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It was a warm fall day when I decided to go for a run. It was the perfect day, sun shining, the temperature could be described as sweater weather, and the leaves danced with the most colorful reds, oranges, and yellows. I was training for a 5k later in the year and wanted to make sure I was perfect for the part. I always ran alone, with headphones in my ears, listing to whatever podcast was new that day. This would all change the day I ran into this non-human creature. I go running around two thirty in the afternoon because I refuse to run at night, I never feel safe here in the city. I always go running by the water, it’s beautiful, and no bushes, just huge trees and busy with people.
I am running along when I see someone hunched over by the bank of the bay, and they look hurt. I am a sucker for helping people that are in trouble, just my nature I guess. I walk up to this man and the closer I get I realize he isn’t in trouble at all. He was eating fish or something he must have caught. I slowly back up and be as quiet as I can because I don’t know what his mental status is. He was in a long black trench coat, he had salt and pepper hair down the middle of his back, but what stuck out to me were his ears. His ears were pointy and they almost looked elfish, I was a tad freaked out, to say the least. My mind starts to travel to a dark place, what if that is a troll or demon? I laugh to myself because I know these things don’t exist. If he stood, how tall would he have been? Would he have gone after me? I think, maybe I need to find a new place to run because running into him again was not an option. I know there are a lot of homeless people and drug addicts around, so that will just stay a mystery. I cut my run short, way earlier than I really wanted to. I walk back to my apartment and find myself looking over my shoulder the whole time. I felt like I was being followed the entire time, but I figured it was my paranoia getting the best of me.
Later that night, I am making dinner watching the news, when a story about a body washing up on a local beach right near me catches my attention. Nobody was sure who the victim was or where they could have come from. I work at the local mortuary and I was one hundred percent positive I would be meeting this dead body. I work weird hours and see lots of things that I can’t erase from my brain. I am sure a guy from the ocean is going to be one of those images. I make my lunch and get my stuff ready for work. I will be working a twelve-hour day tomorrow, so I call it a night early.
I get into work and I get everything for my shift ready to go. I normally work with a partner, but she’s on vacation for the week. It's just me alone with the dead people. The guy that washed up on shore was in my cooler, waiting to be examined, and then report my findings to the detective working the case as I had expected. I don’t mind being alone, it’s kind of peaceful because my clients don’t talk back and most of the time it’s older people that have lived a long time. I don’t see children too much, thank god. I had one sad case where the parents wanted to dress their child and say goodbye. I allowed it as the child had passed of cancer, at the age of sixteen and had two younger siblings. I was so upset and really questioned if this was the right job for me. I talked to my boss the next day looking for guidance and he told me that a bad day is just a day, and to move forward. Forward was exactly what I did and have been conquering it ever since.
I finish the older man I was working on and get to the guy that was washed up on shore. I go to the cooler and get my washed-up friend from his tomb. He is a little more decomposed then I thought he would be. He had a tattoo of a dragon on his forearm, and a tattoo on his chest that said, “In god we trust.” He was built and looked like he may have lifted competitively. His teeth were exposed as some of his cheek seemed to have been chewed away, his lips were swollen, and his eyes that were once green are now glazed over in death. As I am looking him over, I see he has bite marks all over his legs and his fingers have been chewed down to the bone. Just as I am about to crack into his chest cavity, I can hear someone walking around upstairs. I look at the time and there is no way someone is here at this time of night. I just kind of turn my radio up and go back to working. I am looking at his heart and lungs and they seem fine, nothing out of the norm. I am not impressed with this case so far as I am thinking maybe he owed the mob money or was a drug lord. I hope he wasn’t some drunk frat boy or drug addict that took a swim and never came out. I start to pull his scalp back and the power goes out. I now need to figure out what is going on. I take my gear off and go to the fuse box. Only a few lights come back on and an alarm is going off. I need to call my boss, who comes right away. I throw a sheet on the corps and go meet the police at the door. The police, the owner, and I do a walkthrough of the upstairs and everything checked out. This put a huge wrench in my night as I needed the man downstairs done by the next day.
My manager offered to stay the night and I didn’t fight him on it as I was a little freaked out myself. I head back to my office and try to get back to work. I shake out all of my fear. All the lights are back on and the body is gone! The dead guy is not on my table and I am sure I am losing my mind. I am screaming for my manager and we are both in disbelief. I am not even sure how to approach this or who to call, what would we say? Oh, hey, come help us, a dead body just got up, and walked away? I am looking under the table and back in the freezer, but I know I was just about to take out and weigh his brain. My manager Leo puts his finger over his lips and tilt his head over to the bathroom. I tiptoe over the bathroom and the corps is sitting on the toilet, his chest open and eyes open. I take off running and grab Leo with me. I am now outside with him and we are looking at each other. The next thing I know we are watching this dead guy emerge from the doors of the mortuary, he is met by the guy in the trench coat I saw yesterday eating a fish, or at least that is what I thought.
Leo and I, at this point, are hiding behind some parked cars shaking in fear. This dead guy was just up and about with an open chest cavity, walking around. The guy in the long trench coat reaches and touches his chest, looks at his fingers, and poof- back to normal. We watch as this man that washed up on shore has life brought back to him, as if he never died. The man that washed up goes back into my mortuary. The man in the trench coat looks over at the cars and sprints over to us. We are frozen, and still. We are holding our breath and gripping each other’s hands, trying not to make a sound. I feel a tap on my shoulder, I know it’s him, we are going to die, and that was my thought. I look up and this man, thing, whatever you want to call him is looking at me. He is taller then I thought, his eyes are ice blue, his hair is a golden blond, not salt and pepper, and his ears are indeed pointed. The man’s teeth are perfect and bright white, he has a creepy, yet confident vibe. He is wearing black combat boots and he smells like fruit. He tells me his name is Joel and he doesn’t want to hurt me, but to ask me for a favor.
I stand up tall and notice his pointy blood crusted nails, I also notice the dagger on his side, and the shield on his back. I decided being tough wasn’t an option and to do what the creature tells me to do. He asked me to make sure Troy inside my building gets clothing, food, and something to keep him warm. My boss and I agree to his requests because if we didn’t, he was going to and I quote “gut us like pigs.” We were told that everything that had happened would be forgotten and we would all be back to normal.
We go back into the building and find troy sitting naked on our couch shivering. I introduce myself as Rebecca and then Leo introduced himself. I went to my linen closet, grabbed some sheets, and threw them into the dryer. I find some clothing from a lost and found bin and throw them into the wash. I grab a pizza menu and order from the local pizza place, they pretty much deliver all night. I come out to Troy wrapped up in a jacket and looking a little strange. I sit down at Leo’s desk, ask him how he was, and if I could get him anything. He is just looking off into space, with a cold blank stare. The buzzer to the dryer goes off and scares the ever-living shit out of me. I jump about ten feet in the air. Troy doesn’t even flinch, in fact, he is still just staring out into space with this nobody is home look. I go retrieve the warm blankets from the dryer and head on over to the zombie human thing sitting on the couch. I am so afraid to touch him, but I know I need to do what is asked of me.
I stand in front of Troy and tell him I am going to put the warm blankets on him and get him warmed up. He just ignores me, I am freaking out because the only way to get him to be really warmed up, would be to lay him down, and tuck him into the couch. I take a deep breath and motion to Leo to help me lay Troy down. We count to three and lay him down and tuck him into the couch, his body was so weird feeling, he felt like a bag of rocks and he was very cold. I mean the guy was just dead not two hours ago. I look at his chest it is like I never cut into him, he was healed, and I wondered if he had a heartbeat. We get him settled into the couch and then the pizza guy shows up. I grab some paper plates, drinks, and plastic wear. I have no idea how this guy is going to eat, do we feed him? Leo and I just decide that we are going to hand him a slice of pizza and a cup of soda.
“Troy, I have pizza here,” I say with a little cheer in my voice.
He sits up robotic like and grabs the plate of food. He is eating what is in front of him and my fear of him being a zombie is gone. I don’t eat anything because I am too afraid to move, let alone eat anything.
I switch over the clothing I had in the washer to the dryer, when I hear Leo scream. It was a scream that someone makes when they are badly hurt. I run to the entrance way and our little friend has sprouted wings and was flying through our roof. I run over to find Leo crumpled in the corner, crying his eyes out.
Leo explained to me that his eyes went all black and the last thing Troy said was, “We are here, get ready for battle.”
Then he sprouted wings and took off through the roof. I was dumbfounded and could not believe my ears or my eyes. I hear a knock at the door and it’s Joel, he was standing in the doorway thanking me for taking care of his friend. We did what he said and he spared our lives that night. I asked him how he found where I worked, and he informed me that he followed me home and watched everything I did. I had one last question for him, and that was what exactly he was. All he said was inhuman. Just as fast as he appeared, he disappeared right in front of me, and was gone. I think I am in a bad dream but I am not. Leo is folding the blankets and putting things back in order, trying to figure out how to explain the night.
I go back to the morgue and discover that everything has been put back in order. There was no trace of anything, in fact, there was no blood, nothing. The card I had been writing on was blank and the bathroom was clear of any sign that a dead guy had been in there. I go back upstairs, and Leo is no place to be found, his car isn’t in the parking lot, and the pizza was gone. I call Leo and it sounds like I have woken him up. I am totally confused and disoriented, nothing is making sense. Leo asks if I am ok and I say I am fine and apologize for waking him up. I glance over at the time and it is midnight. When all this happened, it was about one thirty in the morning and the police had just left us. I scratch my head and cannot believe what is going on. I take a seat on the floor, as I feel like I am going to be sick. I notice by the couch there is a grayish feather, which was all that was left behind from the night’s events.
The very next day, I called my boss bright and early and quit my job. When I go jogging, I sometimes see Joel hanging out by the bay but he is dressed as a homeless man fishing. I can feel him staring me down as I run by but I ignore him and keep my wits about me. The other night on the news I saw something about a weird creature someone caught on film. I shut the TV off and went to bed with a night light. I start my new job in the morning, working the NICU for the local hospital. What could go wrong? Right?