This is the story of Moleman as it was related to me around a campfire on a school camping trip in the Okanagan. He is said to live in holes and caves in the forests around Lake Okanagan, though there have been incidents as far away as the Sushwap. He is often seen picking sage and it is said that he does not take souls while doing so. If you see Moleman while he not picking sage you usually do not return home to tell the tale.
He sat in the pines waiting for the leaves to change.
There was a park bench there, made from an old tree stump. He sat and touched his fingers together, aimlessly whittling away at his soul. A nearly empty pouch sat beside him on the far side of the old tree. A grey strap of wool held the pouch to his arm. He was hoping to come across a trader or an adventurer at these crossroads, but he found nothing.
He was miles from anyone, he felt sure of that. He made a sign of a cross on his chest aimlessly attempting a prayer for food. He was tired, as he had walked twenty miles that day. His water had run out and his last bit of meat was at the tips of his fingers. He pulled his fingers to hip lips and bit the jerk beef. He smiled as he swallowed and his eyes drifted towards the forest. A dragonfly flew past him creating a trail through the air. He watched in fascination.
The man sat alone on the bench watching the leaves begin to fall for the north’s hibernation one more time. He tapped the wood and whistled for a few minutes. He felt content in the life he had made for himself. The man looked to the left and in his eye a black dot traced the empty woods. He tried to follow the hallucination and fell towards his knees. After pausing for a moment he stood up, uneasily.
He heard a crack in the woods that was quickly followed by birds chirping. He took two steps towards it before moving towards his pouch. When the woods cracked again the man decided it was only a deer and sat once again. He took the other bite of his meat and watched the ground. He saw nothing and pressed his boot against some long grass. He followed an insect across the brown earth and swallowed.
The man imagined a mailbox across the meadow from him. He imagined children playing and an old English white cottage house, on a dirt road. “Beautiful woods for a family,” he said to the insect, “You must be very happy.” He reached his hand towards the earth and picked up a twig. He rapped it against the bench and began to whistle once again.
When he was brought back to the forest there was a man standing in front of him. The man wore a long black robe. He had a staff in his right hand that showed signs of age and wisdom. His face could not be seen but when he spoke the first man shivered. “In the Willows is my name,” he muttered. “You haven’t seen me here.”
The man leapt from his seat. The woods were empty again. He spun on his heels before settling looking at the bench. The rings were prominent in the stump. This was an old tree. He settled his nerves on the faded green surroundings just as a large brown leaf fell on the bench. He focused his energy on the stem. The leaf turn brown rather quickly and the traveller blinked so he could look at it again. His eyes squeezed shut and his nose and eyebrows came together under the pressure of the spasm. He tried to calm his nerves, fighting to force his eyes open. When he could he searched inside his pouch for the cure.
He proceeded to pull a leaf of mint from his bag and placed the plant on his lips. His feet were sore, but he decided it best to continue to walk. He headed east on the flat road. He passed the meadow quickly and hoped to fetch some water. He knew there was a stream a half a mile down the road. If he could make it there he could rest for the night.
He followed a black dot in his eye towards the road. He imagined little workers pulling his legs forward. He began to recite a poem he liked, quoting from various parts and trying to remember their order. “Any little game to pass the time,” he sung to himself. The black dot became smaller and he imagined a bird flying past, it was too large to be native to this area but the cry was that of an eagle. He imagined it breathed fire and it instantly became a tapestry wrapped around him. He was comfortable and began to drift into a dream state. The large eagle wrapped its silken ties around him and he followed the steps towards the signpost.
He reached the signpost that marked his way towards the stream. The man began to speak loudly and clearly, “It is not a time for panic, sir. You are on a marked path. The road in near the water, we will be fine.” He followed the path downhill towards the water. He began to whistle again, rounding the final curve to fresh water. He raised his head to see two small girls wearing white dresses.
The woods danced and the black dot engulfed the two girls before charging towards the man and knocking him towards the bushes behind him. The man jerked to his left and fell into the dirt. He rolled to his back and sat watching the two girls run towards him in painfully slow motion. He was scared. The girl’s pigtails stood on end and their heads began to morph into a red two-headed demon.
The creature became feral, growing each head a mane and lengthing its neck. The body had four red legs capped with black hooves. It growled, eyes twinkling and showed a crooked smile of razor sharp teeth. It was as large as a black bear but wearing ancient Japanese Samurai armor. Its faces smiled and winked their pairs of eyes. The creature and the man sat on the ground in a strangely peaceful moment and the creatures heads rested on the dirt. Suddenly, a line of fire wrapped around the beast and burnt the man’s leg.
The man jumped to his feet and made the sign of the cross with his fingers. He backed away from the creature reciting prayers. He moved backwards up to the road and stopped. The woods were empty once again. The man wiped his brow and shuffled his feet in the dust. He searched the road and forest for the wizard he must have encountered. He found nothing.
The man decided to continue walking and find the nearest town, so he could find a bed to sleep in. “A safe room would be lovely tonight,” he said to himself. “If only you could make it to the road,” a voice replied. The man walked faster through the woods. A dark cloud began to form around him and he was tripped by a piece of string tied across the path. He felt the string with his finger in disbelief.
He sat on the ground and the man in the black robe stepped in front of him. He placed his staff on the mans chest and spoke, “In the Willows is my name. You haven’t seen me here.” The man shivered and began to cry, “What do you want?” In the Willows kept his staff against the man before stating coldly, “None shall pass.”
The man was alone once again. He stood and ran to the east, trying to reach the town as fast as he could. He turned his head to see behind him and In the Willows was standing in the path. His staff was throbbing with light. The earth began to shake and a vine was sent spiraling out towards the screaming man. The vine wrapped around his ankles and he fell to the ground. He was being pulled towards the black robed man. He was screaming and flailing his arms.
The man reached the end of In the Willows’ staff and was struck in the ankle as the vine vanished in front of his eyes. The man was struck in the temple and curled into the fetal position. The black robed man spoke. His face was finally visible, grey haired with a long stringy beard. His eyes were grey and he smiled, “None shall pass.”
In the Willows proceeding to reach behind himself, placing his hands on a large potato sack. Starting at his paralyzed ankles In the Willows slowly pulled the traveler into his bag. The man was screaming and crying. He swung his arms before In the Willows put his finger on his forehead, paralyzing him. The man screamed as the wizard closed and tied his bag. Seconds later, the woods were empty once again.