The Bigfoot would be an unlikely hero. He didn’t know that, but then he didn’t know what a hero is. For that matter, he didn’t know that he was a Bigfoot, or that the Cherokee who once lived in these same mountains called him and his kind Tsul ‘Kalu.

He thought of himself and his family, and the other Bigfoot families in the most remote reaches of the Blue Ridge and the Smokies as the People, although he didn’t really have that word, or any words. A paleontologist would have called him a Panthropus robustus, but he didn’t know that either.

He knew there were small, mostly hairless folk who smelled wrong and covered their bodies with…something, who intruded in the People’s territory sometimes, and that some carried sticks that killed with noise. They were to be avoided.

But every now and then, a young male of the People would stray from their range, curious to see the small ones. Today, as he moved his nine feet frame almost noiselessly through the trees downslope, he was seeking one such to bring him home. The wayward youth was one of his get, as he knew from smelling him, and he would snarl and give him a clout when he found him.


Geoffrey DeRosier stepped out of the October morning briskness into the Bean ‘n Bacon Coffee Shop. The place couldn’t hold a candle to Starbucks, he reflected, but it was the best that Martintown, North Carolina had to offer. The Bean ‘n Bacon was a rustic, cheery place, its exterior covered in siding to present a log cabin appearance, and the interior featuring a large fireplace and walls covered with old farm implements to present a country kitchen ambiance. In the morning, it offered pastries and breakfast sandwiches, switching to other fare at lunch. It closed at 3:00 every afternoon.

DeRosier ordered a large coffee. He did not return the smile of the round-faced, middle-aged woman who served him. She was a hick with an awful hillbilly nasal voice, and probably held all kinds of noxious opinions. While waiting for her to make change, he noticed that someone had left the morning newspaper on a chair in the sitting area. Glancing at his watch, he decided he had time to sit for a bit and read.

He had to move a coffee table away from the chair to make room for his legs. The idiots who ran the place didn’t allow for anyone over six feet tall wanting to sit. There was a murmur of conversation at chairs and tables around him as he settled himself into the chair. He didn’t know anyone there, and didn’t care to know them. Certainly rednecks, almost certainly racists.

He saw the newspaper was the local Martintown Clarion, not even a Charlotte or Asheville paper. Pity, but maybe the headlines would be at least interesting. As it turned out, one was.

Lisa Willingham was going to give a speech week after next, and at Carolina Highlands Community College, where DeRosier’s considerable talents were wasted teaching English composition to cracker dolts who couldn’t string together a coherent sentence.

Willingham was a right-wing media star, who had burst on the public within the past year. She has a regular radio show, and was frequently on Fox News. DeRosier didn’t watch Fox News, or listen to talk radio, but he knew who she was. She was insufferable.

It was bad enough that the woman was articulate. But she was also young, and beautiful, possessed of a cascade of dark hair, flashing brown eyes, and a remarkable figure. Worse still, her mother was a Puerto Rican Latina, and she spoke fluent Spanish. She outrageously claimed she could call herself a member of a minority, if she chose, but chose not to.

And to make it worse, she would be introduced by that bitch right-wing lawyer, Kathryn Turner, who claimed to be a civil rights lawyer but who advocated only against progressive institutions and companies. Turner had won a widely publicized case against the University in Asheville, gaining tenure and winning damages for some religious nut who had rightfully been forced out because of his intolerable bigoted views.

Still worse,  the college where he taught – his college –  had made the woman adviser to its paralegal studies program, and even had allowed her to teach. The weak college administration insisted that Turner’s classes weren’t ideological, but that was nonsense. Didn’t they realize that students needed instruction in progressive values, and any course without that instruction was implicitly fascist?

So DeRosier’s first reaction to what he read was white hot rage. He barely stopped himself from crumpling the newspaper. How dare the College permit this woman to speak? She was a fascist, a racist hiding behind a Latina mother (which made her worse). Didn’t the wimps in the college administration realize that people like her had no right to pollute college kids with that evil garbage?

Then he ran his hand across his saturnine jaw up through his shock of unruly dark hair, and smiled. We’ll see about that speech, he thought. I can put out the word. I can call some people. There’s time.

DeRosier was a member of Antifa, although few at the College knew it. He’d shown up in various places to exercise true freedom of speech against the fascists. He’d even traveled to Berkeley on one occasion. He’d worn his ski mask when he was there, and had told everyone at home he was visiting a relative in Palo Alto. He knew the right people to call.

He read on, and his smile drooped and became a frown. The story said the state police and the Brainerd County Sherriff’s department would provide security. Rednecks all, probably white supremacists, but they weren’t going to be like the police elsewhere who had done nothing. He needed to think of something else.

Then he saw it. The newspaper had interviewed Turner. The reporter asked her what Willingham was going to do while visiting, other than speak at the college. “She wants to hike on the Blue Ridge,” was the reply. “I’m going to take her up to the Drop Off.”

DeRosier smiled again. He was familiar with the sharp escarpment the locals called the Drop Off. Up there, accidents could happen. And he wouldn’t need a large number of people to arrange one. Only a few.


The Bigfoot found his youngling at the edge of a cornfield. The leaves had not yet fallen, and concealment in the foliage was still possible. The Bigfoot purposefully made a noise, and the youngster, still not quite seven feet tall, turned his head and whine. His father joined him a moment later. Across the field, there was a road, where the strange moving things with small folk inside moved. The Bigfoot wrinkled his nose at the smell of engine exhaust.

He abruptly grabbed the youngster by the shoulders and shoved him back toward the deep forest. The quickest way to the high ranges where their kind lived was path the small ones used sometimes, and not without risk. But he would chance it.


“Here’s the path up to the Drop Off.” Kathryn Turner pointed. Her Range Rover was parked off the dirt road just a few feet away. They must go on foot from here.

There were only two people with her. One was Lisa Willingham, whose famous figure was molded by denim jeans, an alpaca sweater, and a wind breaker. It would be cool on the mountain, but not yet cold. Willingham’s dark mop was tied in a ponytail and topped with a Boston College baseball cap.

Kathryn was dressed in similar fashion; but, she reflected, her outfit was not as likely to turn heads. Yet Kathryn was also an attractive woman, taller than Lisa, blond hair also tied back and partially hidden by a safari hat. Around the court rooms where she practiced, she was known for her wry smile, her sharp wit, and the enormous glasses she affected but didn’t really need. Both women carried long hiking sticks.

The third member of their party was Jack Carter, the bodyguard the Network had insisted accompany Lisa Willingham. Carter was a burly, broad-shouldered type of about Kathryn’s 35 years, whose military haircut betrayed his time as an Army MP. He wore heavy twill cargo pants, and a blue checked shirt under a bush jacket, but no hat or cap. The jacket hid the M11 Sig Sauer he was licensed to carry in the holster at the small of his back.

Each hiker wore stout hiking shoes. All had water bottles attached to their belts. Carter slung a small haversack holding sandwiches and power bars. It was 9:00 o’clock on a Monday morning, and the hike up and back would take the rest of the morning and into the afternoon.

Kathryn’s husband George had wanted to come, too; but George, a general surgeon a few years older than she, was on call. The three started up the trail. Willingham and Turner chatted about Turner’s law practice and Willingham’s radio show. Carter was mostly silent. He wasn’t paid to talk.


Geoff DeRosier’s group was camped at the far end of the clearing at the end of the trail. There were six of them, all reliable men DeRosier knew from Antifa protests, none of them averse to doing what had to be done to silence fascists. They had already struck their tents, and sat around the remnants of a campfire sipping trail coffee.

“How long?” One asked.

DeRosier shrugged. “It will be a while.” His eyes darted from man to man. “But we’ll be ready. Just wait for them to go look off the Drop.”

“What about the bodyguard?” One asked.

DeRosier nodded toward the man beside the questioner, who pulled a Colt Python from his jacket. “That’s why we brought our own gun. And there’s only one of him.”


The Bigfoot disliked being on the trail the small hairless ones used. But it made their ascent easy, even taking their time. He continued to push the young one, who wanted to back and explore, before him. Yet it wasn’t long before they heard the peculiar noises the small ones made to one another not far behind. He stopped and cocked his hear, listening and sniffing the air.

He didn’t want to be seen. He pushed the youngster off the trail upslope into the trees, getting a “chuff” of disagreement that earned the youngling a clout. He followed into the foliage, hearing the voices close behind him.


The three hikers rounded a shallow bend in the trail. Carter, who had been trailing the two women, put his hands firmly on their shoulders.

“Quiet,” he said softly. “I thought I heard something.”

They listened. Upslope they heard a rustling in the underbrush as though a heavy body, an animal or a large man, was moving. Then silence. Carter put a finger to his lips, and quietly drew the Sig Sauer with his other hand. “Behind me,” he whispered, and edged up the steepening trail. There was no further noise.

Carter continued to study the slope to the right of the trail. He stopped and pointed. There was a tuft of dark, almost black, hair or firm stuck to a branch at about his eye level.

“We may have heard a bear,” he said, his voice low but no longer a whisper. “It will likely leave us alone if we don’t disturb it. You two go ahead.”

Nodding, eyes wide, the two women proceeded up the trail. Carter continued to glance behind him, but there was nothing. After a few minutes, he holstered the pistol.


The Bigfoot pulled the youngster back onto the trail. The juvenile began a fast lope up after the humans, but his parent grabbed him, motioning that he slow down. They would follow the small ones at a distance, and disappear into the brush at the top of the slope.


Willingham, Turner and Carter emerged from the trail into an open area at the top. It was not exactly a hearing, but all the trees were Pines, at this altitude, and there was no undergrowth beneath them. A coating of old pine needles and pine cones covered the thin soil. A gentle breeze stirred the pines. To their left, there was an opening in the trees with rock and blue sky visible beyond. To their right, the semi-clearing extended for fifty yards or so.

They saw another group, busy dousing a camp fire, at that end of the clearing. At that distance, their faces could not be made out. Kathryn waved at them. One waved back.

“This way,” she told the others, pointing to the left.

They stepped out of the trees into bright sunlight. There was a ledge of uneven rock extending to their left for about twenty yards. At one point behind the ledge, there was a depression, not quite deep enough to be a cave.

In front of them they saw nothing but air extending all the way to another ridge a mile away. Directly before them was a drop. Stepping cautiously, they stepped towards the edge.

“Careful, careful…” Carter warned. He needn’t have bothered. The nearly sheer drop of hundreds of feet was right in front of them. Looking across to the distance ridge, they could see the autumn oranges, reds, and yellows of maple, poplar, and birch mixed with the brown of oaks and the green of pine and laurel. Below was only rock and brush. At the very bottom, there a bright reflection of sunlight off water, where a creek splashed its way to the river.

Fearing vertigo, they backed away.

“Wow,” breathed Willingham, “I should say, ‘Drop Off’. This alone was worth the trip.”

“I’m glad you think so.” The voice came from behind and to the right.

The three turned. Six figures blocked the way back to the clearing. All wore ski masks and gloves, although even at this altitude, the day was not cold. One held a revolver in the two-handed Weaver grip. One held what looked like a child’s baseball bat. The others hefted bicycle chains.

All three backed toward the rock face to their rear. Carter cursed under his breath. He should have been more alert.

“What do you want?” Kathryn snapped. She was a trial lawyer, not easily intimidated.

Only one of the six had spoken. He was clearly the leader. His voice was muffled by the ski mask, but understandable…and chilling.

“You’re going to have an accident.” The leader’s barked laugh sounded like a cough through the mask. “Accidents happen in the mountains.”

Carter was eying the gunman, gauging the distance between them. The gunman spoke for the first time. “Don’t even think about it, Carter. Now suppose you put that pistol down in front of you, butt first, nice and slow. You make a false move and you’re dead. We don’t want to use this pistol, but I will if I have to. No one’s going to find you for a while, and no one will ever find the gun.”

Turner still radiated defiance. “Why are you doing this?” It sounded like a demand, not a plea.

The leader answered. “Ms. Willingham here is not going to spread her fascist, racist cant, pretending its free speech, any more. And you’re not going to help racists like her do it anymore.”

He jerked a thumb over his shoulder toward the drop. “It’s a long way down.”

Willingham hadn’t spoken. She was staring toward the six mean confronting them. Her eyes moved beyond them, and she screamed.


The Bigfoot and his youngling neared the end of the trail. He motioned the younger creature to follow him off the trail. They would avoid the small ones and return to their usual haunts.

Moments later, he stopped. The young bigfoot was not behind him. Snarling, he turned back through the brush toward the trail.


Turner and Carter’s eyes followed Willingham’s. Beyond their assailants was a creature covered with gray-black hair, seven feet tall, standing upright. He was only a few feet away.

“That’s a trick!” The leader snapped, but he stole a glance behind him and started. “Jerry”, he shouted, choking it off, knowing he shouldn’t have said a name.

Jerry evidently had the revolver. He turned and saw the young Bigfoot only about five yards away. Then everything moved with blinding speed.

Jerry snapped a shot at the creature. It went wide, only nicking an ear. The young bigfoot screamed and launched himself at the gunman. The other men hesitated. One jumped to help Jerry. Carter, who had been in the process of lowering his pistol as commanded, stood upright, reversed the pistol, and thumbed off the safety.

He need not have bothered. A gray-black blur, over nine feet in height and voicing a roar that turned into a howl, rushed past his young one, grabbed the two closest men, including the one closest to Jerry, each in one hand, and hurled them bodily over the edge of the escarpment. Their screams echoed, but not before they were joined by the leader and one other.

The young Bigfoot shoved Jerry with all his force. The man teetered on the edge, and fell. His screams were interrupted by a thud, and another, and still others as he bounced down the cliff.

Willingham, Turner and Carter had backed, breathless, against the rock face behind them. Carter still held the pistol. He saw the two bigfeet eying it.

“Do what I do, he said to the others, his voice low and urgent. He laid the gun on the rock and faced the bigfeet, hands at his side and open. The other two mimicked the gesture.

The Bigfoot stood still, hesitant. Finally, he raised his head and roared again. He turned away back in the direction of the clearing, pushing his youngster in front of him.

The three humans stood silent, hearts pounding as they listened to crashing brush through the trees. At length, Carter retrieved and holstered his pistol.

“They…they were going to kill us,” Lisa said finally.

Carter grimaced. “That they were.”

“What are we going to do?” Lisa asked.

“We’re going to wait a bit to be sure they’re gone, and take the trail back down to the car,” he said. “Then we’re going to clean up, and meet Kathryn’s husband for dinner. Tomorrow, Lisa, you’ll give your lecture. Then we go back to New York.Kathryn returns to her law practice.”

“But…” Kathryn gesture toward the edge of the cliff.

“But nothing,” Carter said. “Like the man said, accidents happen in the mountains.”




Editor’s note: check out Henry Vogel’s “The Gift,” the winner of the Heroes contest, and Gene Kendall’s “The Problematic Journey of Mr. Scratch,” the winner of the Villains contest, and then cast your vote for who should triumph here.

Photo by Bob Doran