There once lived this guy named Chuck. Chuck was a crazy reclusive type who lived in the middle of a forested island with 12 chickens who he once banked on being his emergency food. Luckily for the birds, they and Chuck had all grown quiet fond of each other over the years and Chuck regarded them as family. After Chuck's monthly voyage inland for supplies, he’d make himself a fresh sandwich and sit atop his chicken coop, his poultry gathered at his feet. He’d give them voices, speaking subtly out of the corner of his mouth and discuss a variety of things. The weird dead fish he saw on the beach yesterday, Plato’s Republic... In his imaginary world, he was the voice of reason. He was the chicken king and as ridiculous as that may sound to you, he thought it was pretty sweet.
Chuck's house was something half way between a hut and a log cabin, decorated with moss and a slanted tin roof. Five yards from his door, leaning precariously to the side was his ever empty mailbox. Unfortunately for Chuck, living alone on an island with friends most people would make into sandwiches didn’t get him many letters. It was more for decoration, to make his house more homey. Which is why, one day in mid September, Chuck was shocked to see the little warped flag on his mailbox standing upright. Bemused, he passed it by several times during his chores, but he never once thought to open it. After all, how could a mailman get all the way out here?
It was Chuck's rooster who finally convinced him to investigate. Shuffling through the pines, criticizing his rooster’s lack of sense, Chuck reached the mailbox and pulled out, believe it or not, a letter. Not even reading it, he rushed into his hut and fetched his bulletless, rusted through shotgun and made up his mind to patrol for trespassers before committing time to anything else. Telling his birds to keep on the look out, and to tell him if they see anyone, Chuck prowled, mumbling swears anytime he accidentally snapped a twig. Alas, as far as he could tell after a thorough combing of the area, the invader had left and he was safe to read his letter alone on his coop.
“I am across the sea,” it read and Chuck couldn’t help cocking his head and uttering a loud, “Huh?” before balling up the letter and throwing it over his shoulder. He couldn’t make sense of it, nor did he want to try. All it told him was he needed his rifle handy at all times. There was nothing Chuck hated more than people invading his personal space as vast and islandy as it was.
A day later, Chuck was struck with déjà vu as he saw his mailbox’s flag up again. Outraged he tore open the letter and read, “I am on the shore.” Well at least he knew where to look. Rifle in hand, Chuck stalked the circumference of his island and, to his horror, found footprints. They lead straight out from the sea and after walking a ways they disappeared all together. They didn’t turn back seaward or head into the woods. They just stopped like the person had started floating. Chuck knew it had to be a prank. Some sailing kids must have spotted him fishing. He hated kids, a fact he told his chickens and they full heartedly agreed. Kids did, overall, suck pretty hard.
The next day, the flag was up again. Chuck was too angry to bring himself to even read it. Rebelliously he did his chores, tended his garden and discussed weather patterns with his fowls but soon enough there was a nasty surprise. A crunching of twigs, the swaying of branches. Chuck would look up and see something moving around. He ran to his mailbox and just as he thought, “I am in the forest.” Forget the rusty gun, Chuck patrolled with his more than functional axe. If the trespassers were watching him, they were sure to get the point and leave.
It was after the 3rd night of hearing movement that there was a crash, and squawks. Axe overhead Chuck ran out, pale to see his coop, his chickens, destroyed. The flag was up. “I am in your yard.” That was clear enough. There were footprints, handprints even, he could hear movement around the corner but he could never catch up. “I am in your yard.” He’d get them. He’d add their limbs to his log pile when he was through with them. However, despite Chuck's anger, he was horrified. Honestly now. They killed his chickens… in his mind, it wasn’t a very far leap to kill a person.
Chuck gathered up his food, his firewood and barricaded himself in the house. This was a siege but he’d beat them. They’d grow tired and leave.
Hands tapped on the window, knocked on the doors, but Chuck never spotted anyone. Not once. He sat by the window, clutching his axe, watching the mailbox when, to his horror the flag slid up, all on its own. The tapping on his walls stopped. All was perfectly quiet.
Chuck stared at the mailbox sitting alone in the dark pines. The trespassers wanted to lure him out there, but Chuck wasn’t falling for it. As time lingered on, he did not budge. Twilight crept over the ground and obscured the mailbox. He almost fell asleep when he heard a noise and turned up his downcast eyes. The letter, it was taped to his window.
Axe at the ready, he slid the window open just enough to slide his hand up and drag the letter in. He opened it slowly, glancing out the window as often as he could. He unfolded the paper. “I am under your bed.”
Chuck felt his heart stop. He turned and looked into his dark room, the pitch black space under his bed seemed to be breathing. He glanced at the window again, wondering if this was some trick to make him look away, but then there was a definite shuffling sound. Something was under his bed. He raised his axe.
Baby steps, he crept closer, pale as a sheet. Nervously he paused to shout threats, but receiving no response, he moved on. His trembling hand grabbed the corner of his mattress and strength heightened by fear, he threw it from its frame. A letter.
“I am behind you.”
Chuck barley had enough time to scream before his body collapsed on the ground. His axe slid across the floor and then all was silent. Only the waves could be heard gently lapping the island formally owned by Chuck.
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