It was the road to nowhere. Well, perhaps not nowhere, it had to lead somewhere, but to me that night, it seemed to be endless with no set destination. Miles and miles of rough road, bordered only by a tall cornfield to my left rustling and waving in the wind, and a dark forest to my right. I was in my car, driving back home after visiting my grandparents. It was well past midnight and I was the sole driver on the desolate road. Indeed, I seemed to be the only living being for miles. Pitch black engulfed my little car, pressing in on all sides like the clouded depths of the sea, and I could only see what my weak headlights illuminated. I didn’t even have a radio to keep me company, seeing as how mine had died a long ways back. So I was left with only the steady hum of my engine and my own thoughts to distract me from my monotonous task. It was a sweltering summer night, so I drove with the windows down. The cool breeze caressed my face. I could feel myself relax, I needed to be alone. I needed something to take my mind off things, things like my work and family. For a while, I was content, a bit tired, but content.
As I travelled further down the road, something almost made me veer right off. A piercing cry echoed through the night, shattering the peaceful calm that had instilled. It sent daggers down my spine. I felt myself shiver and my hairs bristle. I remember thinking to myself that there was no way that that was a natural sound. It sounded like someone was torturing an animal and it was in its throes of death. I tried to calm myself down.
‘It’s nothing,’ I thought, ‘Probably just a jackal.’
But even as I thought that, I knew I was lying to myself and accelerated my speed. How I would regret not flooring it immediately.
It was a while before I noticed the change from the sounds I had grown so accustomed to. Along with the soft roar of my engine and the whistling wind, I could hear a rustling to my left, as if something was running right next to me. But that was ridiculous, I thought, I was going 50 at the very least. I feared what I would find if I turned my head, but curiosity got the better of me in the end. Slowly turning my head, what I laid my eyes on nearly gave me a heart attack. Just a few feet from me was a creature. It was running at ungodly speeds to keep with my small vehicle. It had pale, translucent skin and a humanoid body, but seemed to be too scrawny, tall and frail to be one. Its hands were long and sinewy with claws as long as my forearms and looked to be as sharp as a meat cleaver. And its head, dear God, its head. Even as its body bobbed up and down with its long gait, its head remained still, transfixed on my terrified face. It had wide eyes with dilated pupils to insane proportions. They seemed to take up almost the entirety of its face, the rest being occupied by his mouth, twisted in a maniacal grin. Our eyes crossed paths for but a few moments, yet seemed to last an eternity. I was frozen in pure fear, but my heart was beating at an insane pace. I frantically closed the window and slammed the gas pedal, leaving the thing far behind, or so I hoped.
Even as I got further away, I could feel it catching up, its gait constant and demoniac smile still plastered on its face. In the distance, I could see the twinkle of civilization. I could make it, I thought and almost collapsed into grateful sobs. I glanced at my rear view mirrors to see if It was nearby, and two gleaming, disembodied eyes floated in the backseat to greet me. I felt a breath on the back of my neck.
Gabriel Tam Dumais
Originally Published in Vol. 47 Issue 4 on October 25th, 2017