The Trees Are Silent

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Driving along a lonesome twisting road late at night, four young men, recently graduating from high school, accidentally hit something in the road. When they get out to check what it is, they unleash something from deep in the forest that should have remained in secret.

Submitted: November 04, 2018

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Submitted: November 04, 2018

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The Trees Are Silent

April, 2016

Big Bear, California


 

When the creature first appeared in Donnie's headlights, he and his passengers all thought it was only a person in a thick fur coat. After the creature was fully struck at fifty miles an hour, Donnie slammed on the brakes. The creature was thrown from the road, tumbling down a narrow embankment, limbs dangling and bending in rag doll fashion.

Donnie's sudden application on the brake pedal caused his tires to skid, smoke erupting from the asphalt road. With a horrible howling sound, the Chevy Suburban began to careen into the opposite side of the road, the rear end fishtailing slightly toward the emergency lane. Donnie over corrected, jerking the wheel to the right as hard as he could, sending the SUV into a five hundred and forty degree spin out.

Since they were traveling on a two lane, dark, twisty mountainous road, it was a miracle that the vehicle didn't flip over. The SUV came to a rest in their lane, facing in the opposite direction that they were traveling on, headlights lighting up the dark trees. Everyone inside the Suburban were silent for a few seconds.

From the passenger seat, Batshit Kinneson actually whooped as though they had just accomplished something quite grand. His jubilant adulation had broke the silence and the rest of the young men followed suit with nervous cheering of their own.

Donnie Stuman turned the SUV around so that they were facing the correct direction and pulled over onto the emergency lane, switching on the hazard lights. As he was putting the vehicle into park, Dean Cantwell, who was sitting in the back seat behind Batshit, asked, “What the hell did we hit?”

Batshit answered, “Who the fuck cares? I say we get the hell out of dodge!”

Donnie sighed, “I have no idea what I hit but I'm not leaving until I'm sure it wasn't a person.”

“Are you fucking crazy, Stuman?” Batshit asked him, “If you hit a fucking bear and didn't kill it, its not going to be very happy to see you, man.”

Donnie left the Suburban running but undid his seat belt.

Batshit grabbed him by the shoulder, “Donnie. Seriously, man. Let's just go. Let's get the hell out of here.”

Dean piped up, “What if we killed someone, Bats? You want to just leave them out here?”

Aaron Hart, sitting in the backseat behind Donnie, spoke for the first time, “I agree with Donnie. We should at least have a look to make sure.”

Batshit threw up his hands in defeat, “You're all out of your fucking minds! That wasn't a person we hit! You want to go and get yourselves mauled by a pissed off animal, fine by me. I'm staying right here.”

The other three young men slowly exited the vehicle. Donnie grabbed a flashlight from under the driver seat and Aaron found a second one in the back compartment.

Dean stood by the SUV, leaving his door open, listening. There was no sound. The trees were eerily quiet. Even the wind had died down, leaving Dean feeling very uneasy. He turned to Donnie and Aaron who came around to the passenger side of the Suburban, “Maybe Batshit's right for once. Maybe we should just leave. I have a bad feeling about this.”

Donnie snorted, “If you're a chickenshit then just stay here. We'll only be a few minutes.”

He and Aaron began to walk the fifty or so yards behind the vehicle where the creature's hapless body had been thrown off the side of the road.

Aaron said quietly, “Donnie, if it does turn out to be a wounded bear, we're going to have to run our asses off to make it safely back to the Suburban.”

“I know. Let's just take a peek. If we hear one little snarl or growl, we haul ass.”

Aaron smiled, “Cool.”

The flashlight beams seemed to be swallowed up by the gloom. Everywhere they shined them, the trees seemed to shift and writhe, as if trying to escape the light. The shadows loomed toward the two young men, only to retreat again when they shifted the light against them.

Donnie was nervous as hell. He had only been driving a few years and had never hit anything in the road before. He couldn't remember ever seeing one so up close, but he was pretty sure he didn't hit a bear. Whatever Donnie had hit had been on two legs, walking across the road from the left side of the wood line. Although bears could rear up and walk on their hind legs, it wasn't their preferred method of travel.

If it wasn't a bear, then what the hell was it?

Donnie felt a chill down his spine. The unnatural silence seemed to deepen, the woods were hushed in a soundless suspense. The only sound he could hear was their footfalls and the engine of the SUV behind them. Everything else was dead quiet.

Aaron spoke softly again, “I hate to admit it, but I'm getting a little freaked out.”

Donnie said, “Yeah. Me too.”

They swung their flashlight beams widely back and forth, nervously illuminating as much of their path as possible.

“Why is it so fucking quiet out here?” Aaron wanted to know, “Doesn't the silence mean that there's danger nearby or something?”

“I'm not sure.”

It was a bright full moon with a cool breeze on a spring night in the mountains. There should be crickets chirping, owls hooting, coyotes baying and other night time noises. The silence was definitely unnerving.

For the first time, Donnie actually considered heading back to the SUV. He knew if they went back without checking, Batshit would never let them live it down. He would tease them incessantly for weeks about it.

Gritting his teeth, Donnie forced himself to press on. They only had another ten yards to go. One quick peek down the embankment and they could get the hell out of this place.

Something approached from behind them, moving fast, light footfalls on the pavement.

Donnie's insides seized up and a cry of fear was caught up in his throat. He swung the flashlight in the direction of the attacker, ready to run away as far and as fast as he could.

It was only Dean who called softly, “Wait up guys.”

“Goddammit!” Aaron hissed at him, “You scared the shit out of me!”

“Sorry.”

Donnie chuckled nervously. At least there was three of them now. For some reason, having a third person there made him feel a little better.

They reached the spot where the creature had been knocked off the road. The brush was crushed down and the earth disturbed from its tumbling body. The amount of damage done to the underbrush by the struck animal's flight, wasn't a good sign. Whatever they had hit was most likely dead.

They got to the very edge of the decline, shining the flashlights down below. The embankment fell away from them steeply for about thirty feet then it seemed to level out below them. On the flatter part of the woods, lying in a slight clearing, was the bleeding corpse of their victim.

It was covered in long reddish brown hair, like Chewbacca. There was blood running from what may have been the head and other open wounds on the body. The fur was so long, that it was difficult for them to recognize any characteristics of whatever it was.

“What the hell is that?” Dean asked incredulously. For some reason, they were all still whispering to each other.

Aaron said softly, “I have no idea but whatever it is, its dead. Let's get the hell out of here.”

Donnie felt empty inside. He had never killed a living creature before in his life. Sure, he smashed a few spiders, swatted flies, caught some fish and poisoned some intruding anthills but he had never harmed another warm-blooded mammal. Guilt traveled through him like a bucket of icy water being dumped over his head. Donnie suddenly felt like throwing up.

Dean started off in the direction of the Suburban, “Come on then.”

Aaron stayed by Donnie, “You all right, man?”

“No.” Donnie kept the beam squarely on the creature's lifeless corpse. The amount of blood present was nauseating. He doubled over, resting one of his hands on his knee to support himself.

“There's nothing to feel guilty about,” Aaron assured him, “It was just an unfortunate accident.”

“I was speeding,” Donnie admitted, more to himself than to his friend, “We drank all night, smoked weed and were fucking off. I should have paid more attention to the road.”

Dean came over to the other side of Donnie and put a supportive hand on his shoulder, “Hey, you were just having fun. You didn't mean to hurt anything. None of us did.”

Aaron said shakily, “Oh my God.”

The three young men watched as a massively long hairy arm reached out from the underbrush for the lifeless corpse. With a gentle nudge, the black skinned knuckles of the beast caressed the bloody pile of fur. They heard a deep purring noise, a parental cooing to its offspring.

They were transfixed by the size of the arm, almost praying in appreciation for not seeing the massive body such a thickly muscled appendage would be attached to. The most frightening thing to Donnie was the fingers. Although black skinned, hairy and thick boned, the creature possessed a hand complete with an opposing thumb. As the powerful fingers gently stroked the dead corpse, there was no doubt that they had hit and killed a young creature and the parent had just discovered its body.

Donnie could barely squeak out a whisper, “Let's go.”

A stench wafted up from the flat below, an acrid odor that burned their noses and made their eyes water. It was similar to the stink of a skunk, but much worse.

A massive head suddenly leaned into view, sniffing the dead young one carefully. It was human-like but not, more ape-like than anything else, with long reddish brown hair framing the entire head. The parent let out a soft, heartbreaking mewl in realization that its baby was dead.

Donnie tugged on Aaron's arm, who seemed to be as petrified as a statue. He yanked on Dean's shirt, “Let's go!”

The creature let out a soft cry, an agonizing wail of pain. Then it let out another and began to gather the lifeless corpse into its arms. It slowly turned its head towards the young men, it eyes reflecting red in the beams. A menacing growl rumbled from deep within its chest. It showed its teeth, an expression of sheer rage formed on its ape like features.

“Goddammit, lets go!” Donnie yelled. Finally, his two friends seemed to snap out of whatever stupor they had been trapped in. All three of them turned on their heels and sprinted toward the SUV.

Behind them, the creature let out a deafening shriek of rage which seemed to shake the trees and the earth beneath their feet. As Donnie ran, his legs felt numb, as if made from jelly. He didn't seem to be running as fast as he could, no matter how hard he tried.

They were halfway to the Suburban when the creature started up the embankment in pursuit, busting through the brush and trees in its way, shrieking with rage. Its howls of fury were deafening, the raw power of the creature's lungs demonstrated how dangerously mighty it was.

Donnie risked a glance over his shoulder as he fled toward the safety of the vehicle. The gigantic creature had appeared at the top of the embankment, its agility and speed were truly frightening. Although more than two thirds of the way back to the SUV, Donnie knew they weren't going to make it in time. The creature was going to catch them.

The incredibly massive size of the beast was enough to cause Donnie to panic. It was easily between eight and nine feet tall, thickly built with slabs of raw muscle stacked on its powerful hairy body. The shoulders were nearly as wide as it was tall, its powerful arms nearly reaching the ground when it was standing upright. The top of the head was conical, with nearly no neck and its huge eyes blazed red.

The creature shrieked again, bounding after them with an agility that belied its massive size.

We're not going to make it!

Donnie could hear Aaron running next to him mumbling, “Oh Jesus, oh Jesus, oh Jesus!” Over and over again. They were still fifteen yards from the Chevy and the creature was closing fast. Its furious eyes blazed like burning sulfur, the hot hatred of the fleeing boys seemed to fuel their fiery radiance. It howled again, the deafening cry reverberated through Donnie's body, hurting his teeth.

We're not going to make it!

Donnie then saw something that gave him an ounce of hope, a beacon of promise that they just might escape with their lives. The reverse lights of the Suburban came on and the vehicle quickly backed up toward them, closing the gap. Batshit stuck his head out of the driver window bellowing, “Come on!”

The three young men flung themselves inside the vehicle and before they were even settled in, Batshit floored it. Dean and Donnie both reached the back doors at the same time, Donnie on the driver side and Dean on the passenger. Aaron was hanging onto the door handle of the front seat, being dragged along as he struggle to pull himself inside the cab.

With the doors opened the dome light was lit. Donnie was on his knees on the back seat. He looked over at Dean, who had one foot on the floor of the cab and was dragging one foot behind trying to pull himself inside. His eyes were wider than Donnie had ever seen them before, his dark irises looked dilated as though he were stoned. Donnie reached out his hand to grab Dean's shirt and haul him in.

Dean was suddenly torn from the SUV. He was there one second and gone in the next, plucked from the open door like weed. Through the back side window, Donnie saw the long muscular arm and the thick knuckled hand grabbing Dean and dragging him away.

Aaron, who had been pulled securely into the front seat by Batshit, screamed in horror as Dean was taken.

Donnie looked out the back window to see the creature's silhouette holding Dean aloft. It tore at him, peeling away parts of Dean's body as if he were nothing more than a thin sheet of paper. Thankfully, he could only see the shadowy outline of Dean, but Donnie still knew that his friend was being literally ripped to pieces.

Aaron must have seen it too because he screamed again as Donnie puked in the foot well of back seat.

The Suburban took the next corner much too fast. Both Donnie and Aaron were thrown against the passenger side of the vehicle, as the SUV leaned dangerously, tires squealing in protest.

Donnie yelled at Batshit, “Dude! Slow down! You're going to kill us!”

“Fuck that!” Batshit said.

“I can't believe it killed Dean,” Aaron murmured, more to himself than anyone else.

“Better him than me,” Batshit said coldly.

“Fuck you, Bats!” Aaron hollered at him.

Batshit was still driving too fast, taking corners with the tires squealing, throwing the passengers back and forth within their seats.

“Goddammit, Batshit!” Donnie yelled at him, “Slow the fuck down!”

“Hell no! That fucking thing ain't getting me!” Batshit screamed at the top of his lungs. He was hunched over the steering wheel, eyes wide, tears streaking down his face because he refused to blink. To Donnie, he appeared like a lunatic escaping from an asylum.

They traveled fast down the winding road, Batshit was pushing the mobility parameters of the Suburban to the very limit. Out of nowhere, they saw a flash of reddish brown in the road as the creature appeared. All three of them screamed in universal terror at the sight of the massive creature looming in the road. Batshit swung the wheel hard, avoiding the beast and going around it. The creature reached out at the SUV as it whipped by, Donnie looked out his window at the fearsome beast and they locked eyes.

It got a hold of the back door and ripped it right off the Chevy with a tortured cry of twisting metal. The cool night air blasted Donnie as his door was torn away. Above the rushing air that was wailing like a banshee, he could hear the shriek of the creature as it cried out in frustration. He looked out the back window as the thing hurled the ruined door after them.

The flung door smashed through the rear window as the Suburban went around a corner of the road.

Donnie watched the creature bound away off the side of the road. He understood what it was doing. Whereas they were forced to use the winding roads, cutting around the ridges and peaks, the creature was not restricted to the same route. It was using the wild terrain to cut across their path, taking short cuts through the woods to intercept them on the road.

He wanted to tell Batshit to speed up but his friend was already endangering their lives with death defying turns at every curve. The tires of the Suburban were keening painfully at every turn and the entire SUV felt like it was going to overturn at any moment. After a half mile or so, Donnie saw the creature appear from the side of the road, too late to reach them. It stomped off the side of the road again, hoping to cut them off at the next set of switch backs.

Neither Batshit or Aaron noticed the creature and Donnie decided to keep it that way. Everyone was already panicked enough.

The road dropped down two more tight turns then leveled out into a long straight away. They had done it. There was no way the creature could keep up now. Batshit took the Suburban to over a hundred miles an hour and they whisked down the rest of the mountain.

They were silent for a while. Batshit slowed down to the legal speed limit as they neared the freeway. He took the Westbound Interstate 10.

Aaron asked him, “Where the hell are you going, Bats? You've gotta take me home first!”

“Fuck that,” Batshit growled.

Aaron Hart was blond, blue-eyed and apparently very good looking. Girls were always hitting on him, saying he looked like Ricky Schroeder, whoever the hell that was. Donnie had met Aaron and Dean in Middle School and they were the best of friends. He had no idea what they were going to tell Dean's parents.

Donnie said, “We should go talk to Dean's folks and tell them what happened.”

Batshit snorted in disgust, “Did you take a stupid pill in the last few hours or something? We can't talk to Dean's parents. They're going to blame us for his death. Are you really going to try and explain that a big hairy monster killed their son?”

“We at least have to go to the Police Station,” Aaron suggested.

Batshit hollered out of frustration, “What the fuck is the matter with you two? How are we going to explain Dean's death to the cops? Not to mention we're half drunk and part stoned. Not only will we get arrested for driving under the influence and under aged drinking, but they'll probably blame us for Dean's death too!”

Donnie yelled at Batshit, “Fine! Then what's your plan, genius?”

Batshit was still hunched over the steering wheel like a garden gnome behind a hedge, “I say we go to your house and get your dad's guns. Then we head back out to the woods, lure the thing to us and kill it.”

“My dad is going to kill me as it is, Bats,” Donnie said miserably, “Look at what we did to the Suburban! It's a fucking mess. You want to stack stealing my dad's guns on top of it? Are you trying to put me in the morgue?”

“After we're armed, we can kill it,” Batshit said confidently, “Its our only chance.”

Aaron said, “How, Bats? How are we going to kill it? We have no idea where it went!”

Donnie studied his other friend who was driving. He had met Barry “Batshit Crazy” Kinneson his freshman year in high school. Batshit earned his nickname by being the most daring and most crazy son of a bitch in the entire high school. No dare was out of bounds, no challenge too dangerous. Batshit never backed out of anything. Since they didn't want to curse in front of their parents, the boys called him Bats for short. Batshit had long red hair, like a rock star. He was tall, thin and pale with a mass of freckles on his face. He cussed a lot more than anyone else did too.

Batshit said, “Its not going to stop coming after us. That fucking thing is out there right now, tracking us down. It won't stop until we're dead or we kill it. You guys might want to go home and hug your pillows, hoping it will all go away, thinking you're safe, but not me. It ain't going to get me!”

Donnie grew angry, “That's the dumbest thing I ever heard in my life!”

Batshit met his gaze in the rear view mirror, his eyes were the size of saucers, his features twisted in a mask of fear and anger, “Dumb? Really? Dumb? Fuck you, Stuman! If you had listened to me in the first place and drove the fuck away when we had the chance, Dean might still be alive right now!”

“That's bullshit, Bats!” Aaron yelled, “Don't put all of this on Donnie!”

Donnie knew that Batshit was right. If they had just left the scene, if they had just kept driving instead of letting curiosity get the better of them, Dean would still be alive and they wouldn't have a massive murderous beast hunting them. When Donnie had hit the creature, he knew right away it wasn't a human being but a creature of unknown origin. He hadn't gone to check on the body out of concern but to sate his interest in what it could be. Dean had died just like the cat that was too curious.

“None of you listened to me the first time, why don't you listen now?” Batshit insisted, “That thing is not going to just go away. We killed its baby. Its an animal, it doesn't know what sorry means. It doesn't care that it was just a horrible accident! All it cares about, is that we killed its baby and now it wants to kill us!”

“Just take me home,” Aaron sighed.

Batshit let out a cry of exasperation, “Fine.” He got off the next off ramp, hung a u-turn and headed back East on the Interstate.


 

* * *


 

Aaron Hart felt horrible after what had happened. He got home early in the morning, around 4am, and decided to go right to bed. His parents would be up in a few hours getting ready for work. At 7am, his mother, an elementary school teacher, would leave for school. An hour later, his father who worked for the city would leave. Aaron slept through it all.

At around 10am, Aaron was suddenly awakened by a loud crash. A neighbor's dog was barking hysterically. Aaron rubbed his eyes and sleepily looked out his window into the back yard and froze with fear.

The creature was cautiously moving through his backyard toward the house. It had knocked down a section of the back fence. It was on all fours, its long arms reaching, as it gracefully moved across the mowed lawn. It dwarfed the backyard, making it look like a bizarre playpen for a furry pet. In the bright direct sunlight, the long fur looked black and shiny instead of reddish brown.

Aaron's mind raced for an answer to the situation he was in. Batshit was right again! The creature had not given up its pursuit but how did it find him? Beaumont was a sprawling city with large residential areas, the northern half intersected by a major freeway.

None of that mattered now because the creature disappeared from Aaron's line of sight as it got closer to the house. The backdoor was knocked down, wood splintering and metal twisting. He only had seconds to act.

What the fuck am I going to do?

His father's gun was his only prayer.

Aaron ran across his bedroom, tearing open the door. He half expected the creature to already be there, standing in the hallway, shadowing the passage, blocking all chances of escape but the hall was devoid of any alien creatures. Aaron rushed into his parent's bedroom not bothering to close the door behind him as he heard heavy thuds coming up the stairs toward him.

Hands shaking violently, his nerves were on fire, his stomach was twisting in painful knots, Aaron made it to his father's bedside nightstand and slid open the drawer. His father's 9mm was there. He slapped in a magazine and charged the weapon as the footsteps grew louder and louder.

The creature shrieked powerfully. The deafening scream caught Aaron off guard, causing him to flinched with terror, the handgun tumbled out of his hands and clattered onto the nightstand. Small sounds of fright squeaked out of Aaron was he fumbled to pick the weapon up and turn toward his attacker.

The creature barely fit through the doorway, knocking aside his parent's heavy bed as though it were made of Styrofoam. Aaron spun the weapon around to shoot the damned thing in the face but the creature's massive hand shot out, ripping the gun from his grip. A shot was squeezed off but the round buried itself harmlessly in the wall behind the beast.

Aaron felt fiery pain burning up his arm. He looked down and realized that the creature had torn off half his index finger at the middle knuckle. Blood spurted out of the ragged stump in a thin stream. Aaron cried out in shock and pain, recoiling away from the massive creature whose mass seemed to take up the entire room. He fell into the corner, curling up in a defensive ball, no where to go.

The creature tossed the handgun aside and bent forward, looking Aaron directly in the eyes. He could smell its pungent breath but mostly, the stink of it came from the body. It smelled like a dead rotting skunk mixed in with acrid old urine. It sniffed him, the hot breaths were causing his skin to become damp.

Aaron begged it, “Please, I wasn't even driving. We didn't mean to kill anything. It was an accident!”

The creature remained still for a while, regarding Aaron with interest. For a second, Aaron hoped it would reconsider and spare him, until the thing shrieked again, causing his hearing to fail. Then it reared up, raising its fists over its head and brought them down on Aaron's curled form ending all of his contemplating.


 

* * *


 

Donnie had made up his mind to listen to everything Batshit had to say.

Both he and Batshit were sleepy so instead of going directly to Donnie's house, they decided to take a short nap in the Suburban. A few hours later at around 9am, they woke up and headed to Donnie's.

Both Donnie's parents would be at work so they would have some privacy at least.

When they finally arrived at Donnie's house, they first assessed the damage to the Chevy. Thankfully it came with a reinforced grill, otherwise, when they had hit the baby beast, the radiator might have been ruined. The reinforced grill was bent and warped as it was.

When the creature had torn the door off, it had actually damaged the main frame. The metal hinges were ripped completely off, leaving ragged holes in the frame. The back window was mostly intact except for the door that had been thrown through it. The door was stuck halfway through the glass like a bizarre sculpture. They finished breaking through the gummy glass and tossed the ruined door into the side yard.

They were both exhausted, not having slept very much but they went right to the garage with Donnie's father's keys and opened up the gun locker. Donnie retrieved a 12 gauge shotgun with double aught shells and 7.62mm SKS rifle with four 10 round magazines for Batshit. They grabbed a Marlin .35 caliber lever action rifle for Aaron, a box of rounds then locked up the gun locker and loaded everything on board the Suburban.

“This is it, Stuman,” Batshit told him ominously, “The final boss fight. We either survive it or we die. There's no other option.”

Donnie nodded to his friend, “Well then, let's do our best to win.”

The two friends headed over to Aaron's house, only to find police cars, an ambulance and the coroner's van parked out front. Without driving any closer, neither of them bothered asking about it or looking it up online. They knew what had happened. They both knew that Aaron was dead. The creature had gotten to him within hours.

It was still in the area, somehow staying out of sight from the authorities, hunting them. How something so big could escape notice in the middle of the city, was beyond their reckoning. Donnie headed up the highway, through the city and toward the mountains. The plan was to set up camp in a desolate spot and wait for it to approach them. Once it was within sight, they would empty their weapons into the creature and put an end to its rampage.

“How do you think its tracking us?” Donnie asked Batshit as they drove toward Big Bear.

“Who fucking knows? How could it remain undiscovered for as long as it has?” Batshit leaned closer to his friend and spoke in a conspirative tone, “Do you know there are some crazy people that believe these creatures are actually a form of prehistoric man? Like fucking neanderthals or something? That's the reason scientists don't want to investigate it fully and just ridicule all the sightings, acting like it doesn't exist. These big, hairy, ugly motherfuckers might just prove that humans aren't descended from apes. You ever hear that?”

Donnie wanted to roll his eyes but decided to humor Batshit. Their lives were threatened and they could possibly die in a few hours. He said, “Yeah, I think I watched a show that claimed something like that.”

Batshit continued, “Some of those same crazy fuckers believe that these creatures might not even be from here. That they actually come from another world and that they're inter dimensional beings.”

Donnie shrugged, “Who really knows?”

Batshit nodded, “Yeah, some believe they might actually be fucking aliens!” He laughed, “Anyway, I think its using an ability to find us that we don't know about. Its some strange ability or power that allows the creature to do things beyond our capacity to comprehend.”

Donnie swallowed hard, “If its an alien or some inter dimensional creature, then do you really think we have a shot at killing it before it kills us?”

“No.”

Donnie looked at his friend, hoping to find a taunting smile on his face, signaling that he was only joking. Batshit's face was blank though.

Batshit wasn't finished, “But I'd rather die trying to kill it instead of just sitting around waiting for it to find us, wouldn't you?”

“Shit,” Donnie said, “I guess.”

They arrived at a dirt access road and followed it far back into the woods. Donnie parked off the road then both young men quickly unloaded the weapons from the vehicle. They set up a makeshift camp, quickly gathering firewood, creating a fire pit and setting up their tent. They forgot to bring any food but at least they had a few bottles of water to sip from.

After they were waiting for about five hours, the inadequacy of the plan became apparent. It had taken them over an hour to drive to Big Bear, traveling between 45 and 70 miles an hour. Even if the creature was moving fast it was going to take it half a day to reach them. They were sitting on a log before the unlit fire, lamenting their decisions up until this point.

“Fuck,” Batshit complained, “I guess I figured it could teleport itself to us or something.”

Donnie studied his friend with amusement, “Teleport? You thought it could just vanish from one spot and appear in another like in Star Trek? We would have never got off the mountain last night if it could do that!”

Dude, gimme a fucking break, will ya?” Batshit said defensively, “I wasn't thinking straight all day. Losing two of our friends has got my mind all frazzled. This son of a bitch just needs to die. Its not going to get me! Hell no! Not me!”

Donnie gritted his teeth, “It's not going to get me either! After what it did to Dean and Aaron, I don't feel guilty about killing its baby either. This is war. Its either us or it.”

Now you're talking.”

The sunlight began fading over the valley they were in, the trees were slowly being swallowed up by shadows. It wasn't cold enough for the fire but the young men lit it anyway for a light source.

Both of their cell phones had been going off all day and both of them had ignored the emails, text messages and missed phone calls from their respective family and friends. The police were looking for them. The police wanted to ask them about what happened to Aaron. Dean had not been seen since the day before, did they know where he was? Did they know Aaron had been murdered? Where we they? Their parents were begging them to come home or at least call them to make sure they were safe.

Neither of them bothered to respond. They would never be safe until the creature was dead.

They can find us by tracking our cell phones,” Donnie told Batshit.

Let the cops come,” Batshit said, “If they get here in the middle of the night, maybe they can help us kill the fucking thing.”

They had equipped themselves with powerful heavy flashlights that were more akin to spotlights. If the creature was going to attack them, it would most likely come at night or at least that what they figured.

Hours passed, the crescent moon was beginning its journey into the sky and the sun had ducked under the horizon. The forest was unnaturally quiet.

Nature could be quite creepy at night. A dark narrow path through a misty swamp, an overgrown archway of trees, a quiet meadow draped in deep shadows, a stand of silent darken trees could all seem ominous and foreboding once nightfall arrived. Knowing this didn't make the two young men feel any better about their situation.

After another hour had passed, it was around ten o'clock, they thought they heard a car approaching, thinking they had perceived the telltale sound of tires on dirt and gravel. It didn't turn out to be anything. They were alone, far out in the wilderness, being stalked by an unseen creature.

Batshit suddenly leaped to his feet, rifle at the ready. His sudden movement caused Donnie to do the same, stricken by panic.

What?” Donnie hissed urgently.

Do you smell that?”

Donnie sniffed the air. It was the unmistakable stink of the creature. He barely caught a whiff of it over the campfire but the smell was present. The creature was nearby.

Oh God.

This is it, Stuman,” Batshit whispered resolutely, “Its go time. Do or die, baby!”

No running away,” Donnie growled, “We stay at each other's side. We don't leave one another behind.”

I'm not going anywhere.”

The eerie silence continued, neither of the young men had any idea from what direction the stench was approaching. Both of them switched on the flashlights, sweeping the underbrush for any signs of the creature.

Donnie had to pee so bad, his eyes were watering but he held it in. His insides were twisting into a cold knot of fear, his mouth was dry and his legs felt rubbery. Sweat poured from him in what seemed to be rivers of perspiration, sending beads of cold slithering droplets running down every part of his body.

Looking over at Batshit, Donnie could see that his friend was as on edge as he was. Oddly enough, Batshit had a small smile on his lips. The lunatic was probably enjoying the rush of fear. Although Batshit was crazy, Donnie couldn't think of anyone else his age he'd rather have at his side. He knew that Batshit would keep his word. He would not run, he would not abandon Donnie no matter what. He would stay at his friend's side, even to the death.

Donnie hoped that he would have the courage to do the same when the time came.

There was a small disturbance, a sudden rustle in the trees in the midst of the undergrowth. Both of them immediately shined their flashlight beams at the spot, illuminating the dark pocket of trees.

Donnie never heard anything but he felt a sprinkle of warm droplets splatter the side of his face. He could smell the salty scent of blood and tasted it on his tongue. Turning in horror, he watched as Batshit collapsed suddenly, dropping face first. The entire back of his friend's skull was crushed in, the ragged exposed edges of flesh and bone looked like an eggshell. Dark fluid and chunky bits brain had sprayed everywhere, drenching Donnie with what was left of his friend's head.

Donnie screamed in horror realized Batshit had been hit with a football sized rock. The creature had thrown it from behind them, smashing Batshit's head in.

Donnie swung the shotgun around, seeing the twin red eyes reflected in the beam of the flashlight, like crimson embers of hell fire. The creature shrieked in triumph and charged at Donnie, knocking over a small tree and trampling the underbrush as it came. Its speed was terrifying.

Donnie lost control of his bladder.

Knees knocking, panic stricken, arms trembling, Donnie dropped the flashlight and raised the shotgun. He fired one shot, striking the creature in the upper torso. With increasing panic, he realized the creature had not been slowed, so he fired again and again. The creature raised one arm up, protecting its face from the shots, still coming at him fast. The shotgun boomed, the large pellets were no doubt hitting the creature but they had very little effect.

Donnie cocked the shotgun and pulled the trigger hearing a hollow click. He was out of ammunition. Casting the shotgun away, he grabbed for Batshit's SKS but it was too late. The creature grabbed him.

The beast's large hands were on either side of Donnie, pinning his arms to his side. It easily hoisted him up so that his feet dangled and pulled him to within eye level with it.

Now that the creature was close, the stench was unbearable. Donnie could see that the creature was bleeding. The shots had hit and wounded it but the shotgun lacked the power to penetrate its thick skin deep enough to kill it.

Donnie was bawling. His friends were all dead and now he was going to join them. All because of a joy ride. All because they stopped to see what they had hit in the road. If they had only kept going, if they hadn't been so curious, then this creature might not have learned their scent. It might have not been able to track and hunt them all down.

Through his tears, Donnie could see the creature's eyes clearly now. It eyes weren't reflecting a bright light source at the moment. They were light brown, the irises remarkably human-like but the sclera was dark yellow instead of white. Donnie could see wisdom in the creature's eyes, an intelligence that separated it from the rest of the woodland animals it shared the forest with. These skunk apes had lived out in the wild for thousands of years, maybe even longer than human beings.

Donnie could not help but marvel at the creature that held him aloft, a mythical beast that was said to not exist, a creature given so many different names over the ages by so many different ancient peoples but completely dismissed by the modern scientific community.

Donnie probably could have kicked it in the face, but he knew it wouldn't do any good except to piss it off further. He met the creature's eyes again, searching for a sign of compassion, desperately trying to locate a hint of mercy. There was none. Donnie could only see a cold regard.

Well?” Donnie said to it, “What the hell are you waiting for? Get it over with.”

The creature shifted its grip on him, grasping him by the legs and began to hammer him against the ground as though it were using his body to drive a stake. After a few swings, Donnie's body was broken and his liquids began to splash everywhere. The creature held Donnie's remains in one hand and grabbed Batshit's corpse up with the other.

At the camp site, bits of the young men's bone, possibly some teeth and blood would be found but nothing else.

The creature moved directly toward the crest of the mountain, as close to the peak as it could get. Even though it was carrying a burden, the beast easily scaled the rocky cliffs and navigated the narrow ledges until it was high up on the sheer rocky mountain spires where humans and search dogs could not reach. It found deep crevices in the rocks to stuff the bodies of the two young men into. The mountain would be their graveyard, their final resting place. Their bodies would never be found by their people.

The creature, the surrounding rocks, the stars above, the shy moon, the whispering wind and the forest knew where their corpses were hidden but nature could be quite creepy about hiding its secrets and the trees are silent.


© Copyright 2018 Cthulu45. All rights reserved.

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