Crazy George

Jason had always been afraid of the dark, in fact, he couldn’t remember a time when he wasn’t. As a child, he had to sleep with a light on. Any unusual noise would start him screaming for his mom. He never did outgrow it.

And now, of all things, he was going on a camp-out with his best friend, Randy. Randy’s dad had dropped them off at the trailhead at Logan Mountain. They donned their packs and started to head out when his dad spoke.

“You be careful out there. I know that you are familiar with this area, but don’t take any chances. I’ll be back for you in three days. I’ll be here at 4 pm. Got your cell phones?”

“I’ve got it but I doubt if there will be any reception out here. It wouldn’t work the last time I was here,” replied Randy.

“You never know. Love you!”

“Love you too, Dad.”

The boys disappeared around a bend in the trail. School was out for the summer, and the boys saw this as a last-chance trip. Next year would be their senior year, and once it was over Randy was planning on joining the Marines. There probably wouldn’t be another opportunity to go.

They had been planning this trip for weeks. Had gone over their “take” list dozens of times and had shopped accordingly. They had their breakdown spinning rods and reels with them because up ahead was a stream teeming with trout. Both of them loved to fish and looked forward to eating trout for supper.

“It sure is nice out here,” said Jason while standing at a lookout point. He could see for miles in all directions.

“You bet. I love it out here,” replied Randy.

“Look over there,” said Jason while pointing his finger.

“What is it? What do you see?”

“I don’t know. It’s either haze or smoke.”

The boys could see what looked like a thin cloud over a small part of the forest.

“It can’t be a forest fire. We’ve had too much rain lately.”

“We’re going that way anyway. We had better check it out.”

"Let’s go!”

As the boys got closer they began getting nervous. They started finding things where they didn’t belong.

“Look at this,” said Jason as he stopped in front of a pile of rocks. It was obviously man-made.

“Why would anybody do that way out here?” asked Randy.

“I don’t know. It doesn’t make any sense.”

It only got weirder the farther they went.

“Randy, I don’t like this,” said Jason. In the middle of the trail, hanging from a tree branch was a deer skull. It had been painted red and black and was attached to a rawhide strap.

“Somebody’s out here and I don’t think they want us here!”

“Howdy, boys!” came a voice from a clump of tall bushes.

They stopped in their tracks and stared. A figure stepped from behind the bushes. It was a man like they had never seen before. He was well over six feet tall and well over three hundred pounds. He was wearing a ghillie suit and was cradling an assault rifle in his arms.

“Whatcha doin’out here?”

“We’re on a camping trip,” answered Jason.

“Well now, ain’t that nice,” he replied.

“If you’re camping nearby we can find another place.”

“Sonny boy! You’re coming with me,” the man said while pointing his rifle at them.

“Please, mister, let us go! We won’t say a word about you being here!”

The man grunted and pointed the way with his rifle barrel.

“Git goin’! he ordered.

They took off down a little used game trail. It branched off into a trail that looked like it had been heavily used. They also encountered more bizarre warning signs. Several more skulls were found hanging from branches, and on a massive rock, a skull and crossbones had been painted.

The boys could tell they were approaching the area covered with smoke. Wood smoke became more prevalent the farther they went. They also knew they were being watched. From time to time they would catch a glimpse of someone watching them from the shadows among the trees. What was disturbing was how they were acting. Some would burst out with laughter, others would look at them and drool, while others would run and hide.

“What have we got ourselves into?” the boys muttered.

Rounding a bend, they entered a small clearing. Around its outskirts were ramshackle huts and lean-tos. The only building was a small log cabin hidden in the trees. That’s where they were heading. A rough-looking man came out of its door and approached their captor. They talked for a few moments. Their captor nodded his head and motioned for them to go to a small shed behind the cabin. There he motioned for them to open the door and go in, they did so, and he locked the door behind them.

“What are we gonna do?” asked Randy.

“I don’t know. But I do know this. We gotta get away!”

“How? Everybody here has a gun.”

“Maybe after it gets dark.”

Jason cringed inside. The last thing he wanted to do was run around the woods at night. It terrified him.

“What’s that smell? My eyes started watering as soon as we got here,” asked Randy.

“I know what one of them is. I’ve smelled it at Grandpa’s farm. He had a still going. I’m sure I smelled moonshine,” answered Jason, “I’m not sure what the other is.”

“Moonshine! We’ve stumbled onto someone’s still. They’ll kill us!”

“I’m not sure that’s all of it. Do you remember Scotty Perber at school? Remember how he acted? After his autopsy, they discovered he was on meth. These people act just like he did before he jumped in front of that train. I think that is what the other smell is. They’re cooking meth out here,” whispered Jason.

“They’ll kill both of us. They can’t afford for us to be found!”

“We’ve got to get away from here!”

“But how?”

“I don’t know. I’ll think of something.

All of a sudden they heard the door being unlocked. They retreated to the back of the shed. Their captor motioned for them to follow him.

“Jed wants to talk to you. Get your scrawny carcasses out here,” he ordered.

“Who’s Jed?”

He ignored them and pointed toward the log cabin. They reluctantly went up on the porch. An armed guard stopped them, opened the door, and said something. Satisfied with the answer he got, he stepped aside so that they could enter. There was a man sitting behind an old wooden desk. He looked up when they entered.

“Well, Rafe, what do we have here?” he asked.

“They were on the east trail heading this way. I had to do something or our whole operation could have been compromised. I had to bring them here,” he answered.

“You could have shot them and hid their bodies.”

“Yeah, I guess I could have done that.”

“Go tell Luke and Pete what I want done. You know what it is.”

“Yes, boss,” he answered. He found the two men and they began digging two holes in the ground.

Back in the cabin, the man studied the boys.

“Who are you boys?”

They stood silent.

“Better tell me or it will go twice as hard on ya!”

Still, the boys kept silent.

“All right. Have it your way. Fetch Crazy George. Tell him I have a surprise for him."

Rafe and three other men returned with a man like they had never seen before. He was filthy, was ranting and raving at the top of his lungs, had a demonic look on his face, and if looks could kill they were already dead. Saliva drooled out of the corner of his mouth and his eyes had a vacant look to them. He was carrying the wickedest-looking knife they had ever seen. It was razor sharp and had, with what they believed to be, blood stains on its bone handle. He began to cackle with glee. The men who had brought him kept a close eye on the knife. They remembered what happened to the last man who tried to take it away from him.

The boys were terrified. There had been rumors of a madman living in the woods. They had scoffed at them, thinking there was nothing to it. Now they were face to face with him.

“Your names?”

“Jason Spangler!”

“Randy Roebuck!”

The men got Crazy George out of there. He wasn’t happy. He cursed, screamed, and cried. It didn’t make any difference. They took him back to his cage and locked him up. His screams of frustration could be heard all over the clearing.

“Why are you out here?”

“We’re on a camping trip.”

“Well, ain’t that nice. For how long?”

“My dad’s supposed to pick us up in three days,” answered Randy.

“Guess what! It ain’t happening. We can’t have you telling where we are, now can we?” the man smirked, “If you behave yourselves I won’t let Crazy George have ya. No telling what he’d do to ya. The last one we gave him, he ate. Made him a shirt out of his skin. That man even scares me!”

The boys began to sob. They were so scared they began to tremble and Randy peed his pants.

“Rafe!” the man ordered, “get these boys outta here! Lock 'em up in the cage beside Crazy George. We’ll figure out what to do with them later.”

Rafe took them to the cage and locked them in. Crazy George was watching. He went berserk! He howled, screamed, and shook his cage until they thought he was going to tear it apart.

“What’s wrong with him?” asked a terrified Jason.

“Something in his brain has snapped. He got drunk as a skunk, then took a bunch of meth, started staggering around the camp, tripped ,and hit his head on a rock. Messed him up pretty bad. He’s been like this ever since it happened. Everybody in the camp is afraid of him. It takes four of us to handle him. He bit me once. I’ve still got the scar on my hand. Whatever ya do, don’t let him get a hold of ya!” warned Rafe.

The boys huddled in the corner of the cage.

“What are we gonna do?” whimpered Randy.

“I don’t know. Whatever we do, it’s gonna have to happen soon. They don’t want search parties combing these woods looking for us.”

Toward evening someone brought them something to eat. They could tell that it was a girl about their age.

“Who are you?” asked Jason.

She ignored him.

“Please, who are you?”

“Rachel,” came the reply.

“Why are you here?”

“My pa’s the man who caught you. I live with him in that hut over there,” she said while pointing her finger.

“Your mom?”

“She ran off with another man.”

“Can you help us?”

“Oh, No! Pa would skin me alive if I did.”

“Are they gonna kill us?”

She slowly nodded her head yes.

Randy began to cry again.

“Have they killed people before?”

“Anybody they catch they give to Crazy George,” she shuddered, “what he does to them is disgusting!”

“I think we’re about the same age, near as I can tell. If something happened and you got caught with them you’ll go to jail. Some of you they will probably execute,” said Jason while watching Crazy George, “do you want to be a part of that?”

She shook her head no and answered, “I’ve always thought that what they do is wrong. But what can I do? I’m only a girl?”

“Help us get away and we’ll take you with us.”

“Oh! I can’t do that! The last one of us that tried to help someone get away….Crazy George ate him. I’m not taking any chances!” she muttered as she walked away.

The boys looked at each other and shrugged their shoulders in frustration. Night fell and they huddled together and tried to sleep.

Later that night they were startled awake by a noise next to their cage.

“Be quiet! I’ve been thinking about what you said,” whispered Rachel, “I cain’t let it happen. I’m gonna help ya. Ya have to take me with ya.”

“Get us out of here and we will,” whispered Randy.

She unlocked the cage and hey crawled out and stood up. They were stretching their cramped muscles when it happened. Crazy George woke up! He saw them standing there, realized what was happening, and howled.

“We gotta get out of here! Follow me!’ urged Rachel.

The whole camp was coming alive as they started down the trail. They could hear men running, most of them were cursing, and chaos was evident.

“They’ll catch us for sure if we stick together. We gotta split up,” ordered Rachel.

“But it’s dark out here!” moaned Jason, “I don’t have a flashlight!”

“So what!” she answered.

“I don’t like the dark! Especially out here!”

“Are you afraid of the dark?” she asked.

He didn’t answer her.


They were interrupted by a howl.

“Oh No! They let him loose. We gotta get away. You go that way. Randy and I will go that way. We’ll meet up somewhere down the trail. Hurry! He can smell your fear!” warned Rachel.

Jason didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know what he was more afraid of, and not being able to see anything because of the dark didn’t help matters any. He weighed the odds and figured the forest wouldn’t eat him. That was the deciding factor. He stumbled into a thicket and hunkered down, doing his best to conceal himself. That’s when he noticed it. The forest had become deathly still. No night birds were calling, the crickets quit their chirping, and the night winds quit blowing. It was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop.

That’s when he heard it. Something was coming his way.

“Boy, I know yer out here! I can smell ya!”

Jason knew it was Crazy George. It had to be him! He did his best to calm down. Somehow he got control of his breathing, exchanging the deep for shallow intakes of air. He listened as the footsteps got closer.

“I’m comin’ fer ya!”

Crazy George began to laugh, a high-pitched diabolical laugh that almost made Jason give away his position. He took a deep breath and held it when George stopped right by his thicket. He knew George was listening for him. The wind had died down enough that his scent was wafting around him. Beside him, he could feel a rock about the size of his fist. He picked it up and got ready.

He felt something grab his ankle and began pulling him feet first out of the thicket. Something sharp clamped down tight on his ankle. The pain was excruciating. In the moonlight, he could see Crazy George with his ankle in his mouth. He sat up and with a mighty swing, hit Crazy George in the head with the rock. George kept chewing for about ten seconds. Jason hit him again and he released his leg and fell unconscious.

Jason shuddered with revulsion. Getting to his feet, he could just barely see the trail meandering through the woods. He took off in a stumbling run, bouncing off trees, shoving aside branches that got in his face, and stumbled over tree roots that threatened to trip him. Behind him, he could hear the sounds of footsteps following him. He knew it wasn’t Crazy George. He had hit him hard enough to incapacitate him for several hours. It had to be someone else. Now his only thought was getting away.

Up ahead he could hear running water. Heading that way, he plunged into a stream and began working his way downstream. The water was cold, so cold it took his breath away. Further downstream he found a place where he could hide. He exited the stream and crawled into a small, concealed cave. There he crawled back into a corner and shivered. Finally, exhaustion put him to sleep. During the night he awoke a couple of times to pitch blackness. It was all he could do to control himself. He could hear movement in the nearby bushes and tried to make out what it was. In a tree beside the cave a hoot owl called during the night. It just about scared him out of the cave. And it was a good thing he didn’t leave the cave. Crazy George had regained consciousness and he was out there somewhere. He was mad, so mad he was in a killing frenzy.

Dawn broke and he peered out of his cave. He didn’t see or hear anybody so he emerged and stood up. While stretching he saw them. On the other side of the stream, up on the top of a ridge, he saw Rachel and Randy. He waved his arms and they saw him. They returned the wave.

He crossed the stream and went up the ridge to them.

“Boy, am I glad to see you!” he exclaimed while giving Randy a hug.

“Me too! How did you get away?”

He told them about his encounter with Crazy George, the stream, and the cave.

“We’re not safe yet,” said Rachel, “we can’t use the trail. They’ll be watching it. We have to follow the ridges out of here. We have to take it slow and easy.”

The boys nodded their heads in agreement.

“Follow me and do exactly what I do. I pretty much know where they will be. We’ll be alright once we get around them,” she said.

Slowly they worked the ridges, being careful not to skyline themselves. Twice Rachel stopped them, put a finger to her lips to silence them, and then pointed down towards the trail.

At first, they couldn’t see anything. She pointed where to look and they saw something out of place. Looking closer, they could see a man in a ghillie suit.

“That’s my pa,” she whispered, “he’s awful good at this. He’ll be the last one we gotta get by. Be real quiet and try not to step on any dead tree branches.”

She led the way and they got by him. After a couple of hours, they came to a gravel road. Still wary, they paralleled it down to a black top road. In a few minutes, a pickup truck came along. Jason recognized it and its driver. He stepped out of the trees and flagged it down.

“Mr. Peters! Stop! Please!” he called.

“Jason! What are you doing out here?”

“We need your help. Can you take us to town?”

“Hop in.”

On the way, they told him about their ordeal. When they got to town, they went to the police station. There they told the police chief what had happened.

“I thought something strange was going on out there,” said the chief,” are you willing to lead us to the place?”

“I don’t want to go,” said Rachel, “you don’t know how bad it is out there.”

“Are you sure? You can tell us what to expect.”

“Will I be safe?”

“I guarantee it.

"Then I'll go."

The police called the boy's parents and they came to the station. Meanwhile, the police started making phone calls. Since there was a moonshine still and a meth lab involved the ATF took over. Three days later a heavily armed force arrived and plans were made. Word got out, and several of the locals wanted to get involved, and after much debate, they were allowed to participate on a limited basis. They were to be used as an outer edge force in case any of the culprits got away. The operation was planned for two days later.

The boys went home with their parents. Rachel went with the Child Protection Agency.

Jason’s mom didn’t want him to go. She thought it was too dangerous. Especially after she saw the bite marks on his ankle. While she doctored them, his dad spoke.

“Honey, he has to go. There have been too many people disappearing in these mountains. Maybe this will put a stop to it. Jason, you have to go.”

The morning arrived and the plan was initiated. Early, way before daybreak the locals took their positions. The strike force was divided so that they would hit their target from all sides. Rachel told them what to expect and where. Randy, along with a local who knew the trails, led one group. Rachel and Jason led another. The third group was going to helicopter into the clearing.

The commander of the strike force warned them. “They have to know we are coming. We want to take them alive if possible. If not, you have orders to return fire.”

When Jason’s strike force reached the place where they had been captured, a shot was fired. They saw Rachel’s dad retreat down the trail. Figuring it was a warning shot, they took off in hot pursuit. The commander gave the green light and the assault was on. The helicopter flew in overhead and landed. Gunfire was brisk for a few minutes, and then it was over.

Entering the compound, Jason could see dead bodies lying here and there. One that caught his attention was Rachel’s dad. She ran to him, knelt over him, and began to cry. One of the forces pulled her away and tried to console her.

Rachel had told them how many men there were in the camp. Taking a body count they came up one short.

Jason went to Crazy George’s cage. The door was hanging wide open, and he was gone.

“Oh! Oh! He's gone!”

“Who’s gone?” asked the commander.

“The worst of the bunch! Crazy George!”

“Who is he?”

“He eats people! His mind is gone because of a combination of alcohol abuse, meth, and a nasty fall where he hit his head.”

“Good Lord! What now?”

As everybody reported in, they noticed that one of the locals was missing. They began a search and found his remains that evening. His face had been eaten! As they were rolling his body into a blanket, they heard a diabolical scream come from a nearby ridge.

Nobody went into that area of the forest ever again. Rumors of Crazy George being seen went on for quite a while, then they stopped. A couple of years later, things began happening in another county. The most disturbing is the remains of a man being found by a campfire. His left leg was fastened to a spit and had been roasted. They could see bite marks where part of it was missing. While they were investigating, they heard a long diabolical scream in the woods.

Crazy George is still out there!  He's hungry! Very hungry!

Jason and Randy never went camping again!

May 21, 2021