I see the bad moon a rising.
I see trouble on the way.
I see earthquakes and lightning.
I see bad times today.
Don’t go around tonight,
Well, its bound to take your life,
There’s a bad moon on the rise.
I hear hurricanes a blowing.
I know the end is coming soon.
I fear rivers over flowing.
I hear the voice of rage and ruin.
Hope you got your things together.
Hope you are quite prepared to die.
Looks like were in for nasty weather.
One eye is taken for an eye.
No one could truly appreciate how wonderfully ironic that particular song playing at that particular time actually was. Not right at that moment, anyhow. Later on, it would be viewed as a premonition…if anyone survived.
“We have to get out of here! NOW!”
Samuel’s words roared through the room with a fierceness that demanded everyone within earshot’s attention immediately. He barely spoke above a whisper, so the direness of the situation at hand was evident by his actions. He walked over to the window, cautiously spreading the blinds apart just enough to peek out.
“It seems as though there is indeed a bad moon on the rise.”
A soft groan of disappointment and slight disgust echoed throughout the crowd. Samuel spun back around, shooting the crowd an evil eye.
“Sam, did you really just say that, just because of the song being on the radio?”
“You go to Hell, Joe! There is no time to sit around here and judge each other and argue. Something is going on out there. I saw it, you saw it, Randy saw it; and we haven’t seen him since. This is something big and we have to get a move on.”
Samuel moved toward the center of the room, making eye contact with everyone he passed along the way. Reaching the coffee table, he climbed on top of it, standing akimbo, like a knight in shining armor.
“Who’s coming with me?”
Another round of disgusted noises was met with yet another angry retort from Samuel. “No, seriously, fuck you guys. Who’s coming with me?”
“What the hell, I’ll go with you, Jerry.” someone sniped from the back of the room.
After the raucous died down, a bit of a “meeting of the minds” commenced. A plan was birthed, and soon would be put into action. You see, Samuel was right. Something was going on in the small town of Colen, New Jersey. Something big. No one knew quite what it was, but it had been wreaking havoc for a fortnight. Half of the town’s people were missing or confirmed dead, and the rest were worried that they would quickly follow suit.
The temperature had risen considerably, seemingly in minutes, to the point where even breathing was a chore. The ground had been trembling incessantly, like something was boiling just below the surface, ready to explode and cover everything in its path. Strange noises, the likes of which were foreign to human ears, could be heard off in the distance. Horrible noises that put the fear of God into anyone who experienced them. There was a foul odor about the air, as well, like a rotting corpse. Steve Linkens, before he became one of the missing himself, said that it smelled as though a pregnant woman had been murdered, and the fetus was then cut out of her womb roughly fourteen hours later. With all of the hoopla, no one caught how creepy Steve’s comment was. They just agreed with him, because to be honest, none of them knew for sure what that would smell like. Who were they to argue? All they knew for sure was that the smell made their stomachs drop.
Their quiet town had been taken over by an invisible force. Its motives remained unknown, but it seemed as though it just wanted them out of Colen, for good, at any cost. After seeing what happened to those who stood in its path, the survivors were more than happy to give this phantom menace exactly what it wanted. They named their plan of attack (or should I say retreat) “Operation Evacuate Colen.” A fitting moniker, for that was exactly what they were going to do. You have to hand it to them, though. Even through all of the fear and confusion, a pact was made: No man left behind. If this mysterious movement wanted an empty Colen, that’s just what it was going to get; a completely emptied Colen, void of all inhabitants.
It was decided that the best course of action was to head toward the local harbor, which was nicknamed “The Great Bowl” back in 1935 by then incumbent mayor Walter McReynolds. Walter, a man very proud of his home and the people who lived there, was quoted as saying the following during his victory speech for his first re-election:
“As I stand here at the bay front, looking out at all of my fellow Colenmen, I can’t help but notice that the sides of this bay are raised, where the center is lower, almost as if it is in the shape of a bowl. Well, ladies, gentlemen, and children a like, I am here to tell you that I could not be prouder to continue to be the mayor of such a wonderful town, which such a glorious bowl-shaped bay. What a great bowl, indeed!”
McReynold’s tenure was tragically cut short later that year when he lost his life due to a freak horse shoeing accident. Somehow, and no one is quite sure to this day, he mistook his own foot for the horse’s. To add insult to injury, he also applied the shoe to the top of his foot, not the bottom. It went clean through his flesh and into the ground, thus effectively trapping him right where he stood. Medical professionals estimate that it took him roughly thirteen hours to finally bleed out and succumb to his wounds. Pressure marks on the ground beside him suggest that the horse stood there and watched the entire time, never running for help, for this was before Lassie was ever on television. How could he have known what to do?
Since Mayor McReynolds had spent so much time at the bay, the port was renamed “Horse Shoe Port”, to also reflect his love of all things equestrian. Because they did not know what exactly they were dealing with, the survivors decided that Horse Shoe Port was there best ticket to safety. From there, they could head anywhere on the open sea and hopefully not be followed.
“So everyone is in agreement? We head down Colen Way toward Horse Shoe Port and we don’t look back?” Samuel scanned the audience, taking note of the emotions showing on everyone’s faces. “Look, I know this is frightening, but it’s really the only option we have. I don’t want to die here, and I know that none of you do, either. We have to go for it. We just have to bear down and keep pushing. It’s going to be tough, and we’re sure to work up a sweat, but we can get through this and come out clean on the other side.”
“Sam, what if there are more survivors that we just don’t know about?” asked Emily. “What if they have the same idea that we do? What if they’ve all headed for The Great Bowl and it’s just too full, too backed up with people and there isn’t enough room for all of us? What if there’s some sort of overflow and we’re stuck there, like sitting ducks, waiting for order to be restored? That’s not even to mention what could be waiting when we reach open sea. This could be in every town in America. We could be heading right into the eye of a shit storm the likes of which cannot even be fathomed.”
Placing a calming hand on Emily’s shoulder, Samuel spoke a bit softer. “Emily, you just let me worry about that. Everything will be just fine. Even if what you just suggested happened, and there is a bit of a backlog, we can snake our way through. We will empty our lives of this beast that lurks amongst us. We will find safety. We will find relief. I promise you.”
As they kicked the front door open, a horrific scene was exposed to all. Emily was right: This was a shit-storm unlike any other, that made the typhoon from The Karate Kid Part Two look like golden shower. The ground shook with such intensity that our survivors could barely stay on their feet. The air was thick and humid, almost tropical, making it difficult to breathe. The temperature had risen at least thirty degrees, which only made the vile stench that engrossed the land even more potent. As the formidable scent reached the nostrils of the living, gagging and vomiting ensued. Some wanted to turn back, some wanted to press on, some wanted to throw in the towel. It was up to Samuel to boost their moral.
“We hit the ground running, god damnit! You don’t dare look back. You keep your eye on the bowl and you get there. This will all be over soon. LET’S GO!”
With that, they were off. It was a race against time, and the prize was life. Our clan of warriors trudged through the murky conditions, keeping their eye on the prize, just as Samuel had instructed them. Conditions worsened as they made their way: The smell grew stronger, making everyone’s stomachs contract and contort within their bodies. The air grew hotter, causing beads of sweat to drip down their faces. Maybe it was the stress, or maybe it was the magical properties of this demon they were facing, but it was almost as if the road was moving around them, constricting and releasing as they trudged along.
“We’re never going to make it. It’s like this thing is choking me!”
“Oh my God, the stench! It smells like death. Like pure, unadulterated death!”
“Please let this be over soon. Please have mercy on my soul…Oh fuck, here we go again.”
“Come on, people, we can do this! Keep going! We’re almost there!” Samuel’s voice once again cried out as that of reason, of hope, of salvation. “We just have to crest this hill, then it’s an easy downhill run to the bowl.”
The Survivors stormed the hill as if they were recreating the events of Normandy. Gusts of winds bombarded them from behind, almost pushing them along the narrow Colen Way to The Great Bowl. Finally, it was within sight. A slight cheer erupted within the group, but alas, it was premature.
Just as they began their descent, the unthinkable happened. It was if the world shifted on its axis. Suddenly, forward was down. Backward was up. Everything was catawampus, and everyone was hurdling downward toward The Great Bowl, sliding and bouncing along Colen Way. They tried to stop themselves, reaching for anything in their path to try to hold themselves, but it was to no avail.
“What in the fuck is happening?! We’re all going to die!”
“Just ride it out! This isn’t over yet…”
Samuel barely got his last sentence out before they all splashed down into The Great Bowl. Some stayed afloat, some went under and came back up gasping for air, and sadly, some sank straight to the bottom. Melee ensued. This was the sinking of the Titanic on a much smaller scale, but no less horrifying. Objects splashed into the water all around them, sometimes striking them about their heads and other extremities. Some were knocked unconscious, only to be held above water by neighboring cast-aways. The water began to change color, to a dirty brown color, from all of the sediment being stirred up during the commotion. This made it even more difficult to navigate. It seemed as though all hope was lost, and even Samuel himself had begun to pray…and then his prayers were answered.
Suddenly, everything just stopped. The stench remained, the heat, the thickness of the air, etc. It all remained intact, but calm was restored. Everything was still. Calls rang out from all around The Great Bowl, yelling to see who was still among the living. Tears were shed, more prayers were said, and hugs were given. It was all only a cruel trick, though, for the worst was yet to come.
Another rumble in the ground sprang forth, followed by a rushing noise that no one had ever heard before. An invisible current starting pulling everyone away from shore, and they were not able to fight it.
“What is happening now? This is the end, isn’t it?”
“I think the ground has opened up beneath us. Oh good Lord in Heaven, have mercy on us all!”
Samuel fought with everything we had, but he was no match. He lasted long enough to watch everyone around him be sucked into the abyss, one by one, until finally it was his turn. With not an ounce of fight left in him, his body completely drained, he gave in. He allowed his body to go limp, sucked under the water and way forever, never to be seen again.
To this day, no one knows exactly what happened that fateful day in Colen. Scientists of every practice can find no logical explanation as to how this could have happened. Religious scholars struggle to find a reason why any Deity, be they good or evil, would ever do such a thing.
How was the entire population of Colen systematically emptied from its walls and flushed away forever? This, truly, is an unsolved mystery.
We may have lost those poor townspeople forever, but they by no means should ever be forgotten. They stood in the face of imminent doom and they did not give in. They fought until the bitter end, tooth and nail, and gave everything they had within themselves. Especially one man in particular: Samuel Pooper. I know others may have ridiculed you over your last name, but I nothing but good things to say about you.
Samuel, you are an inspiration for every being in this universe. As such, I dedicate this story partly to you, and partly to my good friend * Name omitted to protect the innocent *, as well. May you look over him from your porcelain perch in the after life, and bring him nothing but happiness, success, and your special brand of Poopspiration when he finds himself needing it.