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Lifeless

The Beast

photographed by the author

 They said it was a nasty thing. A thing that slithers rather than use two legs. A thing that chose to hiss in the ears it crept into. A thing with scaly flesh, made to lurk and sneak. A thing that would feast upon the fear of men.

They had told me it was beautiful. It descended from above with wings the color of heaven. It understood your burdens and wept with you. Its light could lift the heaviest clouds of depression and it would leave you with the warmth of its touch.

I didn’t believe either of their tales. This monster was created as an excuse to have medical leave, or this angel was used to make small men seem superior. I have heard the stories since I was young, but have yet to see “the monster.”

“But oh,” they say, “you haven’t seen it because it hasn’t chosen you.”

Another excuse. These men who tell these stories are able to leave their jobs or receive a greater income. This thing, whatever it is, is an excuse. Some sort of story that these people have made the government believe. A story that they use to stay home for the month. A story that they use to get a raise.

A story that is a bunch of shit.

I shut off my computer and huff. I haven’t done much today. It wasn’t a busy day.

I collect my piles of papers and neatly place them into my briefcase. Although it was a slow day, it was a productive one.

I begin to walk out of the office. Waving goodbye at my colleagues with a smile on my face, they all return the gesture. I walked towards those glass doors that revealed the night. My walk home was my favorite part of the day. The cool breeze was always refreshing, the nights were a pleasant temperature, and greeting my fellow workmen was always a joy.

I reached my hand out to open those doors, the gateway to my inner peace, to inner j...

“It told me.” A hand grabs my shoulder and jerks me around. “It told me it wants you.”

Staring back at me were eyes that seemed to have no life, no color. A face that was void of expression, yet the rest of him looked like every other workman.

“Who told you?” I ask, peculiarly.

“The beast did. It had me last night. It whispered your name.” He let go of my shoulder and began to walk off.

“Hey, wait a second! Wh—what do you mean?” I asked, walking after him.

He turned around so quickly I stopped my own pace. He looked at the ground with those eyes, those glazed eyes, as if he were no longer present, as if his very life was robbed of him yet he was still cursed to his body.

A small, glistening tear came out of his lifeless sockets and left a sparkling streak down his cheek. “I’m sorry,” he said quickly, then ran off.

I stood there a moment, dumbfounded. Then it hit me, he had said “the beast.” That silly, old thing that the workingmen have made. Was this a prank? My opinions about this imaginary monster were well known among my fellow colleagues. Did they plan this, some elaborate, immature prank, to scare me?

“Hah!” I laughed. “Very funny, guys!” and walked out to greet the pleasant walk home that awaited me, a smile still on my face.

I walked my normal path, down the street, swing a left, and there sat my condo on the right. I shook off the odd event that had just occurred and prepared to greet my fellow men that walked by.

But, there was no one. Not a single person walked by. Not John, Nick, Elias, and no, not even Carl.

I laughed to myself. “What am I getting nervous about?” I thought. “That man had simply kept me in the office later. John, Nick, Elias, and even Carl are already back home.”

I continued to chuckle and kicked pebbles that I came across. Thinking about how silly I was to think that they were gone, or to even get nervous about it.

The breeze began to strengthen. I buttoned my coat and hugged my briefcase to my chest. It’s abnormally cold tonight.

Creak.

I paused, alert, scared. “Who’s there?”

Creak. Creak.

I looked around, but no one could be seen.

Creak.

I looked up. “A tree branch,” I laughed. I patted the sweat off my forehead with my handkerchief. “How silly of me!”

I continued to walk. Obviously and plainly not nervous or scared. I could never be either of those things. That man had simply made me uneasy, that’s all; a simple change of scheduled time has caused me to think irrationally.

I quickened my pace; the corner to turn was coming up. I darted my eyes back and forth to search for signs of life, only as a precaution, of course.

I came up to the corner and with a swivel of my foot turned onto my street, my condo only five, short minutes away.

Swoosh.

I stopped. My breathing stopped. My heart stopped pounding in my chest. Someone turned the corner with me, I know they did. If they didn’t I would be crazy, and I am a man of intellect. Surely, someone had turned the corner with me. Toby perhaps, or Rob. Of course, it was Rob. He walked this way. I know he did. Of course he did.

Yet, I still couldn’t get myself to turn around. I forced my lungs to bring in airflow again and slowly turned, preparing my lips to turn into a grin. I looked up and...

No one.

“Rob?” I asked aloud, my voice shaky.

No response.

I walked back up to the corner and looked up and down the street. Again, no one. Only the dim, yellow lights from the posts.

I let out a nervous chuckle. “That man, he had followed me. He’s trying to scare me. Of course, he is,” I thought to myself.

I turned back around and jogged to my condo. I wasn’t jogging out of fear. Of course not. I had quickened my pace to ensure that this crazy man wasn’t behind me. I don’t want a crazy man following me home, prank or no prank.

Shuffle. Shuffle.

I ran. The crazy man is behind me. He’s right there. He’s probably already lifting his arms up, getting ready to grab hold of my shoulder, to take me, to do whatever the hell he wanted to do with me.

I reached for my unlocked door. I was barely there. I spread my fingers out. My heart rate was at an unhealthy speed. My fingers touched the beginnings of it. My breathing stopped. I grabbed hold and opened it. I slammed and locked it behind me.

The footsteps stopped. I rested against the door. I tried to focus on my breathing. In. Out. In. Out. I listened for footsteps. I listened for the relieving sound of them walking away. Nothing came. No sound was made. Even the wind seemed to stop blowing.

I chuckled once more. “How silly of me, to think that something was actually following me home!”

I dropped my briefcase. My organized papers spilling onto the floor. I dropped my coat and threw my shoes off. I walked into my bedroom and locked the door behind me. I let out a long, deep exhale. What a relief. I’m home.

I stripped into my underwear and laid on my bed. I laced my fingers underneath my head and closed my eyes.

“For a moment,” I thought, “I almost believed in those silly ghost tales,” and laughed at the foolishness of it all.

I opened my eyes and stared at my ceiling.

But, it had a black mass on it. A black mass that seemed to breathe as I did. In. Out. In. Out. A black mass that seemed to glare, even though I could find no eyes. A mass that somehow stuck to the ceiling, as if it had tenacious claws made to rip apart spongy flesh. A thing that seemed to smile at me, as if it knew who I was, and what it wanted. A monster that greatly resembled a mutilated, grotesque snake.

I began to sit up. Hoping those fake eyes were only pretending to watch me, hoping I could sneak out of my bedroom. Out of my home. Somewhere safe.

My feet slowly rested on the floor. Its eyes stayed with mine. It appeared to have a deeper sense of vision, like it could read my own soul. I carefully began to creep to the door. Making one step. Two steps. Three.

A smile. It seemed to show off glistening teeth that were meant to make me raw. A scream escaped my lips, and I lept for my locked bedroom door.

Too late.

Its claws released, the smiling, non-existent mouth agape. It landed on my chest with a thud and the breath was knocked out of me. It consumed me with just its touch. Its presence seemed to turn my will into its own. It dissolved into me and I could feel my joys and sorrows disappearing. I felt my heart change its shape to something that was lifeless yet kept its beat. All I could let out was a small whimper. I was powerless, nothing compared to this thing that now resided in me and coursed through my bloodstream.

It had made us one, removing me in the process. I felt my own eyes glaze over and my soul depart. 

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