The next morning could not have come fast enough for Asia, and just like the night before they drove into the city, she does not sleep. Asia is too scared to sleep because she doesn’t want to have that dream
right now, so she once again forces herself to stay awake all night. She’s the first one up and goes straight to the bathroom, and this is when she realizes the electricity is back on. She’s glad because now she can flush the toilet normally after using it. But she’s not going to shower, she’ll just wash up and quickly get dressed. Anyway, she thinks, as she washes her hands and face, there’s no time for anything else, this way they can maybe leave earlier. She turns around and Troy is right behind her. “Hey Babe”, he greets her with a smile. “How are you this morning?” “I’m fine honey, especially because we’re going home”, she replies smiling too. “I’m waking up the boys now so they can use the bathroom after you, so don’t take long”. “Okay”, Troy responds as he closes the door behind him. Asia shakes the boys awake and makes them get up right away. Junior stands up and rubs his eyes as Asia pulls Beary up by yanking on his arms helping him to stand. As soon as Troy exits the bathroom, she ushers the boys in to use it. “The electricity’s on”, Troy says as they switch places. “Oh yeah honey, I know. I forgot to tell you in my anxiety to get going as early as possible”. Asia also wants them to use the bathroom before Ms. Sally for she’s not sure about her. She’s not sure what Ms. Sally’s motives are and from what she’s seen, they’re not too good.
She and Troy get their stuff together as the kids roll up their sleeping bags, get dressed, and drink the last of the iced tea. “Don’t drink too much”, Asia warns them. “You know we have a long ride home and it’s already hard stopping for bathroom breaks during our travel”. “Hopefully it won’t be that bad because it’s only five-thirty and most people are coming into the city at this time of the morning, not leaving”, Troy says as he places the bags in front of the door. “Yeah, I hope you’re right”, and before Asia can say anything else, Ms. Sally says, “okay, goodbye”. This startles them because no one knows she’s awake. “Oh, we didn’t know you were awake”, Asia says going over to the sofa bed where the older lady is sleeping. Continuing with, “we’re sorry if we’re disturbing you, but we always try to leave as early as we can when traveling to and from the city”. “No, no problem at all, no problem at all”, she says, waving her hand from under the covers. “Goodbye”, she says again, and turns around, pulls the covers over her head, and goes back to sleep. The Kings pick up their belongings, step into the hallway, and Asia closes and locks her parent’s door behind her. She says, “thank God the electricity is back on”, as Troy presses the down button and they wait for the elevator instead of taking the stairs. Troy and the boys are in shock when they step outside because they didn’t know that so many people would be out so early. He recalls what happened yesterday, but that was in the middle of the day. Asia knew for this is what she’s always experienced, but it has gotten worse since the hurricane. It seems like there are dozens, if not hundreds of people walking about on the streets and it’s only five thirty-eight a. m. They head straight to the car, get in, and lock the doors. Troy starts the car as they click in their seat belts, and he says exactly what she’s thinking, “thank God we are leaving now”! Asia sighs because she’s already dreading coming back and they haven’t even left yet. Troy hears his wife’s sigh and knows where she’s coming from. He can relate because he knows they have to return, and he wonders if they should even bother leaving. It’s like Asia’s reading his mind because she says, “let’s go hon”. And with that, he checks his mirrors, waits until it’s clear,
and then pulls out. There’s traffic on the side streets which makes them move slowly as they head towards the highway.
Traffic is once again bumper to bumper and they inch along making their way to the George Washington Bridge. Once over the bridge, traffic seems to lighten up a bit and traveling becomes a little more bearing. The motion of the car puts the boys to sleep. WNTB (waste no time Beary) lives up to his nickname for he’s out like a light before anyone. Troy concentrates on the road and Asia tries to concentrate with him to keep herself awake. But try as hard as she might, she fails in her attempt for she is extremely tired, and her eyelids become heavy and begin to close. Every time they do, she snaps herself awake, forcing her eyes open again. Eventually no longer able to fight her exhaustion, Asia falls into a deep sleep and begins to dream. At first, she tries to fool herself into thinking it’s not the Mark of the Beast dream for she’s dreaming about her beautiful house in the mountains and the sky is blue with sunshine and she takes a deep breath of air.
But instead of fresh air going into her lungs, a smoke and soot filled mixture of oxygen and nitrogen invade her airways causing her to gag. And there she is again, running with everyone. “No, I don’t want to do this anymore!”, she screams, but no one can, or cares to hear because they continue to run beside and past her without even acknowledging her presence.
Troy is holding Asia with his left hand, and the boys with his right as they flee. They’re running with everyone, but it always seems like Troy’s able to keep them separated and off to the side, away from the throng of people. He was even able to maneuver Chasity and her family to the side, with them, in the previous dream. But, looking around, and trying as hard as she can, Asia can’t find Chasity in this one. She thinks she has to be here, she just can’t see her because of all the soot and smoke in the air. That’s it. Chasity and her family have to be somewhere, it’s just that she can’t find them right now. As she searches for her friend, she takes a good look at her surroundings. She’s never really gotten a close look at the environment where she and everyone is.
She’s only been concentrating on escaping from the beast, but now she takes a good look around. And she can make out blurred images in the darkness. She’s in the city because stores and tall buildings along with cars, trucks, and buses whiz past her. This must be the first time she’s paid attention to the noise because the volume is so loud that people are shouting to be heard. No wonder Chasity is always shouting at her, and she shouts too, she thinks, because it’s difficult to hear. And then she sees it. No, she senses it before actually seeing it. The hairs on her arms and the back of her neck stand up, and she can feel goose bumps begin to rise. The beast is right behind them, and this time, instead of sharp objects flying, fire is shooting from its mouth.
And Asia now knows why there’s soot and smoke all around. People are being burned by the fire as flames project from the beast’s mouth. The stench of burning hair and flesh is permeating her nostrils, and she can see that some people’s skin is peeling away exposing white, red, and pink meat. And as unbelievable as it is, she then sees the sharp objects begin to fly from the beast along with the fire. “Lord help us!”, she screams as fire nicks at her heels and Troy pulls her farther away from the beast. But it is relentless for it continues to pursue them with a vengeance. This puts her husband in an even more protective mode. He goes into double time-what Halle Berry does in the Cat Woman movie, Vin Diesel, in the Chronicles of Riddick, and Neo and Trinity in the Matrix. He whisks his family around, pushing and pulling, twisting and turning when needed, to dodge every object and fiery burst. This seems to work because once again, they are spared from the beast’s tortures. Asia moans and jerks in her seat so badly that Troy shakes her saying, “Babe, wake up! You must be having that nightmare”. She snaps awake, looks at her husband and then taking a few seconds to get her sensibilities back, she realizes that she’s in the car on her way home.
“Oh my goodness, Troy, you’re right, I was having the Mark of the Beast nightmare again”, she says. “I’ve been trying to avoid going to sleep so I don’t dream about it, but I know it’s impossible not to. I feel like those kids in the Nightmare on Elm Street movie who do
everything possible not to fall asleep! One of them literally burns himself with a cigarette to stay awake”. With her senses coming back, she looks around with red weary eyes and asks, “where are we?” “We’re actually making pretty good time”, Troy responds and continues, “we’re coming up onto the Delaware River Gap toll”. She shakes her head and sighs, but this time it’s a good sigh of relief because this means they’re almost home. They look at each other and smile, and she says, “wow, this is one of the first times we’ve traveled and not come across any accidents”. “Don’t say anything yet because we haven’t quite made it home”. “No I won’t”, she responds as she takes a peek behind her and watches their two boys sleep peacefully, and thanks God for it. She stays awake for the rest of the ride home, reveling and taking in the beauty of the mountains. Troy pats his wife’s leg and says, “everything’s gonna be alright, Babe”. She looks at her husband, doesn’t say a word, and once again just smiles.
The ride home isn’t too bad for it only takes three hours, where as it began averaging around five after the curfew, so there aren’t any bathroom mishaps. Their neighbor, Max is at their front door when they pull into the driveway. He waves to them and Asia scans his face for signs of trouble because they haven’t heard from him in quite some time. She wracks her brain trying to recall the last time she and Troy saw Max, and she can only come up with a year and a half ago when he found out that Troy was involved with the Big Foot creature. She wakes the kids up saying, “boys, we’re home”. Junior is the first to respond to his mother’s voice by yawning and stretching. But Beary doesn’t move which prompts him to shake his brother awake. Beary pushes his brother’s hand off and says, “I’m up, leave me alone”. Unclicking the seat belt, Beary shoves his feet back into his sneakers, and sleepily gets out the jeep. Troy is out of the car before Asia, goes to her door, and holds it open for her. She gathers her purse and a few plastic bags and exits the same time as Junior. Troy greets Max first by holding out his hand and saying, “hey Max, how are you?” Max vigorously shakes Troy’s hand and responds to all of them in his country, mountain tone,
“how’re y’all doing this mighty fine day?” The boys laugh and say, “hey, Mr. Max”, as Troy opens their front door and they go past the adults inside the house. Max gives Asia a big bear hug that halts her breath for a few seconds. Max is a six-feet five inches tall, three- hundred-fifty pound teddy bear of a man. The mass of thick, bushy, brown hair on his head, his moustache, and beard all move at the same time as he speaks. He’s a single man who’s much younger than them and doesn’t have any children. He lives with and takes care of his elderly father. Troy invites him in, gets him a drink, and tells him to have a seat. Asia sits down on the couch opposite Max, but Troy remains standing as he questions Max about his visit. “So Max, what brings you by?”
Max takes a long sip of his iced tea, places the glass on the coffee table, then licks his puffy, red lips before beginning. “I wanted to talk to y’all about the creature”. And before he can continue, Troy asks, “what are you talking about, Max?” “Y’all ain’t heard about the Big Foot Creature?” “No, we just came back from the city making funeral arrangements for Asia’s parents. They both just passed”, Troy says as he sighs and wipes invisible sweat from his brow. “Oh”, Max responds, looking at Asia. “I’m so sorry to hear that!”. “Thanks Max”, she sincerely says. Max stares at a picture on the wall of an African mother with a baby strapped on her back, and holding the hands of two other children and then goes on, “I thought the officials might have contacted you because you was the only other person alive to have seen the creature”. “No Max, what about the creature?” And just as Troy is saying this, they hear a vehicle pull into the driveway and look at each other. Troy walks to the front door, and opens it up before the occupants even get out. It is an official looking automobile, a black, Lexus jeep with dark tinted windows, and Troy knows these are the authorities that Max is talking about.
By now, Asia and Max are standing at the door with Troy and they watch two officials come out of the jeep. Troy sizes the men up as they walk towards them. One is as tall and large as Max, standing around six feet five inches, and weighing at least two hundred fifty pounds. He
has red pocked, acne marks on his face making him appear to have a reddish, white discoloration. He’s the older of the two appearing to be around fiftyish. And the other is Troy’s size, six two and one hundred eighty pounds with a smooth, babyish look, and it’s evident he is the younger one, closer to Troy’s age of thirty-eight. Both are what Asia and Troy dub mountain men like Max. The men reach the trio standing at the door and immediately get right down to business by introducing themselves. The largest of the two extends his hand first and says, “hi, my name is sheriff Jim Tanner”, and pointing to his partner, “this is my deputy, Dennis Mulcachy”. The other man also extends his hand and Troy shakes each one. Max recognizes and knows the two law officers in front of them and when he steps from behind Asia, they greet each other and also shake hands. Max says, “fellas, you came right on time ’cause I was just here telling my good friends about what’s going on”. The sheriff shakes his head and says, “Mr. and Mrs. King, may we come in?” Troy says, “officers, please excuse my manners for not inviting you guys in right away. A lot has been going on”. “We understand sir”, replies the sheriff as Troy lets them in.
Pointing to the couches, Troy offers them seats, and Asia asks, “can I get you men some iced tea”? The sheriff says, “yes”, and the deputy replies, “thank you ma’am, that’s just fine”. The men sit down as Asia goes to get the drinks. Without wasting any more time, and now with a stern look on his face, the sheriff begins with, “Mr. King, I’m aware that you have seen and been in contact with a creature people up here are calling Big Foot”. He’s saying this as a statement of fact, not a question, and Troy remains quiet, but shakes his head yes as he waits for the officer to continue. “Well, this creature has been spotted in the area again and we wanted to get more insight and information about it, so we need to ask you some questions”. This is said with a demanding authority that’s telling Troy he had better make every effort to answer all their questions. The deputy reaches in his pocket, takes out a pen and pad, then asks Troy, “do you mind, sir, if I take notes?” Once again,
even though he’s asking a question, it’s also said as a statement that Troy knows he must comply with, so he says, “not at all”.
Not that he’s used to being interrogated, but Troy has previously been through this when he and his co-workers came across the creature and then they mysteriously became sick and died as a result of handling it. At least they think this was the main factor in their deaths. They know that he didn’t have anything to do with the deaths and that he was lucky to have escaped by the skin of his teeth. This has haunted Troy since it’s occurrence, and he knew he would never be the same. He’s actually having the déjà vu feeling that Asia so often speaks about for he’s been here before. And this time, Troy asks the next question, “sheriff, can you tell me what’s been going on? I wasn’t aware that the creature has been spotted again. I’ve been under the belief that it was dead and long gone”. “Well, it’s been an open case because we never found the creature’s body. And the only way we were able to confirm its existence has been through your and other witness accounts”, he says as he takes the glass that Asia is handing to him. By now, she has returned with the teas, and gives the other glass to the deputy. Max still has the tea she already gave him, and he quietly sits sipping it as he listens to the exchange between Troy and the officers.
So much stress has already been seeping through her pores, then digging into her flesh, and now it seems to be permeating into her bones. This is the look she has on her face as she sits down next to her husband for she’s been listening to everything’s that’s being said. Troy sees the strain on his wife’s face and says, “Babe, you don’t have to listen to this if you don’t want to”. Even though she really doesn’t want to, she knows she has to because she wants to know what’s going on, and says so. “Officers, please excuse us, as I said before, we have a lot going on”, and for the second time that day, he explains that Asia just lost both her parents and they are in the process of planning their funeral. The officers give their condolences and apologies as they explain that this cannot wait so they press on. Beary comes out of his room and asks, “mommy is everything okay?”, with a worried look on
his face. And Junior is right behind him sporting the same look. Asia excuses herself and she takes the boys back to their rooms and it can clearly be seen and felt that she is extremely annoyed at her husband’s continued interrogation.
Max sits through the whole thing and Troy is actually glad he’s here because he’s able to answer questions that Troy can’t, helping to shed some light on the discussion. Max is claiming to have spotted the creature roaming around the woods behind his house a couple of nights ago, where Troy has not seen it. The sheriff asks a few more questions as the deputy records them, and then they once again give their condolences and apologies before leaving. Troy closes the door and in disbelief says, “Max I’m so glad you’re here. I didn’t know the Big Foot creature is alive. I thought it was dead! Thank you for helping me out with the sheriff and deputy!” “No problem, my friend, anyway, this is the reason why I came over”. Max gets up to leave, puts his hand out for Troy to shake it, and instead of just shaking it, Troy pulls his neighbor to him and they hug. Stepping back, Max says, “listen, I know you don’t like guns, but I think you should make a reconsideration about getting one”. Troy has actually been thinking about this very thing for some time now, so he says, “you know Max, you came at the perfect time because I would like to purchase a gun just to have as an extra precautionary measure”. “This is a smart thing to do”. “Well, I try to put everything in God’s hands because when you get down to it, He’s the only one that can save us with or without weapons”, Troy tells his neighbor putting his hand on his shoulder, and continues, “but I’m also a believer in He helps those who help themselves”. Shaking his head up and down, and smiling, Max replies, “you know my parents were marines, and we have a lot of different kinds of guns and stuff so come on over when you can. Also, give the misses my condolences again”. “I sure will, and peace be with you”, responds Troy as he watches his neighbor walk away and then closes the door.