Sounds

📅 Published on January 10, 2021

“Sounds”

Written by Soren Narnia
Edited by N/A
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

ESTIMATED READING TIME — 22 minutes

Rating: 9.50/10. From 6 votes.
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My name is Kenneth Vilma. December 17, 2010, marked the third day of my escape from Grovenor Penitentiary in Crystalis, Michigan, and my second day in the Wolf Paw State Forest with another convict, Ron Heil. We’d been on the run since paying off two guards to help us escape during a work detail on the side of Interstate 60. Our plan had been to move on foot for three days until we reached a safe house in the farming town of Lemus. To reach it we had to take a complicated route through miles of woods on the first night and then enter the state forest, careful to avoid any marked trails, which slowed us down more than we had thought it would.

Ron had planned the route based on one guard’s knowledge and mapmaking attempt of the area; he’d grown up in the southern part of the state. We figured the search for us wouldn’t extend too deeply into the forest, since it was by far the most laborious way to get anywhere, but to guarantee our safety we had been willing to endure the cold hike for as long as it took. We slept pressed against logs that first night, shivering in the thin clothes we had worn under our prison fatigues. We hadn’t been able to fortify ourselves with anything more so as not to arouse suspicion when being transported to the work detail. We had forty dollars in cash each, and Ron was carrying a disposable cellphone that he would use for exactly one call, to be placed to his contact at the safe house in Lemus when we got close to it. The escape had cost us all the money we had in the world. So far, at least, we had gotten lucky. We’d counted on the guards to give conflicting reports about where we seemed to be headed when the escape happened on the side of the road, and when night fell we saw only two helicopters in the sky and felt no real threat of discovery.

We hiked through the cold, eating only granola bars and beef jerky. It snowed two inches as I slept while Ron kept watch. When I woke up I was as cold as I’ve ever been in my life, and I couldn’t stop shivering. But we just had to keep moving. We warmed up as the twenty-mile-long second day progressed, but we both dreaded that second night. The guard had marked a shack on the map that he remembered, and it was still there, nothing more than a hollow wooden structure built by and for hunters but no longer used since hunting had been outlawed in this section of the forest. We were taking an enormous chance going in there, since it was the most obvious place to look for two men on the run, and so we spent only half the night inside it.

For the rest of the night we huddled against one another in a deep ravine, hunched tight under a natural rock overhang where only a little snow had gathered, but sleep wouldn’t come. The wind was too high. I worried about frostbite and pneumonia. We went through the spare pairs of socks we’d smuggled out, and the work gloves we wore helped some, but the snow on the ground got our clothes wet, and that was a killer. I had a continuous sharp pain in my left thigh in addition to my being simply exhausted. Ron was stronger than I was, and I almost resented him for it. He’d also been smart enough to let his hair grow as long as he could get it before the escape, as our thin hats weren’t as much help as I’d hoped.

When I finally did drift off just a little before dawn, I had the most frightening dream of my life. In it there was a man standing far away in the middle of a huge patch of rolling farmland under a full moon. I couldn’t see his face, but I knew this was the man who I’d had a small hand in killing six years ago. I hadn’t pulled the trigger, only helped to bury him in the middle of the night when he’d shot himself because of his involvement with me and four other men who’d pressured him into embezzling a hundred thousand dollars from a union treasury. I’d held his suicide note in my hand and burned it. I didn’t have to read it first, but I had, and I would never forget the strange drawings he’d made in the margins: incoherent doodles he’d retraced several times in black ink when he’d probably stopped to collect his thoughts before writing more words that implicated us all. One of the doodles had been a pair of eyes—wide, staring eyes. Another had been of a dragon. In my dream, the man was pointing up into the night sky, wanting me to look. The sky was filled with strange red clouds coming together to make the sinister dragon from his suicide note. And then it ended.

By the beginning of day three, I could tell Ron was considering altering our direction so we could maybe find a place to get some new clothes and a meal, but we stuck to the plan, walking along with hands clamped over our ears to protect them better. We were going to be at the safe house by nightfall. The day was gloomy and overcast, and it looked like more snow was coming. We decided to follow the John Adams Trail for a while, which was taking a chance, but we were becoming too sick and exhausted to keep on going parallel to it. We didn’t see anyone at all. It felt like we were alone in the forest.

I have been deaf since birth, and it had taken a lot to convince Ron Heil to include me in the escape attempt he’d mostly arranged. We’d known each other at Grovenor for almost three years. We had always communicated with paper and pen, and on our slog through the forest he’d brought along a black marker and ten blank white index cards to write messages to me whenever he needed to. It was a primitive system, but it worked. At about two o’clock on the 17th he wrote his first message of the day to me. There had only been three total since the escape. His message consisted of only two words: helicopters and lots. He pointed up at the sky and crouched down off the trail for a bit, frowning. I couldn’t see anything up there; the helicopters he heard weren’t passing directly overhead.

Ron was motionless for such a long time that I tapped the ground to get his attention and looked at him quizzically. He just held up one finger to suggest that I wait. There must have been still more helicopters going overhead. Ron scanned the sky suspiciously. Finally it seemed okay to move on. Based on the duration of our stop, I began to get very worried. Maybe the search had suddenly intensified. Maybe we’d been seen, or maybe the guards had revealed our plan. I couldn’t imagine any other reason for such an apparent gathering of choppers. When Ron began to move again, it was no faster or slower than normal, but we decided without any real consultation to abandon the trail. We were going to have to be even more careful as we got close to the safe house.

I began to feel a little safer when an hour passed and we stopped to eat what I guess had to be called lunch. After that, we were entirely out of food, which was the least of my worries. According to Ron’s cellphone, it was 3:30. He checked our map and wrote a message on it to the effect that we had another six or seven hours at the most. The moment he finished making his last letter on the map, he looked up again. He pulled out the index card he’d written an hour before and tapped it. This time I did see two helicopters go overhead, but they were at very high altitude. We were sitting in a carved-out section of rock and couldn’t be seen from above, so we wouldn’t be spotted in that moment. Still, it felt like we were being closed in on.

The wind picked up as we went, blowing snow. For all we knew, a major snowstorm was coming. It truly felt like it. We walked a little faster. There was still not even a flurry, but I was scared. If the snow came down hard, we might be facing another night in the woods, and I didn’t know if I could take it. My breathing had become scratchy and labored; my lungs were working too hard. I could see but not hear Ron coughing from time to time, and he didn’t look well at all. If anyone in the forest saw us, they would think we were homeless. That is, if they hadn’t seen our photos on TV by then.

It was about four and the sky was noticeably losing light when we saw the dead deer near the John Adams Trail. I noticed something up ahead, and very quickly I realized an animal had been gotten to, but the extent of it didn’t come into view until it was too late. There were three deer near a wide part of the trail, almost a clearing, and they had been torn apart. Completely. Some wild animal had taken them all down. The blood of the animals was the only color in the forest, which otherwise was nothing but gray, black, and white.

The scene was such a mess that we didn’t even want to walk through it. A dog pack, maybe, or coyotes in the area. Civilization wasn’t more than four or five miles on either side of us, but there was every sort of animal in these woods. We saw that parts of the deer were missing. They clearly weren’t all there. We couldn’t help but stare, it had been such a massacre. We took a long detour around the deer and picked our way through the trees. The last part of that weird, gruesome puzzle that I saw was a deer’s head, a good hundred feet beyond the scene of the attack. It occurred to me as we went on that a low-flying helicopter would see a spray of red in a jagged circle in the woods and might go in even closer to have a look. But I refused to believe that after all we had planned and been through, we could be caught. I wouldn’t let myself be caught or ever go back to prison. It was unthinkable.

We stumbled forward. Just three minutes later I was so focused on just putting one foot in front of the other that I didn’t notice Ron had stopped entirely. Naturally, I couldn’t hear his footsteps cease. He was standing there, looking at me. I shrugged, and he got out the index cards from the vest pocket of his lumberjack shirt again. He wrote the word sirens on one and pointed behind us; then, after a moment’s thought, he pointed off in another direction too. We stood rooted in place. He added the words far away to his note, barely legible. He had begun to shiver. The wind was strong; our clothes were freezing to us. I began to despair then. I had underestimated the lengths the law had gone to in order to find us. I waited for Ron to start moving and followed him. He was looking at the map intensely. He stopped very soon and waved me over to him. He traced a finger along the map and showed me how if we got back on the John Adams Trail now we could obviously save a lot of time, and traced his index finger off it at one point to show how we would diverge from it about a mile from our destination.

He looked at me, waiting for some kind of response. His eyes had gotten wide like they sometimes did when he became a little frenzied, overly intense about something. Sometimes I could see the anger there; how frightening it might become,  and had become to bring him to Grovenor for a seven-year sentence for battery, his third conviction for it. His breath billowed out of his mouth. At some point he’d gotten a deep scratch on his neck, probably from a passing branch, and blood was frozen to it. Without thinking too much about our options, I nodded. Just moving fast felt good. We had to try it. The clouds overheard were ominous, and it was getting dark.

Ten minutes went by, and the woods only got deeper. We’d made a navigational mistake. Ron kept shaking his head, and I saw that he was getting more and more frustrated. We’d just seen the trail when coming across the deer, but we’d lost it now in our attempt to shortcut our way over to it, and it felt like we were veering off. We stood there and looked around. There was no sign of a true break in the trees, nothing. To our right the terrain plummeted downward dramatically into a deep ravine. Ron pointed with some confidence after a while, and we started again. I saw him utter a string of profanity, and he motioned that he was hearing more helicopters. This time I again saw two of them going overhead. I couldn’t tell what kind they were, but there were no searchlights.

It started to snow, very lightly. We finally caught a break, though. Suddenly the slowest and smallest part of the Dry Gun River, which ran parallel to the John Adams Trail in this part of the forest, appeared on our left, where according to the map it became Rickendale’s Stream, and I felt safer somehow now that we were on the right track. The map told us there was only one direction we could move upon hitting it, west, and at some point the waterbed would become thin enough to cross to the trail. Before we reached that junction, though, there was another frightening sight. Ron pointed it out. I would have spotted it much sooner but for my deafness.

A speedboat was moving quickly, too quickly, down this woodsy, quiet, and shallow portion of the stream where it would have been dangerous to even kayak too quickly. The second I saw it I pressed myself against a tree, and so did Ron, safely out of sight. There were two men in the speedboat, and they never even came close to spotting us because their attention was riveted on the other side of the stream. One was guiding the speedboat while dangerously looking through a pair of binoculars, while the other man had one foot on the side of the boat as if he were ready to leap off at any second. He was holding a shotgun. They were intently looking for something, most likely us. They were gone quickly. At their rate of speed an accident was bound to happen.

Our morale plummeted once more. Ron had removed his gloves to try to dry them in his back pockets, and even in the growing dark I could see how discolored his fingers had become. Mine were almost as bad, and the feeling in two of them was fading fast. The snow did not thicken, thank God, but there was that awful wind, consistent and bitter. We decided silently to keep going down the river. Thinking back on it, it was the worst possible thing we could have done if we wanted to remain unspotted. It was as if we had a mutual understanding that we didn’t have the strength or belief in attaining our freedom anymore to improvise.

The sky above us had finally become a deep blue when we got the greatest shock so far. It felt like we were making good steady progress, at least, walking side by side now, close to each other, trying somehow to feel warm. Our hands were balled into fists against the cold and crossed over our chests, sometimes curled up inside our hats for any kind of extra warmth. My ears stung badly every time the wind kicked up. At some point we raised our heads simultaneously and saw a man walking towards us. He had a dog on a leash. We might have walked right past him if we had just been a little slower to look up. He was raising a hand to us. What he was doing out in the gathering dark we didn’t know, but his presence told us that the trail was very close, and we had probably reached the outer edge of Lemus. We might have been able to see houses on the ridge far above us had we focused on it.

Ron and I stopped beside the man so as not to generate any suspicion. His dog seemed disinterested in us. The man, who was about fifty, began speaking right away. He seemed completely unconcerned with our decrepit condition, but that would have been less obvious in the dark. Ron gestured that I was deaf, which shocked me because it was such an identifier if the man had been watching the news. The man nodded in understanding and explained something to Ron, who listened carefully. They fell into conversation while I could only watch, incredibly frustrated. I was about to beckon for the pen and the index cards when Ron took them and wrote for almost a minute, crossing a couple of things out, while the man continued to speak. The words Ron wrote down for me, which I had to squint to read in the near dark, were these: Police in the area  –  shooting  –  telling people to stay indoors – no one knows what’s going on.

The stranger finally went on his way after seeming to ask what we were doing out here in the woods, to which Ron responded with an explanation, at one point actually forcing out a laugh as if we were just out on a lark. I read those words on the index card again as we watched the man move on. Ron consulted the map again and pointed out exactly where he thought we were. We probably had an hour left of walking, maybe less. We were both very confused. That word—shooting—made everything not make sense. But there was no time to stand and re-evaluate what had come before; we had to move. Somehow I felt confident that the stranger hadn’t recognized us. There had been no glimmer of it that I  could see from his face.

There were ten more minutes of brisk walking. At one point we saw distant lights through the trees, which might have meant the edge of a residential neighborhood. I wanted so badly to go towards them at any cost. They faded at some point when the stream curved away from the east, and then we were embedded in the forest again. The stream hooked sharply, and we left it entirely for good, hoping the trail would be just up ahead. Then Ron and I both slowed down at the same time. I was reacting to him, or so I thought; he might have been reacting to me. I had slowed just because of a sense I had about something up ahead. Just a sense. Maybe my other senses were becoming heightened because of my wracked nerves.

I had been eyeing something up ahead on the left, a large shadowy form at first, then what was obviously the remains of an abandoned structure of some kind. Even in the dark we could see right away that it was nothing we had to be concerned about. Years ago, decades from the look of it, someone had built a large cement foundation out here in the middle of nowhere and then never moved forward with construction. The foundation cut a hollow into the earth. Rotting cement bricks rose in uneven columns. Some parts of the first floor of the house rose as much as ten feet off the ground, and there were window cutouts in front, while other parts didn’t go nearly that high. The bricks were black with moss, crumbling, and graffiti defaced every part of it. Maybe it was going to be a shelter or something built by the Department of Natural Resources; maybe an entrance to the forest had been planned.

Ron was on my left, and he almost bumped into me veering strangely away from the structure, which was about fifty feet away. We were separated from it by a thin row of trees. We stopped and looked at it. My sense that something was wrong was confirmed when Ron suddenly flinched and took a step backwards, touching my arm. I looked at his face, willing him to look at me, but he was staring at that foundation, not even noticing that the trail was visible just beyond it. He glanced at me briefly and then motioned that he wanted to take a closer look. Before he took another step he wrote down three more quick words on an index card. By now he could barely write, his hands were in such bad shape, and I could just barely make out the words. They said: Hear something weird. I pointed at the trail, but it was as if he didn’t even see me. He wanted to take just a few steps toward that foundation. I hung back, my breathing pluming in front of my face. Ron took two steps forward, and then he stopped again. He leaned forward a little and turned his head. He was listening to something. But there was certainly nothing moving that I could see, staring through the jagged holes where windows were once planned. He took one more step.

My heart was racing now. I couldn’t believe he was doing this, that we weren’t plowing past this place as fast as we could, but he seemed powerless to break away. He was frowning, disturbed by what he was hearing. And then he flinched again, more drastically this time, because something had quite quickly decided him. His whole body shook once, just once, like there had been a jolt of sound nearby that he wasn’t expecting. He pointed past me and made a motion toward the west, and he was past me in the blink of an eye and moving very fast, not quite running toward a part of the trail that required us to ascend a slight slope instead of getting onto it at a point nearer the foundation. I followed, looking behind me, but there was nothing visible in that thing as it diminished in size behind us. Ron waved at me frantically to keep up with him, but again, he stopped just short of a run, trotting instead through the snow, as if he were trying not to panic me or himself.

We clambered up the slope and hit the trail, turning to the west. Ron let me catch up a little, throwing a quick look behind him, and made a hand gesture to suggest we had to keep trotting. I didn’t know how much my lungs could take, but something had scared him very badly. My first thought was that he had heard a bear, which were common where we were, or maybe voices, or he’d panicked because he thought people were there looking for us. What scared me far worse was that Ron never stopped moving at that pace. The wind battered us worse and worse, and during one especially nasty gust I reached out for his arm and urged him to stop, tapping my chest and shaking my head. Reluctantly he did so, staring back down the trail into the dark. He let me catch my breath. Then he reached forward, grabbed my shoulders, and got his face close to mine to seize my attention. It was then that he physically pushed me forward.

I understood at that moment how urgent the situation was, and we started again. This time I made a conscious decision not to look behind me. I would just run. In my panic I actually got a little bit ahead of Ron. I think now that I was trying to show him I understood the situation and I would not let him down, so I led the way, keeping my eyes rooted on the path. I became aware of seemingly random patches on my body that had no feeling at all anymore: a part of my left thigh, a patch of skin on my back. I locked my eyes on the trail so as not to lose it, moving fast, and tried to mentally will my blood to circulate faster, to stave off the frostbite.

I can’t say exactly how long I led us. I slowed only when the wind kicked up, bending the trees in every direction, and once when my right foot connected painfully with a branch on the ground. I would guess I kept my focus for five or six minutes, and then the pain in my lungs just got too great. I remember looking up into the sky and noticing how quickly full dark had come. Then a pain hit my side, and I turned to gesture to Ron that I had to slow down. But Ron wasn’t there when I turned. He was gone. I looked around rapidly left and right, but there was no sign of him. I was in a thick stretch of woods, and visibility had become minimal. The trail disappeared into nothingness. I waited no more than thirty seconds, and then I began to backtrack, staring down at the snow and my footprints, the only ones on the trail. The wind, though, so constant now, was blurring them, and I had to bend closer to the ground to decipher them. Every time the wind surged it made it more difficult to track my path. I kept going, but there was no sign of Ron’s prints for some time. Finally I came across an area where everything was lost in a patch where the snow had been disturbed in several places. I saw a very tiny glow in the snow and bent down to pick up the cellphone that Ron had been carrying. It was freezing cold to the touch, caked in snow, but it was still working. At some point, I didn’t know when, he had turned it on. And now he was gone.

I could see nothing in the trees. We had been on level ground, so there had been no sudden fall in the dark into a ravine or depression. I was irrationally afraid to make any sound, but I cried out for Ron and waited. And waited. I went into the trees on both sides of the trail, but fear kept me from going too deep. I looked for signs that he had been dragged off somehow, but visually it just wasn’t possible. It was just too dark, and there was too much wind. I cried out just once more. My hands were claws, my fingers losing sensation. My ears and my nose stung painfully. Snow was clinging to my face where the wind had tossed it, and parts of my cheeks had become painful as well.

I wanted to turn the cellphone off just to crush its feeble glow, because it made me feel visible, exposed. But first I managed to call up the only phone number stored in its memory, and I pressed send. After a moment I saw the word connected appear. Unable from birth to form clear words, I said nothing. It was only a desperate attempt to send some sort of communication to the safe house. I cut the call off and turned and headed forward again. As I went I attempted to send a text message, carefully pressing each letter as I went, trying to navigate while I did so, no longer running. Ron’s disappearance made capture seem finally acceptable. I staggered forward, typing out Help – one mile away. Then I put the phone into my pocket and tried to run again. Having no map, it seemed useless, but I ran anyway until my lungs screamed once again. I saw no lights through the trees, no sign that I was close to anything at all.

Help did not come. There was no answer to my text message, none. From time to time as I moved I looked back, hoping Ron would appear. There was only darkness behind me. I would say I walked for another full hour, unable to think about anything as the wind pummeled me, before I finally sank to one knee on the trail, squeezing my eyes tight. In my weakened mental state I decided I would go for five more minutes, just five more, counting the seconds in my head as I went. If in five minutes I didn’t receive a sign that there was hope, if Ron didn’t emerge from the dark or there were no lights or at least a weakening of the awful wind, I would lay down and give up, just go to sleep and let fate take over. My five minutes began, and though I lost track of the seconds, I only counted down about halfway before my miracle happened. Looking up to my right, I saw a ridge through the trees, and they grew so thin in their relentless columns that I knew what I was seeing was a break in the forest. I got off the trail and climbed a long, gradual upslope, slipping twice. When I got to the top, the forest simply ended.

I was standing at the edge of a long, undulating, snow-covered field. Beyond it, in the distance, was another line of trees that marched to the north and had been carefully planted to separate one section of the field from the next. This was farmland. I saw no houses, but I walked toward that line of trees, my heart beating fast. It wasn’t the safe house I was after, since I had no idea where that might be, but rather any sign of humankind. Past that first row of trees was another, even bigger field, but as soon as I entered it, I saw the shape of a house far away, through another copse of trees. Snow blew into my eyes, but the shape was unmistakable. I just had to make it there, one foot in front of the other. As I grew closer it proved not to be a mirage. It was a small, one-story house on the edge of someone’s property. It sat right on the edge of the forest. Thinking about it now, I understand that I could have made it to the property much sooner, had I realized it was there, by cutting through the forest to it. Instead I had continued down the John Adams Trail for another half-mile out of my way, then slowly curved back, losing perhaps fifteen or twenty minutes. I parted the patch of trees, and I had made it to the house.

The fields that stretched beyond it ran to the horizon far away. The forest surrounded the property to the east, and the house was cut off from any road, all alone. There were no vehicles around, nothing, but the house was in good shape. No lights were on inside. I climbed onto the tiny porch and pounded on the door. There was no answer. That was all right. I would break a window and get inside, and though the house might be vacant or even abandoned, I would be warmer. Maybe there would be food. I turned to my right to the ground-level window. I would have to get off the porch and go around it to get to it. I descended the three wooden steps to the frozen ground. At that moment the wind from the north rose and nearly knocked me over with its force. Dead leaves skittered across the open field, striking my legs. I leaned into the wind. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something above me move.

There was something on the roof of the house, something that had been hanging off the edge and was now being pushed off entirely by the wind. The thing, what at first I thought was a bag of grain or charcoal or peat or something, descended and crashed to the snow ten feet away from me. I walked over to it. It was a body, a dead man. He lay face up on the snow. I would say he was between sixty and seventy years old, not dressed for the cold—no jacket, no gloves, no hat—as if he’d been drawn outside not expecting to be there long. His eyes were open, staring into the sky. His cause of death was obvious right away from the strange contortion of his body. He had almost been cut in half by something. I backed away from the man. I had seen before something staining the snow nearby and now realized it was blood, this man’s blood, which had soaked through the snow in front of the house before he had wound up somehow on the edge of the roof. Placed there or thrown there somehow. I regarded the silent house, which seemed so empty. Paranoid, I then turned to face the fields that rolled away from it into the horizon.

This is the image I will never forget as long as I live. Snow-covered farmland stretched gently upwards into the distance; another farmhouse, nothing more than a dot far, far away on another property. A line of trees was more than a half-mile away to the west. Brilliant stars dotted the colorless night sky. To me it was all a silent tableau, perfectly peaceful, like a painting of a Christmas night somewhere in the Midwest. And halfway between me and that horizon, something sat in the middle of a field not more than a hundred yards away. Something large, the size of a large car I would say. It was too dark to really see it at first despite the full moon and the brilliant snow glare. But as my eyes locked in on it, I saw details. It was a living thing, a creature. Curled up tightly in the field. It wasn’t moving, nor was it dead. I could make out a very dark body, with something surrounding it that looked like a thick tail. As I say: the size of a large car. The way it was curled up, it was so much like the image of a sleeping cat or dog. I then spotted something in the woods far beyond it. There were little bits of light moving there, incredibly tiny. First just two, then four, then many more than that. Human beings, each carrying a flashlight.

As I stood rooted in place, the thing in the field awoke. I saw it raise its head very slowly, though in which direction it was looking I couldn’t tell. The head was flat and rectangular. Those flashlights and the people holding them, dozens of them now, were going to emerge from the woods at any moment. They were maybe two football fields away from the thing. As I have said, I was closer. The creature began to move. Its upper body rose further, and what I was looking at was snakelike, but then it unfolded gigantic arms, one on each side of its body, and they stabilized the body by clamping the ground. That was when the head turned slowly towards me. I couldn’t make out its actual eyes, but it seemed as if it really had none, just a pair of deep sockets with nothing in them. But that was surely just a trick of the dark, and the distance. There was a hideous moment where we were connected visually, me and this thing that had crawled or climbed or descended from someplace unknown. But it couldn’t have been what Ron had sensed in the forest; it couldn’t have been that fast. My last conscious thought was that this was not the only creature roaming the forest that night.

The thing’s torso, fully extended, rose probably ten feet off the ground. Given the choice to move toward the people in the woods or move toward me, it chose the latter option. Its lower half began to slither in my direction. Its arms released their tight grip on the earth. I turned and ran onto the porch and, assuming the front door would be locked, threw my weight as hard as I could against it. The door buckled against the frame but did not give. I turned the knob and yes, it was locked. I shoved my numb right fist through the windowpane above the knob and felt bones break. I switched hands, flailing about with my left until I could turn the knob from inside and open the door. I remember pushing it inwards. I remember the darkness inside, and seeing a pair of boots on a wooden floor. Then I dared to turn my head one last time. The creature had covered almost the entire distance and was perhaps twenty yards away from the porch. Its black body was fully extended as it slithered over the snow. I saw it for one second and then I was inside the house. And that is absolutely the last thing I remember.

The trauma of whatever happened next is buried somewhere deep in my mind. The doctors don’t think it will ever come for me, even in my dreams. They think I’m safe from ever remembering what I experienced in the seconds after I got into the farmhouse. But they don’t know for sure. I was not returned to Grovenor Penitentiary. I live now in Constantine Hospital in the state of Ohio. I was moved here for a time because it has special facilities for physically handicapped prisoners. I lost an arm and a leg that night. In addition, three toes on my left foot were taken by frostbite. No one ever told me how they saved my life. I told them not to tell me anything. I read the accounts of that day’s events and the death of Ron Heil and three other people and the search for witnesses who could describe the creature, or creatures, that appeared in the southern part of the state and then disappeared.

When I awoke in the hospital two days after the attack, one of the policemen brought me a pen and a piece of paper and asked if I could try to describe what I remembered of the thing that had come for me. My hands were still being treated for frostbite, which would have made writing difficult enough. Making it almost impossible was that I had retreated so deeply into my own mind for protection from my memories that I didn’t even fully understand where, or even who, I was. Apparently I took the pen and, before I slipped into unconsciousness again, was able to scrawl only a single, jagged word, and that word was: claws.

Rating: 9.50/10. From 6 votes.
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Written by Soren Narnia
Edited by N/A
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Soren Narnia


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Author's Notes: N/A

More Stories from Author Soren Narnia:

Vision
Average Rating:
10

Vision

Retaliation
Average Rating:
8.4

Retaliation

Castle
Average Rating:
9

Castle

Chasm
Average Rating:
9.33

Chasm

Related Stories:

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Thick Brush
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6.75

Thick Brush

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