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The next morning I woke up around 10, it wasn’t a big surprise that I was home alone. My parents weren’t around too often after they split. I lived with my dad but he was always too busy with work to be around on weekends and my mom had moved to Delaware about a year after their divorce was finalized. I got out of bed, ate a bowl of fruit loops and then called Owen. Unsurprisingly he didn’t pick up, he probably got more baked than a cake last night and was still sleeping off the effects. So I tried Henry, after a few rings his voice came through the speaker.
“Morning Tibby, what’s up?” Henry said.
“Do you have plans today, I was gonna go check out the house. Owen’s asleep still I think, but do you want to come?” I asked.
“I’m not asleep!” Owen’s voice answered. I laughed a little before replying.
“Why didn’t you answer me then?”
“Didn’t see you called, I left my phone at my house.” He explained.
“I see, where are you guys?”
“On our way to your house,” said Henry.
“We were coming to see if you were awake so we could go check out the house.”
“Ahh I see, how much time do I have til you guys get here?”
“We just pulled into your driveway.” Henry’s words were followed with a car horn from outside.
“Goddammit, give me a minute, I need to put a bra on.” I replied.
“Gross, hurry up,” Owen told me.
“Owen, shut up, you dirtbag.”
“Fuck you, get out here.”
I hung up and walked back into my room. I threw a pair of jeans, a bra, and an old rolling stones t-shirt on. I grabbed the folded up paper from yesterday along with the key from off my desk and stuck them in my back pocket, put on a pair of Vans, and walked to the front door, grabbing my phone off of the kitchen counter on my way outside. Henry and Owen sat in Henry’s truck, the second Owen saw me he leaned over the middle console and laid on the horn. I flipped him off, he put on a look of mock offense and slumped back into his seat. I laughed and approached the passenger’s door. Owen swung it open and climbed out. I hopped in and sat in my usual spot on the center console. Owen slid in behind me and shut the door.
“Anyone traveled out to bumfuck?” Owen asked, looking over at Henry who was now pulling out of my driveway.
“I mean I’ve been out there, but after looking at the address again this morning it’s a lot farther out than I thought.” I replied, as I fished through my pocket for the folded up page.
“What county?” Henry said, I opened the paper and scanned the small words until I found the address.
“Griffit, next county over but only barely, still in the woods somewhere I assume.” I told him. He nodded as I plugged the address into the GPS on my phone. “23 minutes from our current location.” I balled the paper back up and stuck in back in my pocket.
“Be my navigator? I don’t trust Owen after the Rita’s incident.” Henry said. I immediately burst out in laughter, remembering the time we were heading to get custard on my birthday from some new ice cream chain, and ended up halfway across the state at an aquarium. Needless to say it still ended up being a pretty awesome birthday, however Owen was not allowed to navigate after that.
“Hey fuck you that was one time!” Owen argued, although I heard a hint of amusement in his defensive voice, “Besides it was a cool aquarium.” The last part was said under his breath, I was dying at this point and trying to keep my balance on the center console.
“We don’t need to end up at knock off Seaworld today Owen.” Henry replied, smiling at a grumpy looking Owen.
The laughter died down as we continued driving, it was replaced with Owen’s music (on Henry’s phone) blaring from the speakers and us singing along. I tried not to miss any turns or directions coming from my phone during our makeshift concert. We pulled into the driveway of the house in the middle of Blink 182’s "What’s My Age Again," Owen and I were however still screaming the lyrics as Henry parked the car.
“Guys, we’re here.” He yelled over Owen’s air guitar and my own air drums. Neither of us acknowledged him though as we were too busy with our imaginary instruments. He turned the volume down and before he could repeat himself Owen screamed at him.
“Henry that song is a fucking banger, turn it back up or I will invert your ribcage!”
“He speaks for both of us.” I added, as we both stared at Henry. He sighed and turned the music back to full blast. Our imaginary rock concert continued until the song ended, Henry waited until we were done and then opened his car door. Owen handed Henry his phone before hopping out of the car with me not too far behind. I slid my phone into my back pocket and pulled the key out of my front pocket. We weaved through the thick grass and weeds on our way to the porch, trying to avoid any spiky plants that could possibly impale us or get stuck to our clothes. I laughed as Owen constantly jumped over branches and plants in front of me. Ones that could’ve been easily stepped over or moved, but what can I say? Owen has a different way of doing things. Whether it's his excessive smoking or his dark hair that’s spiked to hell and back. Hell that’s why we kept him around, well that and the free pot. But mostly cause his personality meshed so well with my own and Henry’s.
I was hesitant to step onto the porch as it was cracked, rotted, and barely standing, but after seeing it hold both Henry’s and Owen’s weight I decided to chance it. I carefully proceeded up the steps and over to my two friends. I went to unlock the door with the key but before I could, Owen kicked it and it flung open, the inside lock making a clank noise as it was flung somewhere in the opening hallway of the house.
“I have a key dumbass, now the door won’t lock!” I said exasperated at the stupidity of Owen.
“Shit, my bad.” He replied, before scratching the back of his neck and looking down at me. Henry laughed and led the way into the house. I followed him in and expected Owen to follow me. And he probably would’ve if he didn’t leave his backpack, Finnigan, in the truck. Finnigan was his most prized possession, well at least it held his most prized possessions. It was never that far from him at any point, he sleeps next to it, it's in the bathroom while he showers. I swear he probably sets a place at his table for it, and I know for a fact it always gets shotgun while we’re riding in Owen’s car. I’d make fun of him for it if I didn’t appreciate the contents of it as much as he did.
“Fuck, I forgot Finnigan in the truck, I’ll be back,” he told us before sauntering out of the front door, letting it slam behind him. I looked at the ground as we strolled around, searching for the lock that Owen had mercilessly split from the rest of the door. Something shiny caught my eye and I crouched down and got a better look at it. It was in fact the cylindrical lock bit. I dropped it in my pocket and sped up to keep up with the long legged Henry. The door creaked open once more and slammed shut, footsteps were heard approaching myself and Henry, who were now standing in the battered remains of a kitchen.
“Guys, you won’t believe this.” Owen said as he walked through the barely intact doorframe.
“What’s up Owen?” Henry asked, looking over at a smiling Owen. He didn’t talk, just slipped Finnigan off of his left shoulder and held it in front of him before unzipping it and reaching into the largest pocket. He shuffled around until his hand found the object he was looking for, a brand new bowl. And boy was she gorgeous, she was bright red, but you could see the differentiations of the color in the glass. On closer inspection around the actual bowl part were the words, “Tibby+Henry+Owen.” I stared in awe at the piece of artwork in front of me.
“Holy shit Owen, how much did it cost to get our names on it?” Henry asked, walking over to Owen to get a better look at the bowl.
“Don’t worry about it, I’ve been scraping up money to get it done since we started smoking together,” Owen told us, “After that first time I knew you guys had been the buddies I was waiting for.”
“Owen, that’s way too sweet of you to say. Are you feeling alright?” I asked him, he chuckled and carefully placed the bowl back into Finnigan’s large pocket and zipped the backpack up.
“That’s actually fucking awesome, man. I can’t imagine our friend group without your crazy ass.” I smiled at Owen from across the room, he playfully flipped me off before slinging Finnigan onto his back and walked over to me. He went to hug me but before he had encased me in his arms, he had stopped. His eyes were directed over my head or the more probable option, behind me.
“That’s a spooky looking door,” Owen said. I turned around and noticed a door, almost the same color as the wall, with a black rusted handle and matching, black, symmetrical embellishments. I wondered how I didn’t see it earlier, when Owen was in the driveway grabbing Finnigan, as despite the similar color choice, the black embellishments stood out.
“You’re definitely not wrong on that one.” I replied, looking over at Henry to see his reaction.
“Papers didn’t say it had a basement, bonus I guess,” was all he said before approaching the door.
“Wait a minute,” Owen interrupted, we both turned our attention to him and waited for him to continue, “I don’t wanna sound like a little bitch but if there’s some bodies or some shit down there, or like rabid bats and we get bit and turned into vampires, I’d like to smoke from this bowl just once.” I rolled my eyes at him, as the door was locked before we got here, there weren’t going to be any bodies or any murderers in the basement.
“He makes a fair point.” Henry chimed in. I turned my gaze to the muscular blonde that had propped himself up on a crumbling counter.
“Fine, but someone needs to stay somewhat sober, we need a driver home.” I told them.
“I drive better high, it’s alright.” Owen replied, as he crouched down and sat on the dirty floor.
“I know for a fact that’s true so I’ll give it to you this time,” I said, sitting down next to him. Henry pushed himself off of the counter, sending small pieces of broken down granite onto the floor. He walked over and sat down next to me before running one of his hands through his fluff of hair.
“Fine, but if you crash my truck I’m burning Finnigan,” Henry stated, looking over at Owen who’s eyes now widened.
“That’s not something to fucking joke about Henry,” he told him, suddenly becoming oddly serious. Both Henry and I burst into cackles, barely being able to breathe at Owen’s attachment to his backpack.
“What? Finnigan is the best thing I’ve ever owned, don’t threaten him you asshole.” Owen retorted, grumbling at us as he pulled the backpack off of his shoulder and held it in his lap. Our laughter died down as Owen unzipped Finnigan’s largest pocket again and grabbed the bowl. Then he reached into the secret “pocket” (Henry had cut a hole on the inside of Finnigan so Owen could stash weed), and pulled out a small plastic bag, filled about halfway. I held the bowl while Owen packed some of the weed into it.
“Who wants first hit?” I asked after Owen had finished.
“You’re already holding it, plus your name is on there first.” Henry replied, handing me his zippo lighter from his front left pocket. I flipped the top open and flicked the wheel, effectively lighting the object. I held the bowl up to my mouth, covered the smaller side hole with my finger, and used the lighter to burn the pot in the other end of the device. I breathed in the air before taking my finger off of the the side hole, letting fresh air flow into my lungs. I immediately began hacking, which was not uncommon when we were smoking a bowl. The extra kick of fresh air at the end of each hit was enough to overload my veteran lungs. Owen and Henry were great friends as they always made sure I didn’t choke on my own spit before laughing at me. I handed what was in my hands over to Henry and tried to steady my breathing. But I couldn’t stop coughing, and the laughing and joking from Henry and Owen weren’t making it any easier. Usually when we were getting high we were prepared with waters and snacks but Finnigan wasn’t big enough to hold all of our goodies. I assumed I was out of luck on getting a drink until something hit me in the head.
“Son of a bitch.” I grabbed the full water bottle that Owen had tossed slightly too hard at me. Owen offered me the bowl again which I gladly took, now having a solution to the coughing issue. After I hit it and handed it off to Henry, I opened the bottle and gulped down like a quarter of it before Owen told me I was gonna puke if I kept doing that. I capped the bottle and set it next to me.
“Where’d you get this?” Henry asked, referring to the weed that he was now handing off to Owen.
“Strong right?” Owen chuckled, grabbing the bowl and inhaling the remaining smoke from the barely burning pot. Our rotation continued and by the end of our little pow wow, my chest was burning and my head was cloudy. Owen had been rambling about a movie we all watched a while ago. Henry sat and looked intently at Owen, as if hanging onto his every word.
“I’m just saying, it’s an underrated movie. Like a motherfucker died, appreciate the film,” Owen said, Henry nodded and clapped Owen’s shoulder.
“You’re so right, that movie is a fucking gem,” he agreed, “I miss Brandon Lee.” At this I started to giggle, remembering that The Crow was the only Brandon Lee movie Henry had ever watched.
“Don’t fucking laugh! The man’s dead!” Henry yelled.
“Jesus Tibby, that’s fucked up,” Owen added. And once again I was only able to answer with a series of coughs and giggles. By the time I could actually talk, the conversation had died down and Owen was in the process of cleaning out the bowl. He cupped his hand and hit the glass object on his palm. The ashes fell out and he dumped them on the floor before packing his things back into Finnigan. He wiped his hands off on his jeans and slipped Finnigan onto his back.
“Basement?” He asked looking over to me
“Shit, I forgot we were gonna do that.” I replied, stretching my arms out in front of me. He and Henry laughed before slowly getting up. Henry offered me his hand, knowing that I wasn’t even going to attempt to get up by myself. I took it and he lifted me up and made sure I was steady before letting go. We approached the dingy door, Henry on my left and Owen on my right.
Henry’s depth perception was all the way fucked up as it took him multiple times to even get ahold of the doorknob. He twisted the handle and jostled the door open. Unsurprisingly a dirty staircase, lit by only the daylight seeping in through the kitchen windows, sat there in all its rundown glory. Henry felt around, looking for a light switch.
“What the fuck?” He said, pulling his hand back, “Where’s the light switch?”
“I thought we already established that this house fucking sucks, obviously there’s no light switches at the top. Probably one of those shitty string things in the middle of the basement somewhere.” Owen replied. Henry nodded and began down the stairs. I grabbed my phone from my pocket, turned the flashlight on, and followed him.
“Smart thinking, Tibby.” Owen said from behind me, his voice complimented by the soft groan of the almost rotted piece of wood under his foot.
“I know.” I told him, trying to keep my responses short because although I didn’t want to admit it, getting down that staircase was one hell of a task, and the more I spoke, the less focused I was on not tripping and taking Henry down with me.
We got to the floor made of what I could only assume was cement. I followed Henry around and used the light of my phone to look for some sort of string that we could pull to trigger some sort of illumination in the dank basement. We had lost Owen in the dark, as he was never one for follow the leader. He remained so quiet that I forgot he was in the basement, let alone the house with us. Well he remained quiet, until his lanky ass ran right into some sort of horizontal support beam.
“Fucking hell!” He yelled before Henry and I heard a thump on the floor. My first instinct was to laugh, Henry’s first instinct was to rush over to Owen and check on him. So as I was bent over, gripping onto my midsection wheezing out air and chuckles, Henry pushed past me. Now let’s get one thing straight, Henry is a great friend, I’d qualify him as the dad of the group, always protecting myself and/or Owen, once even going so far as beating up some token bad boy at our school named Clyde who kept fucking up Owen’s face. It was agreed that Owen and I appreciated Henry’s dad qualities, as I was indifferent about most things, and Owen smoked too much to pay attention to them. Despite Henry being a great friend, sometimes he just didn’t know his own strength, this was one of those times. To be fair if I was sober I probably wouldn’t have buckled at the knees and skidded a few feet on the floor. But because I was not sober, that’s exactly what I did. As Henry “gracefully” glided past my hunched over form, one of his arms hit me hard on the back, causing my already weak knees to fold under me. Due to the way I was standing, my front half fell first. I fell forward, over the lower half of my body as if being thrown over the handlebars of a bike. In spite of my sedated reflexes, I was able to somewhat tuck my neck in time, so I just tumbled onto the floor, landing on my back. As a result of Henry’s sheer force, even after landing I slid on the cold floor, my phone long forgotten as it had been let go the second I knew I was going down. Luckily for me, I somehow managed to avoid banging my head off of the ground, probably looked like an idiot tucking my neck but it kept me from going unconscious or cracking my skull open so I guess it did its job.
I laid on the floor for a minute, listening to Henry shuffle around for Owen, completely unaware that he had just launched me a fair few feet across the basement. I heard Henry start a sentence before being cut off by a dazed sounding, yet still sarcastic Owen. I probably would’ve paid more attention to said conversation if I hadn’t began to feel some sort of liquid seeping into my t-shirt. I drug my body to the right, trying to get out of the puddle of basement fluid that was saturating my clothes. And this probably would’ve worked in any situation where I was able to see where I was placing my body, unfortunately for me this basement was scarce on lighting which meant that to my knowledge I moved from one part of the pitch black to another part of the pitch black, completely unaware of the size or location of this mysterious puddle. So despite my attempts to get out of this puddle of what I assumed was disease ridden rainwater, I just slid to a different part of the floor, still wet.
“Dammit, what the fuck?” I said, pushing myself so I could sit up, my hands slipped in the moisture, coating themselves in the mystery solution.
“You alright, Tibby?” Henry asked from somewhere in the dark room.
“There’s fucking juice or some shit all over the floor man, it’s sticky and I can’t get myself up,” I replied.
“Why are you on the floor?” Owen’s voice cut in.
“Cause Henry fucking football charged me after you fell,” I told him, looking around from the direction their voices came from.
“I did?” Henry asked, “Shit my bad.”
“Yeah, you’re fucking bad,” I replied. I heard both of them laugh before I heard their footsteps. I still didn’t know what Owen had ran into but I was assuming it wasn’t any sort of light fixture or maybe I wouldn’t be sitting on the floor in the dark, but then again if someone was to run into a ceiling fixture it would be Owen’s lanky ass. He had a tendency to run into things, his height and delayed reflexes weren’t a good combination and worked against him in that sense. My point was proven again when another string of curses left Owen’s mouth followed by a clicking sound.
Suddenly light flooded the room, followed by an electric buzzing noise. I shut my eyes, shielding them from the newly found brightness of the basement.
“Holy fuck,” I heard Henry mutter.
“Guys I don’t think this is good,” Owen added.
“What don’t you think looks good?” I asked, slowly peeling my eyes open. I didn’t need to wait for a response though, as I immediately knew what they were talking about. The walls were tastefully decorated with countless pentagrams and ancient looking symbols. Cult stuff to put it simply, and maybe it would’ve been less unsettling if said symbols weren’t painted in red. Which gave two options for the identity of the unknown medium: really runny, sticky paint, or blood. And boy I sure hoped it wasn’t the latter.
“What the fuck is this?” I said, eyes wide, scanning the basement walls.
“I don’t want to jump to conclusions but the pentagrams kind of give it away,” Owen insinuated.
It was then I remembered the mysterious puddle I had been swimming in. I looked down. To say it looked like a murder scene would’ve been a substantial understatement. My previously blue jeans were bathed in “blood,” making the fabric darker and heavier. The Rolling Stones t-shirt clung to my torso, as it too was soaked, the design that was painted on the shirt now barely visible through the opaque liquid. My hair stuck to my forehead and the back of my neck in strands. I could feel small drops of this mystery liquid (hopefully really gross paint) running down my face. I went to wipe the droplets away but stopped when I saw that my hands were covered too.
“Tibs, you alright? I’ve heard of a heavy flow but I don’t think you’re supposed to bleed that much,” Owen cut in, obviously trying to lighten the mood.
“Shut the fuck up! I’m fucking covered in someone else’s blood! This isn’t a fucking joke anymore Owen!” I yelled at a now taken aback Owen and Henry.
“Tibby, calm down,” Henry said cautiously, as he began to approach me.
“Don’t you dare fucking tell me to calm down, you’re not covered in blood!” I screamed back, anger lacing my words.
“C’mon we don’t even know if it’s blood Tibs,” Henry tried to reason with me, but I was not having any of it.
“Obviously it’s fucking blood you moron, cultists don’t draw pentagrams in fucking ketchup Henry!” I replied, looking up at Henry who was now towering over me.
“Breathe Tibby, you’re gonna pass out,” I heard Owen say from behind Henry, It wasn’t until he said this that I realized that my breathing had become sporadic, nothing but occasional gasps here and there.
“C’mon Tibby, we’re gonna go home.” Henry told me, as he offered me his hand. I grabbed onto it and despite the coating my hands had recently gathered, Henry pulled me up with little to no difficulty. I walked over to my discarded phone that, by some higher power, had not only avoided the variety of blood pools, but also avoided shattering, and picked it up.
The light remained on as we made our way to the staircase, as none of us were willing to make the trek in the dark. Henry lightly guided me up the stairs and Owen followed behind us. We walked through the open door and into the kitchen, the light coming through the windows being a very welcome sight. Owen closed the door behind us after he climbed the top stair.
“Let’s go get in the truck, light some cigarettes and get the fuck outta here.” Owen said, walking past Henry and I to get to the door first. He swung the door open and held it open for myself and Henry. We walked out and Owen slammed the door shut, letting the metal frame clash on the poorly laid threshold. Henry unlocked the truck as Owen sped up and got to the passenger’s side door. By the time Owen had swung the door open and was standing next to it impatiently, I still hadn’t made it out of the garden of weeds that decorated the entire front yard. To Owen’s utter delight, I got to the door. He ushered me into the truck, flailing his arms around like he was advertising a used car dealership. Henry had been sitting in the driver’s seat. He had set an old towel on my designated spot. Henry waited for me followed by Owen to get into the truck. The door closed behind Owen while he tried to get his long limbs situated in his seat, it also didn’t help that he still had Finnigan on his back. I was also trying to figure out how I was going to go about my seating situation. My head swayed from side to side which made it hard for me to keep my balance on the barely secured middle console. I wiped my hands off on the towel before gripping onto the sides of the console so I would be able to stay in place while Henry drove us out of there.
Henry made sure Owen had his seatbelt on before he turned the keys in the ignition. The engine sputtered as the hands on the speedometer and other dials flicked forward and then back to their resting position. Henry turned the keys again, but the same thing happened.
“What the fuck?” Henry said, “It was running just fine earlier.”
“What’s going on?” I asked, looking over to Henry.
“I don’t know Tibs, hang on, I’m gonna go look under the hood,” he replied before unbuckling his seat belt and getting out of the car. Owen and I watched as he turned the front corner of the truck and popped the hood. No smoke came out, nothing that we could see from our point of view at least. Henry must not have saw anything either because after only about a minute or so he slammed the hood shut.
I gasped and some sort of grunt came out of Owen’s mouth, Henry was as oblivious as ever to the cause of our sudden disturbed facial expressions. I tried to use my hands to warn him, and I did. Well sort of, what I motioned could’ve been described as one of two things. One, “There’s something behind you.” Or two, “Yeehaw cowboy mount that stallion.” He just squinted at me as I frantically swung my limbs around. The thing behind him looked like it was slowly getting closer, well that or it was growing in size, which probably would’ve been just as bad, if not worse. It was definitely a sight to see, the figure was taller than Henry, hell maybe even taller than Owen, making it probably around six and a half feet. It’s skin was a dirty looking grey color, like a dirty janitor’s mop. It was naked, and had somewhat looking human body parts, except for the scales that became more prominent around it’s breasts and pelvis. It’s hair was black, and looked soggy, there was definitely multiple strands that were decorated with pond scum, it was matted, a seemingly never ending flow of tangles. Even through the dense looking hair however you could see an ear on either side of the creature’s slender face, the ear matched the odd skin tone present on the rest of the thing’s body. The ears were fairly large, but did not protrude very much from the skull. The tops of the ears became more narrow, ending in a sharp looking point that almost reached the top of the creature’s skull. On its neck were small flaps of rubbery looking skin that expanded and contracted repeatedly. Its chin also came to a point, helping to frame the sheaths of skin that I previously mentioned. It had a long, skinny face, in fact it’s entire body was very skinny, if it had been a normal human being you would’ve been able to see it’s ribcage. Its eyes looked like human eyes except for the striking color of the irises. It’s irises were an intense blue hue, as if they were colored in with a marker while the rest of the world was colored in using a pencil. Its nose was pointed upward, a lot like its ears. Its mouth was a thin line of purple flesh that only stuck out slightly from the rest of its face.
It was like nothing I had ever seen before and I hope Owen hadn’t seen anything like it before either. We were understandably freaked out, I set my feet down on the small space in between the dashboard and the console and stood up. Well as much as I could stand up in the truck, Owen beat on the windshield trying to let Henry know something was wrong. Henry, still as oblivious as ever, just stared at us screaming and banging on his windows. He squinted and leaned forward on his hood. Panic was coursing through my veins as I yelled at Henry to no avail. The creature behind him lunged, grabbing him by the shoulders with sharp claws, and webbed fingers. Henry was slammed on top of the truck, his face bouncing off of the metal surface.
“Fuck, fuck fuck,” Owen said, throwing off Finnigan, and reaching for the car door handle. He yanked at the handle and kicked the door open. The creature had Henry pinned on his back on the hood and was now crouching over him. Owen slammed the door behind him and sprinted to Henry. Owen’s arms just started swinging, pelting the being with his fists. It seemed unaffected and just turned its attention to Owen and snarled. From the inside of the truck I could see it’s teeth, they were like fangs. Filed to a point and probably capable of biting the throat out of a human. It pounced on Owen and crushed him to the ground. A bewildered Henry bolted up from the truck hood and looked over to the ground where I presume Owen was struggling to hold off the creature with the intent to kill him. In less than a second Henry kicked out of my view. From the speed his foot was moving I knew Henry had fucking booted whatever he had managed to hit. He leaped back and grabbed his foot, and yet there was still no creature or Owen in my line of vision. Henry let go of his foot and lined up again to kick the shit out of the demon spawn that was trying to kill our friend. Before I knew it a flash of grey flesh flew through the air and took Henry with it to the ground. Owen still hadn’t resurfaced and for all I knew Henry could be unconscious on the grass. I scrambled to Owen’s door and jiggled the handle until it opened. I jumped out of the car and stumbled, narrowly avoiding losing my footing. I could see Owen from where I was, he looked semi okay, and by that I mean I could see he was breathing, besides that he looked a little fucked up. His t-shirt had been ripped in a few places and there were shallow scratches on his chest. I could hear Henry grunting and some sort of growl accompanying him. I looked around desperately for some sort of weapon to no avail. I shrugged and just said fuck it before sprinting as fast as I could in my inebriated state around the truck. I had the full intention of using my momentum to shove the beast off of Henry, but it didn’t happen that way. Instead, I sprinted until I got to only a few feet in front of my struggling friend and our new found foe, before tripping over my foot and flying forward onto the creature. I let out some sort of yelp as I landed on top of the thing. Henry, who was unfortunately still under not only the deceivingly heavy being but now me, let out another grunt at the impact. My eyes were closed when I felt claws scratching into my neck. My eyes shot open and I rolled off of Henry and the brute of a creature. I sat up quickly, just in time to see the being crouched and ready to pounce at me. When it lunged I ducked and it launched itself over me. I crawled over to Henry and patted the ground by his pockets, while simultaneously looking over my shoulder to make sure I wasn’t about to be gutted. That’s when I felt it, cool metal under my palm. I grasped it and turned my body so that I was now facing our attacker. When it charged again, I pulled the object up, flipping the top open and flicking the wheel. The lighter ignited, and the flame danced its way up the creature’s hair. It let out an inhuman screech and began rolling on the ground in agony. I sat and watched it burn and begin to twitch until it’s movements stopped. Henry sat up beside me and looked over in awe at the dead thing in the dirt. Then his attention turned to me, still gripping his lighter in my now white knuckled fist. I gave him a sheepish grin before flicking the lighter closed and handing it over to him. He just nodded, gulped, and then took it. Owen had finally stirred from his position on the ground and I scrambled over next to him. He let out some sort of groan and opened a single eye.
“Tibs?” He asked, his voice hoarse.
“Yeah, buddy, it’s me. You’re alright c’mon,” I said to him. He opened his other eye and blinked a few times.
“What the fuck was that thing?” He replied.
“I don’t know man, but I took care of it. It’s dead now.” I told him, as I propped myself up onto my knees.
“You fucking killed it? How the fuck did you kill that thing, Henry fucking punted the shit out of that thing and it didn’t budge!” Owen exclaimed, his eyes darting between me and the small flames still burning on the body of the creature.
“Henry’s zippo.” I shrugged, wiping my hands off on my dirty jeans and looking over to Henry who had now gotten to his feet and was approaching his driver’s side door yet again. Owen sat up and looked down at his slightly bloody chest and the dilapidated condition of his shirt.
“Goddammit this was my favorite shirt.” He muttered, running his hand over the fabric. I giggled at his immaturity and pushed myself onto my feet. I offered my hand to Owen and helped him up. He brushed himself off and ran a hand through his hair.
“It’s still not fucking starting!” Henry yelled to us, not be able to hide the frustration and anger his voice.
“Wanna call a tow?” I asked, immediately realizing that would’ve been a horrible idea. I could just imagine the poor guy pulling up and seeing some burnt corpse, Owen’s scratched up chest, and me, just covered from head to toe in blood. “You know what forgot I said that. Let’s hot wire it.”
“I can try,” Henry replied, walking back to the hood and popping it open. Owen and I walked over and leant on the truck. After a fair amount of complaining, listening to Henry talk about truck stuff, and watching him fuck around with different parts of the engine, I swore I heard a noise. I ignored it at first as it sounded like something was splashing in the pond behind the house, and there could’ve been millions of logical reasons for that sound. It wasn’t until I heard it a few more times that I brought attention to it.
“Owen, you hear that?” I asked, he looked over to me and then over his shoulder.
“Yeah, where’s it coming from?” He replied.
“I think it’s the pond,” I told him. He shrugged and looked over to Henry who was still trying to finesse his truck back into running.
“Wanna go check it out?” He asked, I looked over at him incredulously.
“Are you fucking stupid, you never go investigate. That’s how you fucking die.” I said.
“So is that a yes?” He responded.
“Yeah fuck it, let’s go.” I sighed, pushing myself off of the truck. Henry looked over at us and groaned.
“Take my zippo, that’s the only weapon we’ve got, I’ll just get in the truck if some demon shit pops out again,” he told us, as he reached in his pocket and fished for his lighter. He tossed it to me and went back to hot wiring.
“Alright, let’s go set some shit on fire,” Owen joked, putting his hand up to high five me. I slapped his hand and started treading towards the back of the house. Owen stayed behind me, probably ready to push me in front of whatever creature we were about to find, like a good friend. We rounded the side of the house and walked in between the wooden outside of the house and the thicket of weeds that were easily taller than me. The splashing from the pond became a pattern, you would hear the water, then it would be silent for about ten seconds, then another splash. It sounded like a family of ducks was throwing a pool party. I made it to the back corner of the house and stopped, Owen was not paying attention and rammed into the back of me. I stumbled forward past the corner and lost my footing. I caught a glimpse of the pond, more creatures were emerging from the water and they definitely heard me fall onto my hands and knees. All at once their eyes focused on me, dozens of their growls invaded my ears.
“Tibs, Tibs, Tibs, that’s not good.” Owen said from behind me, undoubtedly having peeked beyond the house. The beings started approaching, slow at first but gaining speed fast. I tried to get up but was light headed and condemned to the ground. The next thing I knew Owen had grabbed me around the waist, picked me up, and started Usain Bolt-ing back to the front of the house.
“Henry! We’ve gotta go man! There’s like 30 more and I’m not down to fucking die today!” Owen yelled as we turned the corner. Henry was still leaned over the engine, that was still emitting no sound.
“What?!” He exclaimed.
“Is the truck running?!” I asked frantically, as Owen set me down.
“No, it’s still being fucking weird,” He replied, slamming the hood down.
“Fuck it, we’ve gotta get inside!” Owen told us, as he began sprinting towards the house. We were quick to follow him, running faster than we had ever before. A few of the creatures had already made their way around the house as well and were hellbent on catching us. Owen held the door open as we hopped the stairs and skidded into the house. He ducked in just before one of the creatures grabbed him and slammed the door on its clawed fingers. It let out a screech of agony as we tried to catch our breaths. Owen laid up against the wimpy door as the creature rammed themselves into it, they were smarter than I had originally given them credit for. I fished in my pocket for the lock that Owen had dismounted from earlier. When I felt the small piece of metal I grabbed it and pulled it out. I didn’t know how much it would help but hell, anything was worth a shot. I pushed Owen out of the way and somehow managed the fasten the lock back into its rightful place before any demon spawn got inside. They continued to slam their discolored bodies into the door and I knew it wouldn’t hold up for too much longer.
“Get some shit to prop up!” I yelled at the boys as I pushed my entire body weight onto the screen door. They nodded and ran around the house looking for something sturdy enough to buy us some time. Owen came back with a board of plywood, I gave him a “Are you fucking serious? Are you trying to die?” Look and he shrugged and just said, “It was the only thing I could find.” Henry ran in moments later carrying an old wooden dresser, it looked of sound structure and fairly heavy. I moved away from the door and he slammed it onto the floor and pushed it up against the door.
“What do we do?!” I asked, my eyes scanning from Owen to Henry.
“Call the fucking cops!” They both yelled.
“No fucking way! What the hell am I supposed to say, "Uh yeah our principal talked us into renovating some house cause we were smoking weed in the parking lot and now there are fucking fish ladies, scales and all trying to eat our souls’?” I replied.
“Who else are we supposed to call?!” Owen said.
“Fucking Wilson!” Henry told us.
“No fucking way, that motherfucker knew some weird shit was going on when he gave us the papers!” Owen responded.
“Brown!” I said, a lightbulb going off in my head.
“Might as well just call the fucking cops then!” Henry replied.
“No, he said some weird shit was gonna go down and it did!” I told him.
“Fuck, you’re right, where’s that paper?!” He asked.
“In my pocket,” I said as I reached into my back pocket and grabbed the crumpled up piece of paper. By the grace of some higher power the blood had narrowly avoided the scribbled phone number. I grabbed my phone from my other pocket, wiped the access blood off on Owen and unlocked it. I dialed the phone number and turned it onto speaker.
After only a few rings a voice came across the other end, “Hello?”
“Brown we’re at the fucking house, there’s blood all over the basement, Henry’s car won’t start and we’re being chased by fish women with gills and scales and claws and shit! You’ve gotta come get us!” I practically yelled into the phone.
“Tabitha?” He asked.
“Yes, it’s Tibby Johnson,” I replied, “Owen and Henry are here too, Owen got scratched up pretty bad and I set the first fish bitch on fire but there’s like 30 more and we’re barricaded inside and I think we’re gonna die!”
“Hang on guys I’m on my way, I’ll be there in like 15 minutes!” he told us.
“In 15 minutes we’ll be fucking fish bait!” Owen said, into the phone.
“Calm down Fields, go down to the basement, turn the light on and push some shit up against that door.” Brown replied.
“Alright, but if we fucking die I’m gonna be really pissed at you!” Owen stated before Brown hung up.
We quickly made our way to the basement, careful not to slip in blood and turned the light on. There were a few workbenches and other basement shit down there and we carried them up the stairs and propped them up against the door. We sat in silence listening to the rhythmic banging on the front door until the sound of an engine interrupted it. Gunshots began ringing out and I knew it was Brown. I breathed a sigh of relief and slouched back, Owen ran his fingers through his untamable hair, a habit he picked up from Henry who picked it up from me. It was an odd dynamic we all had, fitting, but odd nonetheless. After a few minutes the gunshots stopped and the front door scraped open. I could only hope that it was Officer Brown.
“Johnson! Fields! Bodeman!” I heard Brown from upstairs.
“Basement!” Henry yelled back to him. Before we knew it the door was forced open and the workbenches came tumbling down the stairs.
“Fucking shit!” I exclaimed, jumping in my spot as they crashed to the concrete ground. Brown wasn’t far behind them, he jumped the benches and walked over to us, taking in our appearances.
“Johnson what the fuck happened to you?” was his first question.
“I fell in blood, can we get the fuck out of here now, please?” I replied, he nodded and offered me a hand. I gripped it and he pulled me up.
“You guys fucking reek like weed,” he said, as the boys got up.
“Yeah I thought the aroma of blood would cover it,” Owen said sarcastically.
“It doesn’t,” he replied.
We got outside, and it looked like a murder scene from the Little Mermaid. Fish bodies were fucking everywhere, some leaking metallic grey blood from bullet wounds littering their body.
“Hey, my truck isn’t starting, can you jumper cable it or some shit?” Henry asked Brown.
“Yeah, give me a minute,” the officer replied before walking over to his police vehicle.
Henry got into his truck and turned the keys in one last ditch attempt to start it, and to our surprise it worked, the engine ran perfectly, as if there had never been a problem in the first place. Owen followed Henry and grabbed Finnigan from the passenger’s seat before hugging the backpack and mumbling something about being so thankful that he was okay. I laughed at him and walked over to Brown who was getting back into his car.
“Brown,” I said as I approached him, “Thanks for coming to save our asses, at trying to warn us yesterday.”
“No problem Johnson. We’ve got a shit ton to talk about after you guys get cleaned up.” He told me, flashing me a smile I had never seen before on his face.
“Alright, I’ll call you and we can meet up sometime.” I replied. He nodded and closed his door.