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The Sign

There are several natural phenomenons in this world that can’t be explained by modern science. The Bermuda Triangle, or the Hunger Grass in Ireland for example; or the willo’wisp of the marshes. And then there is also the signpost on Caverly and Maple Street next to Hunt’s Fertilizing Plant.
No, this is not a joke. The signpost has had many more unbelievable occurrences happen near it then anything ever before. During my Great-Uncle Wilis’ time in 1930, he observed a bird attempt to land on the sign and simply disappear into thin air. No one believed him of course, however later the town’s prize pig, Ozzie, broke out of his pen and ran rampant, searching for food. Ozzie was never seen or heard of again, but my Great-Uncle found cloven hoof prints near the sign along with the remains of a munched up dandelion plant.
When I turned ten, and after yet another crazy story from Great-Uncle Wilis, I decided to investigate the sign for myself. From a safe distance I threw every rock, dirt clump, and stick that I could find at the sign. And for the most part, they all bounced off. Those that didn’t, landed in the bramble bushes on either side.
After an hour or so, The Fat Security Guard From The Plant wobbled out to yell at me for “attempting to damage Government Property.” I decided to come back later when there was someone else was on shift and hightailed it down to the town courthouse, the guard’s shouts fading away as I reached Main Street. At the desk, I asked the old receptionist politely if I could look through the records as part of a school project concerning our town’s signposts.
The receptionist thought I was the most adorable young man she had ever seen, and lavished attention on me between bringing me large, dusty stacks of files that looked like they had not seen the light of day for at least a hundred years. I poured over the papers for what seemed like hours, struggling over the grown-up words and winding dry sentences, my eyes crossing from trying to stay awake. My nose was itching to let out its millionth sneeze but I tried to resist.
The old receptionist, who I found out, was named Mrs. Kurry, had finally left off coddling me, and gone back to her battered desk, leaving me with a plate of rather stale homemade biscuits. At one point, I found something useful. It was an illustrated map that showed every detail of my small town, but for some reason the only signs I could find were the traffic signs, a few shop signs, and the Blue Hog’s Hoof Inn that my friend Billy’s dad owned.
I went home vexed, and found my Great-Uncle Wilis on the porch drinking his favorite bottle of whiskey.
“I don’t care what those tramped up, le-gal papers say Nate!” he bellowed, spraying me with spittle and the pong of whiskey. “ I SAW IT! I saw it but no one in this dammed town believes me!” I tried to soothe him, but his rage only boiled over to a savage conviction.
“I won’t be laughed out of town anymore Nate. We are going to sit up day and night and watch that blasted sign until we get some proof. Grab your camping gear.”
For almost two weeks, we made camp in front of the sign, but there was very little out of the usual to see. I became very close friends with most of the security guards at the plant, and once they knew our mission, generally let us alone. Once in a while they even brought coffee for Great-Uncle Wilis and a cookie or doughnut for me.
I was beginning to have serious doubts that anything would ever happen when suddenly, Great-Uncle Wilis disappeared.
The last time I saw him, he was on duty while I performed my business in some bushes a little ways away from camp. I heard a yell, and ran back as fast as I could, but I was too late. His almost empty bottle was lying in the grass, a trail down the slope showing that he had lost his balance and rolled down the slope to the front of the sign. But Great-Uncle Wilis had vanished. He was not at the foot of the hill, nor was he in the brambles, complaining loudly about his injuries. In fact, he wasn’t anywhere at all.
I searched for him with my flashlight, calling out into the gathering darkness, but there was no answer. Then something caught my eye that was formed in the mud. There was a pair of footprints that looked as if whatever the animal was, had walked out of the sign. It was impossible but there was no other explanation. A chill ran through me when I realized something else. The prints were unlike anything I had ever seen.
Somehow, Great-Uncle Wilis had tumbled head over heels into the sign. And something…something else had come out.





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