Rain lapped at the tinted windows of the SUV. I leaned over, head against it, looking out at the woods that lined the road, occasional flares of lightning lit the road ahead. My back felt restless, aching with the need to move. We had been in the car for hours at this point.
The woman driving the SUV had long brown hair, streaked with grey. Faint lines had etched themselves into her brow and under her eyes. She pulled a phone off the mounted holder in the dashboard. “You feel like stretching your legs?” She asked.
“We’re almost at a rest-stop.” She put the phone back in the mount.
Up ahead four pin-pricks of light illuminated a small brick building in the distance. As the car approached, I could see it had roofed parking spots leading off of it, street lamps were placed at all four corners of the lot. Which was a good thing, because the rain had picked up made it all-but-impossible to see. It was so dark that it almost seemed that anything not
in the head-beams didn’t exist.
Gravel crunched under the wheels of the SUV, the sudden change from paved-concrete to loose-gravel jostling the car. The U-Haul that my dad was driving went on.
My mother pulled the car under one of the roofed lots. My hand was on the latch to open the door almost before the car was fully stopped. I sighed in relief as I stretched my legs.
Somewhere beyond this place, was my new home.
It occurred to me that, through this whole
moving process, that I didn’t know where we were going. I mean, I knew we were moving because my dad got a job offer to work at some newspaper in his hometown in rural West Virginia, and that my mom was also offered a job in the adjacent area. But I never once asked what the town was called. I looked at the wall of the brick building, eager to find some sign of where we were going. So, when I couldn’t find anything I walked to the edge of the canopy, gazing out at the darkness-hidden forest.
Lightning flashed ignited the sky so that, for the briefest second, it almost looked like day. One thing stuck out though…
Along the road that we had just pulled off, there was a simple wooden sign. It was almost five feet high, and it said, in a tidy scrawl:
“Welcome to Hallows, the most haunted
town in the USA”
I won’t bore you with the process of moving in, but let’s just say it’s really
tedious. So after a week and a half of doing nothing but moving boxes from U-haul and car, to the house, I was happy to get some time to myself. Even if that time was just walking around my new town. Something that became very obvious very quickly, is that the entire town is a tourist trap. As I walked around the cluster of buildings that was the unofficial town-proper, I noted that half, if not more of them, were shops designed to sell paranormal related merchandise.
From going inside one of these shops I discovered that the quaint little town of Hallows had ‘the most known sightings of any Cryptids in the U.S.’ and was the ‘Sasquatch capital of the world’
As I walked along the building-lined sidewalk, passing the gimmicky buildings, I wondered if everyone actually
believes in the paranormal like they put on, or is it to attract tourists. I didn’t even notice I was lost until my foot stumbled over a rock, and I tripped. I looked around, hoping to find some sort of familiar land-mark.
A wrought-iron fence stood to my left side, beyond I could see stone-structures poking up, out of the ground. A cemetery
. Ten-feet ahead stood a gate, swinging on its unlocked hinges.
I walked toward it, my hand tracing a line down the cool-iron. Where the bars intersected what I originally thought was just a by-product of the welding, were actually small skulls inlaid in the metal.
The interior of the graveyard was similar to the outside. Pale-green grass, that almost looked yellow, stood sickly, still recovering from the harsh winter that was just on the brink of ending. Stone and marble tombstones stood disorganized as if some giant being had thrown and scattered a bunch of rocks like playing-die. A very morbid game of Roulette. The skyline was tinged red, I should’ve probably turned around, but something pulled me forward.
As I walked along the path, before my eyes the graves began to get older and more decrepit. Sickly colored vines crept up and over the stones, consuming them like the earth consumed the body of the grave-holder. I knelt down in front of one of the better-preserved ones. “Victor West…” I said, aloud. “Eighteen ninety, to nineteen thirty-seven…” I dusted it off as best I could, and set off back to my new home.
But before I could- A black shape dashed through the woods, never quite coming into view. I jumped at the sudden noise and crouched, the tombstone looming above me. Minutes passed and it stayed silent, so I worked up the courage to look over the stone. Nothing
. I signed and cursed myself for being so dumb, It was probably just an animal or something. Yeah, an animal.
But as I walked back toward the gate, I tried to convince myself that the figure I saw wasn’t walking on two legs…
The school building was smaller than I was used to, but the loud jostling crowd was pretty much the same. The bell stationed above the doorway to English class hadn’t finished ringing before the entire class was out and in the hall. It was mid-day at this point. Sunlight filtered through the high-arched windows that lined the hall. Tall metal-lockers lined the right side. Signs that rallied for ‘School-Spirit’ and posters for the school groups that needed members lined the left, were placed between the windows, some large, and others small.
Other classes that were just letting out added to the small flood of students leaving English, so that the hall was filled with rambunctious and loud teens. I was being pushed along with the current of bodies.
Some were able to escape down side halls and into bathrooms, but I had started this trek in the very middle, and was at the mercy of the crowd. Until it funneled out into the lunchroom.
Rows and rows of plastic tables filled the room. To the left was the line where the lunch-lady was waiting to scoop something that vaguely
resembled food. Straight ahead were more windows, these larger than the ones in the hall. The room was large enough that people could spread out, and I regained some personal space. I got a plastic tray and got some not-food and looked for somewhere to sit.
When I finally found a mostly-empty table and started to eat, a group of people walked over.
There were about four of them, each dressed in what could be called urban clothes but I could tell that they all came from families with money. You could tell by the way they looked at everything, with the absolute confidence that ‘no matter what happens, I’m always going to be above you’ They looked at everything like they owned it, even if they were dressed in stylishly-ragged clothing.
The one at the head of the group took another step forward.
“Well, well, well…” He said. He was thin and had long-ish blond hair framing a sharp face. His eyes were so brown that they almost looked black. “You must be new.” He finished.
I could sense trouble coming, but I nodded anyway, and said. “And you must be the cliched-highschool-bully coming to pick on the new kid?” Scattered laughter.
He flushed. “What did you just say to me?”
“Look, I’m really
not in the mood to do this, so let's just skip ahead.” I shifted on the bench to face him, and put my hands, pointer fingers down, on the side of my face in an attempt to imitate long hair. “Hey newbie, this is my school.” I said, in a basso, almost passable, imitation of the bully’s voice. I raised my hands miming someone threatened. “Oh geez mister bully, please don’t hurt me.” I turned back to my food. “And then you ask for my lunch money or something.” More laughter.
“What did you just say to me...” He walked toward me in a manner that suggested violence-
-but tripped over a pink shoe.
“I’d get moving if I were you.” Said the owner of the shoe, nonchalantly. “Like,” She looked up at me, one eyebrow raised. “Today.” So I made my way back to the hall.
It was much more pleasant without all the hyper-active teens elbowing me in the ribs.
Right as I turned the corner, I heard the lunch-room door fly open and the rapid squeak of shoes running on the linoleum floor. I figured that the bathroom was the best place to stay until he cooled down. I opened the door quietly.
Black in white checkered tiles patterned the floor, gave way to white glossy walls, dirtied with age. Light-grey stalls lined the wall to my right. I walked in slowly, fearing that my pursuer might have thought to look for me here. I shut the door as quietly as I could, and was met with a very odd smell. It took me a few seconds to identify said-smell as weed.
“Hello?” I asked.
“Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit
…” The voice muttered panickedly, and trailed off. The handicap stall opened, and a scrawny teen came out.
He had a mop of black hair, his thinly pointed face was dotted with acne. His eyes were hidden behind thick-rimmed glasses, giving them the appearance of being much larger than they actually were. And to top the cliched-nerd look off, he was wearing a Star Wars tee. “Uhh, hi…” His voice was high and nasally.
I arched an eyebrow at him. “I don’t suppose you were just admiring your yellow crayon collection?”
“Please don’t tell…” His face was blanched, and his voice quavered.
I made a soothing gesture. “I just transferred from New Jersey, and believe me. People were doing much, much
worse stuff in the bathrooms.”
He sighed in relief. “Thanks, man,” He held out a hand, then pulled it back awkwardly, scratching the nape of his neck. “My name’s Oliver.” I put my hands in my pockets.
“Let me guess,” He said “Matthew Stone?”
“If that’s the Cobain wanna-be, then yeah.” He shook his head.
“He’s the worst
.” Oliver agreed. Then added. “Uhh, he’s not looking for you, is he?” I nodded, and he went white again. “Oh. Well,” He started to leave. “It was nice meeting you Adam, but-” He ran out of the room before he could finish his sentence.
I sagged my shoulders. “Alex. My name is Alex…”
Time passed, and school continued as usual. Until…
I was in the hall, just leaving Biology. The school day was finally over. Students were milling around in the hall, trying, and failing, to not look eager to leave when I heard someone behind me yell: "Hey newbie!” And heard the squeaking pitter-patter of running shoes pounding on the hard floor.
“Shit!” I dashed through the crowd. We were near the front entrance, so I ran out.
I sprinted down the flight of brick stairs that led into the building two at a time. The noise of running behind me never faded, but changed from the squeaking linoleum, to the damped sound of solid brick. Three figures were already at the base of the stairs, cutting me off from escape. He must have sent them to guard the front entrance, assuming that I would exit that way. The people slower to leave turned to watch the exciting event unfolding in front of them.
'New student at school pummeled by the school bully, live on pay-per-view'
“Is it too late, to apologize?” I said, hopelessly
"What's wrong?" Matt said, a wicked gleam in his eye. He jumped down the last two steps, looked around at the students watching, and smiled. "No one's going to be coming to your rescue this time, newbie..." His goons spread out around me, forming a loose half-circle, standing just far apart from each other to keep me from getting through.
“Looks like it’s just gonna be you and me…” He finished. I stared back at him, only just realizing that he was a foot taller than me.
“Well I’m flattered Matt, and I hate to tell you this, but I don’t swing that way.”
He stopped his slow approach. “What?” Then he realized, and replied, ever so witty:
“You little shit
“It’s not you,” I paused to think. “Oh wait, it’s definitely you.”
Now you may ask why
I’m egging on the bully who is about to beat me up. My old school wasn’t the nicest place, and I got picked on pretty often. It wasn’t that I was really super-dorky, it was more to do with the fact that I wasn’t really super-anything. I was just an easy target. Sure I enjoy a good book, video game, or superhero-blockbuster, but I didn’t advertise it. So I wasn’t considered a geek. I’m too skinny or just too uninterested to play sports, so I wasn’t considered a jock. And while I know that I’m an ‘Adonis-incarnate’, other people were of a different opinion, so I wasn’t just popular because I was attractive. And while you might read that and think ‘Oh my god, this kid thinks he’s so quirky because he doesn’t fit in.’ And you're wrong. It’s miserable not fitting in. Living like that for fifteen years taught me that the best way to go about being picked on, is to avoid confrontation altogether. And the best way to go about that is to make the person who’s attempting to bully you just lose their marbles. By getting them bat-shit angry. So mad that their only thought is ‘must punch annoying man’, and then carefully move around him and run away. You may call me a coward, but I really don’t care.
Matthew honest-to-god snorted, and charged me like a bull charges a bull-fighter. I waited, and at the last possible second, darted to the side. He clearly didn’t expect that. He ran straight into one of the goons. I started to run back up the stone-steps, but Matthew’s hand reached out and grabbed my leg. The momentum carried me forward, fast. I brought my arm to shield my face, and hit the steps. It hurt. Like, a lot
. I could feel my skin being pulled away from my forearm, but I didn't think it broke. Before I could recover he kicked me in the ribs. I felt a hand reach down and grab me by the scruff of my shirt. The next thing I knew, Matthew flipped me over.
He punched me in the face. “You know, before, I was just gonna hurt you a little bit. To teach you a lesson, newbie.” He reared back and hit me again. “It would’ve hurt of course.” He pulled me forward and slammed my head against the steps. “ But then you just had to go and snark-off to me,” Then, he leaned in closer, and snarled: “No one messes with me…” He pulled back to punch, but by now I had oriented enough that I thought to bring up my knee, hard, in the place that no man wants to be punched, kicked, or kneed. He fell back in pain, stumbling, and knocking down two of the goons.
I forced myself up, despite my current state, and made to leave. Goon number-three made to grab me, but I brought up my un-injured arm and, in an act that surprised even myself, punched him in the face. I don't know if he was just surprised by what had happened with Stone, or if I just could punch harder than I thought I could, but he went down and
I ran. I ran hard and far, and didn’t stop until my foot got caught on a familiar stone.
I had a strong suspicion of where I was, and it was confirmed when I looked around at the stone-scattered wasteland beyond the heavy metal gate. I stood up, stumbling slightly. I used the metal gate for support until I could stand. I was still reeling from the beating I had taken from Matthew Stone, disoriented and tired, I walked along the graves of people long dead. I stopped in front of the largest one in sight, and laid down on the side opposite the gate, the left side of my face flush with the coolness of the ground, hidden from sight. I was just so tired. My intention was to only close my eyes for a second, but I must’ve dozed off because when I opened them again, the sun was setting. Still lacking the motivation to get up and head home, I just laid there eyes open, when I heard people talking.
“-don’t think it’s like that Mel.” Said an exasperated male voice.
“I’m telling you Daniel, the map say’s the last known location was near
Greystone cemetery, not in it.” replied a female voice. “Besides,” She continued. “even if It took someone nearby, it might be in the immediate area.” I began to hear approaching footsteps, crunching the autumn leaves between the stone monuments. “Holy shit…” The voices had reached me.
I saw a pair of bright pink converse stop in front of me. I looked up and saw the girl from the cafeteria, the one who tripped Matt. She looked to be about my age, with a heart-shaped face, and bangs that almost covered her eyes. She had a beanie with various pins and patches worn over medium length brown hair. And blue eyes that gazed at me somehow manage to appear both concerned, and inquisical. Seeing her without the stress of accidentally tripping the school-bully, but I was only just noticing how objectively pretty she was. Not that it mattered or anything…
But I couldn’t help but stare into her deep-blue eyes, the slight splash of freckles around her nose and her-
“You look like shit.” She said, breaking me out of my beating-induced trace… Yeah, beating induced. “I’m guessing Stone caught up to you?”
I closed my eyes, tiredly. “Yeah.” The cool-autumn air felt good against my swollen knot on my cheek.
“Melanie!” The boy I assumed was Danial said, excitedly. He had some sort of device in one hand. It looked like an old-school cell phone. “It’s got a signal!”
He was about the same age as the girl, with a mediterranean complexion and eyes the color of tree bark. He angled the device, and it almost looked like he was trying to get his bearings with a compass.
It must have shown him something, because he started to almost-run toward whatever the device was showing him, before he remembered me on the ground, beat to a pulp.
“Oh,” He said, backpedaling. “Sorry…”
“S’fine.” I slurred as I got to my feet.
He held out his hand. “Danial Zhineng,” I took it. He gestured at the girl beside him. “And this ‘ray of sunshine’ is Melanie.”
Melanie elbowed him in the ribs. “Shut up,” She said, half annoyed, half playful. “Now where did it pick up the signal?”
“Uhh,” Danial said, turning with the device again. “About thirty-eight feet from the southwest entrance.”
Melanie pulled a small camcorder out of a pocket in her jacket. “Let's go!” They set off.
Out of reflexive-instinct, I followed them. They didn’t seem to care, but I noticed as we got closer that their steps slowed, becoming more silent. I followed suit.
“Um,” I said, quietly. “What are you guys looking for.”
Melanie turned toward me, her steps still careful, and said: “There’s been a surge of children and teens going missing. Eight in the last three months.” She stepped over a branch. “We’re trying to find what’s taking them.”
Daniel stepped in. “One of the kids, a boy named Edward Pierce, vanished on his way home from school. He was last seen near the cemetery.”
I kept pace. I was doing mental gymnastics to avoid coming to the concussion they were trying to imply.
“So,” I said, slowly. “You think a creature
is taking the kids?” I tried not to just laugh outright. They looked back at me, faces sober.
Melaine chuckled dismissively. “You don’t believe us?”
“I didn’t say that…” I replied. Though, I kinda did.
She shrugged. “It’s implied,” The southern wall to the cemetery was growing ever closer. “And expected.”
“But a monster?” I stumbled over a fallen branch. “A monster kidnapping children?”
Daniel laughed. “Scoff if you want, but you’re still walking with us.”
I stopped walking, but only for a second. My curiosity outweighed my dignity. “I just don’t know. Even if last time I was here I saw…” I trailed off.
They both stopped walking and turned toward me.
Melaine spoke first. “Did you see something?”
“I mean… I think it was an animal.” I said, lamely.
“But you saw something?” Daniel continued.
“I just thought it was a weird deer…”
“Weird why?” Daniel and Melaine said at the same time.
“I was just,” I tried to find a way to explain it in a way that made me sound not crazy. “It looked like,”
“Spit it out newbie,” Melaine interrupted. I tried not to shudder at the word, reminded of Matthew’s taunting.
“From the place I was standing… I almost looked like it was… walking on two legs…” I muttered, suddenly very self-conscious.
Daniel looked over and Melaine. “Maybe we should’ve brought that baseball-bat,” he said, quietly.
“Oh, don’t get all scaredy-cat now on me, Zhin.” She said with a grin. But I noticed she was gripping the camcorder very tightly, her knuckles white. “Besides,” She looked at me. “Balboa over there will handle it for us.” I gulped and hoped the bruises on my face hid my blushing.
“Then,” I pointed at the device in Daniel’s hand. “What’s that?”
He held it up, excited. I think he had been waiting for me to ask. “It’s a device I made to detect...” Then Daniel went on to explain how the machine worked. It was hard to follow. I’m not ashamed to admit that I have no freaking clue how it works, but there were a lot of ‘Tronic’s’ and ‘Plasma-waves’.
Long story short, it’s supposed to track the monster.
“...the base sample was taken from the first victim, it was some sort of unknown goop that the police dismissed.” I nodded like I had some understanding of how it worked.
“Hmm. Neat.” I said, lamely.
Melaine laughed. “Don’t worry newbie, I don’t understand it either.”
We had reached the far wall, it loomed over us. Beyond it was heavy woods. Between the time of day and the thick branches, it was all-but-impossible to see.
Melaine reached into her jacket again, and pulled out two flashlights. She handed one to Daniel before she looked back at me.
“Oh…” She said. “I only brought two,” She patted her jacket anyway, searching for another purely for show. “Sorry.”
“It’s fine. I think I might…” I searched my pockets, pulling out a small plastic keychain. It was a plastic rectangle with the caption ‘Delaware’ on one side, and a square button on the other. I pressed it and a dim beam of light shot out for about two feet ahead of me.
I looked at them “What? I got souvenirs from every state we passed through.” I shook the keychain. “I also got a stuffed bear that looked like Benjamin Franklin in Pennsylvania.”
We hopped the fence, and I only caught my belt-loop on it once. My Delaware-flashlight while technically it was functional was just barely. But when we came upon a small darkened clearing, it was the first to catch the scarlet splotches on the ground.
“Is that…” I said, stepping back.
Melaine stepped up beside me. “Looks like it…”
I shined my too-dim flashlight around the area. Broken branches lay scattered on the ground, larger than just a random trig, they must have come from higher up in the tree, but my light wouldn’t reach high enough. The trees all had deep scratching in the brack, like deer antlers.
“It’s blood.” Daniel confirmed. I don’t know how he did, and I don’t want to.
I took a step back. Then another, and another, until I was back at the fence. I was leaning against it with my forehead against the bars. I felt like throwing up. I felt a hand touch my shoulder.
“You okay?” It was Melaine.
“Mhm.” I managed to mumble without vomiting, Daniel was out of the woods now as well. We hopped the fence. “I probably need to get home…” I said, tiredly.
Melaine nodded. “Well then, it was nice meeting you…” She trailed off. “You never said your name.”
“It’s Alex. Pengrad.”
We reached the front gate of the cemetery.
“Maybe we’ll see you around sometime,” Daniel said.
“That’ll depend on if all of your excursions led to puddles of blood…” I half-joked.
“Well if you ever want to find us,” He reached into a pocket and pulled out a map of the town, tore off a piece of the corner, and wrote something on it. “We sometimes hang out here.”
I pocketed the note. “Noted.” Then we went our separate ways.
I stood in a large misty flat. Smooth stone stretched into the distance as far as I could see, blurred by a purple-mist. Pebbles and slightly larger rocks dotted the ground, but that was it. I called out, my voice reverberating weirdly. No response.
A blur-of-motion caught the corner of my eye, but whatever it was retracted into the mist.
“Hello…?” I called out again. “Anyone…?” The motion again dotted the edge of my vision. I turned faster, trying to catch it. Annoyed at yet another failed attempt to see this “mystery-blur” I sat on the ground-
-And fell through the world, to a landscape of dark-green. I stood there, shaken at the sudden, and intense motion. I was standing in the middle of a forest. It looked ancient, with towering Oaks, and thick shrubbery.
One tree was larger than the rest. It had dark-grey bark, and was big enough that I couldn’t wrap my arms around it. As I walked toward it, I noticed something carved in the wood.
An oddly-shaped circle surrounded by three twisting lines that tapered off the farther from the not-sphere they got. I now stood barely four feet from the tree. I reached out, to touch the symbol, an unconscious action. When a drop of water fell on my wrist.
I looked up to find that the sky was completely black, the moon and stars hidden by rolling storm clouds. Rain now fell heavy and hard. I twisted around, looking at the sky through the clearing when yellow lightning illuminated the sky, striking the weird-tree.
The blast blew me back and away from the tree. I felt sticks and leaves crunch under my back, opening my eyes all I could bright light. An after-effect of the bright flash.
When I could see again, I saw that everything was gone. Everything but the tree.
The tree was a blackened husk. Embers and ash drifted lazily down, the scorched-bark still smoldered. I had never seen a tree struck by lightning before, but this seemed too burnt, too destroyed.
But the thing that struck me, odder than the too-burnt tree, was that the symbol was glowing. Pulsing with a golden-amber light. Slowly getting brighter, and brighter, and bri-
-I sat upright in bed, slick with sweat. After realizing I was no longer in the weird, empty plain, I sank back into my bed, the oddness of the dream already leaving my awake-mind. But before sleep could take me, the tornado siren that is my alarm clock started blaring.
I walked downstairs, and sat at the kitchen table. My parents were both scrabbling around it, trying to get ready for work and eat the food in front of them. Bandaid covered cuts on my nose and chin. Under my left eye was a deep shade of purple, and the entirety of my lower-arm was covered on gaze. If they noticed anything they didn’t say.
I avoided the cemetery on my way to school, taking an extra fifteen-minutes just to not walk by it.
At school I ate lunch in a side-hall between English and Science, a granola-bar I snuck from the kitchen. Though the chance of seeing Melaine again was tempting, I didn’t want to risk another run-in with Matthew. Besides, I had conflicting feelings about the whole ‘paranormal-research thing’. Melanie and Daniel were nice enough, but that really was blood on the ground, there was no doubt about that, but a monster? Maybe they were tainted by the town’s mentality of supernatural-interest. Or maybe the mentality was there for a reason…
I crumbled up the metal-plastic of the wrapper, and tossed it in the trash. School was pretty much the same as the day before. Boring, repetitive, boring, uninspiring, boring
. It would have gone by faster if I wasn’t constantly looking over my shoulder for Stone. I almost got I saw him a few times, but he didn’t seem to notice me.
So when I was walking down the stone-steps, and heard a voice say: “There he is!” You’ll understand the pure frustration I felt. Of course, he didn’t make his move in the school day. Between the faculty, cameras, and other students, he might get caught. And being rich, he might even get a slap on the wrist.
I ran. I turned left, and right, then left again, trying to lose them in the maze of suburbia that lined the outskirts of the school zone. When I reached a block with three diverging paths from it, I ran right. I had hoped I had lost them, but when I was on the corner of Adam’s and Bentley, I could still hear the sound of running feet. They must have split up, in an attempt to keep following me. I realized that I was heading toward the cemetery.
“This feels,” I panted. “So impersonal. I don’t” I breathed again. “Even know your name.” I stumbled slightly on the uneven ground. “I’ll just call you Brock, that sounds like a bully’s name.”
“You,” He yelled, but being exhausted from running, came out more like a hoarse whisper. “Scared?”
“I’m,” I gasped for air. “Quaking in my stylish, yet-affordable-boots.”
The stone and metal wall of Greystone Cemetery came into view. Before we reached the gate I took a running-jump, and took a hard left, darting through the open gate, and into the jumble of stones beyond. The goon didn’t, and I heard him trip over the stone in front of it. Before he got up I ran into a row of graves, and hoped he didn’t see.
I laid there, panting for a while, recovering my breath. A hand reached over the tombstone, and grabbed the back of the shirt, pulling me up, and over it.
“Well, well, well…: ‘Brock’ said, vindictively. “You really
thought you could hide from me?”
He snarled and slammed us both to the ground. “No one messes with us!” He slammed my head against the ground. “No one
He punched and pulled and slammed me, until it was all I could do to keep from vomiting. It just got to be too much…
” I screamed.
It felt like I had been struck by lightning, starting in my chest, then spreading out through my body. I felt electricity running in my veins. Not stopping there, a sphere of force, expanded out, hitting Matthew, and throwing him back.
I lay there, stunned and motionless, staring at him, baffled. He had been thrown almost twenty-feet. What had happened? Did I…? Before I could process it fully, the goon started to get up.
I staggered drunkenly to my feet, using a tombstone to help my balance, and ran. Ran to the one place my half-dazed mind could think of: The clearing.
When I finally reached the far wall, he was already back on his feet, and coming after me. As I was climbing the fence, I remembered how dark it was in the forest. So as I reached the ground, I began searching my pockets, frantically, for my keychain-flashlight. I heard movement on the other side. A heavy grunt of effort told me that the goon was climbing the fence, so I had to run.
As I stumbled through the darkened woods, the effort of running from the school to the cemetery to the woods finally caught up with me, and I fell. My legs felt like rubber and my head twice so.
So with the last feeble energy left in my body, I crawled over to a dark on dark shape that I assumed was a tree, and hoped that either ‘Brock’ just wouldn’t find me, or had given up.
Footsteps echoed into the darkened space. The ragged sound of heavy breathing was loud and clear in the almost-silence that filled the area before.
“Where are you?” He yelled. “Do you really think you can hide from me?” A bitter laugh rang out, and he took another step forward. I knew he had no idea that I was so close, and that he was just hoping that I would hear, but it was all I could do to fight the urge to run. Regardless of if I could actually do it or not.
Another step forward. He was now almost opposite to me. “I will make sure that you never-”
He let out what could only be a muffled cry. There was a sudden, single, whooshing
noise. Like the sound something makes when jerked really fast. And a large branch broke on the other side of the darkened space. A jarring sound set against the gentle hum birds and bugs chirping that you would expect to find in a forest. When the crack rang out they all went silent.
I held my breath. The only noise left in the newly soundless-woods was the rhythmic bang-bang-bang
of my heart in my chest.
Something was digging into my left leg. I reached for it, as silently as I could. I still couldn't see, but I recognized the shape clutched in my hand: It was my flashlight. I must have dropped it when I was ‘ever-so-calmly’ leaving the clearing yesterday.
I stayed silent. A new sound joined the symphony of silence, a quiet, unpatterned tearing noise. I gripped the small, plastic, flashlight in my hand. If I could see my knuckles I’m sure they would have been white.
I took a deep breath, and pressed the button.
Now, I could sit and tell you what the light illuminated but I’m not sure you would fully comprehend the horror that I felt slumped against the tree, in the dark, on that day.
I could describe the fresh splatters of scarlet gore, scattered around the clearing, the smell of blood thick and metallic in the air, along with the permeated stench of rotten meat, but you couldn’t really smell it.
I could describe the hulking figure opposite to me, colored a dark-muddy-brown, with slender limbs and antlers, much like a deer’s, that reached out almost as long as it was tall, and was it tall
. Nine feet at least. With piercing eyes the same red-ish color as the crimson splatters on the forest floor, but you couldn’t really see it. I could
describe the nameless-goon’s lifeless body clutched in its gaunt hands. As I watched it, the creature bent its head down, and took a large bite out of the space between his neck and shoulder; the ‘unpatterned tearing’ as I had dubbed it. But you, well, I’m sure you get the idea.
I lay there silent in shocked horror at the scene unfolding in front of me, when it finally looked in my direction.
It said, voice grating and deep: “I can usually wait a day or two before feeding, but,” It paused and absentmindedly took another bite out of the corpse's shoulder, and smiled a terrible smile. “I just couldn't help myself…:” It’s teeth, if you ignored the blood and gunk’s of flesh caught between them, looked completely normal.
Something that horrible shouldn’t have teeth like that, I thought numbly. Monster’s were supposed to have sharp, pointy teeth or something, not normal, human teeth…
The creature kept its gaze on me, still smiling with too-normal teeth. It cocked its head. “You’re smaller than I thought you’d be,” It said. “But, no matter. Master will still have his fun…” It dropped his lifeless corpse, and started walking toward me.
.” I said, stunned that I could say anything at all. It stopped.
In the stunned silence that followed, I said: “Go
It took another step forward, this time the motion heavy, and sluggish. “Fine.” It sighed. “It’s not worth it,” It took yet another step forward, as if to show that even though it would be difficult, it could still reach me and do, well, I don’t want to think of what it could do to me. “Yet…” And it turned away, picking up the corpse in a casual way that suggested that he was just doing something normal and repetitive and not carrying a lifeless body away, most likely, to eat. It walked away, slowly leaving the all-too-dim seaming flashlight beam and me behind.
Panting, I ran along the concrete sidewalk heading toward a two-story brick building near the center of town. I looked down at the torn scrap of paper clenched tightly in my hand, and at the address written on it.
I walked along the side of it, and up a heavy-metal staircase. I pounded on the door on the second floor. It opened.
Melaine stood on the other side. “Well, well, well. I was beginning wondering if you’d even show up…” She trailed off, seeing the expression on my face. “What wrong?” Then she noticed my newly-blooded appearance. “Matthew again?”
“Yeah.” Then thought. “Well, no. But also yes, Nes. Is ‘nes’ even a word?” I stammered.
She made a calming gesture. “Slow. Down. Use small words, newbie.”
I took a deep breath. “I need your help.”
She smiled and stepped aside. “Come on in.” I did.
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