Sometimes you see things that just can’t be explained, and maybe they shouldn’t be.
A few years ago, when I was sixteen, I used to live in Louisiana, on the Red River to be exact. As an avid fisherman, I would make daily trips to my usual fishing spots to see if I could hook into a big catfish. One day in late summer, I decided to pay a visit to my favorite spot as a way to keep my mind off of the ton of homework I would have to start doing in just a few days. It was just a couple miles’ walk from my house out in the country.
My favorite place to go fishing was sketchy to say the least. Most of my normal targets were ponds, but this one was different. It was a swamp, just exactly like the ones they depict in the movies. Alligators, muskrats, and possums were not abnormal sights out there, and I liked how secluded the swamp was, like it had gone untouched by civilization for thousands of years.
To get into the swamp, you first enter a clearing in a large forest of cypress trees, which grows steadily thicker as you walk in further. From here, I had learned through trial and error the best path out to the water, and to the perfect fishing ledge. It normally took about an hour of walking to get there, but it was always worth it.
But that day, in the entrance to the swamp, things were… quiet. No birds chirping, no squirrels running up and down the trees. Even the swamp rats I had always seen there and grown accustomed to were gone. It was as if all the animals had packed up and moved. I began to grow cautious; I knew that black bears were pretty common out in this area. Perhaps one could have scared all the smaller creatures away. Nevertheless, I decided to venture on anyway. I regret this more than anything else in my life.
I finally arrived at the ledge, eager to catch myself dinner for that evening. After casting out my line, I noticed something was wrong. It would normally take but a few seconds to get a bite in the swamp. But minutes passed, eventually turning into hours, and still, after what seemed like a hundred casts, nothing. I could not believe what was happening.
“Darn it,” I said to myself as my hook snagged on a cypress root. I tried to retrieve the line, which finally broke. As I was fastening on a new hook, I heard it, a terrifying sound that to this day still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
It sounded like the low, angry growl of an alligator. But deep down I knew it couldn’t be, because I couldn’t pinpoint the source of the sound. The growl just echoed, seeming to come from all sides in the heavily-wooded swamp. Whatever this thing was, it was big. I dropped my fishing pole into the water beneath me in fear.
I kept trying to convince myself that it was just a gator, hopefully a small one, and that I could escape before anything bad happened. I started to pack my things up and go, but then the growl happened again, even closer. This time, the loud grumbling caused vibrations that resonated throughout my entire body. Worst of all, it was followed by a blood-curdling hiss, like a giant python. And then, I saw it.
It was swimming in the water about eighty yards away, snaking its way in between the cypress trees. At first, I thought that my fears had been correct, a large alligator. But as it grew closer, I realized that no alligator could be this big. It was at least fifty feet long, with the head the length of a man. As it neared me, nostrils flaring, picking up on my scent, I saw the giant, webbed spines on its back. I closed my eyes and rubbed them, thinking I must be seeing things.
When I opened them though, it was still there, except now it was directly beneath me, gazing at its new-found prey. Just one step forward off the ledge and I would be this creature’s dinner. Nothing really comes close to how it looked, but the nearest thing I can think of is the spinosaurus in Jurassic Park, except this reptile looked skeletal, as if it hadn’t eaten in a long time. I couldn’t help but wonder if this was the end for me.
Then, it stood up in the shallow water, its legs propelling it upward until it was looking me in the eye. The beast was nearly twenty feet tall. I was close enough to touch this thing, and the horrible stench of rotten fish hit my face every time it breathed. Its piercing amber eyes seemed to look right through me, into my soul. It opened its powerful jaws, and inside its mouth were hundreds of dagger-like teeth, the longest of which were nearly six inches long. It growled again, but this time it was deafening, and if I wasn’t petrified of fear, I would have covered my ears.
I decided that I couldn’t dream of outrunning this creature, so I stayed put. We both stood there, staring at each other for what seemed like hours, but was probably only a couple minutes. I was expecting for this thing to snatch me up into its mouth at any second, but just when it started to open its jaws wide, a hunter’s rifle sounded in the distance. It let out that disturbing hiss once more, but then plunged itself back into the water and swam quickly away. I nearly collapsed right then, but I decided to run out of that swamp at full speed, tripping over roots and limbs several times before I found the entrance, never looking back.
When I got home, legs sore from running, my parents saw that I looked worried. They asked me what happened, and if I had seen anything. I just muttered, “Nothing.”
I have never told anyone about this until now, partly because I know no one would believe me, but also because I keep trying to push this thing out of my mind. I don’t go fishing much anymore. It’s been three years, but in my nightmares I can still hear that growl and see those burning amber eyes.