Time to Have
A Bit of Fun
Those of you who have experienced the unique thrill of stalking huge brown trout at night during “The Hex Hatch” will immediately grasp the nature of this little yarn I’ve begun.
Those who haven’t experienced that particular angling thrill will, undoubtedly, “catch” the concept pretty quickly.
The idea is to keep the story flowing, chapter by chapter, as each “contribution” (arbitrarily selected by me) continues the story.
In addition to the satisfaction of seeing his/her byline, each successful “contributor” will receive—what else—some of the Hex flies that I’m tying and describing for inclusion in the April 2013 issue of Fly Fisherman magazine.
Simply be creative, follow the genre of the first chapter, and email your submission(s) to firstname.lastname@example.org after each successive chapter is printed here.
And now, the story of…
Of the Manistee!
Chapter 1 By Capt. Tony Petrella
The June moon was full, casting so brilliant a glow that one might eschew fishing for the pleasure of reading Hewitt, Bergman, or even Hemingway’s tall tales of Nick Adams’ adventures in the Big Two Hearted. Ah, but this was a Hex Night, with that fine, narrow window of opportunity which usually eludes even the most dedicated hunter of very large brown trout.
Thus, I was perched upon a rotting deadfall on the banks of the Manistee River, deep in the bowels of a cedar sanctuary where I felt certain no man had trod for many years. I, myself, had only ventured there by the merest chance while trailing a recalcitrant English setter during a grouse hunt the previous fall.
The air engulfed me as a furnace, without the merest breeze to soften its oppressive heat, while I sat on the riverbank as still as any Ojibwa Indian who had prowled its regions two hundred years before.
All of the sounds around me were magnified, as Gregorian Chant that might reverberate throughout some majestic Cathedral. Mosquitoes swarmed like penitents at the altar, and crickets chirruped as would the choir upon reaching its thundering crescendo of an Ave Maria.
Keenly intent upon hearing the telltale “slurrrrup!” of an enormous trout, my every nerve and fiber was attuned to locating that which I sought.
A great buzzing engulfed me, however, and seeking to forestall the onslaught hordes of flying insects might wreak upon my pale, exposed flesh, I interrupted the vigil to fire my crusted Meerschaum. It was upon extinguishing the flame with a satisfying lungful of aromatic Turkish blend, that I became aware of the presence of an approaching angler.
“Blast!” I cursed in the realization that my Sanctuary was being violated. “What other being could know of this place?”
It was then that I saw, to my horror, glowing eyes in this apparition which now lurched through the forest, stumbling upon cedar roots and fallen limbs. This, this being shambled forward mechanically, even as the hairs upon the back of my neck rose like those of a porcupine and I coughed roughly with the sudden inhalation of my pipe’s fumes.
At the sound of my gagging, the being halted suddenly, as if slapped. Those awful, burning eyes seemed to swivel like the bores of a great naval gun, seeking out a target that must be annihilated, obliterated as all enemies must be reduced to ash.
Suddenly the zombie head slowly turned upward, detecting, as I did likewise, soft “squeakings” and the gentle flutter of bat wings. At once, his eyes became like the flashing embers of Betelgeuse in the western sky whence comes The Ides of March.
In a moment, dozens of the vile creatures were upon the apparition, biting and squealing frightening shrieks as disgusting rivulets of blood coursed from wounds in the grotesque being’s face and neck.
Moaning under this relentless attack, the being uttered a mournful cry. “Master!” I thought I heard. Again, “Master!” and my own veins became as icy as a Scottish salmon river.
The timpani inside my chest left me swooning, and my pipe fell from quivering lips. The heirloom Gillum, my birthright through five generations of frugal, flinty anglers, dropped unheeded onto the black muck.
Leaping from my log, there first was a great geyser of water, followed by the dreadful gurgling noise of my wading boots sinking deeper and deeper into the morass as my sixteen-stone pulled me down.
“Ah, yes! Master,” I heard even through my frantic paroxysms of fear. “Yes, Master, I am yours now, part of the Eternal brotherhood!” An even deeper dread now penetrated my heart at the sound of that eerie exaltation.
Thrashing wildly, dislodging the burrows of myriad Hexagenia limbata larva, I sought my escape. My fishing vest seemed as an anchor, and I shed it impatiently. The cherished old felt Stetson fell from my head.
I lunged forward as might a man consumed by whiskey, arms flailing madly while scarcely progressing through the black tar that engulfed me.
“Doomed!” the voice in my head raged, “Doomed to what cruel fate beyond the conjure of my mind? What madness is this that has befallen me? It can scarcely be true. No, it must be a dream. That’s it! An evil dream, for what else could possibly explain the impossible situation in which I now find myself?”