Appearance of a monster…
Weird fiction task:
Sally’s still a bit jittery, so I make her a cup of camomile and chat with her for a few minutes before stepping back out into the darkened street. No kiss at the door though. Nothing at all. Her nerves have ruined the entire evening. A lone pair of lights dip down the road and past me. I watch them go. You can never be too certain about people out at this time of night.
My phone’s vibrating. It’s Sally.
-I just wanted to apologise, she says, about...
-About the cat?
-Yes, she says. The cat, of course. I just got the jitters.
I’m beginning to feel more sympathetic towards Sally. It’s almost endearing, in a way.
-I had fun, she says. Thank you for making sure I got home okay.
I stop walking.
-I’m going to have to call you back, I tell her, and hang up.
Someone was watching her after all.
Yes- it moves again. Something is drifting in the darkness beyond the theatre, beneath the overdrooping elm.
My hand tightens on my keys, the pincers jabbing into the flesh of my palm.
-Oi! I shout. Oi! Stop!
The corner to the alley is lit by a single street lamp. My feet are carrying me across the pavement. I crack my neck, letting the tendons strain. I hope he saw that. I’m past the theatre now. I turn the corner.
Strange. A little boy, no more than four or five, is crouching in the alley. He keeps whimpering, eyes on the pavement,
Didn’t mean to do it mister- he told me to do it- he told me to do it-
For one moment the damp yellow light is all I can make out. Then...
...oh, Jesus Christ, those eyes...
Something is treading high on stilt-like legs. For a second it shifts. When it shifts I can no longer see the stars.
All I can think is: it’s been waiting for me. Grey shapeless eyes.
I begin to back away, fast. It moves forward with me, scattering cans with those teeter-tottering legs. The lamp-glow flutters upon it for a moment. Its torso hangs wide open, as if torn by a gash across its middle, but instead of hearts and livers and organs there’s only a star-filled place. Scabbed ears toss in the wind. Those eyes.
The little boy is crying.
Didn’t mean to do it- he told me, he told me-
I must have tripped. The pavement lies cold beneath me. I can hear it breathe. Don’t open your eyes. Someone will come. I can hear it breathe. The little boy has stopped whimpering.
Something is slipping across my ankle, something wet and caressing. Like a tube, or a snout. It lingers upon my leg for a moment, and then moves on. It’s drifting beneath my shirt, across my naked belly.
It’s trying to find what makes me work, I think. It’s trying to figure out how to turn me off. The breathing seems to be getting more intense.
Too horrible. The tube is slinking over my throat. Keep your eyes and your mouth shut. Don’t let it into your head.
It’s found my nostrils. Jagged prongs are inching into the flesh of my nose. My phone is vibrating, useless, in the pocket of my jeans.