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Alabama must be the strangest state in the union. I have come to realize this after my bizarre week of endless occurrences. I moved here a few months ago, as a job opened for a teaching gig at a medium-sized public institution in Mobile. I live across the bridge in a small town called Daphne. It is without a doubt a dream city, it has light traffic during the five o’clock hour, a beautiful view of the setting sun over Mobile Bay, and extremely low crime from the vast police force patrolling the small grounds of the town. The school I work at, The University of South Alabama, is a beautiful campus that pays a decent rate for a political science professor. I could hardly ask for anything better in my getaway from Florida, the state I dreaded so greatly.
The occurrences I began to experience started with my typical nightly jogs. I often waited for my neighbors and the traffic of the roads to flee in their homes for their night’s rest before putting my sweats on and running my three miles of misery. Night after night, sweaty shirt after the next, I hustled. The endless heaps of laundry was all worth it; I could not let my body waste away.
The last few nights have been off, it must have been the moon, or possibly the alignment of the stars. I pulled my grey sweats up, laced my shoes, and locked the door behind me, as I put my music on. Put Your Head on My Shoulder by Paul Anka was a must for me to get in the zone. Running down the avenue that lead outside of my neighborhood, I was on the side of the main road enshrouded by the darkness of the woods.
Not a single car passed by as I ran, but I cannot say I was not thrilled about that. When you are the size that I am, exercise is often a humiliation. Even when you are working your shame off, and putting yourself through that humiliation every darn day, you still get the giggles, and the eyes that peer back to their friends to get them to look and join along in the teasing.
“Time: Nine minutes, eleven seconds. Distance: One mile. Pace: Nine minutes, eleven seconds.” My phone buzzed to alert me of hitting one third of my goal for the night. My loins were acting as if I was already done, but alas that is the pain of running.
A chilling shot of goosebumps ran down my spine. The type you get when the cheesy horror movies resort to blasting the music in the movie much louder than the rest in order to get a cheap jump scare. I saw nothing, but only a feeling struck. I scanned the woods, taking one earbud out, and watching behind me.
That was when I saw it: a hairless, skinny, white animal. I first thought it was some shaved lamb that escaped some farm, but it was much thinner. What reaffirmed that it was much more than a harmless animal was it was standing on two legs, and when it saw me, it dropped to all fours.
I slowed to a near walk, and watched as it was watching back. It moved not a muscle, bringing my legs to a halt. Its shoulders rose up, and it scurried away, deep into the cracking abyss of the trees.
I had never run so fast in my life back home, and as I reached the avenue of my neighborhood, my app buzzed and alerted me of my hasty return. My mind was so beyond riddled with fear, and theories of what that was that I did not even comprehend what it said.
I scrambled through my pocket and unlocked the door as quick as I could, watching behind me to ensure it was not there. As I threw myself into my home, I slammed the door shut and twisted the locks, both the deadbolt and the knob.
The next day came around, and after an exhausting day of putting myself in front of the whiteboard to students who cared not to be there, I returned back to Daphne. Passing through the woods, I looked around the general area of the sighting before reaching the avenue. I possibly looked in the wrong area, as I did not see even a hint of the being.
I brought myself to go running once again, though this time I grabbed a can of mace for safety purposes. After putting on Paul Anka, and locking the door, I pushed myself to go running thus again.
The avenue was as bleak as ever with the moonlight masking its true beauty. I reached the end of the neighborhood, and my heart could hardly bare what sat there.
There stood the being, standing and watching once again. I could not see much aside from its naked body and bleached skin. I stopped before I put a foot onto the dirt on the side, slowly backing up.
It lowered to its four legs and slowly crept closer, matching the pace I made. I booked it with all I had. I threw each leg past the next, but did not have the courage to turn around and see if the being was following.
After reaching the entrance to my neighborhood, I knew I had to look. I turned my head and sure enough, it was sprinting right at me. The next moments were a blur, the darkness overcame me.
I do not remember anything after that, only being in the classroom the next day. I was dressed with a red shirt, black pants, and a white tie.
The class stared and awaited a lecture I had not prepared. I looked around the class, and saw only the eyes of the students watching me. Their blank faces were like their papers that they all held pencils over.
The door edged open and the white, animalistic humanoid opened the door to the lecture hall, staring at me as it sat down in the closest chair to the door. It placed its hand on the neighboring student. The young boy it touched began shaking, and his eyes grew a red glow and nails of black blades.
“Tell us about your divorce.” The student asked through the veil of silence. He turned to two students behind him, and touched them. The strange transformation spread like a plague to the next.
“Or the shame from your parents.”
“Or the death of your dog.”
The two students then touched another two.
“Or the drug abuse of your brother.”
On and on they asked the scolding questions that ripped through the core of my heart. The longer I stood in the arena of viciousness, their eyes joined just as the first did. Their mouths grew teeth of vipers, and forked tongues kissed the air with the occasional giggles.
“Or about the time you were scammed by an online man who pretended to be a woman you fell in love with.”
“Or the file your aunt saw on your computer.”
“Or your fake profile you use to roleplay.”
The walls of the room broke free from the ceiling, and dipped into the ground. The school was no longer there, only the classroom of the students that continued on. The sky was as red as their eyes, and meteoroids flung to the ground around us.
“Or the time you slept with Mrs. Lania.”
“Or the time you stole your friend's watch.”
“Or the incident where you threw that cat out your window.”
Their skin lightened, bleaching to the whiteness of the moon. Wings bursted from their backs, but quickly died out, and looked as rotten as a fruit after a months of not being touched. The meteoroids that hit the ground broke, and more students packed in, spewing more and more questions of shame.
I tried to run, but my feet were glued still, they began to laugh, and watched as I struggled. I fought the force, but could not overcome it.
My ex-wife walked in and joined the class in the endless cycle of shaming. Then my parents, followed by my siblings. On and on, all of the people who knew the darkest corners of my life flooded in.
The room was growing rather dizzy, and my sight was blackening. As my view faded, they stood up and marched towards me. Moments before they arrived, I felt a force pull me back.
I stood at the door of my home. I frantically scanned behind me and opened the door. I slammed it shut behind me, and locked it as quick as I could, and slid down to the floor. I let out a sigh of relief.
I saw a figure bolt by in front me. It ran from the kitchen to the living room. Was I just seeing stuff? Then I heard a knock on the door, turning to the peephole to only seeing an outline of a man standing at the door.