Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Goinz (Rhymes with "Coins")

I remember the day our young neighbor Rob came running through our backdoor as if he was being chased by the Devil himself. He was trampling snow everywhere, his cheeks bright red and his face a study in terror.

“Oh. Mr. and Mrs. Geddes, I’m sorry to barge right into your home like this, but my parents aren’t home right now, and I think maybe you should call the police!”

We asked the boy what he had seen as we locked the door behind him.

“Oh, it was so weird! We were all done sledding on Bancroft Hill, and just as we were walking home along the edge of the woods by the cemetery, we heard the weirdest sound ever in there. In the woods. It wasn’t like any animal we had ever heard before, any of us, and it wasn’t a man. At least, I don’t think it was a man.”

My wife shuddered.

“What did it sound like, boy?” she asked.

“Oh, terrible. Like a wolf and a lion and a man all at once. But not quite that. I can’t explain it. But that wasn’t the worst part. You see, we looked into the woods and there was a snowman in there. None of us had made it. Nobody knew who had built it. It was just there. And then when that sound came, some sort of creature came out of the snowman! It was all just some sort of camouflage. What sort of person could stand the cold, being in there like that, or who could even breathe inside a snowman?”

I didn’t want to have to explain to Rob about The Goinz. But I knew I must. For his safety. I made the boy swear that he would not tell anyone I was the one who had told him. Because I knew the sort of fightback he (and I) would get. But I figured he deserved an explanation. And a warning.
I told Rob that The Goinz live in the woods. And that they hunt in packs in the winter. That’s when they store up their meats for the rest of the year. It’s believed they lead a subterranean existence, but no one is really sure. We only have a few citations down the centuries in the folklore of this community.

I told Rob that The Goinz (rhymes with “coins”) select one of their number to pack the others up in snow to make them look like snowmen. They set these up all around the forest. Usually, they’ll use stones for noses. They’ll never have carrots, because they’re The Goinz. That’s one way to tell a Goinz snowman.

When a child (or sometimes even a solitary adult) gets close enough to one of the snowmen, they spring out and take their prey and run with it through the forest to the opening of their den. They’re unbelievably powerful and wicked fast.

“Then what was that noise I heard?” Rob asked, wide-eyed.

“That was the call to let the others know that that they had found food. They had their prize, their victim. They were all convening for the preparation ceremony. It’s a good thing you didn’t get too close to that snowman you saw.”

Rob stayed with us until his parents arrived home and came to pick him up. The boy didn’t talk much after I explained to him what had happened. Probably he was processing his close call. The three of us told Rob’s parents that the boy had been spooked by what we all thought might have been a stray dog. Just a little white lie that kept things tidy for all of us.

Rob shared his new knowledge selectively with friends and thereafter the kids knew to stay away from snowmen in the forest that seemed to spring up on their own. In fact, the next year one of Rob’s friends shot several arrows from his bow into one of the snowmen, one of the creatures he had identified in the woods after the first heavy snow that next year. He saw it go loping off. It left a blood trail in the snow but the blood was blue.

According to the news media, no one knows what happened to the boy who went missing that day. Half the town remained convinced he was a runaway. He had had a bit of a history. The rest figured it was a horror story that might go forever unexplained. It will always sadden me to say that I know that darker-minded half of town got the story right.

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