The Patch

Joey Payne

Josh screamed for help for hours. His throat was raw and broken. His mother had told him to never walk through the kudzu patch and always go around. But the sun was blazing and the quickest way to his grandmother’s house was through the kudzu patch. Josh remembered his Dad’s wisdom to watch out for snakes and open wells if he ever found himself in a kudzu field. Josh had felt confident he knew what to do.


He had hiked halfway through before he fell. When the bone in his ankle broke it sounded like a gun shot. He held his leg and cried and called for his grandmother but Josh knew she was almost deaf. She would never hear is cries from here. As time crept by and the sun burned on his skin he knew it was up to him to get out. He was nine now, and his Dad raised him to panic after the emergency, not during… He was a big boy.


His first try to hop went poorly and he tumbled into the rope-like vines. The pain exploded in his ankle as bone scraped against his skin. Josh choked down a scream and fought against the sobs. Pulling on all the willpower his young body could muster, Josh grabbed a handful of vines and pulled. Rocks and forgotten debris bit into his legs as he pulled himself along, fighting to keep his head above the suffocating foliage that threatened to pull him below and out of sight. Looking back Josh choked down the fear as he saw the trail of blood he was leaving.


Sweat poured off of his brow as Josh drug himself. Blood dripped from a dozen scrapes and cuts. Josh pulled at his shirt to release the heat held within causing his breathing to become heavier. The humidity an ever oppressive force working to take his strength. Josh stopped for a second as he heard the sound of rustling leaves. A sure sound that a breeze was coming across the big field. As it grew closer Josh raised his head, his wet hair stinging his eyes, knowing if he could just cool down for a second that he could keep going.


Josh closed his eyes as the sound got closer, waiting for some minor relief. Josh could hear the leaves blowing all around him but realized with a start that no breeze blew on his face. His eyes flew open as he felt the sudden bite of pain in his leg. At first he thought he had been snake bit which he knew would be the end. He sat up and grabbed his leg forcing himself to look at the damage. Blood poured from the cut and Josh could not hold the tears back any longer. How had he cut himself? He wasn’t even moving when it happened. Wiping his eyes, he looked at the open flesh of his leg and fought his despair. Grandma had told Josh he was tough, and he wanted to make his Grandma proud.


Josh looked around trying to find what he had cut himself on. The foliage was thick and as he dug through it something moved under his hand. Josh cried out in fear as he fell backwards, wishing he had a stick. Josh’s breath was heavy and quick as he stared at the spot where the unknown thing moved. As he watched, he saw two small orbs glaring at him from the tangled patch. His breathing quickened as the little creature moved the foliage aside. It looked like a man, maybe five inches tall, but covered in fur. Its large and bulging eyes were set directly atop a gaping maw of a mouth lined with rows of shark-like teeth. In its hand, it held a sharp scrap of metal that was still wet with Josh’s blood. As it took a step toward Josh, its mouth began to open and close, as if tasting Josh’s blood and helplessness on the air. Its maw moved slowly at first but quicker when the creature grew more excited as Josh tried to back away. As it got more and more worked up the sound of its teeth grinding against each other made the sound of rustling leaves.


Josh’s breathing grew to a scream as the sound of the creature preparing for a feeding frenzy was answered by others of its kind in the field of green. With a beastlike lunge, the creature pounced upon Josh, biting a chunk of flesh from his cheek. With a high pitched scream of pure fear, Josh knocked the thing away. Josh frantically pulled himself through the field as he felt tiny hands grabbing him and teeth ripping his flesh.


“Grandma!” he cried as he endured the stabbing and biting of the relentless creatures eating him alive. He could see the open and well mowed lawn of his grandma’s yard just a few meters away. Black dots of pain and blood loss danced in his eyes and his breath caught in his lungs as he saw his grandma come out with a load of laundry in her arms. “Grandma!” he called but his throat was raw and his voice hoarse. His deaf grandma turned her back and began to hang her clothes calmly, unaware of her grandson’s assault.


Josh desperately grasped at the air towards her and whispered “Grandma” once more as clawed hands pulled him down under the kudzu. With his last breath, Josh’s screams rose in pitch before ending in a pitiful gurgle. For a violent moment, the kudzu patch shook wildly before growing dead-still.


Josh’s dying scream made his grandmother jump and turn around. She looked over the empty field for the sound and shrugged as she saw nothing. “Must have been a bird,” she said to herself as she hung her laundry and sighed, listening to the breeze blow through the kudzu field.




Joey Payne enjoys writing post-apocalyptic novels and horror short stories. His first release, a book set in a grim future world, entitled Love and Radiation (Book 1 of his Radiation Tales series) was published in October of 2012 and is currently available via Amazon’s Kindle and Kindle App Store. The second in the Radiation Tales Series—Death and Radiation—is expected out sometime in 2013. His latest published work*, The Slow and The Dead, a horror short, appears in the 2012 13 Stories Till Halloween 2012 edition.


Joey is a Georgia boy and lives with his wife and children in his beloved home state. He also loves river boating, fishing and collecting antique firearms, which he shoots often to help him concentrate.


* editor’s note. Joey's short story The Block appeared in the 2013 edition of 13 Stories ‘Til Halloween, and The Supplement in the 2014 edition of 13 Stories 'Till Halloween

Jessica Nettles - 10/28/2015 6:20 AM
Holy crap, Joey! I will NEVER want to get near kudzu ever again. Great story.
Carole - 10/29/2015 11:35 PM
I always knew that the Kudzu around here was up to no good!
Matt Roberts - 10/30/2015 12:36 AM
Another great read by Joey Payne! Great stuff!
Jordan Drew - 10/30/2015 10:05 AM
Awesome story, Joey! Thank you!
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