Welcome, and you always are.
Please consider that all of my free stories, unlike my publications do not benefit from the input of professional editors and so I do my best but never claim these are perfect. Enjoy. David Stevens.
NIGHTMARE INTO REALITY
Brilliant summer sunlight faded, as thick dark forbidding clouds achieved their reign over a barren Earth. A single, flaring, burst of lightening erupted from the blanket of darkness lighting the ground below. Flares of fire flashed sky-wards, reflected from the water of a lakes surface.
Breathing out a long sigh of relief, Professor Tim Lyman gently removed the final piece of typed paper from his typewriter. Carefully, he placed it on top of the mountainous pile which had materialized beside him.
Looking up from my type writer I take in the churning waters of the lake, my lake. I think that after twenty years I still find the idea of owning my own lake almost mysterious, but somehow very satisfying. My agent will be happy with me, now that I have finally finished my latest manuscript. Tomorrow I will send it off and try to forget it, my part done for now, let them do their bit now.
My title of Professor is in fact an honorary one, earned by my having an ability to write, and have published, a selection of weird stories. I mostly deal with the macabre, my story lines twist and turn with the speed and fluency of a Sidewinder snake, or so they say. Even with the public acclaim for my work, ie it sells, my life still feels empty, unfulfilled somehow.
I have a single burning ambition, I want for once in my life to compile on paper a real story, a single happening of which I can be proud to have authored. To date, my life could only at best be described as a B rate movie, and therefore my own life story would be boring at best and certainly a financial failure should I ever publish it, of that I am certain. Not that I would ever expect to find anyone that would be gullible enough to want to publish it in the first place.
Twin columns of sparkling electricity exploded from deep within the thickening clouds. Each bolt seeking to earth itself, within the ground below; there to fritter its brief existence away for nothing. One of the twin discharges was to be denied its rightful destiny, as it had impacted high into the top of an ancient tree. Normally the discharge would have exploded with a fireworks display of light, traveling down the ancient bark and into the ground below. But not this time.
I had glanced up at just the right moment to witness the surface of my lake erupt with dancing fireflies of electric light; I watched as the remaining lightening discharged and defused into the lakes dark ancient waters. There to inflict little damage, except to a lone pike as it swam too close to the lake surface. The fish died in a wonderland of electric agony, its flesh separated, torn and rent from its bones, the creature burned and shriveled to a crisp; all that remained for its remains to do was to gradually settle to the lake bottom, there to join the ever present and much needed food chain for the other lake dwellers.
The Jackaria felt the life giving pulse of electricity as it flew throughout its muscular body. Life flooded its ancient self with deep fulfilling purpose, it lived once more. Centuries before, this creature of the dark-world had been banished from the light, it had been forced to become at one with the life essence of a young oak tree. Its existence bonded to the tree as the ages pass it bye, a forgotten entity from a long forgotten time.
Its life force had passed from generation through generation with the death and rebirth of the oak, from acorn through to mighty tree and back again. So many times had passed for it that counting was impossible, until that moment, that single point in time when nature via a lightening strike had granted it it’s freedom. Out there the world of man unseen for millennia waited for it to explore and enjoy once more.
By its nature the Jackaria thrived on the evil and suffering, which resides deeply imbedded within the entity called man. It feeds constantly on man’s desires and also his flesh; thriving on the turmoil that man creates by his very existence. It lives by absorbing blood, flesh, pain and suffering; the creature would even resort to creating both to ensure its own survival, when it was necessary. Nature in her wisdom had set the captive free to roam again a world it considered was it’s own, a play pen for mayhem and death. Itr flexed its ancient claws in anticipation as it departed from its long confinement
Sitting back in my chair, feeling it rock slightly whilst I tried to decide whether it would be worth the soaking that the sky promised with its darkening, just to ease my aching stiff bones with a brief walk in the gathering darkness of a fading daylight. Perhaps not I thought, as I rose to make myself a cup of tea. From outside I heard my valley overlooking my lake erupt with a hideous howling scream. A scream of pure terror or of awakening, a sound driven forth from a hideous nightmare, the writer of fiction in me could not resist entering my thoughts.
EEEawwlee, it penetrated deep into my startled consciousness as I strained my ears to listen, only to be denied a repetition of the screeching sound. Somewhat disturbed by the surreal caterwauling, I cautiously approached my closed front door. I twisted the handle, knowing that the door was not locked, I opened it. Nobody around these parts, including myself, ever locked their front doors. After all, who would want to come this far out into the wilds to steal or damage, or so the logic went.
Outside resembled more the flickering half-light of early evening, rather than the slowly fading brilliance of a summer day. Above the sun had been swallowed whole by dense black clouds, distant trees across the small clearing, that I laughingly called my front lawn, appeared to swirl and sway to a rhythm of their own.
Across and around the lake movement stirred, ancient movement, movement contained for centuries but now set free to roam. It leapt effortlessly the forty-feet between it and the hard ground below. Covering the distance with as much thought as you would expel striding down your porch step. The Jackaria escaped its prison, it was free once more to terrorize the world with its insatiable lust, to seek out the ultimate thrill; it desired first to seek out a food source then create fear in it, before completely destroying it.
Powerful leg muscles contracted as the creature hit the solid ground easily absorbing the impact, it landed feet apart on the earth, indenting its dry surface with claw marks for the first time in a thousand years. Overwhelmed by its freedom, its blood red head tilted back, hideously deformed jaws parted to reveal twisted, spiraling to a point, canine teeth. From between its inflamed looking lips, a bloodcurdling howl escaped, EEEawwleee. Its screech of announcement, its indication to the world of it presence traveled across the valley. An unholy sound, one unheard by man for centuries echoed back its greeting to the Jackaria.
I had just turned away from the darkness outside intending to walk back inside, when the air was rent again, with that lone hideous scream. A scream filled with pain and suffering, a scream to which the only response was to freeze where I stood. For the first time since I had purchased my reclusive home I felt fear of my surroundings, of the unknown, of the creatures lurking hidden within the shadows. Fear, which caused normally steady muscles to tremble. Once free of my terror induced reaction I hastily glancing around, then without thought I retreated from the outside, passing quickly back through my stout wooden front door; this time locking it firmly behind me.
Hiking had become a pleasant pastime for Melanie; it occupied her active mind, forcing her to concentrate only on the ground and sights about her. She wondered why it had taken her so long to realize that she really enjoyed the peace of backpacking in the hills. A whole week of solitude, there was no Ralph now to hassle her into bed, or demand to know where she went, or who she met. At last she had finally blown him out before coming on this trip, she was trying to forget. There were no teachers to ask her probing questions, just peace, solitude and nature. All stretching out before her held beneath a cloudy black day, she looked around at a natural lake. Carefully she slid herself down the shallow embankment, until she stood firmly on the lakes rocky shore. Breathing deeply she watched as the waters churned and eddied, almost tidal in appearance, but not so according to her map she thought.
Branches parted easily as the lithe red creature forced itself through the dense undergrowth, sometimes flinging itself high into the trees to avoid a rough piece of terrain. Ape-like in stature, resembling a deformed orangutan, the Jackaria pursued a scent. Its keen sense of smell allowed it to track the fresh source of meat far ahead of it and without having to actually pass along its preys trail.
Satisfied with her hike so far, Melanie slipped off her backpack and carefully began to unpack her tent. Once she had removed the thin restraining straps, she rolled out the canvas and assembled the point topped poles, which were the tents canvas supports.
Crouched high in a tree overlooking the meal below, wedged between a pair of thick strong branches, the Jackaria prepared to lunge. Having tracked its food effortlessly, it now needed to eat; hunger had driven it to a point where even its desire for suffering and torture had to be ignored. Tensed muscles catapulted the creature outward, its springing leap designed to carry it through the air to impact directly with its kneeling prey.
Melanie picked up the first of her assembled tent poles, carefully she fed the sharp point through an eye-hole in the canvas tent; watching as the pointed piece of steel slotted through the metal ring perfectly.
Clawed feet extended ready for the impact, pointed talons stretched out as the Jackaria closed through the air in silence with its prey. Four limbs thrust the meal downwards onto the thin pointed canvas bearing pole, causing both the spike and its attached tent to punch through the slight girl’s sternum. Twisting with incredible agility and speed, the Jackaria avoided the thin rod as it exploded out through the girl’s spine. She died almost immediately, certainly far quicker than the angered creature would have liked, had it been granted the choice. It was not, it was overwhelmed by its hunger, it’s need to feed, it’s other desires would have to wait.
Brutally the creature tore into the flimsy flesh of it’s victim; satisfaction flooded it’s soul as it tasted real blood saturated flesh for the first time in millennia. A shame, it reasoned, with its limited intelligence, that she had died. Now what could it play with? Who could it torment to satisfy its other desires?
I had slept badly that night haunted by my memory of the eerie sound and the feeling of fear that had flooded my thoughts. Normal, everyday sounds somehow disturbed me as I lay in my bed with the covers pulled high up to my chin, listening to those sounds being generated in the woods as they swirled within my thoughts. The effect was to create a feeling of being drawn back to my childhood fears and of the bogy-man who lived under my bed.
The next morning I had almost, but not quite convinced myself that my imagination had been working overtime, that I had probably heard some pitiful creature screaming away its life in a poachers trap. Well if that was the case they were trespassing, and on my land at that I decided. Flicking back the twin bolts, and then turning the key in the mortise-lock of my front door, (which I had locked firmly last night into place for the first time in years), I strode boldly out onto my low porch.
Swinging before my eyes, dripping thick red lumpy semi-coagulated blood, swung the hacked and torn remains of a human body. Shocked by the sight, I felt my legs go weak and my bowels loosen, I slumped back against the wall, but for some reason I was unable to look away from the gruesome sight. The body had been secured by some sort of thin leather strap to the eaves of my porch roof. From its stomach area trailed a blood covered strip of canvas, which was firmly attached to a thin steel rod; both had penetrated through the torso.
She, the body before me was a she I realised. She swung gently before my eyes rocking lightly, powered by the zephyr gusts of wind from the southwest, which were blowing as normal off the lake. From the trees I heard, or thought I heard, a shattering burst of laughter, but then there was only silence once more.
Sickened by the sudden unexpected sight of the corpse hanging, waiting for me on my balcony, I reel away in disgust, stumbling backwards, retracing my steps into my home. Quickly, as much to shut out the sight, as in fear of the sound or creature out there laughing, I slammed shut and firmly re-locked and then bolted my front door again. With trembling legs I ran into my bedroom, reaching behind my old jackets and deep into my wardrobe. My desperately searching fingers locate the stiff cold barrel of my long forgotten and rarely used hunting rifle. Pulling it out into the daylight I approach my dresser and from the top drawer I remove a single half-empty box of old cartridges for the weapon, carefully I begin to load its magazine. I even cock the gun, drawing back the bolt action to load one round into the mechanism, just so that I could get that one more round into the weapon. My fingers are shaking constantly, I drop one bullet but I ignored it, being fixated on loading the rifle not on neatness: the feeling of being desperate to have its protection filled my thoughts. I need the weapon to protect me against the insanity I felt existed waiting for me outside.
With my rifle fully loaded and held tightly in my hands I slip out of the back door and entered into the brush. My plan was simple, a hasty jog through the woods down to the lakeside, from there onto my boathouse, which is located barely half a mile further around the lake. A quick sprint into the boathouse, unleash the launch, power her up and head out across the lake to fetch the Police. For the first time in years I wish that I had a telephone, or even a radio set, but I have neither.
Trees flicked past me as I stumble and ran towards the shore. Shadowy images appear to float from behind ancient growths, adding immensely to my fear. My legs ache with the effort of running, my breath comes to me in quick snatched gasps, which surprised me, as I have made this walk effortlessly many times; but now, with the fear raging in me, the effort drains my energy away. I force my legs to move to carry me on; I concentrated on breathing trying to slow it to a normal rhythm but still it was the hardest trip to my boat-shed I have ever made. I was fast coming to believe that it might be the most important trip I have made there, if only for my own survival. Finally, gasping hard I reached the lake shore.
EEEawwleee, screeched from my left, emanating from the direction of my boathouse, the same boathouse where I hoped to make good my escape from. Halting my headlong flight, I decide to be a little circumspect in my approach. Having reached the lake shore I step back into the shadows of the overhanging trees, watching and listening intently; my paranoia now out of control and growing fast.
Cautiously I walk parallel to the lakeside, following its line as much as the trees would allow; heading towards my boathouse and escape as silently as I could. Instinct takes over my actions, the desire to survive drives my thoughts and those actions; perhaps I have written one too many strange stories, or perhaps I feel the all consuming evil which betrays the creature’s presence. Either way, I feel relieved quite shortly that caution has been my bye word. Through the trees I find that I can see the boathouse, ‘damn it’ I think, when I realised that it’s door was partially open, when it should have been tight shut.
Using the available cover, (now that’s a cliché if ever there was one). I slip silently towards the wooden structure, whilst remaining hidden from view as far as I could tell. All appeared to be clear and safe if I ignored the open door, but could I rely on appearances. Could I ignore the door swinging on its creaking hinges? ‘No’, I quickly decide, there is no way that I could ignore the door creaking open, blowing in the breeze, it was just to much of a clue to there being something terribly wrong, but still I need to get to the boat within if I was to make good my escape.
I entered back into the denser parts of the woodland, passing alongside and then beyond the boathouse, I continued on with my stealthy penetration. Two hundred yards, three hundred, that should do, I hid my rifel as I could not take it with me; now for the water. Bursting out from between two trees, running at full pelt I splashed into and dived under the calmed surface of the lake. Always a good swimmer I felt confident in my ability to cover the three-hundred yards I had crept along the water front, by swimming and mostly beneath the smooth waters surface.
Swim, swim, surface and breathe, swim, swim, surface and breathe it came naturally to me; the action overrode my fear, so swimming the distance was far easier than walking the wood edge had been. I ploughed on, checking my bearings each time that I surfaced to draw in fresh, much needed air. Ten feet away from one of the wooden supports, which kept the boathouse firmly upright I surfaced gently, trying desperately to avoid creating even a single ripple on the lakes surface. There, just in front of me waited the prow of my fiberglass boat, but something didn’t seem quite right my instincts screamed a warning; this was a point in the tale as a writer, I would have put something key happening…
Entering into the boathouse, breast stroking my way forward through its open lake doorway, which faced rear ward out into the lake its self. I carefully scanned the boathouse’s narrow walk-way. Whilst I hoped remaining concealed within the shadows and lake. Seeing nothing untoward but looking hard all the same; searching for something, anything, I didn’t know what I was looking for then, but I looked anyway. There, where my proud almost new boat should be floating ready to answer my needs instead there was an upturned, half-sunk, wreck.
Pulling myself up and out from the cold lake surface onto the single wooden walkway, feeling satisfied that I had eluded the creature, man, or whatever it was: I looked over the damage. All along the bottom of the boat, heavily punched through the hull were a series of fist sized holes. Upon closer examination I realised that the boat had been overturned before the damage had been inflicted. What could have the strength to flip a twenty-five foot fiberglass boat over? For that matter why would anyone want to? Had the thing, as I had come to think of it, second guessed me or was it just some strange coincidence?
Haarrr, Haarrr, assailed my ears. The maniac was out there, and thought himself funny.
“O God why me?” I mumbled. What now. What was it. Would it come in and kill me or would it be satisfied with its little joke at my expense? I thought frantically; unanswerable questions numbed my mind, adrenalin courses through my ageing veins spurring my body into action; I stood up in the boathouse listening intently, undecided, totally confused, feeling hopeless and helpless not knowing which way to turn.
Then it started, first with a loud clap, followed by a grating, the sound traveling across and down the tin roof high above my head. Each rattle sounded like claws being slowly and deliberately scraped across the ridged metal plates of that roof. The sound halted above the open wooden door. Quickly my fear escalated, accelerating from fear into a full blown, bowel moving terror. Outside a dull plop shattered the silence, as something fell into the soft mud.
‘The creature,’ I thought, preparing to throw myself back into the lake, desperately hoping that it could not swim; but it was only a small pebble.
‘How the hell!’ I look towards the innocuous stone now lying in the mud beyond the open door. The God damn door I realised, seeing my vulnerability to the creature out there by its being open; I rush across the short distance. I reached out and grabbed at the inner handle, and then pull it closed hard against the metal; I half expected to feel the resistance of counter-pull. The door is old and not that strongly built in the first place, it is now filled with many time generated cracks between its planks of wood, but at least it was closed. I pushed my eye against the rough surface feeling its texture against my cheek, desperate now to see my tormentor, but more desperate to see nothing.
What next? My question faded back into the recesses of my mind, still unanswered and soon to be forgotten as I saw it, or at least I thought that I did. More stones rattled across the steel above my head, stretching any tenuous hold that I had on reality. Twanging my nerves like a tautend bow string, increasing my already explosive level of terror. The creature was taunting me, tempting me, trying to scare me into a rash move; whilst also letting me know that was what it wanted me to feel.
Standing before the door just in the shadows of the distant trees, with its elongated arms held above its head was the strangest looking animal I have ever encountered. Somehow the beast seemed almost familiar, perhaps it had escaped from a traveling circus, but there again, perhaps not I decided. Then what in the name of God and all that is holy was it? Christ, I am using some highly religious words; why is it when people are scared or confused they call on God, the writer in me couldn’t help wondering?
‘Well Tim you’ve got yourself into a pretty little mess, so what do you do now? If this was one of my books my hero would have been full of ideas, filled with plans and quite unfazed by the presence awaiting him. I unfortunately am not one of my characters and have no idea what I should or even could do next, so I did the only thing I could, which was nothing but watch and listen and hope and pray.
Standing out there, almost hidden within the shadows of the towering trees the creature presented an almost perfect target. One bullet, carefully aimed, would put an end to this day-mare. This thought triggered a picture image within my mind. I watched myself as I carefully placed my trusted rifle beneath a dense overgrown thorn bush. That had been before my wild charge out into the lake; the weapon would still be waiting there, far out of my reach, waiting for my return, useless to me because of the distance. I looked again, I twisted my head, I could almost see the place that I had departed from for the water. It is just a few short feet away from me, a quick dash for a fit man, but too long, far too long for me to ever consider. The creature would be on me within ten-feet, ripping and tearing at me just like the person had been torn apart I realised, it had killed and then hung her from my balcony to torment me quite deliberately. I would just have to forget the rifle for now and think of something else to do.
With a final howl the creature vanished, so quickly did it move that I almost failed to see it depart. One second it was there, standing before me, watching me watching it, the next moment it was gone. Leaving behind it only the settling of dust eddies to prove that it had ever been out there. The last stone it had hurled, curved through the air to impact hard against the metal roof, thrown much harder it punched through the thin steel to ricochet from wall to wall within the boat shed. The trajectory forced me to duck from its wild flight path before it finally fell with a thud against the upturned hull of my boat and then into the water with a splash. Somewhere on the lake bottom amidst the refuse of the lake that stone now rested, its job of creating terror in me completed. I had to admire the creature’s sheer brute strength and its accuracy at least I thought.
Easing the door open I looked warily out towards the distant tree line, searching for any sign that the thing might have lingered in ambush, hoping that I would find nothing, fearing for my life if I did.
‘Now what?’ I wondered again, has it left or was it just playing with me…. A formidable but now familiar howl filled the valley, cutting across my thoughts, providing an answer of sorts to my question.
I charged out from within the illusion of protection offered by my boathouse, which the creature by its stones and screeches and presence had revealed to me. Racing hard I tore outside once more into the early evening light. My feet pounding the soft lake side as I raced along the shore, My breath fast becoming harder to draw with each lurching stride (running was never a chosen pastime). Finally I located my own footprints as they crossed in front of my racing path, the prints stood out clearly marking my earlier route towards the lake. Halting my dash I turned inland following the tracks away from the water towards the dense woodlands. Gasping now as I entered into the shadowy world of woods and things, I finally after some misdirected searching located the correct thorn bush, the one beneath which I had hidden my rifle.
Reaching carefully underneath the prickly branches, my fingers sought out the smooth wood of the weapon’s stock. Clasping it in glorious relief I pulled firmly, drawing the weapon into the evening light. The rifle seemed reluctant to return to me its master, but finally after pulling and twisting it this way and that, it had parted company with the undergrowth. I had nearly fallen backwards with the release of the weapon, but just in time I thrust my arm out and back stopping the unexpected tumble.
There in my hands rested the old but efficient weapon, I cast a glance along its familiar stock, past the trigger guard and onto the barrel. Tears of frustration welled up from deep inside of me, threatening to flood my vision. The barrel was bent! Not curved, but definitely bent, in fact twisted into a curving arc. Thick sticky blood, coated the twisted barrel, patches of fur dangled loosely amidst the mess. Well that explains the damage, some poor creature had been beaten to death with my rifle I decided, I was terrified all the more at the creature’s obvious ability to track and find, both the weapon and therefore myself as well.
As I looked down in desperation at the damaged rifle I suddenly realised that the creature that had inflicted such brutal damage, had also recently been standing exactly where I was. It had to have been to locate the weapon, and again when it had returned it to my hiding place. I could clearly imagine it grinning as it pushed the twisted barrel back into the cover of the thorn bush, knowing that I would seek out the protection that such a weapon should provide. I also realised that the creature had been able to identify the rife as a weapon somehow, I wondered over that thought for quite some time it showed intelligence of a sort or at least understanding of its quarry.
I wondered where and from what innocent creature the sticky viscous gore had come? Casting about my location I found the hacked remains of a torn feline body, still warm and obviously a recent kill, but why it and not me? The creature had clearly known that I was inside of the boathouse, It must have seen my tracks in the lake shore and therefore it must have known that I was inside of the boat house. It had been inside when it had destroyed my boat, therefore it must have known that there had been little to stop it charging through the door and slaughtering me where I stood, so why hadn’t it, what did it want from me. What warped desires drove its insane seeming actions?
I threw the lump of useless wood and metal, once my old trusted gun deep into the woodlands in frustration. Where the weapon promptly vanished into and amidst the overgrown grasses and woodland debris, there to rot away, forgotten and useless.
From far to my left I heard a burst of all consuming, very insane sounding laughter, the creature was enjoying its little joke. At my expense, I thought, at my Goddamn expense! Its playing with me, taunting me, what next, dear God what next?
What now, where should I go and how should I get to wherever? The lake posed me a major problem merely by it being there. It was too far for a man of my age and in my condition to walk around easily, at least not with any speed. Definitely too far to cross without the aid of a boat, I decided. Over there, across its smooth wet surface I could reasonably expect to find help safety and solace. My thought processes led me to the inevitable conclusion, ‘that only leaves the road,’ (or rather track), which led from my house, it wound through the woods for some miles before it would lead me to any hope of safety.
Well I can’t stay out here I decided, no protection. Home first for some food, rest and to prepare for the road tomorrow. Carefully I back tracked my route through the woods heading for my home, but watching and listening intently for the thing, whilst also trying to pass along the path as silently as I could.
As I walked, my mind recreated the image of the creature that I was certain that I had seen through the crack of the boathouse door. I somehow thought that it had looked familiar, but why, or should I be asking in what way, I wondered? Darkness engulfed my home by the time that I arrived back, circumspectly I surveyed the property, all seemed quiet. I passed through the rear door, my hand automatically reaching for the light switch. Panic struck me, blasting cold sparks into my heart, halting my impending flick, which would have flooded the room with raw, harsh, artificial illumination. Swiftly I closed the door behind me; shooting home the rusted bolts which I hoped would secure it, doing so at least gave me a vague sense of security, false as it might be…
Hastily I raced through my living room, through my study and up to the front door. I reached out, twisting at the key in a fumbling moment of panic, until I felt the lock engaged with a thunk. Breathing out a whistling uncontrolled breath and at the same time collapsing against the hard wood frame, I relaxed. ‘Safety,’ safety at last I thought as I threw the main switch, lighting up my office den. Quickly I drew the curtains across the windows. “I forgot them,” could be heard across the room as I chided myself for making such an elementary mistake. My characters would never have been so dumb as to illuminate themselves, not them but as for me I had just done exactly that, I needed to start thinking as they would if I was going to live through this nightmare…
Hands shaking he had poured himself a drink, the Scotch eased his tense muscles adding to a feeling of euphoria that his safety had provided. With a chair firmly placed against the door, a wardrobe across the curtained window and a meat cleaver from the kitchen by his side, he took time to think. He had chosen his bedroom as the most easily secured room in the house, with its single narrow window and one solid door. Outside he heard the wind building up as the cloud storm progressed. By then as he listened the lake had become a teaming mire of wind blown waves, fighting to crash upon the shore, or against his boathouse. He delved into his tortured exhausted mind, trying to draw from his memory an image to resemble the creature he had seen, he failed. He sank slowly onto the bed, frustrated by his failure to remember.
Currump, sounded very close to his bedroom wall, he knew the sound that falling trees made as they exploded dying leaves and branches across the muddy ground. That one he decided had been close, too bloody close for comfort.
From just to the left of his ear, a loud echoing thump reverberated throughout the room as something struck hard at the walls of his home, his haven. For the first time he remembered the sight of his boat, flicked casually over and punched repeatedly through. What safety would these walls offer against a power so awesome that it could do such a thing? His terror mounted.
Eventually even adrenalin has to fade, then fatigue and old age come into their own. Even a fear driven man has to sleep sometime, Tim was no exception, he finally submitted to the inevitable and slept…
Outside the Jackaria absorbed the sweet scent of undiluted fear as it flowed through the mortar, spilling out between its almost invisible cracks. Sating the creature, but equally stimulating it into a mindless state of need, a raging desire for violence. This human would help to alleviate a part of its cravings, at least until the end of its game.
Silently it approached the walls, behind which its prey cowered, hiding with its false sense of security. It hesitated about to pound the structure, in to a the flimsy wall into matchwood. No not yet it decided, through need clouded thoughts. Another time, soon.
Instead it departed leaving the human male behind it, Laughing aloud as it departed into the woods – there to seek out new and different sources of satisfaction.
From deep blissful silence Tim’s room erupted into an explosive, vibrant, chilling place, which only had the right to exist within the confines of a nightmare. All about him walls crumbled to dust, bricks ripped from mortar to hurl themselves aimlessly across the room, powered by huge destructive arms. The creature was here and in his room, seeking him. Needing him…
Twin viciously clawed hands raked at the edges of a recently created hole, tearing out more bricks and enlarging the access. Propelling itself through the dust filled gap, the Jackaria entered. Overwhelmed with fear Tim threw himself from his bed, colliding with the room’s far wall. Blackness swamped out the horrendous vision, to be replaced by a dull grey light. With his eyes firmly open he stared at the place which harbored the nightmare creature.
Gone. It had vanished as had the rented wall and the loose bricks, even the dust had cleared. In fact, the only thing that had altered since he had sat down to think on his bed, hidden behind his barricades, was his own position. Tears of unadulterated relief flowed from his staring eyes, as the last vestiges of his nightmare vanished into the twilight world within his mind.
Early the next morning, he had risen, dressed appropriately for the long walk, he had no car only the boat and that was gone, he checked out his home, all was quiet. Not wishing to encounter the bloody swinging corpse, he departed via the back door. The body had moved… Seemingly asleep it rested propped upright, grotesquely bloody with its accompanying spike. Distorted agonised features appeared to stare up at Tim, as he departed past it from his home trying not to look. The creature had obviously removed the cadaver from its swinging place on his front porch and placed it instead to greet his expected departure. Somehow it had known that he would decide to leave his sanctuary via the rear. It knew that it’s prey would run…
His legs felt rubbery as he dwelt on the close proximity it had been to him while he had slept. It’s silence appalled him, as did it’s speed and strength. What hope did he, an ageing Professor, have against a creature with such malevolent intent and physical prowess. None, but still he had to fight for his right to existence, even though he felt beaten already. In front of him on this bleak windswept morning stretched a long hard trek, hopefully to safety and sanity.
About half a mile was all that he had covered before he heard the chilling howl of the creature. Turning his head this way and that, Tim tried to pin-point the source of his terror, he settled on the lake area. It was down by the lake shore or so he thought. Why? His answer came like a bolt from the blue, Thomas, Old Tom, Monday morning, God it’s Monday morning. Old Tom would be arriving with his weeks groceries and the local gossip, unprepared for what would be awaiting him.
Hastily I turned running towards the lake, vainly filled with a vague hope that I might save the old man from his nemesis and perhaps myself as well. Branches slashed indiscriminately at my body each trying to hold me back or slow me down, my breath came in labored panting gasps. Back past the house, down the track, towards the jetty. There in front of me, through the diminishing trees I could see it, the creature.
Screeching it’s primeval fury with the human race, it raced ape like along the rickety jetty. Leaping high into the air to land sure footedly astride the old moored motor launch. Caught off balance by the sudden impact, which caused his boat to lurch violently, Old Tom wind-milled his arms trying to regain his balance. Before his eyes reared the creature, it’s face expressing a malignant insanity, created by hatred of it’s ancient enemy.
I watched, stunned. Lightening fast the creature had grasped the defenseless elderly Tom and lifted him, hauling his kicking feet clear of the deck and holding him out over the water. Downwards plunged the creature’s arm, with Tom still effortlessly grasped within its clawed hands, thrusting him into the water and on.
Mud swirled around Tom’s face as he struggled; white foam cascaded across the lakes surface, as those last few most precious bubbles of air trickled upwards to the surface. Dirt and ancient sediment filled his lungs, still the hand retained it’s grip. Gradually Tom’s valiant efforts faded – then he died, the creature had killed Old Tom just for existing and because it could.
Drowning had never been a part of Old Tom’s ` life or death ‘ plan. He had hoped to pass on from this world safely tucked up in his own warm bed, not at the bottom of a churning mud based lake, held submerged by the reality of a living nightmare. With its jaws parted in a parody of a human smile, the Jackaria absorbed the fear released by Old Tom, closely followed by his resignation and final acceptance of his passing, which sweated from all of the old man’s pores. It, like the shark detects blood, could scent fear with incredible accuracy, even when it emanated from beneath the water.
I broke into the light, as the body of my friend had been plunged effortlessly and held deep beneath the roiling surface. I watched as Tom’s struggles faded to nothing, fear reigned, I was frozen by the inhumanity of the creatures bloodlust, a statue placed on the beach front, helpless and alone.
I watched the creature haul upward with an unparalleled strength, lifting the lifeless corpse of Old Tom out of the lake. It shook the body at arms length, before casting it ashore as though it were a child’s rag doll, then I ran again. Tearing past the house, driven by fear for my sanity and mortality,
Professor Tim Lyman charged on into the brush.
He wandered for days through a sea of tree’s, drinking occasional slurps of water from leaves or pools that he passed. Not once since he had turned and run had he encountered or seen a sign of the mysterious creature. Yet Tim still felt it’s presence ringing through his thoughts, taunting him with it’s laughter. Finally his panic subsided; he reached a winding pathway, which he vaguely recalled would lead him to a main road of sorts.
Once he entered onto the tarmac stream, it wasn’t long before his weary, disheveled appearance attracted the attentions of a kindly soul, who had insisted on extending his own journey by taking Tim all of the ten miles or so that separated him from the nearest town. Once there, Tim had sought out the Police Station and told his story to the Desk Officer. The Police dispatched officers to the scene of his complaint as detailed by Tim.
Old Tom Quigley was found wedged beneath a sunken tree near to his grounded boat. Verdict: ‘Accidental death according to the Coroner.’ As for the swinging female cadaver, what swinging female? All traces of the corpse had vanished; as no one had been reported missing there was to be no further investigation. Tim’s boat was put down as having broken free of its moorings and was found wrecked on the rocks at Tollman Point. The file on Professor Tim Lyman’s strange story was closed.
“Well now my girl, you’ve read it , what do you make of my story? That happened five years ago. Did you know I received a prize for that tale along with a commendation from the Literary Society, for best short light horror. No one believes that it’s true, not even the Police, but alas, it is. Do you know I still wonder about the unfortunate girl, who was she? Then there’s the age old question of why me?”
“The creature,” asked the young interested literary student. “What happened to it?”
“Ah, you mean the Jackaria.”
“The Jackaria, it’s a creature from before time, a creature which roamed the earth even before the Magi ruled. It vanished out there.” So saying he indicated towards the wild outlook through his lounge window. “I’m hypothesizing now, but I’m sure that it’s alive, because according to ancient legends which I have unearthed since my escape from it, indicated that it was virtually indestructible. Somewhere child, it roams, terrorising other fresh victims. Look in the newspapers for the horrendous and the inexplicable, there you will find the Jackaria. It’s really a nightmare which has broken through into reality you know. As such it will come and go as it pleases and in accordance with its needs. Perhaps it sleeps now, resting in some secret place, awaiting it’s next meal, who can know.”
“As for myself, I will wait because I am sure that it will return for me some day.”
She glanced into his eyes, looking for what she didn’t know but she found only the truth, she averted her face and thought fearfully for him.
“Anyway, in closing this interview I will say that sane or mad, as some have called me, at least I finally got my story. Perhaps one day I will get another, who knows the future.
“What good would it do if you could…”
“Good my dear, why none, the Jackaria knows nothing of goodness or light, only death and horror fill its mind and thoughts, only death and horror.” He repeated slipping away from her again.
With a grinding of overstrained gears, accompanied by the slipping of tires, the Land rover estate ground to a halt. The track which it had been following had petered out a half mile earlier. Disgorging from the cramped vehicle, hauling out heavy full back-packs, climbed a group of assorted children. One by one they shouldered their rucksacks and prepared to set out on their week long hiking adventure into the mountainous wilds. Their instructor took the lead as the Land rover reversed away to turn around and depart. Whistling and singing they walked between the trees always heading deeper into a wilderness. Laughter echoed with glorious high spirits, around and throughout the valley. Two by two the children followed their leader towards a predetermined campsite, their excitement was evident, the noise level increasing to shatter the silence of the woods that surrounded them; drawing attention from every creature around but unseen by them.
At the base of an ancient towering oak tree, lay an innocent stone. Beneath a thin rock veneer swirled a dense grey fog. Protected by the stone which formed an entrance cover, in a hidden and long forgotten or un-discovered cavern, sleeping on a bed of course thick dead grasses rested the Jackaria, in what for it was the closest thing to a home. It had traveled miles from the professor’s lake to this location and it felt comfortable in the wilderness that surrounded it.
A high pitched whistling crept into the creature’s lair, stirring it from its dreamless rest. Laughter reverberated through the trees, seeping below the ground, stimulating a latent desire, activating the creature of nightmare’s into life.
The Jackaria rose, scenting the air as it crossed through the mists of time to it’s stone doorway. With an effortless heave it tossed aside the covering stone and departed into the fading twilight.
“I say,” shouted one of the boys. “We should have some brill stories to tell when we get home.” Not far away listened a creature which should not exist, it smiled and mouthed its thought’s, “If, if, not when….”