His throat hurt from screaming. He didn’t know why he was still alive. His last memory was of Blane dragging him by the hair to this spot in the woods and tying him to this tree. Why hadn’t he just killed him? Was he saving him for later? Or was there something worse out here? He caught a flash of something bright in the trees in his peripheral vision and tried to see what it was. He opened his mouth to scream for help and-

“Hey, numbnuts, shut the fuck up, okay? God, I’ve never heard anyone screech the way you do. For someone who thinks he’s edgy, you sure are prone to panic at the drop of a hat.”

Nathan lifted his head. He could still see out of one eye, the other swollen shut. His lips felt bruised, everything felt bruised. The back of his head throbbed, the pain coming in flares. This was seriously the worst day of his life. Tommy stood in front of him, naked and gloriously fit even with the wound in her midsection. She shook her head at him.

“Wow, he really did a number on you, hey? I look better than you do and I’m fucking dead, so that’s saying something. I mean, I know you can’t really see yourself with that eye swollen shut, but dude, you look terrible. It might be kind of red too like he burst some blood vessels when he smoked you.”

Nathan started to cry. Tommy rolled her eyes.

“Are you kidding me right now? This is all your fault and you’re going to have a little sadboy moment?”

“What are you doing here?”

“First of all, it’s funny that you think I’m here. Second, there is still a chance at salvation but you have to act quickly..”

She broke off as she looked over her shoulder.

“Oh, too late. I’d say sorry, Nathan, but I’m really not. You deserve everything that is coming to you.”

Nathan tried to open his working eye wider, it seemed as though Tommy was fading from sight.

“Wait, what did you mean it’s funny that I think you’re here? And what’s coming?”

But she was gone. Nathan thought he heard something, but it was difficult to make out anything outside of the pounding of his heart and the ringing in his head. Was that a crashing in the woods off to his left? Or was it coming from his right? His head swiveled until he was dizzy, his stomach heaving with the effort. He tried to take deep breaths, to calm the nausea. Suddenly he let out a yell as he felt something wet on his foot. He glanced down and saw what looked like a terrier licking the blood of his bare foot. He wasn’t sure which detail confused him more, the fact that there was a small dog licking him or that he wasn’t wearing shoes. He would have sworn he’d been wearing them when Blane dragged him out here…

Any concerns he had about his shoes faded into the background when he heard the sound of something heavy coming into the clearing. It wasn’t so much that he could hear footsteps, more that the air itself seemed to get heavier and press against him, turning his skin to gooseflesh. The dog bounced around excitedly, the presence was obviously familiar to it.Nathan’s eye turned this way and that, trying to see something, anything that he could ascribe this sense of foreboding to. A monster with 12 eyes and tentacles for teeth would at least be worthy of the fear which had burrowed into every cell of his being and made itself at home. It was so all encompassing that he could not recall a time he’d not been afraid. But this…nothing was so much worse.

Until it spoke.

That was infinitely worse.


Photo by Branimir Balogović on Unsplash