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I used to work at Six Flags Over Georgia in 1968 only the second year the park existed. I knew all the original rides by heart: Log Jamboree, Dahlonega Mine Train, the Great Gasp, all of them.

The most memorable, to me however, was Tales of the Okefenokee. If you don’t know anything about this ride, it was a primitive version of Splash Mountain at Disneyland. Only it opened 22 years before, and I mean it was a primitive version of Splash, seeing as it followed pretty much the same plot. In it, you followed Mr. Rabbit (our version of Br’er Rabbit), as he evaded the hungry clutches of cunning Mr. Fox and dumb Mr. Bear. Sound familiar?

Now, I have an extreme fear of anything big and scary. This included people in costumes, and more importantly, animatronics. And the Okefenokee, or as we called, The Okee, was full of just those. The first day I worked at the park, back in 1968, I was offered a ride on the Okee, and I refused, and that was that, until the last day of the 1980 season.

Right before park close, Tim, our supervisor approached me and my coworker Andy and led us down to the white lattice fence that surrounded the Okee. He told us today was the last day before the ride was closed for a remodel, and we were allowed one final ride. I tried to say I was busy, and that somebody else could take my place, Tim cut me off saying everybody else had already taken their ride and it was our turn. As I opened my mouth to speak, I saw a glimmer in Tim’s eyes I didn’t like.

Now, Tim was not exactly the easiest person to talk to. Everything about the guy was creepy in one way or another, from the almost villain-esque cheerful smile he gave park guests when directing them, to the fact that even on his off days, he’d be at the park. Every day, like clockwork, standing at the loading platform at the Okee. And at 6’10”, he was easy to spot.

Not wanting to push Tim further, I agreed to finally go on the darn ride. Heart racing, I made my way to the loading platform, where we were loaded into one of the boats. I was put in the very front of the boat, which left me nothing to duck behind to cover myself if my fear kicked in.

Tim climbed into the boat and we began the journey, slowly, the water drawing our boat closer to the impending opening. On either side of the entrance were two wooden rabbits, holding signs.

This was the first sign something was wrong. The rabbit on the left’s head had splintered off, and the sign it held was faded, unreadable. The right rabbit’s painted on fur had faded to almost white, giving the pupils of its eyes a sort of glow.

The boat entered the ride, and to our left, four crows stood in the trees, one of them lying on its side, although it was still moving. The crows sang what I could only figure was a song of some sort, only the dialogue was muffled, and I couldn’t make out the words. I didn’t really want to know, with the loose flapping of their beaks already unsettling me.

Around the bend was a scene of the ride’s characters all fishing. On the far left, Mr. Rabbit, dropped his fishing rod and the figure’s eyes opened and its mouth dropped seemingly in fear. Mr. Fox and Bear turned toward him, the sound of the mechanics under the fur clacking loudly. Like the crows, the audio was too muffled to make out, and it sounded almost demonic.

It wasn’t the clacking sounds. or the muffled audio that was scaring me at this point. It was how real everything looked. The fur on the animals looked suspiciously real and when we passed the Fox and Bear, I could smell something, almost like a wet dog.

“Never seen them do that before,” Andy said, drawing my attention, “normally they just bob up and down.” Tim simply bobbed his head once, not taking his eyes off the animals on the shore, an almost peaceful smile on his face.

A dark cave swallowed the boat and I felt oddly afraid, like I’d regret seeing what was on the other side. The cave opened up and there was a line of animals on the right side of the bank, various rabbits, a raccoon, and a turtle. Instead of happy go-lucky faces, they all looked oddly blank. Here the audio was loud enough to hear, and I could hear a fake Dixie tune, but none of the characters were moving, but all staring at the boat, which only added to the creepiness.

Across the river, 12 terrifying carrots belted out a melody, and the audio here was nearly deafening, every word clear:

Save the riders! 

Whatever you do!

Save the riders!

Or else you’re gonna wind up in a kettle of stew!

Save the riders? Was that supposed to be a fourth wall break? Were we in danger? I turned back to face Tim, who was sailing along pleasantly, as if nothing about this insanity fazed him.

Next to the carrots, was Mr. Fox, who was laughing maniacally, almost threateningly.  I could see the row of razor sharp teeth in his mouth. The laughter, which was also nearly deafening, almost covered up the sounds of what I can only describe as a series of high pitched yelps.  Mr. Bear, carrying a large canvas sack, was violently punching Mr. Rabbit in the head. The bruises on the rabbit’s head looked surprisingly real. What was this? Everybody said this ride was cartoony and cute, but this was the polar opposite.

I didn’t want to see anymore of this ride. I turned to Tim and started to tell him I wanted to get off the ride, when for a second, his face was one of pure hatred. We ducked under some overhead foliage and when we re-emerged, Tim just stared ahead. Terrified, I turned back around, and looked back at the riverbank.

Mr. Fox and Bear were standing on the side of the bank, staring up at a ghost suspended by owls. Hanging from one of the owls was Mr. Rabbit. The fear on his face was clear as his grip was lost and he plummeted to the ground, right between the villains. A loud crunch was heard, which I hoped was only the mechanics snapping. The figure twitched helplessly on the ground.

The next room was a field, where two rabbits sat weeping on a soap box, puppets of Mr. Fox and Bear floating lifelessly in the water. The cheerful music contrasted so starkly to the somber characters I thought this had to be a joke of some kind. Maybe Tim and Andy had set up this nightmare as a joke of some kind.

Across the stream, several rabbits sat, also saddened by something. A sickly, skeletal cow stood, horns attached to a tree. Before our eyes, the cow gave a loud moo and collapsed. The smell of what was clearly rotting meat rose up from the cow. This kicked a new fear into my mind; these things were real!

Ahead were the crows again. The dialogue dropped to a staticky whisper, muffling the sounds of their voices, but I got the message: we were in danger. Another cave, this time pitch black, with the only light coming from up ahead. 

Bang! A sound that could’ve only been a gunshot caused me to duck down under the rim of the boat. The fire ceased and I looked up. Mr. Fox and Bear were back, only this time Mr. Bear was shooting at our boat with a 12 gauge shotgun! Next to him was Mr. Fox, holding Mr. Rabbit by the neck, holding a knife to the rabbit’s neck!

What the fuck was this? I was about to flee the boat, when next to me Andy’s head exploded! Smoke curled from the Bear’s shotgun as a demonically low laughter filled the cavern! Andy’s body slid into the water, and disappeared.

I screamed and quickly stood, ready to leap to the bank.  Behind me, a low voice rumbled, as if right beside me, “As you travel and float, stay in the boat” I looked back at Tim, still oddly peaceful, but his eyes flashed. And in that split second, I saw, in his eyes, a glow I’d never seen. Something alive.

I slowly sat back down and I saw the glow reside from Tim’s eyes. From up ahead, I heard a voice chant, “BEWARE! BEWARE!” I looked up to see Mr. Fox standing above the river, somehow ahead of us. Held by the neck again was Mr. Rabbit, fear on his face. In one swift motion, Mr. Fox snapped Mr. Rabbit’s scrawny neck and he went limp. Thunderous laughter erupted as the boat plunged down a waterfall.

At the bottom, it was pitch black, and there was absolutely no music. I heard splashes in the water, expecting Mr. Fox or Bear to spring out at any moment. After what seemed like forever, we floated into another cavern.

This time we were in an underground burrow, where several weeping rabbits were all gathered around the table. Mr. Fox stood at the table, butchering the remains of Mr. Rabbit. On each of the plates, a different piece of Mr. Rabbit. Over the gruesome scene, an almost terrifying Christmas carol played, the audio distorted.

The final room was another field, and this time all of the figures were staring directly at us. There was no music, only the echoing sound of all the characters mouths slamming open and closed as they chanted in unison.

Welcome neighbor welcome, to the Okefenokee

 Welcome neighbor welcome, you surely made our day.

 Should’ve seen us sitting here, we thought you’d never get here. 

Sure glad you did, so let’s get on our way.

Let’s get on our way.

Let’s get on our way.

Lets.

Get.

On.

Our

Way

On the final ‘way’, all the characters all froze and the lights in the scene promptly went out, the only sign of light, the exit to the ride at the end of the tunnel. 

This was all the motivation I needed to flee. I climbed out of the boat and took off running, towards the exit of the ride. I expected the animals, or Tim, to start chasing me, but they just turned their heads to stare as I ran. 

I stopped running once I reached the loading platform, and the boat, empty except for Tim, pulled up behind me. He calmly climbed out of the boat, and stared at me. I stared back, trembling in fear, before stammering, “What the fuck was that? Where’s Andy?”

Tim smiled like he was about to direct me to Log Jamboree, only this time much wider, much more dangerous, than the smile he gave guests. “That was what my once beautiful ride has become, 12 years of horror”, he stated calmly, not mentioning Andy.

“Where’s Andy?”, I asked again, a little louder. “Who the fuck are you anyway?”

Tim’s smile widened, “I was created on the day this ride opened, June 1st 1968. You think the animals in there were animatronics?” He barked a short, humorless laugh, “I was created to keep them in check. The Croffts aren’t puppeteers, they’re magicians!”

I was about to ask about Andy again, when Tim continued, his voice now the rumble I’d heard on the ride,  “Over the years, the twelve long years, do you how many children I heard weep at the Arsenal? The Storm? Endless! On and on! Well tonight they were finally repaid! Your coworker was all they needed! I, the Guardian of the Okefenokee, am free!”

His voice dropped to normal, and I could only weakly croak out, “I hate you,” before Tim began laughing as before my very eyes, he changed form! Where my supervisor for the last 5 years had been, was a creature I can only describe as a short, hair covered, humanoid figure, with the teeth and feet of a rabbit, tail of a fox, and the ears of a bear, covered in an oily maroon substance that dripped onto the pavement. 

Before the thing could move, I turned and ran like hell out of the park. I tore through the empty parking lot to my car, and rushed out of the parking lot. As I turned onto the road, I could see the thing that had once been Tim standing on top of the Six Flags Marquee, waving slowly at me.

As it dissipated from my rear-view mirror, I heard its voice one last time. First the low rumble, then a sing-songy voice that still haunts my nightmares.

So the story goes in the Okefenokee.

Bye now. You hurry back now ya hear? 



Written by ADMachine1
Content is available under CC BY-SA

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