I saw him. That thing, today..again. Just before dusk as I was walking back to the house. The house I live in now is a dot among thousands of acres of forest, a single winding gated road stretching the several miles between it and the main highway.
It's routine for me to walk the long road all the way to the gate and back again. I had timed it so I'd be arriving back home just before dark if I headed out just after lunch..today my timing was off. The sky was turning orange and pale pinks just beyond the wooded tree line crowding around the road.
It wasn't completely dark just yet, but on the road beneath the trees it might as well have been. I had a mile to go before reaching the house when I caught movement out of the corner of my eye.
This was a normal occurrence though. After all, I was living in the woods now and it was filled with deer and other smaller animals. Though, I knew better than to think that the darkness moving through the trees, flanking me, was anything so benign as a white tail. I was aware the thing had been stalking me for nearly a week now. It had been drawing closer with each passing day; as if gathering its courage...or, possibly, waiting for mine to wane.
I felt my legs ache to run, but I resisted. I tried not to turn my head toward the darkness, not to look at its gaunt white face, eerie gaping mouth..but it was moving closer. I couldn't help but see it even when keeping forward focus on reaching the faux safety of paint and plaster walls.
Before, I'd had to look through the trees and allow my eyes adjust to the absence of light in order to see its figure among the pines. Long, lanky, and ever so alien. Its face and long, clawed hands seemed to glow with their paleness standing stark amongst all the black.
That was no longer the case. It stared at me with eyes so pitch they appeared to vacuum away the light that my eyes attempted to reflect so I might see.
The thing was hardly bothering to remain within the line of trees. I knew it was nearly done with whatever game it was playing. Its patience was spent or its resolve fully gathered... Maybe it decided I was afraid enough now.
I'd refused to stop taking my walks after the first day I had seen it. It had looked at me through the gate across the highway..it looked, but did not see.
The thing made its move. Stepping away from the tree line..bold. It would hide no longer. We stared into each others eyes for a moment..peering into the abyss and feeling its hunger. I then closed the door and slammed the bolt home.
James and Cary, "mom" and "dad", were already upstairs in their bedroom.
They often knocked out early after a liquid dinner of scotch and other poisons.
I hadn't lived here that long, but I knew the game. It was the same everywhere I went. They didn't care about me, I just came with the checks. If it wasn't for my mild tech addiction I probably wouldn't bother coming inside. Out in the wild is my true home, anyway. Nature..the only parent that actually cared.
Of course, that was before this thing decided it could take over and send me running to the shelter of the modern world.
I watched through the glass of the front door, my hand still hard on the lock. It stood there in the open, watching me through the door, unafraid. It slowly strode forth on long, thin legs; back curving forward causing its' gaping eyes and mouth to thrust outward. I could now see the broken and filthy dagger-like teeth crowding its mouth like a splintered wooden fence with three times too many pikes.
With its long, spindly, talon-tipped hands scraping the ground, it galloped toward the
electrical pole out front of the house. It stared at the gray metal box for a moment before
drawing its vicious hand to smash the box to the ground, ripping it from the pole in a shower of sparks and splintered wood.
My house was instantly plunged into darkness. Not pausing to see what the creature was doing next, I raced through the house locking every door and window. By the time I had reached the back door last, a sliding glass door. It was standing there, face pressed against the clear surface. Its eyes stared at me, unblinking. I froze. Our faces were just inches away from each other with only the feeble security of the glass between us that the door provided. I felt the goose bumps prickle over my body, causing my hair to stand on end. The thing began to slowly shake as it's sagging mouth stretched into a grotesque grin.
It was silently laughing at me.
Slowly exhaling, I reached out and locked the door. It kept its smile.
Its head slowly turned to the side, raising one hand bearing the incredibly long, claw-tipped fingers and slowly dragged them along the length of the glass.
I slowly began to back away as screams from each sharp talon filled the night, the glass seeming to plead for mercy.
I turned and ran. It wouldn't take much time for it to break into the house. Despite the back door being glass, it was actually quite strong. He would have a better chance breaking in the front door than the double-tempered glass. I had a small amount of time to do what was necessary in order to be ready when it came to eat.
My preparations being complete, I sat as far from the single door that led into the basement as I could place myself. I'd barricaded the door with the weights that James kept down here from his glory days as the high schools star quarter-back... If there was any doubt that he had peaked in his late teens it was extinguished now, him already being dead and all.
Turns out I was right. About three tries was all the creature had needed to take down the front door. James and Cary had never even awoken from their drunken stupors. Their bodies now lay mangled in the corner of the upstairs bedroom, used and discarded for what little they had been worth... Likely more useful as corpses that they had been as people.
I'd deduced that its strength, while considerable, wasn't so great. Stronger than a human, but it's bigger so one would expect as much... It's been searching the house for ten minutes now; going to and fro from the rooms of the house, raking the walls with its claws expecting my fear to get the best of me and make an attempt to escape..it will be disappointed. Seems it couldn't sniff me out, but the house isn't so big and time is almost up.
Closer now... It's coming for me.
I twisted my clammy hands into my shirt as I kneel, knees landing with a soft thud against the concrete floor. I hung my head feeling my dark hair fall around my ears. I could hear the tips of my hair scraping against my cheeks, it was terribly loud, similar to the sound of sand paper sliding across the floor. My insides churn as I close my eyes and wait in the darkness of my basement. My heartbeat begins to speed up and sweat forms on my face. My blood-pressure was through the roof, I knew my skin was beet-red by this point.
It's pushing in the door now, the weights are scraping across the floor, a pointless resistance. I see its white face squeezing through the small space it's made as the creature wiggles and squeezes into the basement.
Those dark eyes have found me once more...at last. The spidery fingers curl and spread while its body rises and falls with silent breaths.
My breathing is becoming uneven, unable to take in enough oxygen. The thing is standing before me, looking at me, as it always has... No, no it's different this time around. Now it sees..for the first time it truly sees me with those dead, unblinking eyes. I knew it had some intelligence, after all, it had stalked me..it had destroyed the power box.. it's not just some dumb animal. Now that I've heard it struggle to enter my home, seen it squeeze through the small space I allotted for it to gain access into the basement, verified that it is, indeed, flesh. Corporeal just like any other thing.
There are no such things as ghosts, that I still believe, but monsters? They exist. I never doubted that... But I'd never encountered a thing like this before.
It considered me for the first real time. I smiled, revealing my sharp teeth, blood still staining them from my previous kill.
"Sorry about my parents," I said in the most neutral tone I could manage with my heart racing the way it was.
"I couldn't let you have them." I unwound my crimson-coated hands from my shirt, each of my fingers now crowned with thick, curved, black claws.
"I needed them to sate my hunger to be sure I could fuel my change."
My veins bulged and muscles swelled. My bones bending, breaking, and reconnecting at new points. I felt that familiar pain comforting me as my face stretched into a muzzle. I fell forward, changing by the time my hands reached the concrete. My morphed form was meant to be on all fours.
I'd say its surprise was apparent..but it really wasn't. The creatures' eyes remained wide and black, mouth gaping, as always. It wasn't smiling now..then again, neither was I.
This thing had treated me like prey in my own forest and dared to think it could hunt where I hunted in a failed attempt to drive me from my new home. My territory.
A vicious growl rolled and rumbled deep within my chest as a warning. My lips curled back to expose the abnormally long, arched, white fangs. I snapped once at the space between us. A promise of what was to come.
Dawn was blooming as I lit the few decorative candles Cary kept on the small coffee table in the living room. I absently swept them into the curtains, which roared into life like dry kindling. I stepped out through my front door, now hanging askew on busted hinges.
My ripped jeans, that I'd retrieved from a puddle of the creatures blood, were now stained black. They were clinging and tugging at me as I slowly trudged towards the tree line. Euphoria arose within me, for my latest meal fueled me as nothing had before. The black blood stained my skin; I could still feel it coating my mouth like oil. The black blood was new to me...no one seemed to be able to see the thing...at least not as it truly was.
I remembered a week ago when I first saw it through the gate across the highway, loitering in a residential area. There were plenty of people around, but they didn't seem to notice it; their eyes simply sweeping over the creature as if it were any normal nondescript person... It must have had some way of hiding its real self...perhaps not being normal, myself, is what allowed me to see its true face. That is, after all, why it hunted me. I could see it. Unfortunately, for the creature, it seems that it couldn't really see me...
They hide in plain sight hunting their human prey. They trespass in my woods to stalk those they think are weak or those unlucky enough to glimpse their true faces...
As for me, I won't be returning to the orphanage. I can pass for eighteen, anyway.
Now I've seen one. Where there is one, there are many. I know they are out there hunting the prey that I once thought was mine. They live among the humans; lions in the lamb; taking what is rightfully mine.
Licking at the drying darkness on my lips, hunger renewed and stronger than ever, I stepped into the forest..my forest. The night belongs to me. I will not allow them to take anything from me. I will stalk them as they stalk humans. If they want my prey then they will compensate for it with their own pale flesh and black blood.
To my new found prey: sweeter for your strength; I will find you in the darkness, beneath the waning light of the moon. Our encounter shall not be pleasant.
I am hungry.