Curse of Hickory Hill
By: Shannon M Metcalf
Life wasn’t as I thought it would be. At first, I saw life as something that was just existing through. My name is Shane Tully. I took life as it was; I hated it. I didn’t realize just how drastically my attitude was going to change on this outlook. I remember the incident like it was yesterday. A small hick town lay just twelve miles northeast. Somewhere between Syracuse and Cortland, N.Y. It rested inside a thick wooden forest-like area. Buildings made of old rotting wood. Moss grew everywhere. I can remember thanking God I couldn’t smell; I was born without that sense, but I digress. Listen… I was just a twenty-eight-year-old man. I stood at five feet four inches tall. I had shoulder-length dirty blonde hair, semi-bushy red beard and mustache. My eyes were an Amber color and I was slightly chubby.
I had a slightly big nose, small ears, semi-long face, and a distinct mole on my right cheek. That day; a cold semi-late December evening. It was around 7:00 PM. I had my recording equipment, tape recorder, and phone. Of course, the town was somewhere just outside the range of a cell tower, so I had very little service; one bar to be exact. Right, there I was with tape recorder in hand. I’m old school like that. “I just arrived at the small town of Hickory Hill,” I muttered into the recorder. My breaths were shaky as I had just climbed a steep pathway up to the main gate of the town. Immediately I felt a disturbed presence around me. My heart was beating so hard in my throat. I remember looking up to a nearby church. It loomed overhead, so daunting, so… evil looking.
“My first thought of the town is that it appears to be deserted. I do see a couple of scared kids hanging around the sides of the church off in the distance,” I stated. A cool breeze was blowing through my hair. I loved the cold before now. A shudder ran down my spine as I trekked forward towards what looked like an old blacksmith’s building. A slight heat emanated from the firepit. I had to assume that it was used for creating tools, but who did that nowadays? I remember thinking just that before a loud crash sounded off to my left. Instinctively I jerked my attention towards it. A hulking man stood in a doorway of an old two-story house. He seemed to be as tall as the doorway itself; at least six feet or so. He had broad shoulders, heavy-looking in weight.
His face was so… broken. He had a huge crooked nose, beady eyes with the left as white as the snow around me. His mouth was wide as he gave me a smile. He had a ton of missing teeth. The man had a torn pair of overalls on with the right strap hanging. A greasy white undershirt rested behind that. In his grubby hands rested a hand scythe and a sharpening rod. The slick metallic sounds rang through my ears worse than my tinnitus. He kept smiling at me for what felt like forever. Just then an older woman appeared beside him. She was shorter than half the man’s height, with a hunched back, long black hair, thick nose, long face and wide grin. She reminded me of a smaller version of my grandmother on my mom’s side.
The woman was patting the bigger guy’s shoulder, beckoning him back inside. She and I locked eyes. A sickening sinking sensation took over, laying in the pit of my stomach. I felt so weird as our gaze continued.
Another shudder… Just as bad as before, if not worse. The woman waved at me with an arthritic-looking hand. The other was missing entirely. She had a long torn up gray shawl on, covering grubby, greasy clothes. The woman bowed at me before disappearing into the darkened room behind her. A loud creak sounded as the door slammed shut. “There appears to be some sort of small community. A mother and son exited their old house. The looks they gave me would make even the sternest human being shake.” I continued my walk up towards the heat coming from the blacksmith’s house. As I drew nearer, the heat grew in volumes. It wasn’t until I approached the forge up front, that I noticed a young man standing there. He was tall, gangly, with long bushy brown hair, goatee, slightly bubbly nose, and brown eyes.
“Sir?” I remember asking. “Do you know where everyone in the town is?” The young man looked at me with the most disconcerting look I’ve ever received. He pointed to his ears, shaking his head. I remember him drawing his thumb from the bottom of his left ear to his chin. “Oh… You’re deaf?” I finger spelled. My ASL wasn’t at all that good, but I understood basic signs as well as finger spelling. The man nodded. “What is your name?” I signed to him. J-U-S-T-I-N. The man replied. “Do you know where everyone is?” I signed and finger spelled. The man named Justin shook his head in return. I extended my hand to shake his. The man jerked back towards his open doorway and disappeared into the old house. Sweat was forming on my forehead at this time, but it was cold and not because of the Winter night.
I remember feeling a sense of unease at this point of time. I decided to trek up to the church. The exterior appeared to be crumbling from years of erosion and non—repairs. A cracked bell rested on top where a tower was. “There isn’t many town’s folk. The ones I did speak to were very peculiar to say the least,” I muttered into my recorder. The night went on as the full moon above lit up the Christmas-like tundra. I stood at the doorway; my breathing increased which stung from the cool air. A rustling of leaves from the wind met my ears. Hushed whispers followed suit from off in the distance. I remember that sickening feeling in my stomach again as I turned towards the entrance of the town.
The older woman stood in the front with a few others behind her. The massive boy she had beside her before was nowhere to be found. The woman was holding a long-crooked stick as her eyes locked with mine. A weird sensation ran through my body as she continued to stare at me. My heart was beating a hundred times per minute. Just then the woman’s voice entered my ears. The ringing ceased altogether. “I beckon you great spirit of Hickory Hill! The man before us; his heart beats with that of a woman. Gender fluid he says… Savannah! Break free from the man that holds you! Be free! Be our town mother!” Suddenly, I remember, a rush of heat erupted from my stomach. I remember doubling over towards the walls of the church.
My stomach was on fire. I could feel this sickening gurgling sensation running through my belly. I watched in horror as my stomach began to grow and inflate. Something was growing inside of me. I nearly fell to my knees as my calves began to thicken with meat. I stumbled up past the church towards another broken looking home. My legs were jiggling violently. I heard a sickening crack as my hips snapped outwards. My thighs were thickening now as I began to grow taller. I stumbled, falling to my hands and knees. I remember feeling my belly stretching agonizingly towards the snow-covered ground. I was watching as my hands were bubbling harshly and snapping as my fingers lengthened as did both hands. My arms were losing hair with each passing moment as they began to thicken a bit as well.
My chest was on fire at this point. I doubled over to my growing butt; my belly was bursting through my pants button. I could see my chest as my boobs began to inflate painfully slow. My nipples were beginning to get bigger and more tender. I watched as they grew more and more, pushing hard against my tightening shirt. It took mere momens before they began slicing through the fabric; two milky white balloons billowed outward onto my still growing stomach. I held the tape recorder to my aching mouth; my hand was still growing a bit. “I-I don’t know what’s happening t-to me!” A feminine voice escaped my thickening lips. I felt my teeth growing and becoming more and more perfect. Tears began to fog my vision; I could still see my belly growing in the blurriness.
My thighs were tearing through my pants at this point. I remember barely getting to my aching feet as my hips snapped again, making room for my still aching and stretching stomach. My belly button popped out at shortly afterwards. I stumbled into the nearby house. A kitchen met my gaze. I fumbled around until I found a bathroom and gazed into the mirror. I could still see my normal face, but the facial hair was gradually disappearing. Slowly my lips continued to inflate, and my nose started to shrink a bit and become shapelier. My eyes were changing from amber to a light and then semi-dark green. My hair had turned a jet black and ran down past my shoulders. Just as I pictured her; Savannah was gazing back at me. My other half of my gender fluidity.
A massive pregnant belly stuck out, touching the cool metal of the bathroom sink. I remember nearly doubling over, grasping the heavy meat sack. I could feel something writhing within me. All I wanted to do was scream, so I did. The shrillest feminine yell rang from my aching throat. I remember stumbling out of the house as well as I could with my new female body. Resting on the massive front porch were numerous amounts of townsfolk. Justin was just to the right, leaning against the banister. “Help m-me…” I finger spelled to him. His eyes were tear stricken, but he shook his head. Sorry. He signed back. The older woman came up just a few feet to my left. I had my recorder still, so I flipped it open, facing the lens towards me. I saw my teary eyes and trembling lips staring back at me.
“If… If you get this m-mom and d-d-dad… I’m y-your son, Shane. I-I don’t know what these people d-did to m-me…” “Get him Billy!” The old woman’s voice rang through my ears at this point. The hulking man from before got up out of nowhere, nearly causing me to fall over the banister. There was that shrilling metallic noise sounding off as the man sharpened the scythe. I remember running as fast as my newly impregnated body could. I held my belly to help assist my legs in moving. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the moonlight shimmer off the metal of the boy’s weapon. The coldness of the snowy ground was making my feet ache. I could feel the skin tightening from it, close to cracking. My throat ached ten-fold more than before as I ran so fast; so agile. I remember flipping the camera so that I could see behind me. Billy had the scythe up in the air. My heart skipped a beat as I heard a whirring, rushing sound of wind. The scythe flew. A loud piercing scream escaped my lips as I felt the metal pierce my spine.
Instantly I lost feeling to my legs and collapsed. I remember seeing the camera hit the ground, still facing in reverse. I could see my tear-covered face and shaking lipped face looking as if in a mirror once again. The next thing I knew, I passed out. When I came to, I was strapped to a table. Above me rested massive boards of wood holding up what had to be the interior of the church from before. My stomach was aching at this point, as were my newly formed genitals. I felt this sickening sensation. It felt as if I was holding my urine for too long and finally let it go. That deflating sensation; that’s what I can relate it to. A massive amount of liquid poured from my vagina. I remember this intense, ravaging pain rush up and down the front and back of my body. My legs were forced apart; the man named Billy was spreading my legs.
My stomach was gurgling as what had to be an unborn child was trying to escape me. A woman’s hot breaths ran over my hot forehead. I gazed back at the older woman, who was coaching me through labored breathing techniques. “Stay with us child. The prodigal daughter shall be given to us. You’re doing great Savannah. Keep your breathing.” “UGH!” was all that I remember stating as another sharp pain hit everywhere in my body. The baby was trying to escape me even more now. “What’s happening to me?!” I yelled. The older woman beckoned Billy over to me who nodded and held my hand. It felt warm and loving at the time. I gazed at his grotesque face. He smiled back at me and I remember feeling a passionate love pouring off him.
For the first time, my shaky-lipped mouth spread into a wide smile. It was here that I began to feel my life fading away. Blood was pouring from me at an incredible rate as the baby was beginning to finally peak. “We’re losing her Billy! Get my knife ready for the life-giving sacrament!” A low grunt answered. I remember him setting me down gently and rushing to my left. It was here that I realized my camera was open, recording every second of this painful process. My hair was drenched in sweat. My vagina felt as if it had split into two. The woman started to speak to my right, with a long-crooked dagger in her hand. She was muttering incoherently as she began slicing her left arm. A thick, darkened crimson began to ooze from the wound. “Drink my child. Drink so that you may be with us forever!” My lips instinctively connected with the opening as the iron-tasting blood poured down my throat.
It was here that I screamed at the top of my lungs as the infant shot out from within me. The baby cried out loud; I knew my daughter was safe. The older woman stroked my hair behind me ear as our eyes locked. For the first time I felt a happiness I never felt before. Suddenly I remember my mind slipping into what felt like a rush of memories. I saw myself laying in my bed, praying to turn into a woman. A bright white light flashed as I saw myself alone on a walk. Again, I was muttering and praying to transform into a woman. I was on my old walking route back at my old house. Currently, the leaves were multiple colors; my favorite season of the year. It was here that I noticed the older woman peering at me from within an old house surrounded by weeds. Another flash of light brought me to the older woman gazing at a boiling pot of translucent liquid. She was watching me approaching the town from the bottom of the hill.
Just then I jerked awake. I was laying in a hospital bed. My belly was flat again, leaving only a bit of chubbiness that gave my body a curvy look. Around me I saw the light pouring down. It was in an old shack; I remember looking to my right and noticing the beginning of the town off in the distance. My breasts were aching. “They’re swollen with milk my child. You should feed your daughter soon.” I remember nodding at her and sure enough, there was my child with dark hair, and amber eyes. She gave me the biggest smile before she began to feed. I picked up the nearby camera and faced it towards me. I looked like a mess, but I needed to get my story out. With a slight smile, I took a deep breath. “Life wasn’t as I thought it would be,” I began to state. “At first, I saw life as something that was just existing through. My name is Shane Tully.”
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