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Never Get A Hole-In-One At Putt Head’s Mini-Golf

Author since 2023 7Stories 27 Followers
Never Get A Hole-In-One At Putt Head’s Mini-Golf

Never get a hole in one at a mini-golf course.

Trust me, the risk is not worth the fleeting sense of accomplishment. Let’s be real. You probably got one on accident, anyway, so any pride you’d feel is underserved.

At Putt Head’s Mini-Golf and Arcade, getting a hole in one, on the 18th hole, earned you a free game. It was a gimmick that everyone tried for. Even if your family was completely sick of the looping kiddie music playing over the rusted speakers and everyone was in-fighting by the end… they still tried for the hole in one. Free is free.

When I was a kid, I got a hole in one at the local mini-golf course. I felt like a celebrity when one of the barely-there staffers rang a bell and everyone gave light, forced applause. Obviously, I had only swung randomly. As it just so happens, what amounted to nothing more than a sugar-fueled arm spasm turned out to be the perfect shot.

The next time I did it, I was drunk. That evening, my scrubby friends and I couldn’t think of anything more interesting to do than make an embarrassing scene at the local mini-course. I lined up the shot, taking way too long, re-adjusted my position over and over again as the players behind our group look on in annoyance. With a completely over-zealous swing, I sent the ball clacking off of wood and metal, sure it would hit someone in the face.

The bell rang, very sparse clapping sounded, and when I checked, I found the ball in the hole. I was as shocked as anyone else.

I was with some of those same friends when we heard new not-really-that-tragic news.

After decades of operation, Putt Head’s was closing down for good.

Items belonging to the course would be put up for auction. Everything from the clubs, to the arcade machines, to the giant plywood-and-fiberglass obstacles that stood between innocent children and the most meaningless form of success.

The owner had declared bankruptcy, citing poor attendance due to lockdowns, rising gas prices, “a generation addicted to staying indoors and playing video games”, you name it.

Everything but the fact that nobody in their right mind cares about playing mini-golf anymore.

Speaking of people not in their right mind…

My friends I decided to visit the park a final time, mainly because it would make for interesting social media posts. We also considered chipping in to buy an arcade cabinet, but a mild disagreement broke out regarding whose place it would stay at, so that was dropped pretty quickly.

A couple days later, five of us were packed into my car and ready to enjoy our first completely sober evening of partaking in a children’s park. (There’s a story about a playground and something untoward happening on the roundabout, but I’m not repeating it here.)

I was driving, with Kate in the passenger’s seat. Aaron, Jon, and Lissa were shoulder-to-shoulder in the back seat. I would’ve expected Lissa to be complaining the most about it, since she had self-inflicted “Karen” reputation, but oddly enough Jon was the only one going on and on about how “stuffy” it was sitting in the middle, and how uncomfortable he was with his knees almost to his chest.

I half expected him to start asking, “Are we there yet?” every five minutes.

Eventually, almost as if they were jealous of the negative attention Jon was getting, Kate and Lissa started arguing over the radio station, and whether to listen to 107.5, or 105.5. Kate’s position was that 107.5 ran too many commercials, while Lissa insisted that that the DJ on 105.5 was so annoying that he could “literally go die”.

Any tension was immediately dispersed and devolved into uncontrollable laughter as we pulled up to the weathered, half-condemned gates of the mini-golf course, and Aaron began loudly and violently singing the Jurassic Park theme to drown everyone out.

A large, billboard-sized sign over the main building read “Putt Head’s Mini-Golf Course and Arcade!” in bold writing, with the park’s motto in italics just underneath; “We Have A Ball Here!”  It was all way too wordy.

A cartoonish course mascot, the titular Putt Head, stood next to the words, giving an enthusiastic thumbs-up.

Looking at the sun-bleached and peeling sign with fresh eyes, I couldn’t help but think of how much Putt Head’s head reminded me of a skull. The oversized, dimpled golf ball had no features other than two cartoony eyes of pure black. Any artist with a shit would’ve added a friendly smile, at the very least.

“No one else is here?” Kate asked as we rolled to a stop in a parking spot.

“Uh, almost like that’s the reason it’s closing.” Lissa sarcastically added.

As we spilled out of the car, Jon groaned and stretched his legs. Being the tall seemed to have its disadvantages.

“I call shotgun for the trip back.” Jon immediately added, as if he’d been planning it the whole way down.

Kate shot me a look, as if to say she simply knew I would never consider such a request, but I just shrugged back. The dude was built like a street lamp, denying him the foot room again would probably be inhumane.

Kate and I had only recently started dating. We met through mutual friends… which is a nice way of saying we were both dating other people at the time, and hooked up before either of us had broken up with them. It was a huge mess, but we were just starting to come out the other side of it.

As we moved to the little booth at the start of the course, Aaron was the first to inform everyone that it was unstaffed.

More specifically, he said, “If no one shows up in 15 minutes, it’s free.”

I would’ve been all for waiting until someone showed up, and I know Kate and Jon would’ve as well. Still, the line of five different-colored golf balls was definitely tempting. After Aaron leaned over the small wooden counter and pulled out a few putters, it seemed like there was no real point in protesting the inevitable. Lissa immediately moving to grab the purple golf ball also set the others to picking their own favorite colors before someone else did.

Hanging out with this group, I’d occasionally catch myself thinking that there’s no such thing as an adult… just taller and louder children.

I hung back a bit and looked around for any sign of employees on their way to the booth. Then I picked up the last ball, an orange one. Luckily, my own favorite. Probably because I was an illogically huge fan of Garfield as a kid, despite never once laughing at his comics, cartoons, or movies.

Aaron was already tee’d up for the first hole, a standard and straight-forward length of dingy green lined with old red bricks on either side.

“Nothing but hole, baybee.” Aaron smugly predicted as he lined up his putter carefully.

“STOP!”

A sharp, tinny voice rang out from the speakers on poles overhead. I didn’t realize there was no music playing until that moment. The voice echoed a bit, followed by the squawking of far-off birds, startled by the noise.

In one smooth motion, Aaron picked his ball back up, pocketed it, and, in attempting to appear innocent, managed to carry himself like the most obviously guilty man to ever live.

“Busted.” Lissa smirked. She turned around in place, again looking for any employees, before pointing to Aaron with the handle of her putter. “He’s the one who didn’t want to wait.”

We could hear a high-pitched, motorized whirring sound from behind a storage shed. Before long, we could see the small golf cart haphazardly buzzing out way as it bumped and jostled over rocks and debris.

The cart was open, with no roof, to accommodate the driver.

Putt Head himself, or at least a random dude wearing Putt Head’s giant fake ball of a head.

“Oh.” Jon said in relieved realization, followed by a longer, more drawn out “Ohhh…” as he realized just how annoying the mascot was likely about to become.

“What the fuck.” Kate stated in an eerily calm voice as the cart came to a stop beside the green.

“Now, now! This is a family park.” Putt Head chided as he got to his feet. His voice was muffled by the mascot head, making it a struggled to interpret a few of his words.

He was wearing all black, including a long black coat and black leather gloves. A definite departure from his usual colorful, outlandish golfer’s outfit.

Kate covered her mouth instinctively, as if it wasn’t entirely too late to block the F-word.

“Here’s a little trick I like to use,” Putt Head continued as he leaned over a golf bag on the back of the cart, “I like to replace profanities with the word putt. It helps me get through the longer shifts without scarring the kids for life.”

Putt Head pulled a putter out of his golf bag, studied it, looked down the handle carefully, turned it over in his hands, slowly felt along its face, then put it back in the back.

He then drew out another putter judged that just as thoroughly before again placing that one back inside.

He took out another putter.

His bag was full of putters.

“So, for example…” Putt Head took a white golf ball and tee’d it, “Instead of fuck, I say putt. Instead of shit, I say putt. Instead of bitch, I say putt. Instead of-”

“You stole that from the Smurfs.” Aaron interrupted in a typical smarmy, yet chill tone.

Putt Head tapped the ball, sending it perfectly straight down the green, and right into the hole.

“How about that. A hole in one.” he mused to himself.

I gave Kate a side-eye, and could see she was visibly upset by the stranger who had now insinuated himself into our friend group without so much as introducing himself.

I suppose he figured his reputation preceded him, given the sign and all.

“Listen, this is kind of a friend thing-” I started.

“How about you listen.” Putt Head replied, cutting me off. He put his putter back in the bag and leaning one-handed against the cart. “I got a hole in one… so see if you can, too. Match my score. This is marked as a par three, but that’s really just to make the less-coordinated kids feel competent for a day. I’m totally sure you can do it in one.”

“Or we could just pay you at the booth and you can go back to work behind that shed, or whatever was going on over there.” I counter-offered.

Putt Head sat on the golf cart with a thud, put his hand to his gigantic, featureless golf ball “chin”, and thought for a moment.

“Naaahh,” he waved my offer away dismissively, “Match me. Hole in one for hole in one.”

The cart let out a few irritating beeps as he backed it up, then swung around to face it toward the next hole.

“Or I’ll putting kill you.” he added in carefree tone, the twin black recesses of his eyeholes staring blankly at us all.

Jon and Aaron defiantly dropped their putters and golf balls to the ground, and almost immediately after, the rest of us did the same.

“Seeya, bro.” Jon laughed mockingly as the five of us turned out our heels and left.

The End.

Well, in a perfect world, it would be.

When we got back to the parking lot, it was readily apparent that there was a small hitch in our plan to leave in and never think about that place again.

The gates were locked.

I don’t just mean locked, I mean locked-locked. Multiple chains, multiple locks. A comedically unnecessary amount of chains and locks. Three key locks, two combination locks, and a bike lock thrown into the mix for some reason.

A standing sign rested on the pavement just outside, reading “CLOSED – Permanently Out of Business”.

“We have to ram the gate.” Jon said. “Just ram it with the car.”

“What car?” Lissa asked.

The parking lot was empty. The weirdo must have broken into my car, hotwired it, and driven it out before locking the gate. I couldn’t figure out how he pulled it off in such a short time, only to show up somewhere completely different later on.

A clichéd chill ran up my spin and out through my limbs, raising the hairs on my arms.

Lissa took out her phone and began to dial 911.

SMACK.

A golf ball flying at a reckless speed knocked the phone straight out of her hand. The phone hit the pavement and skipped a few times, like a stone on a lake.

“What the FUCK.” Lissa shouted.

We turned to see Putt Head some distance away, lowering his putter as if he had just taken one Hell of a swing.

He cupped one hand to the side of where his mouth would be and called back to us.

“Language! It’s a family park!”

“That’s it. I’m fucking him up.” Jon said definitively. He took a few bold, angry steps toward the less-than-whimsical character.

In one smooth motion, Putt Head dropped a golf ball and took another giant swing.

SMACK.

Jon instantly doubled over as the ball hit him in the windpipe.

Putt Head called over again.

“What did you expect to happen?”

Kate rushed to make sure Jon could breathe as he choked and sucked in long, labored breaths. Aaron got him to his feet hit him on the back several times, as if that would help.

“He isn’t choking.” Kate snapped.

“Oh. I thought it landed in his mouth.” Aaron replied apologetically.

We searched the fence line for as long as we could, with Putt Head following in the background the entire way. The place was a fortress of chain link fencing and barbed wire, entirely too much security for what was worth stealing.

Jon was still wheezing as we plodded through the overgrown weeds, but to no avail.

It was getting late, a fact that was literally highlighted by the park’s evening lights slowly brightening to counteract the darkness.

“It’s one hole.” Aaron finally pointed out, “Aaand, it’s also hole one.”

“How hard…” Jon said, panting, “Can it… be?”

Putt Head was already waiting for us when we got back to the spot where our discarded putters were still lying in a heap. He was closer now, but was smart enough to stay out of punching range.

“Okay, here we go. Whatever.” Lissa placed her purple ball on the tee and carelessly swacked it off the path and into the grass. “I did it. Are you happy?”

“Ooh.” Putt Head hissed between his unseen teeth, “You needed to get a hole in one, remember? Thaaat’s not what we agreed on.”

“We didn’t agree on anything,” I insisted, “You literally are just holding us hostage.”

“Fine, I’ll go again.” Lissa huffed, stepping off the green and into the tall grass to find her ball.

“Ma’am, I don’t think you know how golf works.” Putt Head called after her.

The lights throughout the entire park flickered.

Lissa looked back at the group, a worried expression on her face.

“I can’t find my-”

Suddenly, she was gone. Pulled down into the grass at double-speed, like a she’d been pulled underwater by a shark.

“Lissa?” Aaron called out. The rest of us followed suit, calling her name and asking of she was alright. Within seconds, we all moved to rush toward the grass, but as we did, we were met with an even more horrifying sight.

Lissa crawled quickly from the grass line, sheer horror in her eyes.

She let out a gut-wrenching scream as a flurry of small hands reached from behind the foliage and snagged her hair and clothing before pulling her quickly back into the darkness of the unkempt grounds.

“Oh, shit!” Jon shouted, finding his breath again. Unlike the rest of us, he continued to rush forward, to pull Lissa out of the grip of whatever had her.

Instead, he once again fell to the ground as his feet were tripped up with a putter.

“I wouldn’t.” Putt Head said as he untangled his putter from between Jon’s ankles and shook his massive head disapprovingly. “There’s no point, now. She’s already with them.”

“Them?” Kate screamed, incredulously, “Them who? What the Hell was that?”

“Oh, it’s some ghosts.” Putt Head explained casually, taking Aaron’s green ball from his trembling hand and teeing it up for him, “Ghosts of children who died on the grounds of Putt Head’s Mini-Golf Course and Arcade.”

“H-How many kids die playing mini-golf, dude?” as usual, Aaron was thinking ahead of us all.

“You would be shocked.” Putt Head replied, “Absolutely shocked.”

“She’s with them?” I demanded, my voice cracking as my throat stung from an acrid mix of anger and fear, “Where?”

Putt Head shrugged. “I dunno. Do I look like an expert on dead children?”

Aaron took a few wobbly steps to the tee, then took in some deep breaths and found is calm. Putt Head observed, absently twirling his putter between his hands like a martial arts expert spinning a ceremonial sword.

“Kids do this every day.” Aaron said quietly, “You’re better than some dumb kid. Smarter. Bigger. C’mon, Double-A, you got this.”

Putt.

We watched in complete silence as the ball rolled almost hesitantly toward the cup. It was a straight line. Near perfect.

Aaron exploded into a relieved cheer as the ball dropped into the hole. He pumped his fist in the air a few times and jumped in place.

Then, he turned back to the rest of us.

“I am so sorry if you die,” he said, genuinely.

I stepped up next. I wasn’t great at golfing, but I wasn’t that bad at it, either.

“Alright! A hole in one should be really easy for you.” Putt Head nodded.

As I lined up the shot, he added something that froze me in place.

“After all, you’ve done it twice before!”

How would he know that…?

I swallowed hard and convinced myself that my chances of making the shot weren’t getting any better, the longer I waited.

Putt.

Hole in one.

Aaron cheered again, but I just felt my shoulders slump and my knees start to give out from under me. The stress, the exhaustion after searching the property, and the dread of whatever awful fate had taken Lissa weighed heavy on me.

When I looked back at Kate, I could see she was even more shaken than I was. She had a thousand yard stare, her already pale skin had gone stark white.

“Can I shoot for her?” I turned back to Putt Head, who was patiently waiting for us to get our shit together. “I’ll take her turn. In her place, I mean.”

Putt Head gave a bitter chuckle and shook his head disapprovingly.

Kate’s hands were cold when I took them in mine and helped her line up the shot. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t trust her to make it on her own – but I knew she’d have a much better chance with my guidance.

Putt.

The ball bounced off the back border, drawing a gasp from everyone. Then, thankfully, it rebounded into the cup.

Jon was the last to take his turn, and after suffering two sudden faceplants in one night, he definitely needed the extra time to get ready. As he walked up to the tee and set his red ball down, he shot me cold glance.

That split-second look spoke volumes. If no one else had the metaphorical balls to do anything, he would.

Wham.

In a flash, Jon had struck Putt Head with his club, closing the distance with his long reach and the aid of the putter’s full length. The resounding smack of metal on ball-face jarred Kate awake.

“Get him.” she muttered.

Surprised at myself, I was in full agreement.

Jon struck the usually stoic mascot again and again, creating spider webs of cracks along the head’s surface. When Putt Head stopped reeling backward and finally fell to the ground, Jon brought the head of the club down on his ribs. The fury and finality of every swing brought to mind a missing link pummeling long-dead prey.

Putt Head’s limp body flopped like a rag doll with each blow. As a final touch, Jon jammed the club into one of the large, dark eye sockets.

Nonsensically enough, blood sprayed like a geyser from the fake eyehole, drenching Jon.

I expected Aaron to let out another cheer, but he was silent.

“That was…” I cleared my throat, “That was kind of… much. But I definitely think it had to be done.”

Jon was panting again, mixed with a smattering of self-contented laughs.

“Let’s just call the cops and get the hell out of here, now.” Kate noted, bringing some sense to the spectacle.

Aaron took out his phone and began dialing.

SMACK.

Yet another stray ball obliterated his phone, splintering the plastic casing in mid-air.

“Language. Please.” A familiar voice shouted.

From behind the storage shed, Putt Head rode up on a second golf cart, buzzed right up next to the previous one, and hopped out as if he didn’t have a care in the world.

He walked over to Jon, and to the lifeless copy of himself that lay on the ground between Jon’s feet.

“I know what you’re thinking,” Putt Head said as he pulled the blood-soaked putter from the duplicate’s eye like King Arthur retrieving Excalibur, “Isn’t dropping a second ball on the green… cheating?”

Jon was flabbergasted. His face bunched up as if he wanted to ask a hundred questions, but couldn’t get a single one of them to come out.

Putt Head looked over to Jon’s ball. He had kicked it when he rushed to take action. Now, it sat halfway down the green.

It happened so quickly that the old phrase held true. If you blinked you would’ve missed it. With one swing of the club, Putt Head shattered Jon’s skull. His large form toppled to the ground in what seemed, comparatively, like slow motion.

Kate screamed. Aaron screamed. I screamed. We all screamed, but there wasn’t a single scoop of ice cream in sight.

“Alright.” Putt Head cheerily replaced the putter with another from his bag.

“On to hole two!”

Hole two? I hadn’t even considered the idea that our ludicrous torturer wanted to play all 18 holes this way. There was no way any of us could make every single hole in one shot, and it was obvious that, despite all logic, he definitely could.

The three of us, the three left alive, hesitantly followed Putt Head to the next hole as he whistled to himself. I couldn’t quite place the tune for a moment, until I dawned on me that he was whistling the theme from his own commercials.

The second hole was the park’s first introduction of an actual obstacle. A large, wooden cuckoo clock, standing on fiberglass bird legs with a large pendulum perpetually swinging back and forth between the feet.

Usually, it was simple enough to get the ball past the easily predictable moving blockade. However, something had changed since the last time I’d been here.

The pendulum itself was swinging faster, and it was encircled by incredibly sharp-looking blades. Meanwhile, the hands on the face of the clock spin in opposite directions, stopping and changing course randomly.

“I don’t like this.” Aaron mumbled as we watched Putt Head tee up and smack his ball straight through the obstacle and directly into the cup.

“How are you just saying that now?” Kate snapped. She had moved from stunned disbelief to anger, “Where have been all this time?”

Putt Head stood proudly at the tee, and waited for the next contestant to step forward.

When it was obvious none of us were volunteering, he let out a sigh and closed the distance between us.

“Eagle…” he tapped me on the top of the head with his club.

“Birdie…” he tapped Kate on the head.

“Bogey…” Aaron was obviously next in line.

He swing back quickly and bopped me again. “Ace.”

He proceeded to knock on each of our skulls in order as he continued.

“Smack a golfer in the face. If he stumbles, give him space. Eagle, birdie, bogey, ace..”

His words quickened.

“My-caddie-told-me-to-pick-the-very-worst-one-and-you-are-IT!”

Aaron.

“Hey, I’m not the worst one.” Aaron immediately protested, before looking at me, then to Kate. “Okay, well, maybe I’m the worst one here, but not in general.”

I’m not sure if we had any real choice at that point, but we were sure acting like we didn’t. Aaron stepped up to the tee, almost as if he were as automated as the clock looking over us. There was no way we could complete this insane challenge, but trying was better than losing by default and being massacred in some disturbing way.

“Eye on the ball.” Aaron said, “Not the giant douche bag ball who sucks ass and that I hate, but the tiny green one.”

Aaron carefully tapped the ball, sending it down the green. For all intents and purposes, it looked like another perfect shot made under extreme pressure.

SWACK.

The pendulum cut the ball in half, sending two equal portions of golf ball rolling off to either side of the cup. The symmetrical nature of each half rolling directly past the goal was insulting.

Aaron turned to me and Kate, his limbs and his neck as stiff as stone, clearly tense and frozen from abject terror.

“It’s been an honor, dudes.”

BONG!

The cuckoo clock rang out.

The wood panel covering a small window at the top burst in a hail of splinters as a frazzled, old cuckoo bird prop erupted out on an oversized spring.

“KUH-Koooohh…” the broken thing shrilly exclaimed in a mechanical voice.

I only had time to draw in a scream’s worth of breath as the bird’s beak skewed Aaron’s back, the tip of the yellow-painted cone peeking out at us from between his ribs.

Aaron’s eyes widened and his expression immediately dropped. It looked as if he was about to pass right out on his feet.

The spring retracted, carrying the bird – and Aaron – back in through the wooden door, folding his body forward as he disappeared inside.

“Talk about a-” Putt Head started.

“FUCK YOU!” Kate interrupted, throwing her blue ball at him.

He turned to her slowly, then leaned on his putter like a cane.

“You know, I’ve reminded you about the profanity a couple times, now, and I get the feeling you haven’t been paying proper attention.”

“Shut up, Kate.” I whispered, loudly. “The last thing you want to do is piss this thing off.”

Kate shot me a cold look.

“At least Jon did something.” she said, fully intending for it to hurt.

“Guess who’s next.” Putt Head said, tapping Kate’s ball back over, bouncing it directly onto the tee.

Kate moved up to the ball.

“Wait, lemme help.” I insisted, taking a step toward her.

“I can do it myself.” Kate growled, putting the ball hard without a second thought.

The ball zipped forward, under the clock, past the pendulum, and solidly into the cup with an audible plunk.

At that point, it dawned on me that Kate was probably regretting leaving her ex for me, and immediately after that, I realized it wasn’t very likely that this was the first time she was thinking it.

Part of me wanted to call it a lucky shot.

Maybe that’s what Putt Head wanted… if not to just kill us, then to drive apart whoever survived through the extreme pressure of the competition.

I made the shot, again. I’ll save you another tense description of walking, lining up, and putting. It should be obvious, by now, since I’m here to say this.

Yeah, it’s no mystery that I’m not currently a corpse.

The how and why, though, might be worth sticking around.

Hole three was a twist. In literal terms, the green curved twice, with sand traps in the bends, and a small Egyptian pyramid over the hole.

Putt Head took his shot, bouncing the ball off of the brick border once, then twice, before it rolled into the cup. Of course.

With no further hesitation, I stepped up next.

Bounce. Bounce.

Hole in one.

“It’s all you.” I said to Kate as I walked back from the tee.

I had no anger or hatred toward her. I felt more of a hopeless acceptance of the fact that she didn’t want my help, likely didn’t want me around at all right then, and would take her own shot no matter how much I insisted otherwise.

Just as carelessly as before, she swung, sending the ball into the sand right away.

Kate dropped her putter, clearly surprised she had not only missed, but had missed so definitively.

We waited for a moment. I’m the wait was a lot more stressful for her, given the situation. Still, nothing happened for a span of several moments. We looked to Putt Head, who looked back at us silently.

I couldn’t even hear any crickets.

Then, he spoke up.

“Get your ball.”

Kate looked to the sand trap, and I followed her gaze right after.

Something was moving under the sand.

“No.” Kate replied timidly.

“Tsk. You know what? Rules were made to be broken. I’ll give you a second shot.” Putt Head said, a smile audible in his tone, “Go get your ball.”

The thing beneath the sand squirmed and slithered, like an arm-length worm just below the surface. Just as quickly as we had seen it, it was motionless and any sign of it disappeared.

“I’m not going over there.” Kate insisted.

“I’ll get it.” I stated, still not letting go of the idea I could save her.

“Oh, my goodness.” Putt Head walked over to the sand in a huff, leaned down, and scooped Kate’s ball out in one smooth motion, “You try to be a nice guy, and they don’t trust you. I swear, people just want to think the worst of each other these days.”

Kate tentatively held her hand out, a look of suspicion still readily apparent on her face.

Putt Head simply placed the ball in the center of her palm, then walked back to his usual position next to the green.

Kate turned toward me, now in disbelief. She gave a slight smile and let out a soft chuckle.

Crack.

The ball broke open like an egg.

A large, leech-like worm sprang out of the ball and attached to Kate’s throat before she could make a sound. It was much, much too large to have been realistically contained inside the ball.

A splash of blood doused her shirt as she stumbled backward, struggling against the thing as it started coiling its long body around her neck. She fell to the green, her arms splayed out limp and motionless at her sides.

I just stared.

“You didn’t help.” Putt Head noted. His tone wasn’t surprised or accusatory. It was just a flat statement.

“She didn’t want help.” I said just as plainly.

“That’s craaaazy. That ball was apparently a horrible, evil devil worm egg the entire time.” Putt Head pointed out as he began strolling to hole four, “What’re the odds?”

“Looks like it’s just you and me.” I noted as we stood shoulder to shoulder at the next tee. Any attempt at keeping his distance was gone, now, as of I was the least threat of anyone there.

That was a mistake.

I couldn’t tell the others. Not without risking our adversary hearing the truth.

Putt Head was so sure of himself that he went first every hole, and in doing so, showed us all the exact angle, form, and swing to score a guaranteed hole in one.

I wanted to point it out to everyone, but it was too big a risk. Instead, I was quietly hoping they would pick up on it on their own. The most I could do was help Kate match Putt Head’s shot under the guise of the protective boyfriend physically mansplaining the game to her.

“Might as well get it over with!” he shrugged.

He made a hole in one.

So did I.

Shot for shot, hole for hole, this is how it went for fourteen more holes.

Hole seven had a giant ape-like creature standing over it, its fists alternately moving to block the hole. I was sure I could hear the foundation cracking around its huge feet, as if it was ready to charge over and pummel me into a red stain.

Hole ten was at an uphill angle, with a comically inaccurate globe at the top. It immediately brought to mind Indiana Jones and the boulder.

Hole thirteen had a giant tarantula and an accumulation of actual cobwebs carefully positioned and ready to catch the ball. A stream of drool dripped from between its fake jaws.

As we continued, Putt Head grew less talkative. Less fun and whimsical.

He was getting frustrated.

He was taking shots with no flourish, no pizzazz. Every unique way to die that we passed by seemed to magnify his disappointment. It was like watching a child in time-out stare directly at the toys he wasn’t allowed to play with.

Still, he never missed, and in turn that gave me what I needed to match him.

Putt Head was a broken man by the time we reached the eighteenth hole.

“Here we are.” I said in a pointedly smug tone.

Then, I repeated his own taunt.

“Might as well get it over with.”

The last hole shed all semblance of subtlety.

A titanic skull, complete with crossed bones, sat on the green, its jaws opening and shutting behind a short ramp. Snakes wove in and out of its eye sockets as blue flames belched from within the mouth. All the while, the skull’s hollow, echoing laughter deeply resonated over the screams of a thousand damned souls.

Blood pooled around the base of the installation, and I could tell it was innocent blood.

Something about the smell, I guess.

All of that did nothing for me. By that point, I’d already seen too much to have any real opinion of it.

“You should probably go before the blood gets in the way.” I urged.

Putt Head took a slow look at me, then to the tee. Shaking his head in disapproval, disbelief, or both, he took his shot – up the ramp, into the skull’s mouth, out of the blood-spilling wound at the back, and straight into the cup.

“You know…” I continued, “I thought you’d be happy. Isn’t that usually how these things go? Some creepy, eldritch loser with nothing better to do sits on his thumb in a location nobody visits. Then, someone comes by that can give them a challenge. This is the part where you’re supposed to thank me for giving you the first actual challenge you’ve had in centuries, or something.”

He drew in a slow breath.

“Putt you.”

One last time I lined up just like he did, drew the putter back just as far as he had, and stood exactly the same way.

Putt.

Ramp.

Mouth.

Cup.

Despite everything that had happened, for the first time that evening, I let myself crack a proud smile.

DING! DING! DING!

I turned to see Putt Head standing in small booth at the end of the course.

All at once, his cartoonish peppy demeanor was back. It was as if he had been acting despondent the entire time, just to appropriately rub this in my face.

“Cooooongratulations! A hole in one? On hole eighteen? You just won a free game!”

I looked ahead.

Hole one was waiting, impossible as it was, right after eighteen. On top of all the things Putt Head’s Mini-Golf Course and Arcade had done so far, it had the sheer nerve to be recursive.

Part of me wanted to give up, right there. Hours had passed. Hours of shock, dread, disgust, and ultimately frigid, numb apathy.

With a new bounce in his step, Putt Head stepped up to the first tee and dropped his ball into place. He twirled his putter a few times, making a show of his fully renewed energy.

I looked up at the sky to see no moon above us.

Was time itself even moving?

Yes, part of me wanted to lie down on the green, close my eyes, and just give in to any stupid fate would befall me for refusing to play.

Maybe I’d be eaten by something, or dragged off, or I’d just lay there as years passed and my body skeletonized. Maybe I’d wake up and I’d be Putt Head, myself.

Whatever.

The other part of me refused to be beaten, and that part was a real bastard.

“Kind of boring, isn’t it?” I said as Putt Head drew back to swing.

He stopped.

“Boring? I think this has been anything but boring.” Putt Head laughed dismissively, as of I were a complete moron.

“The first time, I admit, I was on the edge of my seat for a while.” I pushed Putt Head’s club back from the ball as he sized me up with his dead black hole eyes. “A second time, though? Then what? When I beat you again, are we going through a third time? A fourth?”

“We tied.” Putt Head noted.

I ignored him, and continued on.

“I guess if you just want to bore me to death, that’s technically killing me.”

Putt Head stepped back, visibly bristling. I had finally figured out the way to go about shaking him. The bat-shit freak was legitimately annoyed at being called boring.

“I’ll beat you again,” I arrogantly put my hand on Putt Head’s shoulder and got as much in his face as I could given its spherical nature, “in the dark. I don’t even need to see to win.”

Putt Head snorted, then raised his hand.

Snapping his fingers, Putt Head turned out every light in the park.

“I know what you’re doing.” Putt Head said, his voice slightly more imposing in the pitch blackness, where I couldn’t see his silly outfit, “You’re going to try running away while I can’t see you. It doesn’t matter, the gates are still locked. I’ll consider it a forfeit.”

I heard the sound of his putter making contact with the ball.

“I’m not going anywhere.” I retorted.

Taking my turn, I tapped the ball softly and started praying.

“Please, anyone or anything that might be out there. I don’t care what you are. Anything that’s the opposite of this golf monstrosity. Please, don’t let me miss.”

I heard Putt Head snap his fingers again.

The lights flickered and sparked back to life, dim light growing and illuminating the result.

My ball, a brilliant orange color, was peeking out of the cup.

His ball, white and featureless and devoid of any joy, was on the green beside it.

I leaned over, squinted at his ball, and put on a real show of it. “Looks like you missed.”

Putt Head was still. Scary still, as if his costume had been on a store mannequin all along. Then, the screaming started. It swelled up quietly at first, as if the scream was coming from someplace far away inside of him. It sounded like there was a pocket auditorium inside that big round head.

The scream grew to ear-splitting volume as Putt Head fell to his knees, arms outstretched.

He began frantically beating himself in the head with his own putter, leaving dents and cracks.

All the while, an uninterrupted, breathless shriek filled the park.

Finally, he dug is hands into the freshly-made holes and, with a powerful wrenching motion, twisted his head completely around with a resonating, wet snap.

His body fell forward onto his stomach, rotated head staring up at the night sky.

“Well…” I looked down at my demented captor as he lay there.

“Isn’t that par for the course.”

The crickets started chirping again.

When I looked back, toward hole 18, I instead found myself back at the normal beginning of the course. I walked back to my car, which had returned to its original spot, and looked to the open gates.

On the drive out of there, away from the course, I couldn’t help but grin ear to ear.

It was a sick sort of grin. Something inside of me had broken… or died… or both. All I could think about was how clever I had been.

Goading Putt Head into turning out the lights, just so I could squat down, switch our balls, and then purposefully miss on his behalf.

I told the police that I dropped the gang off at the course, and then went directly home. They checked my car’s GPS history, and oddly enough, the supernatural nature of the park helped me out since it appeared as if I pulled up, then left immediately.

It was like the time we spent there never happened at all.

They found the bodies, but nothing matched up. From what the authorities said, Kate had been shot in the throat, Aaron in the chest, Jon in the head, and Lissa in the abdomen. They were found behind that old supply shed, as if they had come across a drug deal or some other such illegal scenario that needed to be covered up. Testing me for gunshot residue and searching my place for any sign of weapons further vindicated me.

I mean, in terms of cover-ups, it felt like the park itself was doing as much as possible to prevent too many questions from being asked.

I often think about the last night I saw my friends alive, and sometimes even I would question whether or not any of it actually happened. After all, my therapist told me it didn’t. She would know, right?

Wrong.

The next time I drove by that area, a year later, I saw them all again.

Kate, Aaron, Jon, and Lissa, dressed in bathing suits, having a wonderful time on the new billboard sign over the recently built water park.

They were all smiles as they each gave a thumbs-up, similar to the one being given by the cartoon mascot at the center… a fun-loving character with an oversized beach ball for a head, and two large, black eyes.

“Beach Bob’s Water-Slide Park and Zip Line.”

“We Still Have A Ball Here!”

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Slimebeast. The man, the myth, the bellend. What can be said about him? Literally everything. It's how words work. You can say he is made of pure energy, or that he once kicked a football so far and so fast it tore through the fabric of time and decapitated Hitler. Really, you can say anything - but should you? Who's to say? Also he wrote some stories people liked. Except for some people. Those other people are probably really fun at parties. "This music is bad, these nachos are bad, your house smells funny." Nobody wants you at their parties, weirdos!

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7Acts emoRoxyWolf avatar
7Acts emoRoxyWolf
4 days ago

gosh this hits the spottttttt

JosephTheSnail avatar
JosephTheSnail
5 days ago

Good story as always! Slimebeast, you’ve done it again!

L
liviaapenne
5 days ago

OMG! This was soooo good!!