Trolls - A Halloween Story by @Don Ecker

All Rights Reserved | Image: Courtesy of Gerry Kissell


A Halloween Story by @Don Ecker – RATED MATURE

Even with the ear protection, my ears and head still rang.  I shook it for a second, but that didn’t help much.  I Looked over at Flip (Phil, one of my best buddies), and he still stood ramrod straight, pointing his .357 directly at the doorway.

We were at Flip’s cousin’s home, in the basement, and lying on the cement were two … Shit! … I didn’t know what to call them.  One more lay inside the door that stood directly behind Flip’s cousin Kevin’s furnace: Maybe 4 ½ or 5 feet tall, with brownish or blackish bushy hair, or maybe fur, two arms with impossibly long claws, and a head that vaguely resembled–what?–maybe a velociraptor, I suppose.  Well, it had that kind of teeth anyway.

Pulling out the earplugs, I could hear sirens fast approaching.  Kevin was down on the cement floor, cradling his wife.  I had pulled her out of the door and the hole behind it.  Kevin was a total wreck and had been of no help whatsoever.  Flip had pegged him right; he was a nice enough guy but a total dipshit.

Suddenly, we heard a very loud banging on the door upstairs, and then it sounded like someone kicked it open.

“State police!  Show yourselves!”

“We’re in the basement,” Flip shouted.  Footsteps pounded across the kitchen, and then two 6-foot tall state cops pounded down the stairs to the basement, both carrying cocked and locked 12-gage shotguns.  Seeing me and Flip, one also  holding a pistol, screamed, “Lose the guns!”

I placed my 1911 on the floor while Flip did the same. “What in the hell is going on here?” the cop yelled as he looked at Kevin holding his wife.

“This!” I said, pointing to that thing lying on the floor.  One of the cops stepped over, staring at the two bodies on the floor.

“There’s another one inside the door behind the furnace,” I added.  The cop stepped over and softly said, “Je-sus Kee-rist!”

I nodded and said, “Oh yeah.”

The Day Before

I had just finished my second cuppa when my cell rang.  It was Flip calling.  Hell, it was only about 7:55 a.m. “Hello, what’s up, Flip?  Kinda early, man …”

“Irish, got a favor to ask of you.  You know my cousin Kevin, right?  You met him a couple years ago at my Christmas party.  Well, a couple weeks ago or so, his wife kinda dropped off the world.  I told you about that right after she went missing.  My cousin went to work.  When he got home, she was missing, but all her stuff was there.  Her purse, keys, car, everything.  The cops cleared Kevin and tore all over his property, everything, but no Marie.  Nowhere!”

“Yeah, okay, so what can I do?”

“Okay, look … my cousin has been a mess his whole life.  Oh, he is a nice enough guy, but not somebody you want to share a foxhole with.  If he were a woman, you would probably call him an airhead.  So, since his wife vanished, he has been in a total meltdown.  This morning, man, he calls me about 7 . . .   and listen to this!  He tells me that he woke up in the very wee hours because . . . uh, shit, dude, you ready for this?  Some kind of–hell, how do I say it?  A FUCKING hairy FUCKING monster was in his bedroom.  And  . . . this—whatever–tells him that it’s hungry!  This thing wants to EAT!  So good ol’ Kev says he will cook him some eggs or sumpin’.  No, this thing wants MEAT!  So, from what he told me, he offered to make some hotdogs, but this . . . thing got pissed.  He wants HUMAN MEAT, or he tells Kevin he will EAT HIM!  Then it leaves!  He is begging me to drive over there.  Would ya, you know, back me up and come with me?”

Well, Ol’ Flip freaked kinda surprised me.  At that moment, if somebody came into my place and yelled, “BOOM,” I would’ve dove to the deck.  I first thought Flip’s cousin lost his mind, but hell, I don’t know.

“Flip, you know this guy,” I said. “I don’t know him, but if you ask me, sounds like your cousin lost his center of gravity, slipped over the edge, three cans shy of a six pack.  Maybe you should call the professionals–a doctor or County Mental Health or some damn thing!”

“Yeah, Irish, I have been thinking the same thing, but before I do anything, I’m going over there.  Will you come with me in case he goes NUTS or some damn thing?”

Well, Flip is my buddy, and I sure wouldn’t let him hang. “Yeah, okay. I’ll go with you, but first, tell me exactly what he said about his . . . monsters.”

Flip went silent for a moment. “Well, he said it was totally dark except for his hall light.  He said he sensed something and woke up.  Then he said he smelled something foul, sat up in bed, and saw this thing standing there.  He admitted to me he was SO TERRIFIED that he pissed himself in his bed!  Then he said this thing spoke to him . . ..”

“Wait!  It spoke to him?  It spoke English to him?  What?”  “Well, he told me it grunted more than spoke, but he said he understood most of it.  Like I told you, it said it was HUNGRY.”

Okay, I’ll be the first to admit it.  I was over the top, confused. “Okay, Flip, you gonna drive over here to pick me up. or what?”

“Yep, I’ll be over in a half hour or so.”

“Flip, just to be safe, buddy, I am going strapped.  Just on the off chance he ain’t nuts, I am taking NO CHANCES.”

“Me too, Irish, me too.”

I got my “bug-out” bag that I had put together since I first got out of the Army.  I  rooted through it to see what I could remove and what I wanted to carry with me.  I kept the flashlight and batteries, had some snacks I left in there, a camp knife, a couple of BIC lighters, several candles, also my first generation starlight scope– crap like that.  I retrieved my 1911 .45 pistol, a box of ammunition, and four loaded magazines and popped it all in the bag.  Fifteen minutes later, Flip pulled in.  I got in his car, and off we went.

Flip quickly spoke, saying, “Kevin lives out in the farmer section, just shy off the edge of the forest.  That whole area, at one point, was a coal mining area.  Lots of tunnels and closed-up mines.  Supposed to be a good area for deer hunting, but I don’t hunt.” Then he shut up.  I was thinking more about what we would find when we got to his cousin’s house.

As we pulled up to Kevin’s house, I took a long look at it.  An old, two-story farmhouse, the structure looked in good shape.  Flip had told me that while his cousin may be a bit of an airhead, he was no slacker when it came to carpentry.

We found Kevin sitting on the porch in an old-style swing.  He was wearing a bathrobe and slippers on his feet, and his face was very red and puffy.  The guy had obviously been weeping.  Flip bounced up the porch steps and grabbed Kevin by his shoulders. “Hey, Kev, how you doing, man?  You remember my buddy, Irish, right?  I asked him to come with me.  Okay, tell us EVERYTHING that happened since you first woke up today.”

Kevin just sat there and was mum, maybe even a tiny bit comatose, staring into the distance.  Flip grabbed him by his shoulders and shook him very hard. “Hey, Kevin!  Snap outta it, God damn it!  Hey, you there?”

His head rolled around for a moment, then his eyes finally focused. “Phil, you came!”

“Yeah, Kev, I came.  I told you I would come over.  I brought my buddy Irish, too.  You remember Irish, right?  You met him at my Christmas party.” Kevin glanced at me, but I saw no recognition in his eyes. “Come on, Kevin, let’s go inside.” Flip pulled him up and led him inside the doorway.”

“Come on, Kev, sit down.” Flip led him to a kitchen chair and planted him in it. “Okay, Kevin. Let’s start from the beginning.  From the time your eyes opened . . . what the FUCK Happened?”

Kevin sat there a moment, gathering his courage, I guessed, and then he began.

“I have barely slept since Marie disappeared.  I went to bed last night just before midnight, and I suppose I finally fell asleep.  Sometime real early, I suddenly came awake and smelled something foul.  I sat up in bed and could see something in the room from the hall light shining in.  Jesus!  I was never as scared in my life as I was at that moment!  I couldn’t see well enough to figure out what that was, but I knew it wasn’t human.  It kind of grunted something that I didn’t understand, then it said it again and sounded like ‘I’m HUNGRY.’ I didn’t know what to do so I told it I came to make it some eggs.  The thing, whatever it was, seemed to go into a rage!  It spun around and smashed its . . . hand . . . or maybe a claw . . . into the wall.  Then it said . . . `I WANT MEAT!’ I have some hotdogs in the fridge and offered to make it some.  He then damned near went berserk, screaming, ‘I WANT HUMAN MEAT!  YOU GET ME HUMAN MEAT, or I WILL EAT YOU!’ Then it skittered out of my bedroom and disappeared. I looked over at Flip; he looked at me, and it’s safe to say we were, at that moment, as confused as either of us ever was in this life.

“Okay, guys,” I began, trying to keep my voice calmer than I felt. “Let’s go upstairs and take a look.”

“I don’t wanna go up there,” Kevin mumbled.  But Flip would not be denied. “Come on, Kev, we’re both here.  Nothing is gonna get you, cuz.” He pulled him up and pushed him toward the stairs.

As I followed along, I noticed a foul smell–kind of like rotting meat– not a real heavy odor, but it was obvious enough.  Flip and Kevin moved slowly up the staircase, pushing his cousin as needed.  Reaching the top, they entered Kevin’s bedroom, once again Flip having to push him in.  Upstairs, the foul smell became far more intense, and as I entered the bedroom, I also caught a whiff of urine.  I guess Kevin did piss himself.  Then, on the wall facing us, I noticed three large gouges that ended in a smashed hole.  Maybe Kevin was not nuts.

“Well, seems like Kevin was telling the truth,” I began. “Unless he punched in his own wall, there is the hole.  And by the way, Flip, did you smell that rotten meat smell?” He turned to me and nodded.  I said,

“Okay, Kevin, Flip, and I are gonna clear this floor.  That means we are going to make sure nothing is up here, then we will go back downstairs.  You stay put while we do that, okay?”

He just nodded.  I then pulled out my .45 and opened and checked the bedroom closets.  Flip exited the room and went into the guest room, checking the nooks and crannies.  Nothing was up here—well, nothing we could find, anyway.  So we went back down to the kitchen. “Say, Kevin, got any coffee on?”

He half-smiled at me and went over to make some.  I wandered out into the dining room, then the living room, and checked the closets and corners.  Nothing.  I returned to the kitchen as the coffee was starting to brew.  Seeing a doorway off one side of the kitchen, I asked Kevin, “Does that go to the basement?” He simply nodded. “Okay, good. Let’s have a cup, and then we can go and check the basement.”

Now, something I had failed to mention: the extensive forest area behind Kevin’s home went right up to and encompassed what passes for mountains in this area.  It had been a prime deer hunting location for generations.  Deer season usually began in early December, and over the years, a lot of hunters filled their larders with venison from this area.  After most of this was over, I discovered that for well over a century, quite a number of people had disappeared from this area.  In other words, folks simply vanished, never to be seen again.  One or two hunters, every few years, simply ended up gone.  Oh sure, search parties would scour the area.  Even dogs would be brought in, but folks who vanished stayed gone.  I suspected that some of the county or even state officials knew something or suspected something. Still, if they did, the bastards never uttered a word about it.

After our coffee, the three of us headed downstairs to the basement.  Flip led the way, then me and Kevin brought up the rear–very reluctantly.  The cellar was not well-lit, so we made extensive use of our flashlights.  Checking all the nooks and crannies, we found nothing; well, nothing until I saw the small door behind the furnace tucked back in the rear. “Kevin, what the hell is that door to?” I asked him.  I walked over to it and swung my light around.  It was an old wooden door about four or so feet high, maybe three or so feet wide.  He kind of shuffled over, stopping six or seven feet from the door, and shrugged. “I don’t use that for anything; nothing is in it.”

“Are you sure?  Have you ever looked inside it?  Maybe you stored tools in there?” He shook his head, no, and now he looked confused. “I’ll look,” said Flip, and he walked over and grabbed the handle. “Wait a sec, Flip, let me get in position to back you up.” As he faced the door, it swung left as it cracked open.  Flip grabbed the handle, looked at me, and stepped off to the left as he pulled it fully open.  As the door scraped the floor, I took a “Weaver stance” with my weapon, released the safety, and looked inside the widening space.  He pulled it all the way open … and the tiny room was empty and dark as the pit of hell.  I stared at the opening for a moment, not sure what to expect.  Finally, I thought fuck it! And walked over and leaned in.

I got my flashlight and turned it on again, swinging it around inside the room.  I was kinda surprised as it receded almost five feet back inside while the ceiling reached the same height.  Peering to the rear of the space, I saw the back “wall” was a bit “twisted” and had what looked like an opening or open space.  I moved next to it, stuck a couple of fingers in the opening, and pulled.  As it opened, I was looking down a long, black-pitch tunnel.

“Flip!  Look here, man, I think I know where that beast came from!” Shining his flashlight, Flip stuck his head in, took a look, and blew a very low whistle. “Holy Shit, Irish, like what the fuck?”

“Flip, grab my bag, and hand me my Starlight Scope, I whispered. “It has an infrared projector on it.  I can see what is down there.” Flip backed out, grabbed my bag, and pulled out the scope.  It was in its own case, so I opened it up, got it out, and slid the projector into the scope.  Turning it on, I now could see down this damned hole.

As I had mentioned earlier, this county and several surrounding counties once had quite a few coal mining operations, now mostly shut down.  This meant there had to be tons and tons of old coal mine tunnels everywhere.  I realized my subconscious mind must have been working overtime because, suddenly, I had a theory as to what this might be all about.  These animals . . . no, that can’t be right!  Kevin had said the thing spoke to him.  These . . . trolls!  Yeah, that’s right!  Right out of Scandinavian mythology, they gotta be trolls!  Trolls live underground and probably have been, for hell’s sake, almost forever.  I bet if we could go back far enough in history, these things would turn up!  I wonder what the early indigenous peoples (we used to call them Indians ) would have to say about these things.  I was convinced that the natives had to be aware of them.  The coal mines and coal tunnels probably affected the trolls. They disrupted their tunnels, entryways, exits, and even their living arrangements.  They probably got pissed, and if I believe Kevin, they learned to like their human meat!  Yeah, that sounded about right to me.

I carefully scanned the tunnel.  There was no indication anything had ever been there since the thing was dug.  I saw that it was wide enough, at least here, to easily crawl through, and now I had to see what was down there.  I grabbed my earplugs, shoved them in my ears, checked my .45, my flashlight, and camp knife, and began crawling into the hole.

“Irish!” Flip yelled.  I stopped, looked back, and waited. “Irish!  Where in the hell do you think you are going?” Old Flip really sounded distressed.

“Well, Flip, I wanna see what’s down here. I’m gonna go a ways, but if I don’t find anything, I’ll be back.”

“You watch your ass Irish!”

I nodded, then proceeded down the tunnel or hole or whatever you wanted to call it, shielding my flashlight.  I didn’t want the light beam announcing my presence in case anything was down around the end of this hole.  I guess I had crawled about ten or twelve feet in this dark when it hit me: Am I out of my damned mind?  My sudden burst of bravado vanished in a hot second.  Here I was down a pitch-black hole with no idea at all what lay ahead.  I couldn’t help but remember Kevin’s tale, the beasts or trolls he said he encountered.  I had my light, pistol, and scope, but . . . so what!  I almost turned back, but my pride held me in place.  What in hell will that say about me . . . that I am too damn chickenshit to do what I said I would do?  I thought to myself.  I recalled my Army time and told myself to ’embrace the suck,’ a rather sallow phrase to help grunts muster some courage.  I sure as hell didn’t want to embrace THIS suck, but I did.

I kept crawling, and the tiny bit of light I allowed down the tunnel illuminated a swerve to the left.  I switched off the light and scooted up to the edge of the turn, readied my night vision, got as low as I could, and inched around the edge.  More hole, only this time it was very green, but still a hole.  Admittedly, night vision is great, especially for newer devices.  But mine was a first-generation scope; okay, it did work after a fashion, but man!  I would sure have loved a second or third-generation device.

As I kept crawling down this tunnel, my cramped surroundings started feeling much more hot and humid.  The foul odor of rotten meat and decay became sharper, almost nauseating.  Stopping for a moment, I pulled out my ear protection, shoving them in my shirt pocket.  I wanted to see if I might be able to detect any noise, but I only heard my heart beating.  After about eight or nine feet more, I stopped and activated my starlight.  The tunnel was branching off to the right, but still no movement, creatures, or anything else.  The stink became even more foul.  By now, I was sweating like a marathon runner, the damn stinging sweat rolling into my eyes.  I stopped momentarily, wiping them dry.  I kept approaching a bend to the right, listening intently for any indication that something was down here.  Then I heard something; I wasn’t sure what, but something beyond ambient sound.

As I reached the right bend, I stopped and activated my scope.  I edged into the path, holding it to my eye and adjusting my eyepiece to focus the scope for a really long look.  Maybe 30 feet down this tunnel, what seemed like a body was hooked up to a wall of some kind.  It was not precisely focused, but  I could see it was definitely human.  Gee-SUS!  The form appeared to be female . . . Could this be Kevin’s missing wife?  My God!  We all had given her up for dead.  She was hanging there completely naked.  What in hell had these things been doing with and to her?

I had to stop for a moment.  Could I get up to her without tripping an alarm?  How many of these … trolls … might there be?  I did have all four spare magazines for my pistol, with a full magazine ready and one up the pipe.  So, if push came to shove, I had 36 rounds of .45 ACP to dissuade anything from interfering too closely.

I crawled as silently as I could to a few feet from whom I now assumed was Marie, and she appeared semi-conscious.  A faint light shone a few feet beyond us from another room or opening.  I heard some faint shuffling around from that space.      Truthfully, I was about as nervous as a teenage June bride just before the wedding.  I put my pistol into my shoulder holster, pulled my knife, and quietly stood up next to her.  Her hands were tied with some kind of twine or rope hanging from a peg in the dirt wall.  I put my hand over Marie’s mouth and cut at her binding.  Once freed, she collapsed, so I struggled to keep her from falling.  She began to moan, and I placed my mouth next to her ear. “Shush.  I am gonna get you out of here.  For God’s sake, be quiet!”

I had my left arm supporting her while I tugged out my pistol.  I chanced, stopping for a second, leaned her up against the dirt wall, and pulled out my flashlight.  Turning it on quickly, I glanced at my path rearward.  I got her about 15 or more feet back, all the time staying alert and hoping that nothing came out of that space and charged us.  I couldn’t stand up straight up, not enough room, so my legs were starting to ache.

At that moment, a very loud guttural shriek nearly shook the tunnel walls as a huge shape leapt out into the middle of the tunnel, directly in our path.  Shit, whatever, it was charged straight toward us.  I dropped the woman, sat down on my ass and turned on the flashlight, and aimed it directly at the creature or troll.  The thing screamed in apparent pain.  They were very sensitive to bright light!

I took aim and fired two shots at its head.  That .45 CRACK/BOOM sounded like the hammer of heaven dropping from the sky.  Nope, hadn’t put the earplugs back in.  Damn, my head rang.  I fumbled the plugs out of my shirt, pocked, and jammed them back in.  That damn thing was down for the count.  I nailed him right in its nose and forehead.  Blood was flowing into a puddle around the hairy form.  Up to then,  I hadn’t been sure of much, But now I knew that my 1911 would punch these things’ damn ticket!

I pulled Marie up from the floor, and we proceeded on.  I thought I heard someone faintly yelling my name.  I wasn’t sure.  My plugged ears were ringing, but  I pulled one plug out. “Irish, goddammit, are you there!?”

“Yeah!” I shouted back at Flip. “I got Kevin’s wife–get ready!  These fucking trolls are on the move!” I was dragging her more than she was walking, but I had no idea what she had been through.  I managed to get us out of the right tunnel wing.  The left-wing lay before us.  I had been flashing my light around, not only to see where we were but in case another creature came charging up.  And one was.  I laid down Marie as gently as I could.  Breathing heavily, I got on my knees, steadied a two-handed hold, and popped three into this thing’s midsection.  He dropped, but another appeared right behind him.  I fired twice more, and that one lost interest.  I figured I was about to dry, so I dropped the mag and fed in a fresh one.

Picking up my light, I saw no more and figured we had best-beat feet out of there.  I pulled the woman to her feet and hurried to get out of there.  I was pulling a hell of a lot more than she could hobble along.  A light abruptly swept up behind me.  I dropped her and spun around–Flip was coming toward me, flashlight and pistol in hand.

“Shit, Dude, you found her and she’s alive?”

I saw the shock on his face.  Nodding, I said, “Yeah, buddy, I was shocked too.”

Flip squinted his eyes. “Are you okay, Irish?  I heard the shooting.  You a hundred percent?”

I nodded. “Yeah, but I am starting to drag my ass.”

“Here, let me take her, and you cover our six, buddy.” He hoisted her up and moved quickly outta there.

We finally entered the tunnel that led out to Kevin’s cellar.  I wasn’t sure, but I felt some of those damn things coming.  Exiting the hole, I stood up straight, stretching for a moment, then grabbed my bug-out bag.  I pulled out the gun’s empty magazine and hastily reloaded it.

Kevin had been in the cellar, holding his wife with a look of disbelief on his face.  Flip barked, “Kevin, get your ass upstairs and get a blanket or something to cover Marie.  And call 911 to get the police and an ambulance here.  Move!” Kevin leaned her against the wall and sprinted up the cellar steps.  Flip watched me as I took a position at the door and hole. “You hear something?”

“I’m not sure, but I don’t think those smelly bastards are done yet,” I replied.

Flip half-grinned. “Okay, but let me suggest you angle yourself off to the side a bit.  You done enough hero shit today.”

I stepped off to the side about a foot just as something flew out of the doorway incredibly fast.  It hit the wall with a thunderous smash.  It was a rock about the size of a softball.  If it had hit me . . . well, suffice it to say I would have been probably canceled.  Instinct took over as I fired a full magazine directly into the doorway and hole.  As my piece ran dry, I screamed, “Reloading!” just as one of those damn trolls came bounding out, howling.  The dirty, vicious thing jumped toward me, gripping what looked like a spear aimed right at my gut.  I jammed the magazine into the butt of the pistol.  Flip was quicker, firing six magnums right into the thing’s chest.

It dropped at my feet.  Then another one came out roaring, screaming, and I am not ashamed to say I thought my blood froze.  I shot three times.  It staggered but didn’t drop.  I fired four more times, running the pistol dry again.  My head was ringing, and my ear drums felt like they were bleeding, but the thing dropped behind the one lying at my feet.  One more was inside the door, but Flip dropped him.

Was it finally over?  My body shuddered.  I was exhausted.  It felt like we had slipped into an alternate reality, and for a minute, I almost believed it.  We sat wordlessly, staring at each other until Flip muttered, “Hey.  You okay?”

I shuddered again and sighed, “Nah, man, don’t say it, Flip. Don’t say anything.”

He just nodded.  He reloaded his pistol and turned to the door, just in case.  I removed the earplugs and looked down at my feet, then thought I heard sirens.  Kevin was back, his wife wrapped snuggly in a blanket.  Within a minute or two, I heard banging on the door.  The cops had arrived.

About an hour or so had passed, and the place was loaded with state police, county emergency services, ambulances, you name it.  The first ambulance had transported Kevin’s wife and him to the hospital, so Flip and I were left there to be grilled.  Brother, we were.  Grilled, that is.  Flip told them about his cousin calling him and telling him the story of what he experienced.  Then, calling me and the two of us going over there, and what transpired afterward.  When I told them about going down the hole, one cop seemed real impressed, telling me, “Shit, man, that took some real fucking guts!  I don’t think I could’ve ever gone down there!” I just nodded at him.  I told them my theory about the old coal mines, the woods, the hill behind us, and what I suspected about the trolls.  They liked that I.D., “trolls.”

An older state police investigator said he doubted this was over yet, making a cryptic remark about all the missing people over the years.  That spurred me to do my own research later.  Damn!  It struck me these sons-uv-bitches must have known something all along.  He also told me they were probably gonna bring the Feds into this, and I may be called upon to “consult” as needed.

All I wanted to do in the entire world at that moment was to go home, get into my bathtub, then pour myself one or three or four very stiff whiskeys . . .  and go to bed.  The HELL with IT.  I figured tomorrow would take care of itself.  Kee-Rist!  Fucken trolls … who in hell would believe that Shit?