There are some things better left unseen. Things that slither into the soul and change a person. Things that live in the dark recesses of the human mind. Things that hover just there on the edge of sanity and linger for the sole purpose of temptation, to lure us there, to the other side, to insanity. Nobody talks about them, mostly because those that see them rarely survive to tell about them, or end up babbling inside some ward behind locked doors.
The path around the park was smooth, paved and fairly level, with just a few inclines but the section that ran around the lake was lonely, the lake to one side and trees to the other. She wasn't thinking about the lake, the trees or the weather. But she was deep in thought, her brain replaying the night before, when she had stood by the end of the lake, looking into the sun at the opposite end. What had she seen? If not for the morning news she would have doubted she really saw anything at all.
She stopped at just the same spot as last night, looked into the setting sun and let her mind conjure up the image from the night before. ......................
A girl, of about ten, had walked slowly at the opposite end of the lake, oblivious, lost in thought, ear buds stuffed into her ears, and her pony tail bopping along to the music. As she stood watching her, she felt a slight twinge of regret, childhoods lost and time marching on, then she caught movement out of the corner of her eye. Something dark lumbered toward the girl and it was unlike anything she had ever seen before, so frozen in disbelief she just watched as it edged closer to the unsuspecting girl.
It walked on all fours but hunched forward, bear like yet the outline was so blurry and undefined that she couldn't make out its identity. She opened her mouth to shout but realized the music would make it impossible for the girl to hear her. She started to run, her sneakers slapping against the pavement. The thing turned in her direction, looked at her, and yawned. The cavernous mouth gaped open and even from a distance she could make out the double rows of shiny white teeth. Heart pounding she stopped and it was just at that moment that the creature, close behind the girl, opened its mouth again but this time it was not yawning but devouring. She closed her eyes in horror and when she opened them mere seconds later the path at the end of the lake was empty.
She stared, shook her head and then slowly walked along the path, stopping at the spot she had last seen the girl, She stared at the ground, searching for saliva or blood or a lost shoe, finding none she clenched her teeth and walked to her car without a look backwards, Her fear was real but now the fear centered on herself. It was happening again and she felt powerless to save herself. The dread was building inside her and she knew it would be only a short time before they came looking for her.
Now lured here by her memories and the news story, she stood looking at the end of the lake. She knew it was real, she knew it, she just did, But she knew better than to report it. Last time, in the last town, she had spoken up and had ended up nine months in a locked ward, until she had pulled herself together enough to pretend to come out of her "psychotic" episode.She had walked out the doors that day wanting to get as far away from the place as she could. For the others there might just hallucinate but she saw, she did, she just knew it.
There has been a time there on the locked ward when she had almost thrown it all away, the pretending to get well. It was the night Henry disappeared. They said he had escaped somehow but she knew better. He hadn't escaped. He had been sucked into the walls of the third floor hallway by the wall creature. The creature with long boney fingers, that popped out of the wall at unexpected times, in unexpected places and tugged on people, But when it tugged at Henry, he had looked at it with soulful eyes and stepped right into the wall with the creature. She supposed that Henry lived there now, in the walls and she was glad to walk out the front doors before she encountered him in a lonely hallway or the showers at the back of the dorm. '
She was tempted last night to explain away what she had witnessed as a fit of imagination, although why anyone would imagine anything so horrific she had no idea. But this morning she had listened to the morning news, first with sense of relief and then with a sense of dread when the story came on. She had been silently willing it not to, but it did, and she listened to the tearful mother asking for the return of a child that she, herself knew would never return. Even as the news aired, the child digested in the belly of a beast. A beast that others could not see and would not search for. She knew this and she also knew that should she speak up they would look at her oddly, question her, suspect her and eventually lock her up for her own good.
That's what they said, "its for your own good' and with pitying eyes they would stare at her but they also showed just a bit of fear....because "what if" they wondered. Not what if the creatures existed but what if she had did it....what if it was her who had swept away the child and did God only knows what to her.
Now she stood here at the edge of the lake, in much the same situation she had been in just a few years ago, another time, another town but still the same and the anxiety sucked at her like a baby at the breast. She stood for so long that others begin to notice and cast wary glances her way. She moved on, walking quickly past the place the girl had been sucked into the belly of the beast.
In the car she rested her head against the steering wheel, tears sliding slowly down her cheeks. She waited for dusk then got out of the car with the tire iron in her hand. This time she would slay the creature. She would stop its feeding cycle. She shivered as she sat crossed legged at the spot of the beasts dinner the previous night. She thumped the tire iron against her knee and stared into the coming gloom.
The trees rustled in the evening breeze but along with the rustling she could hear heavy breathing and the slinky footsteps of the creature on the hunt. It appeared almost out of thin air on the path just a few feet from her and she scrambled to her feet, caught unaware. The beast roared a silent roar, showing its razor sharp teeth, it charged. She thrust the tire iron into its open mouth.
It scratched at her with its puny front legs, which were stunted and offered little in the way of defense. She shoved harder and the tire iron gouged into the back of the creature's throat causing it to heave. Choking and heaving it backed away from her, then it emptied the contents of its stomach. A thick mucous twinged with blood, pooled on the pavement of the path. The beast jerked away and disappeared into the woods in the darkness of the falling night. She sat there all night, in the moonlight she stared at the small pink tennis shoe that rested in the middle of the puddle.
They found her there the next morning, bagging the shoe, they led her away to another psych evaluation, another locked ward, in another hospital, and she hoped this one didn't have the wall creatures. The beast confused by the attack moved on, to another town, in another state, and even today everyone in this town, in this place, wonders where she put the body.
She travels the hallways of the hospital, alone even here where others see things. But she knows the difference between the others and herself. For the things they see are conjured up in their brains while the ones she sees.... are birthed of evil, sent to collapse the wall that divides sanity and insanity, and to tease the soul into submission.