On May 25, 2014 I got a phone call from my mother telling me that I needed to call my cousin Jackie to see how she was doing. Apparently someone had come onto Cousin Jackie’s farm and slaughtered her family’s goats. Jackie is like a sister to me, so even though I didn’t want to go I initially agreed. At her request I packed up my things to stay with my aunt, uncle, and cousin for a while to keep her company. When I arrived at the train station my aunt and uncle were waiting patiently for me to arrive. At 7:15pm I grabbed my duffle bag, stepped onto South Carolina soil, and waved to my second family. They ran towards me, taking my bag from me and embracing me overdramatically.
“Hey there, Matt,” my Uncle Boogie said with a huge smile, “seems like you get taller every year.”
“I don’t, you’re just short,” I said laughing. “Hey Auntie Angela, how’s everything?”
“I’m…not going to lie to you, I’m scared shitless,” she replied bluntly. I chuckled at the look on my uncle’s facial expression after he heard this. My aunt laughed a bit too. She didn’t cuss much in public or anywhere for the most part so it kind of threw us off. My family typically comprises of good natured country folk and smart aleck city goers. I’m a part of the latter.
“Let’s get you back home, shall we?” my uncle said nicely.
Before arriving I had truly tired my hardest not to go. The summer had started and I didn’t want to begin my adventurous three months by catering to my spooked out cousin. I had thought back to the conversation I had with my mother at the train station.
“Why do I have to go visit her?” I asked my mother. “I hate South Carolina.”
“Don’t talk about your home-state that way, Matty,” she said pointing her finger in my direction. “Your aunt and uncle say that Jackie is really scared so you’re going to spend a week with her so that she feels better.”
“Why can’t she come here?”
“They don’t have the funds.”
“Well then, you pay for it.”
“Hell no, I’m not looking after two sixteen year olds for a week. Get on the damn train.”
With that last statement she kissed me on the forehead and I hopped aboard. As unhappy as I was about I was getting to see some close family members, and it was only for a week so it shouldn’t be that bad, or at least so I thought.
As we hopped into the shiny old 1995 grey Mustang that my uncle has had for what feels like forever, I realized how much I never really liked it here. Andrews, South Carolina felt more like a place that you go when you retire, not a place you have to spend four weeks at for the summer to “keep close” with your relatives, but that was my case. We pulled up to the large blue and white house that has pretty much been my second home since I began visiting here when I was five. My cousin Jackie was on the front porch sitting in a hammock.
“Jackie!” my uncle called out. “Matty’s here!” When she heard that my cousin poked her head up and looked in my direction. She waved at me and laid her head back down. Apparently I wasn’t getting the loud, over-the-top greeting that I usually get when I visit.
“She’s still a bit shook up,” Aunt Angela said lowly.
“We all are,” Uncle Boogie said slapping my shoulder. “Come on in, we’ll fix you up a plate.”
After placing my stuff in my room, I headed downstairs for a huge country style feast. As I grabbed my aunt’s signature buttery biscuits and indulged in the lovely sweet potatoes and deep fried turkey, I was nudged by my uncle. I looked up and saw that Jackie hadn’t touched her plate. He gave me a look that said, Talk to her you idiot.
“So, uh, you ready for the summer?” I asked.
“Remove your hat from the table,” she said without looking at me. I didn’t, and she knew I wasn’t going to, even teachers know not to make me take off my hat.
“After dinner you wanna go for a walk?” I asked with a slightly demanding tone.
“Sure,” she said. At that point she began eating her food. I waited until she was finished and I grabbed her by the arm, pulling her away from the table. With a wave to my surrogate immediate family, we walked out of the door and headed down the country street.
“Alright,” I began, “what’s your problem?”
“I don’t have a problem,” she said quickly. “Everybody’s trying to act like they don’t know what’s going on. But I know what’s going on.”
“What’s going on?”
“You really wanna to know what’s going on?”
“That’s pretty much why I asked, Jackie.”
Jackie stopped in mid-stride and with a sigh said, “Chupacabra!”
“Jackie,” I said confused, “what the fuck is a chupacabra?”
“Oh, I forgot. You’re a city boy. You don’t know about chupacabras.”
“Insulting me isn’t really gonna tell me what chupalupa is.”
I stopped talking when I caught a blurred image zooming across the field we were next to. Both of our gazes followed in its direction and for about two minutes we just stood there trying to comprehend what was going on. We still didn’t know what it was that we’d seen, but we were just scared because of the prior topic we were speaking on.
“I wanna go check it out, Matt,” she said heading in the direction of the animal.
“Hell no,” I said walking back towards the house.
“Matty,” she said in her mischievous voice. That tone meant she had some kind of logic to a troublesome plan. “If you go home without me, my parents will never forgive you if something happens to me.” I turn around and we head in the direction of the possible chupacabra.
We kept walking until we heard what sounded like a goat getting murdered. I’d never heard a goat scream before, and possibly still haven’t, but if I had to guess on what a goat screaming sounded like then what we heard would be my answer. We followed the sound and ended up at a farm. There were three goats laid out across the grass, obviously dead, and that’s when we saw it.
“Jackie, I think that’s the chupawumba,” I said. She didn’t respond.
What my cousin and I were looking at was a werewolf looking beast hunched over sucking the blood out of a goat. It was eerily muscular even though it was skinnier than one would expect. The thing that shocked both me and Jackie was the long gray Mohawk. It started in the middle of its head and stretched to its tail with the rest of his body covered in thin gray hairs. It was as if he had a barber. Then it hit me, we were standing twenty feet behind it…openly.
Before I could react the beast turned his head around revealing its blood covered snout. Staring at us through emerald eyes, the beast stood upright at a height of 7’2 and began walking towards us slowly. I’m not sure if it was the human characteristics or the violent emerald eyes, but Jackie and I stood motionless. The chupacabra was now in front of us breathing heavily with the scent of blood and goat stained his breath. In complete and total shock we stood there motionless, waiting on him to gnaw into one of us. But to our surprise, he didn’t do anything. Instead he looked at Jackie, huffed three times, and turned away from us. Then he began running away, slowly picking up speed until we couldn’t see him anymore.
“What the fuck?” was all I managed to get out.
“Matty…” Jackie said hyperventilating. She dropped to the ground and I got down holding her for comfort, it didn’t help much though.
“You ok?” I asked her.
“No,” she said quietly, “Matty, I think I knew him.”