Max and Tony go to Loveland, Ohio
Tony was annoyed that he was had been stuck in a car with Max for the last thirty-six hours and had his ear talked off about wrestling and video games the entire time. It was nice when they swapped driving duties because Max liked to sleep when as the passenger.
Max slept as the car crept over the Indiana State line into Ohio. Tony relished the silence. He thought the trip was stupid, but he lost a bet, so he had to do this. He tried to back out of it, but no avail. He had to stay true to his word.
He’ll never let Max sucker him like that again though. He thought it would be an easy $250. Turned out it was him spending a shit ton of money to drive him and Max all the way across the country to search for a damn frog-man thing.
It was so fucking stupid, but a bet was a bet.
Ohio was greener than he expected. Lots of deciduous trees, the highway they were on constantly crossed streams and rivers. It reminded him of the Northwest in some ways.
“We in Ohio?” Max was awake now.
“Yeah, we’re about thirty miles from Loveland.”
“Pull over and let me drive. I know where to go.”
“You know where to go?”
“Yes, now pull over!”
Tony obliged and pulled over to the side of the highway. The two swapped positions in the car and continued the drive. Night began to set in as they pulled up to a wooded portion near a slow-moving portion of the Little Miami River.
Max put the car in park and immediately lept out, rushing to the edge of the river. He began to pace up and down the edge of the water, parting some reeds and weeds.
Tony got out of the car with a bag of jerky in his hand.
“Okay, Max. We’re here. We looked. We didn’t see anything, it’s time to go back to Seattle now.”
“Dude! We drove almost thirty-seven hours to be here and you just want to hop back into the car after looking for eight seconds and head back?”
Tony shrugged, “I mean—yeah.”
“We should look most of the night, get a cheap hotel, get a few hours of sleep and then head back.”
“Fine,” Tony said as he finished off the jerky. He walked over to some bushes next to the river and tossed the jerky bag into a small little pool. He unzipped his pants to relieve himself in the bushes as Max continued to stalk around down river.
“Don’t pee in the river, Tony.”
“Where am I supposed to piss then?”
“You could wait.”
Max shrugged and started to look for footprints in the mud along the river.
“This is so fucking stupid,” Tony said to himself. He looked over his shoulder at Max and didn’t notice the large amphibious head pop up out of the pool. The head looked like a frog’s, but larger.
Much larger. Like three feet across larger.
It rose up out of the water with its hunched legs and bulbous body. Tony turned toward the pool again and saw the frog like creature standing in front of him.
“Max!” Tony yelled. “The frog-man thing is real!”
Max turned around in time to see the frog open its mouth and shoot out its long sticky tongue. The tongue hit Tony right in the face and yanked him forward into the frog’s mouth like he was nothing more than an insect.
Tony kicked and screamed as he was swallowed whole. The frog stared down the river at Max. It walked out deeper into the pool and disappeared under the slow-moving surface.
Max walked to the car and sat in the driver’s seat. He stared out at the river and thought about calling 9-1-1. No one would believe him, so he didn’t call the police. It was time to head back to Seattle. He pulled out from the little wooded spot next to the river and got back on the highway. He was catatonic most of the way. He didn’t stop to eat. He only stopped to get gas and to use the restroom.
As Max crested Snoqualmie Pass and was in the home stretch back to Seattle. He dialed Taylor on his cell phone.
“Hey, Max. How was the trip with Tony?”
“Taylor… you’re going to need a new co-host, and I know just the guy.”