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Tompkins Pond



(A 500 word prompt story. The prompt was a picture of snakelike dragon with
fiery eyes.)

"You kids don’t know how lucky you are these days," Uncle Remus sputtered.

"Why, when I was your age I had to walk 5 miles to school every day, rain or shine."

The old man raked the dead ashes under the grate and put another log on the fire. He straightened up with both hands on the small of his back and groaned, then he relit his pipe with a wooden kitchen match and looked at each of us in turn.

Shaking his head and muttering to himself he looked over in the corner where Aunt Cindy sat sleeping in the rocking chair. "Wake up Cindy. Tell these kids how tough it used to be." Aunt Cindy was fast asleep, her knitting basket had fallen to the floor and her eyeglasses had slipped down her nose. She jumped when Uncle Remus yelled at her and looked about her for an instant, but quickly drifted off to sleep again - pausing only to resettle her glasses on her nose.

Uncle Remus stared dreamily into the fire again. "Cindy’s fast asleep. But if she was up and about she’d tell’ya. Nobody drove us to school in those days, no sir, no way. We walked." He smiled in remembrance of those yesterdays. "We’d take a shortcut around Tompkins Pond. You never heard’a Tompkins Pond, did’ja?" He looked at each of us carefully, one by one as we shook our heads.
"No. Course you ain’t heard’a Tompkins Pond. It ain’t there no more. It’s a parkin’ lot for Sunrise Mall but lemme tell’ya when me and Cindy was young Tompkins Pond was full of dragons and giant animals the like of which nobody’d ever seen before." Uncle Remus looked over at Aunt Cindy asleep in her rocking chair and lowered his voice so that only we could hear.

"Lemme tell’ya about the night Aunt Cindy and me come home from the school concert. It was a moonless night in the fall of the year, and I had my Coleman lamp with me to light our way. Well, suddenly rearin’ up outta Tompkins Pond comes this snake-like monster with a body as thick around as a tree and a mouth fulla dagger teeth. It had eyes of golden amber and the blank stare of a blind man. Cindy grabbed my hand and said the beast was drawn to us by my Coleman lamp, and sure enough it made a snatch at it in my hand. "Leave it on the ground and run," she says.

"We did that, and lookin’ back I see the dragon with the lamp in its mouth -- and then the strangest thing of all happened. It shook the lamp from side to side like a dog and bit deep into it. The lamp burst open and the oil ran down into the dragon’s mouth settin’ the whole animal afire."

We stared at Uncle Remus open-mouthed as he unfolded his strange story ... sitting as close together as we could. The fire was burning itself out again and the room was growing darker, so Uncle Remus and we didn’t see Aunt Cindy get up from her rocking chair and cross the room. She stood behind Uncle Remus and slapped him a sharp one across the back of the head.

"You old fool," she said. "Are you tellin’ these kids that old cock and bull story about the monster in Tompkins Pond? Pay no attention to this crazy old man kids. There never was a Tompkins Pond, and him and me always took the school bus just the way you do. My! look at the time," she said as the clock on the mantle struck ten. "The movie will be lettin’ out any minute. Get your hats and coats on. Your mother and father will be here in a jiffy."

The End

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