Our earliest story ideas have a rawness & an innocence that is unmatched. The other day I got the idea that it would be so cool if people wrote out their first short stories for CLASH Media. What better time than Halloween to celebrate our inner child by manifesting & revamping our first ever stories & sharing them with everyone! This is the first one of the series. I had a lot of fun reading it & I think you will too! This is ‘Frogslayer Rex’ & Jayaprakash was 13 years old when he first conceived it.
The boy takes a shortcut to the bus stop. He follows a trail down a slope behind a cluster of houses, between several empty, overgrown lots, another cluster of houses and then the main road, where he crosses and is finally at the bus stop.
It is the rainy season, and the trail is muddy, waterlogged in places. This is when frogs come hopping. Small, dirt-coloured things. He is unsettled by their black, staring eyes. Their legs, so muscular – like they could leap right onto him…he stifles a gut-level shudder and tries to think about something else. When it’s wet like this, he walks a little faster – not too fast because he has to be careful about splattering his school shoes – and breathes a little easier when he reaches the bus stop.
Sometimes he comes home later than usual because of tuitions. On those evenings, he takes a different, longer route because the trail is dark and scary at that time. Just once, he took the trail back in the evening. It was deserted and he tormented himself with the fantasy of a giant frog, glistening in the drizzle, huge hind legs bulging with muscles, following him quietly. It had felt so real he was afraid to look behind him.
One morning, a frog hops into his path, nearly under his feet (he thinks for a moment about the frog crunching, squelching underfoot and feels ill). A movement to the left distracts him. He turns to look, sees a green snake swallowing another frog. Its head is in the snake’s mouth but the legs stick out, twitching. He tries to leave in two directions at once, slips and falls. The first frog hops up next to his face. He screams.
This attracts some children in the cluster of houses further down. They come running, two boys and a girl, a few years older than him. They see him, see the snake, assume that’s what’s spooked him. They hoot and throw stones at it until it slithers away, one froggy foot still sticking out of its mouth. One of the boys helps him up. The frog near the boy’s face has disappeared. He mumbles thanks, sets off down the trail, spooked and embarrassed.
The next morning, he can’t face taking the trail. He takes the long route, and winds up late at school. He is lined up with the other late students, given two strokes of the cane on his palms and sent off to classes. His palms sting all day and he decides not to go to school at all until the rains stop and the trail dries up.
The next day he loafs around, past the houses and the sun temple, across the rice paddies and into the barrens around the military firing range. There are many gullies and shallow canyons here, and no bushes for frogs to hide in. He deposits his schoolbag in a hidey-hole and runs around imagining adventures in his head. He sneaks close to the firing range, hoping to catch a glimpse of the soldiers and their guns, maybe in the midst of target practice.
He sees four soldiers in a small stand of trees. Two of them are standing, grinning. One bending over the fourth who is kneeling, bottom in the air. Before he quite registers the scene, the third soldier looks a bit like a big frog, squatting, his legs curved with muscle, like a frog’s. Suddenly the boy realises what he is seeing. ‘Ohhh. Buttsex.’ And also, ‘great I finally see sex happening and it’s all guys’.
The soldiers have spotted him. The one who was humping the other disengages, comes chasing the boy, pants still down, face flushed, mouth spewing curses, something large and snake-like rampant between his legs. The boy runs, quick through the muddy barrens, his size an advantage as he darts through narrow gullies, recovers his bag and makes it to the first row of houses that marks the beginning of his neighbourhood. The soldiers have fallen back, and he is safe.
The boy gets home. It is too early to show himself. He shimmies up a coconut tree onto the roof, where he takes his own penis out of his pants and looks at it, wondering if it will ever be like the thing between the soldier’s legs. He looks up to see a circle of frogs closing in on him. They stick their tongues out, and their tongues are snakes. He zips up his pants, shimmies back down and rings the doorbell. Makes some excuse for being home an hour early, spends the evening shaken and very quiet.
He takes the long way to the bus stop the next few days, doesn’t think of skipping school. The soldiers may remember his face, may be looking out for him. One day at school he sees some older boys torturing cockroaches They blast at them with a cockroach spray tube, then use a lit cigarette lighter to ignite the spray. This sets the cockroaches on fire. ’This would work on the frogs’, the boy thinks.
Back home, he steals insect sprays from the cupboard below the kitchen sink and cigarette lighters from his father’s bedside table. He cannibalises old t-shirts and an old gym bag to make a bullet belt holding spray cans and lighters. He fashions a handkerchief into a bandana and, with a red marker, scrawls a title on it: Frogslayer Rex.
Late at night, once his parents are snoring, he straps the belt across his chest, wraps the bandana around his head, paints black stripes of shoe polish on his cheeks and sneaks out. He heads to the trail, and is waiting for them to show themselves when he hears a weird groaning. He moves closer to its source.
At first, he thinks it is a giant frog. Then he realises it is a man with military fatigues down low around his ankles, squatting over someone else. ‘Is that all these soldiers do, bugger each other’, he thinks to himself, then realises the one moaning isn’t a soldier. She is the girl who helped chase the snake away. He gasps. The soldier hears it, spots the boy and runs for him, face twisted in rage.
The boy has no time to think. He shakes a spray can and lets loose, holding a lit lighter in the spray. Fire hits the solider, right between the legs. Pubes on fire, the soldier screams, falls over and thrashes on the damp ground, trying to put out the flames. The boy runs to the girl, pulls out the sock the soldier has stuffed in her mouth. She screams her father’s name. People come running. The girl tells them the whole story. Someone puts the soldier’s crotch out then a whole lot of them beat him up. Civilian and military police show up. There is a lot of talking.
At some point, the boy finds himself sitting on a boulder, no one firing questions at him or heaping praises on him. There is a pressure on one of his feet. He looks down. It is a frog, looking up at him. He picks it up, deposits it off the trail, where it hops away. If a snake finds it, so be it. And if not, that too. He removes his improvised bandana, looks at the title he had scrawled on it. He crumples it up, stuffs it into a pocket. The sun is starting to show. At some point, he has to go home. Right now, he just savours the fact that there are less monsters in the world than the previous day.
If you have a story you either wrote or came up with when you were young, I would love to see it & share it! This idea was begun in the spirit of Halloween fun, but I will continue it as a regular CLASH series as long as the stories keep coming in. Send your stories to email@example.com with subject line CHILDHOOD STORY. Send childhood pic along with your bio & the age you were when you first wrote/conceived of it. Stories should be under 2000 words.
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy is the author of two chapbooks of weird fiction from Dunhams Manor Press – Weird Tales Of A Bangalorean (2015) and the upcoming A Volume Of Sleep. He is also the bass guitarist and primary composer of the doom metal band Djinn And Miskatonic. He lives in Bangalore, India with his wife and an ever-growing horde of cats and dogs.