Fantasy Fiction posted August 16, 2022


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Mutant Frogs

by prettybluebirds


"They're out there, Cindy," Aunt Ruth told me. She pointed to the horizon, and I looked, but all I could see was row upon row of corn stalks against a background of green woods. "There are fields and fields of them, as far as the eye can see. I warned you this might happen, and you just laughed. I suppose you thought I was clowning around like I sometimes do, but I meant what I said. Now they are here, and we may be in serious trouble."
 
I had moved in with my seventy-five-year-old Aunt Ruth a little over six months earlier and still found her weird sense of humor hard to grasp at times. She had a knack for telling me strange things without cracking a smile. About the time she had me half convinced, I would notice the twinkle in her eyes, and I knew she got me again. What she was referring to now was an incident from earlier this spring. I figured she was pulling my leg again—she had to be.
 
It was a gorgeous spring day. The air was crisp and sweet. Fluffy clouds drifted lazily overhead, and bird songs joyfully announced the arrival of warm weather. It was too lovely to remain inside, so Aunt Ruth and I walked down to a pond located east of the dairy barns. Our two dogs, Elly and Pup, trotted along beside us.
 
When we got there, I remarked on the water's clarity. It was so clear I could see the tiny pebbles lying on the sandy bottom. I did find it odd that the pond contained no underwater vegetation or lily pads. I didn't see any turtles or fish either. The dogs circled the water warily, then took off snorting and sniffing in a different direction. I was surprised as my Elly dog loved to play in the water, and Aunt Ruth's dog did too. When I asked my aunt about it, she explained the pond's history. 
 
"As you know, my husband and I milked cows on this farm for nearly thirty years, and some of the things we did then would not be allowed in this day and age--for instance, this pond. You noticed the lack of vegetation growing in or around the water, and there is a reason for that. It's because we drained all the chemicals used to clean the milkhouse and parlor into this pond. Some of those cleaning agents were nasty but necessary for the sanitation of the milking area. It's a significant violation now, but it was a common practice back in those days. It wasn't a good thing and created many dead wetland areas such as this. We aren't the only ones; many farmers did the same thing. Now nothing can thrive in these areas.
 
We circled the pond and started to turn away when my aunt stopped and said, "Oh my God. I don't want to believe this, but it has finally happened. The thing I feared most."
 
"What? What's the matter?" I asked. "I don't see anything wrong."
 
"Look at these tadpoles. I have never seen any form of life in this pond in all the years I have lived here. Look how big they are too, and not scared like most tadpoles. See how they crowd the shore and stare at us? Those things are not normal. Don't you think they are strange looking and acting?"
 
"Oh, come on, Aunt Ruth. They are just stupid baby frogs, nothing different about them. Look, I will catch one and show you." I scooped my hands under the tadpoles with the intent of capturing one and got the surprise of my life. They attacked my hands en masse, and their nips were quite painful. "Yeow!"  I yelled. "Those little suckers are mean. What in the heck are they? I never knew tadpoles to bite anyone. I didn't know they could."
 
"Mutant frogs," my aunt whispered. "They will grow into mutant frogs. We must keep an eye on them and hope for the best. I tried to tell my husband those chemicals could have disastrous effects on the wildlife, but he said I was crazy." My aunt took a long breath, then continued, "I was afraid something like this might happen in the future. I wasn't expecting it, but I'm not exactly surprised either. Maybe I'd seen it coming. At the very least, I should have seen it coming. There have been signs; of course, I should have noticed how the geese no longer land on the pond, and the deer will not even get close. I found a dead turtle down here last year, with three heads and teeth. It must be the chemicals are causing mutations in any wildlife that gets near the tainted water.
 
At that point, I was inclined to agree with my aunt's deceased husband; she was a bit flaky. I mean, mutant frogs? What would she come up with next? I decided to let it go in one ear and out the other. We wandered around the farm for a while, then returned to the house. A few days later, I forgot the incident.
 
Now my aunt was trying to tell me the tadpoles had changed into the dreaded mutant frogs as she had predicted. "Come on. You don't expect me to believe some kind of bizarre, freak frogs are lurking in the fields around us. I'm gullible sometimes, but not that stupid," I laughed. I wasn't about to fall for another one of my aunt's pranks.
 
"Well, miss knows it all, come on, and I will show you. Just be careful and don't get too close to the frogs," my aunt warned. She called the dogs to go with us, and I thought it funny that they declined the invitation. Those two never turned down the chance to go for a walk.
 
We hadn't gone far before I saw the first frog along the edge of the cornfield; he was, indeed, huge; about the size of a fox. My first comment was, "Wow, look at the size of those frog legs. Two of them will make us a meal." Even though they were large, they were still frogs, and I couldn't see why my aunt was so concerned about them. Frogs are harmless, timid creatures, no matter what size they are. Right? I ignored my aunt's warning and picked up a rock to bash the frog in the head. I could already taste those nice, crispy frog legs for dinner.
 
"No!" Aunt Ruth screamed. "Leave him alone. Those things might be vicious. Remember how mean the tadpoles were."
 
The frog gazed at me calmly as I approached. When it opened its mouth, I saw tiny, razor-sharp teeth. I was two feet from it when it leaped, and I was dragged into a slimy frog hug. I tried to shove the frog off me, but it was stuck to me like Velcro, its buggy eyes staring into mine. I screamed, "Get it off me, get it off me. Help me, Aunt Ruth!"
 
Aunt Ruth grabbed a rock and hammered the nasty critter on the head until it finally let go. We returned to the house and made sure all the windows were closed, and doors shut tight. Our cats observed us solemnly, wondering why we were dumb enough to go outside in the first place.
 
"What are we going to do?" I asked my aunt.
 
"There's not a lot we can do. We must be careful when we go out and keep the cars close so we can get to them without much exposure. We will have to keep the cats inside and guard the dogs closely when they go out to do their business. Our best bet is to stay calm and wait. When winter comes, the frogs will hibernate or freeze, and we can be out of here before spring. I called and explained the situation to the DNR, and they thought it was hilarious, like everyone else. I thought the game warden would get a hernia; he was laughing so hard. Well, he who laughs last laughs best. Let's hope the damn things don't get any bigger or migrate beyond this farm."
 
Days passed, and we learned to live with the creatures. They seemed to stay more in the fields or by the pond than in the open yard. They looked like aliens from another planet. Occasionally, one would hop by the house, and I thought they seemed a bit bigger than earlier; I hoped it was my imagination working overtime. Still, I dreamed of frog legs and considered shooting one, but my aunt vetoed the idea. I guess she was afraid of pissing them off. She was probably right. 
 
I got home from my shift at Walmart late one night, my only thought being a hot shower and a good night's sleep. My room was on the house's second floor, so I wasn't concerned about our weird wildlife situation. I turned my light off around midnight. I found the room a bit stuffy and thought about opening the window to let in some fresh air. It was then that I heard a strange sound. Like a super loud bullfrog. RIBBIT! RIBBIT!
 
I crawled out of bed, grabbed my flashlight, aimed it at the window, and that's when I saw it. Count to ten, I told myself. Close your eyes, count to ten, and maybe it will disappear. I closed my eyes but just as quickly opened them again. It was real; it wasn't going away. Slowly, I raised the flashlight again and directed the beam toward the window. All I could see was an eye, a giant frog eye staring at me. I shrieked, backed out of my room, and stumbled down the stairs.
 
Aunt Ruth was already up calmly drinking coffee. "How can you sit there drinking coffee while monster frogs surround us?" I yelled. 
 
"If you have a better suggestion, let me know," my aunt replied. "Those critters are enormous but still cold-blooded and will need warmth to survive." Aunt Ruth sipped her coffee before continuing. "We are safe for the time being, but it is no time to let our guard down. The temperature is dropping every day, which is in our favor. We will load our critters on the first below-freezing morning and move into our new house. Get your stuff packed cause it will be any day now." 
 
We watched the trees change from green to the vibrant oranges, yellows, and reds of Autumn. Mornings were getting colder daily, and the frog sightings became less and less. Also, the DNR now had to admit the frogs existed since they couldn't miss seeing something so humongous. Of course, the officials claimed the frogs were harmless and only ate bugs. What did they think people looked like to something so huge? We remained vigilant and moved stuff to the other house in the cool of the early mornings. My Aunt and I were inclined to believe the frogs wouldn't bother us if we left them alone. Live and let live became our motto. I still looked longingly at those extra-large frog legs, though.
 
We were in our new home the following spring, and the frog incident was a thing of the past. I watched the news for any mention of the mutant frogs but never heard anything. My aunt and I seldom mentioned it to anyone as they wouldn't believe us anyhow. I wondered why officials kept such a tight lid on the matter, but it didn't concern me much. There was little chance of the frogs taking over the world unless they developed resistance to cold or moved south (joke).
 
I pull into the garage, close the door, and shut the car off. I still work at Walmart and still have the night shift. I probably will until I retire or win the lottery, whichever comes first. Now, it's been another long day, and I'm looking forward to my late-night movies and bed. I grab my purse out of the car, head for the side door, and then into the house. I start to close the door when a movement in the dark catches my attention. "Who's there," I yell. The only answer I receive is RIBBIT! RIBBIT!
 
 



Fantasy Writing Contest contest entry

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I did this at the last minute and had no time to edit. If you spot any errors, (and you will) don't hesitate to yell at me.
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Artwork by helvi2 at FanArtReview.com

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