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In a town called Rushing Water, there lived a woodcarver with no face.

When we were small, my brothers and I, Daddy would sometimes take us to visit her. We would sit there at her kitchen table, amazed, as this woman with no eyes – and indeed no nose or mouth – would pour out our tea without spilling a drop.

I was frightened of her because she looked so strange, so grotesque. All the other days of my life, I encountered people with faces – square faces, oval faces, faces round and smiling like the moon with slanted eyes or big dark ones or little beady bird eyes. Snub noses, Romans or long, thin, birdlike ones like mine. Yet here was a woman with none of that or any of the faculties that come with those organs.

As a little girl, I dreaded our visits to the faceless woodcarver. But now that I've grown up I miss most all the memories of my childhood, even the somewhat unpleasant ones, so I sometimes let them wander through my mind even when they aren't invited. So I remember the woodcarver and what Daddy told us once as to why she had no face.

It came from crossing the Stick People.

You've probably seen the Stick People, though you might have heard them called by different names. They are the short knobby stumps of cypress wood found around the river bottoms where the Spanish moss hangs thick from their parent trees and raccoon and pig tracks are stamped in the sticky mud around them. As you skim lightly down the river in your canoe, you'll see them watching you from the muddy banks. They look as docile and harmless as the next piece of wood, but at night they'll pull their feet up out of the muck and run about the riverbank like little people.

The Stick People are mischievous, but not malicious by nature. True, they enjoy frightening off flights of ducks before the hunters can lure them down to the water and tipping over canoes full of picnickers. But everyone knew the Stick People saved little Zoe Mitchell when she was lost in the woods by imitating her mother's voice and coaxing the tot out of the swamp toward the German shepherds and sheriff's deputies searching for her.

But the Stick People are spirits, same as the mist tendrils hanging low and white over the lake on fall mornings and the little rainbow-colored water dogs which appear after a summer shower. Spirits aren't to be crossed. They're to be appeased, so the wise ones venturing into the river bottoms leave the Stick People the little gifts they love: rose hips, sprigs of lavender or bright-blue jay feathers.

The woodcarver was foolish. She cut down the cypress knees and took them to her workshop in the town. There, she'd carve the faces of rabbits, foxes and raccoons onto the Stick People. When night fell, she'd lock up her shop and the Stick People inside. The other Stick People would come running up from the river bottoms into the town of Rushing Water, looking for their missing mothers and sisters and brothers and cousins. They'd find them inside the workshop, weeping and ashamed, trying to cover up their mutilated faces.

One muggy night, the Stick People called a council. They'd had enough of the woodcarver kidnapping their relatives and giving them the faces of animals. The Stick People sat around a fire on the riverbank as the mosquitoes hummed and whined thick through the air.

"Let's teach the woodcarver mortal a lesson!" shouted one fierce Stick Person whose son had been taken to the workshop that very evening and given the face of a dog.

There were lusty calls of approval from his heartsick fellows.

"No," another Stick Person said more softly and slowly. "Let's warn the woodcarver to stay away from our people. Perhaps she'll listen."

The Stick People voted. The ones in favor of teaching the woodcarver her lesson dipped sticks in the fire until the branches grew red hot. The ones in favor of warning her stubbed out their hot sticks in the dirt until the tips were black. The Black sticks beat out the Red sticks, so that night the Stick People slipped into the town of Rushing Water as unbeknownst to the people there as the raccoons raiding their garbage cans.

The next morning, when the woodcarver arrived at her shop, she found little black smoldering sticks stabbed in the ground all around the building. Now the woodcarver had been raised in Rushing Water. She knew all about the Stick People and the spirits of the forest, but she deceived herself by saying the Stick People were a silly superstition.

"Kids and their pranks," she muttered as she pulled the sticks up out of the ground.

That night, three more Stick People went missing from the swamps. They were found locked inside the woodcarver's shop with the faces of cats. This time, the Red Sticks were intent on punishing the whole town of Rushing Water.

"No more town, no more woodcarver, no more problem," they said.

But the Black Sticks begged they give the woodcarver another warning. Again, the Black Sticks' decision won over the Red Sticks.' The next morning, smoldering black sticks appeared all around the town of Rushing Water. The townspeople knew what they meant – they knew what the woodcarver was doing – so they, led by the mayor, marched right up to the woodcarver's shop.

"Stop carving the cypress knees. Let the ones in your workshop go," the mayor pleaded with the woodcarver. "Carve oak. Carve cedar, but leave the Stick People alone."

But the woodcarver wouldn't listen. "The Stick People are nothing but a wives' tale," she lied. "How could they hurt me?"

That evening, several more Stick People were found in the workshop with the faces of men. At the council fire later that night, there were no Black Sticks.

And the next morning, when the woodcarver got out of bed to wash her face, she found she hadn't one to wash. That, the good people of Rushing Water would whisper to one another with bowed heads, is what came of crossing the Stick People.

The faceless woodcarver still lives in Rushing Water, the last I heard anyway, and she stills carves as she can still feel the grain of the wood with her hands. But she carves cedar or oak. She says she never wants to see another Stick Person – even if she could.
The second tale in my horror story anthology.

Story notes:

This story was inspired by what are called the "cypress knees" which grow around cypress trees on the rivers in the South. The stumps really do look like little people, most of them no taller than 3 feet, watching you from the riverbanks.

The town of Rushing Water is inspired by Wetumpka, Alabama. (Wetumpka actually means "Rushing Water.") The "Stick People" appear in Nez Perce Indian tales as mischievous, but friendly little spirits of the forest. And during the Creek War of the early 19th century, the fiercest Creek fighters were known as "Red Sticks."

This story belongs to Anastasia "Maria" Scarborough
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Daily Deviation

Given 2013-05-13
The Stick People by ~Dead-Raccoons ( Suggested by doodlerTM and Featured by BeccaJS )
:iconsilvershadowess:
SilverShadowess Featured By Owner May 13, 2013  Student General Artist
This is absolutely FANTASTIC. I loved this! It's so imaginative and surreal.
Reply
:iconthegalleryofeve:
TheGalleryOfEve Featured By Owner May 13, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Congratulations on your well-deserved DD!!! :iconflyingheartsplz::iconlainloveplz: :iconflyingheartsplz: :clap::clap::clap:
Reply
:iconaidypie80pi:
aidypie80pi Featured By Owner May 13, 2013
Beautiful-- And frightening.
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:iconalex-boo:
alex-boo Featured By Owner May 13, 2013
wow thats great
Reply
:icondreamer-of-magic:
Dreamer-of-Magic Featured By Owner May 13, 2013   General Artist
Marvelous! :clap:
Reply
:iconmendedpixie:
Mendedpixie Featured By Owner May 13, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
Really great little story...left me feeling slightly creeped out. xD congrats on the DD!
Reply
:iconshadowedacolyte:
ShadowedAcolyte Featured By Owner May 13, 2013
There's a nice charm in this bit of American mythology (something we lack, on the whole). Thanks for a fun read.
Reply
:iconblacktudorrose:
BlackTudorRose Featured By Owner May 13, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Amazing. End of story, anyone that says differently is horrible at lying. Definitely worthy of a DD.
Reply
:iconiamoret:
iAmoret Featured By Owner May 13, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
:fear:

Congrats on the DD! :clap:
Reply
:iconivorygreen14:
Ivorygreen14 Featured By Owner May 13, 2013
I love this story, im going to tell it to my kids, its great!!
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:icondarkdijinartie89:
DarkDijinArtie89 Featured By Owner May 13, 2013  Student General Artist
At first I just wanted to breeze through it because I thought it was some other kind of story... But as kept reading I kept wanting to learn more about the Stick People and what they did. I say thank you for this story, and congrats on the DD!
Reply
:iconlittle-space-ace:
little-space-ace Featured By Owner May 13, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is really good! The literary construction and descriptive wording is fabulous, but it makes it all the better when I read the description and found a good, solid backbone for everything that happened in the story. Nice work, and congrats on the DD! :heart:
Reply
:iconcrazy-doodler:
cRaZy-dOOdler Featured By Owner May 13, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
That was AMAZING :wow: I love this little story so much! And congratulations on the DD! ;)
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:iconsimplysilent:
SimplySilent Featured By Owner May 13, 2013
:heart: Congrats on the DD! :clap:
Reply
:iconcontraltissimo:
Contraltissimo Featured By Owner May 13, 2013
Oh wow, what a delightful tale. :clap:
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:icondarjavine:
Darjavine Featured By Owner May 13, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Congrats on the DD!
Reply
:icontitanium-alex:
Titanium-Alex Featured By Owner May 13, 2013
Whoa. This is really amazing! Intruiging.
Reply
:iconmihashicat:
mihashicat Featured By Owner May 13, 2013
congrats on the DD, its well-deserved :>
Reply
:iconsamiferismyotp:
Samiferismyotp Featured By Owner May 13, 2013
This is neat :)
Reply
:icontrollgirl:
TrollGirl Featured By Owner May 13, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
This is a good folk-tale :)
Reply
:iconsmadams:
SMAdams Featured By Owner May 13, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
A wonderful piece. It was a mesmerising read. Thank you for sharing! Congratulations!
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:iconyoursingingsatellite:
yoursingingsatellite Featured By Owner May 13, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Has a very folklore kind of feel to it. I like it!
Reply
:iconhiland-rose:
Hiland-Rose Featured By Owner May 13, 2013  Professional Artisan Crafter
I really enjoyed this. I ususally don't go for horror, but this reminds me more of the fables and old style fairy tales before the "adults" decided they were too scary for children and made them cutesy. I like the southern folklore feel, it's different.
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:iconmissdudette:
MissDudette Featured By Owner May 13, 2013
Very very good.
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:iconmissdudette:
MissDudette Featured By Owner May 13, 2013
Very very good.
Reply
:iconcreepypastaisyummy:
Creepypastaisyummy Featured By Owner May 13, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Slender Mans wife? :0

And Nice job on the DD! ^^
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:iconelnassis:
Elnassis Featured By Owner May 13, 2013
It is very nice :)
Reply
:iconlintu47:
lintu47 Featured By Owner May 13, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
    Congrats on the DD! :dalove:
    Have a nice day! :heart:
Reply
:iconphoenixdestruction:
PhoenixDestruction Featured By Owner May 13, 2013
An excellent feature here for a Daily Deviation. :w00t: Keep up the good work!
Reply
:iconebenejdne:
ebenejdne Featured By Owner May 13, 2013   General Artist
Congrats on the awesome DD!
:iconcongratsplz:
Reply
:icondamonwakes:
DamonWakes Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2012   Writer
Very creepy indeed! I did wonder if the Stick People were based on an actual myth, but it sounds as though you've added a lot to them yourself. Also, it's nice to see a story told in this sort of traditional format (I think I counted three "stages" to the Stick People's revenge) combined with a modern world with garbage cans and picnics.

You mentioned a horror anthology in the description. Based on this story, I would very much like to read it! Or to learn more about it if it's not yet finished/available.
Reply
:icondead-raccoons:
Dead-Raccoons Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks very much for the nice comment. :)

I'm working on the anthology now.

You can read two more of the stories in the anthology here [link] and here [link].

Best and thanks,
Maria
Reply
:icondailylitdeviations:
DailyLitDeviations Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2012
Your wonderful literary work has been chosen to be featured by DailyLitDeviations and has been selected as our "Pick of the Day". It is featured in a news article here: [link] and on our main page.

Keep writing and keep creating.
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:iconfrostmuzzle:
Frostmuzzle Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Brilliant story, enjoyed every word! :) You're a natural-born storyteller, y'know
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:iconverreax:
Verreax Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
this is just good. thats all there is too it.
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:icondead-raccoons:
Dead-Raccoons Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks very much! :)
Reply
:iconverreax:
Verreax Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
you deserve it!!
Reply
:iconfisherella:
Fisherella Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2012  Professional General Artist
I really enjoyed reading that. It flowed nicely, had an eerie atmosphere, humor and detail. One suggestion I might make is you may want to consider adding linebreaks between the paragraphs, in html that's < br > without the spaces. I think that would make it easier to read. Nice piece of writing. =0)
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:icondead-raccoons:
Dead-Raccoons Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you for the nice comment. :) Best.
Reply
:iconkoeyohte:
Koeyohte Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I love the background in this story and that you so easily incorporated everything into one environment :) This is a great story for an overnight canoe trip XD
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