Charlie was excited that school was out for the summer. His family was heading to his grandparents’ farm for the weekend, and he was going to spend the last two weeks of June with them. The farm was acres and acres of forest he could explore as well as a large pond where Charlie could fish and swim. Plus, Charlie’s Grandpa promised to let him drive the tractor now that he was 10.
Jumping from the car, Charlie yelled, “Grandpa! Grandma! We’re here!”
His grandparents stepped onto their front porch with their arms extended waiting for Charlie to tackle them with his bear hug as he always did.
“Can we go fishing this evening, Grandpa?”
“Awe, Charlie, it’s almost dark. How about we get up early tomorrow morning to go? Then Grandma can fry up what we catch for dinner.”
“I guess so, but just so you know, I’m planning on going fishing everyday I’m here.”
Laughing, Grandpa responded, “Sure, buddy.”
As the sun rose above the trees the next morning, Charlie and his grandpa set their fishing lines into the murky water. Neither said much while enjoying the tranquility of the morning. After a couple of hours, the two decided the five catfish they had caught was enough for dinner, so they loaded up to begin the half-mile trek home.
“Hey, Grandpa, look at those birds.”
Above the trees deep into the forest about twenty large black birds were flying in a circle.
“Some animal must have died in the woods. Buzzards circle like that above dead animals before they swoop in for a meal.”
Sunday evening Charlie’s parents returned to the city promising to be back the July 4th weekend in time for fireworks. Charlie hugged them good-bye saying he loved them and would miss them. When their car disappeared from view, he ran to the back of the house to play with the goats before dinner. While he chased the goats, the chickens in the nearby coup began to screech and fly around hitting the sides. Charlie’s grandpa came out the back door to see what was causing the commotion.
“What’s going on?” he asked Charlie.
“I don’t know. They just went crazy. But, look Grandpa. The birds are back.”
Flying high above the trees close to where the pond was located, the buzzards were circling once again.
“Charlie, it’s getting late. Come inside. There might be a coyote out there frightening the chickens,” his grandpa said while he scanned the tree line.
From his bed that night, Charlie looked out his window searching for the coyote and the buzzards. However, the black moonless night prevented him from seeing anything but shadows.
The birds and coyote were long forgotten the next day when Charlie headed out to dig up worms for his fishing trip. His grandpa had to go into town, so Charlie decided to fish and explore on his own. His grandma was fine with it and just told him to be home for dinner. Walking toward the pond with his can of worms and cane pole, Charlie began to smell something foul. He figured it must be a skunk, so he kept a watchful eye. The closer he got to the pond, the stronger the smell got. His gag reflexes began kicking in from the putrid smell; however, his curiosity propelled him forward. The pond came into view, and Charlie stopped in his tracks. Dead, bloated fish floated across the top of the pond. Animal carcasses littered the surrounding ground. The trees were lined with buzzards watching protectively over their babies who nibbled and fed on the carcasses below. Charlie stood paralyzed from fear. His heart thundered so loudly that he knew the birds would discover his presence at any moment. Slowly, his senses began to return, and he took a step backward. The movement caught the attention of a buzzard sitting in the tree closest to Charlie. The bird’s head swiveled toward the movement, and his beady black eyes narrowed in on potential prey. Dropping his worms and cane pole, Charlie took off running towards the farmhouse. He ran faster than he had ever run before never looking back to see if the buzzards were after him.
Screaming, “Grandma! Grandma!” Charlie ran into the house. When he reached his grandmother, he collapsed into her arms crying while doing his best to explain what he saw. She comforted him and said his grandpa would go take a look the next morning. Charlie refused to go outside the rest of the afternoon. His grandpa attempted to entice him with a tractor ride that evening, but Charlie stood his ground. That night, he dreamed of the hideous creatures crashing through his bedroom window and dragging him back to their lair so that their babies could feast.
The next morning, Charlie begged his grandpa to not go to the pond, but his grandpa assured him it would be fine. Charlie sat by one of the windows at the front of the house anxiously waiting for his grandpa’s return. Two hours later, relief flowed over him when he saw his grandpa’s side-by-side coming into view. Charlie took off running towards him, but his grandpa began screaming to get back in the house. In the distance, blackness began to spread across the sky. Charlie and his grandpa ran into the house slamming the door closed as the darkness enveloped the house.
On the morning of July 4th, Charlie’s parents turned onto the main road that led to his grandparents’ farm. His mom gazed over the sky thinking about how much she had missed Charlie. Out of the corner of her eye in the direction of the farmhouse, she spotted buzzards circling, so she said, “Something must have died. . . “