The Day the Devil Died


It’s been half-a-century now, fifty-years, since I encountered him or at least something that claimed to be him. Forget Slenderman, for I knew that creature by a different name, an older name, his biblical long before the Internet was a thing.

It was a bright blue morning in early August 1969, jus’ passed my younger brothers’ birthday and we had less than a month left of summer vacation before returning to school. Dad had jus’ left for his fourth and final tour of duty in Vietnam and mom was already at work.

The world somehow seemed safer when…

Grabbing up one of the many salmon rods my dad had hanging in our garage, I hopped on my bicycle and raced towards the river. My path to the Klamath River took me south on Highway 101 and westerly on Requa Road

It had been less than 120-years since my childhood stomping grounds had been known by their native names, the river, Tlametl and the settlement south of the river’s mouth Rekwoi. There was still a sense of mystery and mysticism in the land, even for the White settlers of the area.

There was a line of sports fishermen spread out along the sandy shore, south of the mouth as I rode beyond Larson’s boat dock and ditching my bike, climbed over the base of Oregos Rock. There I spooled out the heavy filament into the breaking waves.

Quietly, I sat reeling in my line and then like a fly-fishermen in shallow stream, casting it out again. Much to my surprise, I felt a solid tug on my pole and found myself fighting to haul a heavy fish to the embankment.

Never had I felt something so strong fighting me at the end of the line. Up till now, all I had ever caught were a couple of trout and a few catfish from the old sawmill pond north of the Trees of Mystery.

Never in my wildest nine-year-old imaginings would I have dreamed how this day would turn out as it did.

Minutes seem to be hours as I pulled back and then relaxed my pole, reeling in line each time I drooped the tip of the thick fiberglass shaft down towards the surf. Soon I saw the splash of the salmon I had on the end of my line and I had to fight back my excitement to keep battling it and to not screw up and have the fish break the line and escape.

At last I had it up on the bank of the river. I had landed the biggest fish I had ever seen and I estimated it was nearly as long as I was tall. That’s when I smelled the awful odor of sulfur and heard the snapping of brush from behind and to the right of me.

As I turned, there stood an impeccably dressed figure, very tall and thin, wearing a crisp black suit, white button down shirt, thin black tie and glossy black dress shoes. I knew instantly, he was not human as he had no face and his arms were monsterably long.

His skin was sickly pale, to the point beyond white, and he was devoid of eye sockets, lips or a nose. This skin of his, it was leathery and scales so fine that they were nearly imperceptible.

I froze in utter fear.

Then from out of where his mouth should have been I heard, the deep rumble, “Nice big fish, child!”

My body trembled, my blood ran cold, and try as hard as I might, I could not will my body to move, run or even breathe.

“Wha…who are you?”

“Why, you do you not recognize me, child?”

“No!”

“I am Lucifer,” he laughed, “and I am starving, so I think I will rip your little stomach open right here and eat your guts, heart and all.”

Locked in fear, I watched his long arms reached for me. Seeing his hands, there claw-like appendages for fingers, snapped me out of my trance and I stepped back.

I fell, peeing myself and trying again to cry out.

Still he kept reaching and not wanting to be his meal, I grabbed the salmon and though weighing more than me, shoved it towards him.

“Here, take my fish and eat it, if you’re hungry,” I heard my voice quivering say, as he grabbed it from my shaking hands.

“Ahh…” he boomed, snatching it.

Suddenly, where there had been no mouth, I watched his ‘jaw,’ unhinge into an unnatural proportion and the fish disappear, head first down it’s gullet, like a seabird. As the salmon slipped from sight, I heard the crackle of a blaze and watched in horror as the fish began to broil.

The heat felt like a blast from my grandparents furnace. The cycloid scales of the salmon buckled and curled upward as did the fishes two pectoral fins and the dorsal.

Still finding it hard to move, I was surprised as the thing stopped mid-swallow, only a third of the fish was visible, and began to gag. The dagger-like fingers had also stopped reaching for me and where now clawing at his throat and trying to withdraw the remaining portion of fish from his mouth.

The hideous sounds the Devil made were beyond anything I had ever heard and to this day, I have no ability to even begin describing what awful noises emanated from his evil self. It suddenly occurred to me that he was now choking; suffocating on the many bones of the salmon.

Quickly, I backed away as he flailed wildly, struggling to dislodge the fish from his fiendish airway. Finally, he dropped to its knees and slowly pitched over onto his face.

“Die you son-of-a-bitch!” I shrieked, though I’d never used such language before in my young life.

The smell and smoke of burning brush and decaying flesh overwhelmed me and I fainted. When I awoke, I sat up and looked about me, only to find myself alone.

My pole lay beside me, untouched, filament still spooled in the reel. Also beside me was a patch of ground blacken and deeply scorched to the bedrock.

Wasting no time, I scrambled from where I lay, back around the base of the sacred rock and without looking back raced my bike all the way home. I have never returned to that spot, that sacred place where I watched the Devil choke to death on the bones of an ill-gotten salmon.

3 thoughts on “The Day the Devil Died”

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