sally turned her head around, her pupils wide against the dark forest background, frantically searching, smelling, feeling with her very being for the unknown menace. Nothing.
Suddenly ahead in the undergrowth John felt movement, then a flash of fur (or was it scales like a lizard?) darted across the path. John yelled, startling Sally from her search. They both frantically looked at where the movement went.
"Just a squirrel, I think" said John.
Sally heard John's voice crack, but not like it did before in front of the shallow letterbox grave. Before, it marked the deep feeling of a careing person. This time, it was the shallow feeling of panic, worn on his shirtsleeve.
"Look!" cried Sally as she squinted away off to their left. "I think I see the end of this trail ahead to the left. It looks like a white building and mowed grass...maybe a field or a person's lawn. Let's go!"
"Safety? Let’s go. We can't stay here anymore!"
Through the narrow trail they creeped, barely making a sound. Maybe moving slowly will keep IT from tracking them. They didn't know it was 5 steps ahead of them. Humans stay to the trails. Animals make their own way. It was waiting. Watching them come closer to it; closer to the trail's end; closer to their end. Was it smiling? Did it even have the understanding of the pain and loss it was about to cause? It blinked its eyelids across yellowgreen, unfeeling eyes and waited.
As they came out of the narrow portion of the trail, they saw a mighty tree stump at least 5 feet tall immediately on their left. The remains of the long dead tree stretched away from them to the left, flanking the trail out of the woods ahead. They turned left.
"Oh my God!" gasped John, "That's no house. That's a graveyard ahead!" He wondered to himself if this was the resting place of The Hunted, the ex-living, the Prizes of Past Pursuits?
On the right of the trail was another fallen tree, this one cut in pieces at regular intervals from a chainsaw. When John and Sally were next to the first cut through the tree on the right of the trail, Sally tripped. At least that is what John thought. He saw her fall ahead of him, but immediately heard the grunts of their Follower as it dragged the unconscious Sally under. Down under the tree on the right of the trail at the first cut was the last resting place of Sally, John's love.
John made chase, dropping to his knees and pulling the undergrowth away, pawing in the separation of the tree trunk sections. Blind against the black of the sky, against the black of the forest floor he searched. Sensing by smell, by sound, by touch, anything to regain Sally. But there was nothing. Nothing, except for the unsetting flash of yellow-green eyes directly in front of his face. Inches away, John knew what he was seeing, smelling, hearing. He had found their follower. The growl, sneer and flash of teeth are the end of John, and the end of our story.
John had found the Purple People Eater.
Sorry, everyone! That was truly a ridiculous piece of Pulp Fiction, but I couldn't resist. Film Noir at its worst :-) I should have been a writer!