“This is boring,” I moaned as I watched my long time family friend Adam fixing his latest special effects creation. It was some mummy and had precisely zero creativity. The studio had set their expectations for the low budget film “Return of the Mummy’s Master.”
“Boring? Oh, come on, Sal, look at the eyes. I think I am a genius.”
“Adam, you have been gluing eyeballs to someone’s arm for the last hour., Sorry Steven,” I said to the actor in the chair that my friend had been torturing for the last hour.
“It’s okay, Sal.” Stephen smiled through all the layers of makeup.
“I loved you in that movie with Bradley Cooper.”
“Thanks. I had fun; he is a super nice dude.”
“Will you two shut up? I’m trying to concentrate.”
I rolled my eyes. “Want anything from the vending machine?”
“They were out the last time, remember?’
“Oh well, what about a Reeses then?”
“The machine didn’t have those either pick again.”
“Well, bloody hell, the studio must make millions, and they can’t afford to stock the vending machine with decent candy?”
I held back my laugh.
“They had those cookies you liked.”
“No, just get me some chips.”
“Gotcha, be back in a jiffy!”
I walked out and down the long hallway to the vending machine.
I got a text from my boyfriend, Kevin.
“Hey, sorry I can’t make the movie tonight; I sprained my ankle.”
“Oh, no! How did you do that?” I texted back.
“Flag football.” was his response.
I thought that seemed sort of silly, but I didn’t comment on it.
I had been dating Kevin for several weeks, and we always had a good time. To say he was quite good looking was an understatement. Dark brown hair, bright green eyes, and he was six feet tall.
I was depressed about not seeing the movie, but I understood.
I wished my new beau well and grabbed what I needed from the shitty vending machine.
I walked back down the hall and into the room where Adam was still applying more latex layers and eyeballs to poor Steven’s face and body. I had no idea why there were so many eyeballs.
“Now, what you want to do here..Sal, are you watching?”
“You want to add the layer loosely, then apply the blood splatter to it, so it looks like scabs forming on the burnt face. Pretty cool if you ask me.”
“Yup,” I said, trying to seem excited. Nothing was exciting about special effects makeup. At first, it was fun, but watching it get applied for hours and hours layer after layer sort of ruins the fun. It wasn’t like watching one of those television shows. Also, I wasn’t even allowed to apply any makeup, and I was supposed to be the apprentice.
In all truth, I missed taxidermy. I missed the freelance art of it. I hadn’t told Adam yet, but I had an offer to return to my first love. I knew he would be pissed if I quit after he had pulled so many strings, but this wasn’t making me happy. If only that damn creepy Dogman or Werewolf hadn’t ruined it for me. I had nightmares for weeks after. I kept seeing that thing lying in the road. In every dream, he woke up and tried to eat me. I shivered at the thought.
I ended my workday in a bit of a haze. When I got home, I called out for Charlie, my 14-year-old German Shepherd.
When he didn’t come, I began to get worried. I walked over to his bed and petted his head.
“Come on, boy, let’s go for a walk!”
I knew by the feel of him he was gone. I stepped back with tears in my eyes. He had gone peacefully in his sleep. I sat down next to him and cried for what seemed like a very long time.
The only person I could think of calling was my family friends Adam and his wife, Teri.
“Hello?” Teri answered the phone.
“Charlie has passed away,” I began to ball my eyes out.
“OH, honey, no.” Teri was empathetic as usual.
“I’ll send Adam over. We can bury him in our pet cemetery.”
Adam came over, and we loaded my dear friend of fourteen years in the back of his pick up truck.
“I’m sorry, Sal,” he said, patting my shoulder.
Adam and his wife Teri had been my pseudo parental figures since my dad passed years ago, and I decided to stay where I lived while my mom moved away to stay with her sister. They were my other family. When I had nowhere else to go, they had been my other parents.
“I know. Teri is going to be so devastated.”
“She is already making a coffin for him.”
“OH,” I smiled.
When we got to their homestead, a tearful Teri met me at the door. The twins were home, and Beth and Brianna met me at the door as well with hugs.
Brianna was two minutes older than Beth, and she was the more headstrong of the two. Beth was much more unaware and more into her new iPhone and boys.
“Oh my god. I remember when he was just a puppy!” Brianna hugged me.
I nodded. “Got any wine?”
“Oh, of course, we do!” Teri hugged me.
We drank a bit of wine then we prepared Charlie for his grave.
Teri was sweet and put him in a pretty pink and blue blanket. Adam dug the hold, and we said a mini goodbye and buried him. Teri put a little wreathe of lavender on the grave, and we hugged each other tearfully.
They left me for a while to say my goodbyes to Charlie. I knew I would miss him so much in the coming days. He was my best friend.
When I finished with my goodbyes, I walked into the house, and Teri had already planned a wake for Charlie.
“You want to do what?”
“I think it is important we have a little ceremony; it is important to me that we do. I loved him so much. He helped me with the girl when they were little to teach them about the importance of pets.”
I nodded. Brianna was redfaced and tearful as she walked over, hugging me again.
“I can’t believe he’s gone.”
“Me either; I’m just glad he went in his sleep. I can’t imagine having to have put him down.”
Everyone was caring and concerned, and Teri insisted I sleep in the spare bedroom, but all I wanted was to go home.
The next day I planned for Charlie’s wake. It was oddly comforting, though, having a funeral wake for a dog. It made it easier to say goodbye to his little spirit.
Kevin came too. He sat on the couch most of the night, and I brought him drinks and snacks so he wouldn’t have to move too much.
At the end of the night, I said goodbye to Kevin, and then I helped Teri clean up.
Brianna came into the kitchen then.
“I am thinking of changing majors.”
“You are? To what?” I asked her.
“Makeup artist. I love makeup!”
“Like father like daughter.”
“Well, I am more into glam than gross, but yeah, trying to figure out how to tell him. It is going to be hard because we found out Beth is flunking her first semester of College.”
“Shh,” Brianna said, running out of the kitchen.
Adam came in with his glass of wine and helped dry dishes.
“So that was your new boyfriend, eh? I think you can do a bit better than him.”
“What? You tell me all the time that my father would want me to have someone to share my life with, and I finally meet a guy that doesn’t make me want to throw up, and you don’t like him.”
“I don’t’ think he’s a gentleman. You had to feed him and bring him drinks all night while he sat on my velvet sofa all night. I found him privileged.”
“He had a sprained ankle; what was he supposed to do?”
“Okay, you two. Adam, go into the living room and help Beth with her phone. She says it isn’t working properly, whatever that means. Sally ignore my husband.” She came over and hugged me like she always did when I was overly sensitive.
“I” m so sorry, my darling, about Charlie. I want you to know I liked Kevin. He seems very nice.”
Adam came back in. “Her phone isn’t broken. Our youngest needs to learn how to use a phone charge once in a while. Sally, I think you are quite daft over Kevin. You are too good for him. If your father were alive, he’d agree with me.”
“Daft? You know no one told you about all the stupid decisions you made in life! We supported you!”
“Oh, come now, I have never made any stupid decisions as an adult.”
“What about the three million dollar television deal you turned down. How smart was that?”
“I wanted to be with my family. I don’t want to live in British Columbia and make teenage vampire tv shows.”
“Well, it was stupid. I need to go.”
Teri came over to me. “He’s just on edge tonight because we found out Beth is failing her freshman year of college.”
“I don’t care. As a matter of fact, now is a better time than any to tell you I am quitting as your apprentice. I had another job offer.”
“What?” Adam snapped.
“Steak Farms have asked me to do some taxidermy work for their restaurant, and I agreed. I miss the freelancing work. I hate special effects.”
“Well, now you are daft,” he said, hugging his glass of wine.
“Why don’t you talk to your daughter? She would love to be your apprentice instead of treating me like your daughter. I had a father, and he was much more supportive of me than you are!”
I walked out of the door, angry that my friend should be so judgemental of my decisions.
Teri called out to me. She ran up to me and hugged me. “Will you call us when you get home?”
I smiled, nodding at her.
“Good girl, we love you, or we wouldn’t worry so much.”
“I know, but right now, I don’t want to see his stupid face.”
She kissed my cheek and ran into the house.
When I got home, I took off my clothes and put on my pajamas. I looked at the dog bed and began to cry. This was going to be so hard.
I went downstairs and turned off the front porch lights. As I was doing so, I heard something in the front yard that sounded like an injured cat. I turned the front porch light back on.
I heard the crying again. This time I stepped out front to inspect what the sound could be. The last thing I wanted to deal with was an injured cat. I’d have to find a way to help it or worse, take it and pay an arm and a leg at an all-night animal hospital.
I walked out onto the porch, and then I stepped into my front yard. I could hear the wind chimes blowing gently in the breeze. There was a coolness to the air that felt like someone was waving a fan, only there wasn’t one.
Something had me glance over to the trees above my house. There were two red lights in the tree. I was trying to figure out what it was when the sound I heard earlier was now coming from the trees.
To my horror, the sky was now being blacked out by something hovering inside the trees above my home. I could only stand in utter amazement. Then I felt them.
A strong wind pulled my hair into the front of my face as I struggled to see under my long hair. Wings, giant black wings were flying over my house in a figure eight.
I couldn’t place it, but there was something about the creature flying. I felt frozen in place as though it were forcing me to stay where I was. Then I began to feel a sharp pain in my forehead, and my nose began to bleed. I could taste the blood as I thought the blood fall past my lips and onto my chin, yet I remained frozen.
I felt it then, the terror. There is something about things in the sky that have always terrified me. They are often more significant than you and, in this case, about to eat me for lunch.
As I stood there, I heard something else off into the distance—something with Amber eyes coming from the bushes by my house.
I recognized it then. Something that resembled a werewolf was now standing in the front of my yard, and above me was a winged creature from hell.
I somehow found my footing and ran back into my house. I turned off the lights so that neither one could see me once I was inside.
I wiped my face off, and my head stopped hurting. I could hear the flying creature’s screaming sounds and the sound of the dogman creature growling. I ran to my upstairs bedroom to search for a small handgun I kept for emergencies.
I searched around for a bit, but to my bad luck, I couldn’t find it. Then I remembered I had left it in my pick up truck. “Stupid Sal,” I said to myself.
My only other thought was that I could try and run out to my truck and get it, but I didn’t want to take the chance of either of those creatures attacking me and killing me.
I was so frightened that I thought I could call Adam and Teri, but it was approaching midnight, and I didn’t want to bother them. I didn’t need another lecture from Adam tonight.
I picked up my phone and called Kevin.
“Kevin, I’m calling because I’m terrified. There is some kind of, I dunno, an animal outside. I don’t know what to do, and I’m really scared.”
“Call the police or animal control.”
“You can’t come over?”
“Babe, what can I do with a sprained ankle?”
“Sorry to have bothered you.”
“It’s all good; I’m watching Harry Potter. It is the one with-“
I didn’t even say goodbye. I just hung up the phone while he was in mid-sentence. I hated Adam for being right. However, right now, I needed to get out of this situation.
I heard something land on my roof. I jumped in my skin, unable to be sure as to where this thing was.
Then I heard scraping on my bedroom window. When I looked outside, there was the most hideous thing I had ever seen in my life. The beast I was looking at had large red eyes the size of baseballs. Its nose was short like that of a bat. It had at least three layers of teeth like some parasite. Its claws were at least six inches long. It spread out its wings, causing the entire room to go pitch black except for those eyes. They illuminated the room like lava lamps.
When it opened its mouth, the ugliest scream came from it. It hurt my ears because it was high pitched and stung.
I covered my ears with my hands as its scream began to crack the window and one of my lightbulbs in the small lamp I had by my bedside.
When the window cracked, I could see its head moving slowly inside my bedroom. It waivered slowly, inch by inch, knowing that with each movement, it was terrifying me to my core. There was something about it that seemed to take sadistic pleasure in scaring me.
Perhaps this was my instant karma for being such a brat to my friend. I hoped that my life wouldn’t end with my being so mean to him.
I backed away slowly as the winged demon spread its ebon wings busting through my window and the wall around it. When it got into the room, I could feel my head burning behind my eyes. It was making me ill, and all at once, I crumbled to the floor of my bedroom, made immobile by this winged thing. It was now inside my room, completely hovering above me, and then it dropped to my floor. It landed with a strange grace that I would not have imagined coming from this beast I could only compare to that of the Mothman. Only I had never seen an actual Mothman, and all I knew was that this thing was coming closer and closer to me. I was in awe of it, and I could not move. Part of me that wanted to run was outweighed by the desire to see what it would do. Its eyes seemed to illuminate heat, and they changed colors from Red to dark orange.
My own eyes were in a state of bewilderment. I watched with my mouth wide open, afraid, and then I felt sickened. It opened its mouth wide to reveal the most disgusting smell. It was like decaying flesh and sulfur all in one. Then it opened wider and within seconds snapped its mouth around my neck. I could feel my blood leaving my body, and my heartbeat slow. I could feel my fingers tingle in numbness. My legs were growing limp. I was falling into a deep slumber when the door to my bedroom opened with an explosive bang. To my utter terror, it was the Dogman from earlier. I knew now that if the winged creature didn’t’ suck me dry, this other would tear me limb from limb. I couldn’t even scream loud enough for a neighbor to hear me. My voice cracked, and my body was now sickened and limp. I realized I was paralyzed from the venom that this ebon winged monster had excreated inside of my bloodstream.
I lay on my bedroom floor, only able to watch as the Dogman puffed up its chest. It growled so deep that my walls vibrated. The flying monster hissed and screamed at the Dogman. The Dogman wasted no time in punching the creature. It fell back against the wall, and then it flew up into the corner of my ceiling. Its wings caught onto my bed and got stuck in my down quilt. The Dogman seemed to take advantage of the creature’s immobility and used its right claw to slice at the creature’s face.
The winged monster flew back and knocked over the Dogman up against my dresser, knocking my drawers out with its weight.
I tried to breathe, but my lungs were collapsing slowly. The Dogman creature looked over at me with its amber eyes. There was something about them that seemed familiar. I could be wrong but was this the same Dogman Adam and I had returned to the wild? I closed my eyes, growing weakened my approaching death. Every breath was like the last, and my lungs burned with fire.
The winged creature knocked over the Dogman again, this time knocking him out. The Dogman was down, and when he was lying next to me on the ground, I looked over to him, and the sheer size of him on the floor still towered above me. He was still breathing, and god only knew what he would do to me if he would wake. The flying monster was not finished with me yet.
With the Dogman out of the way, it took the time to pull me away. It pulled me up into the air by my ankles. As I hung upside down, it began to back out of my window, holding me in its black claws.
Then I heard an explosion, and I fell.
I fell to the floor, and life seemed to scream from my chest. I couldn’t see anything because blood covered my face, eyes, chest, stomach, and legs. It was on the walls, my bedspread, and my new gray carpet.
I could only see pieces of wing, blood, and guts. Then I saw the Dogman towering over me and the remains of the now-dead winged creature. It had ripped out the heart of the winged beast and pulled it out with a force that caused it to explode.
I was on the ground when I looked on at the Dogman, eating the heart of the winged beast. Then the Dogman turned towards me. He tilted his beastly head. I felt no more fear.
It heaved in and out with breath that seemed to remind me of my own departed Charlie. The Dogman sniffed my neck where the winged beast had bitten me filling me up with venom.
The Dogman leaned in and then opened his massive jaws and bit my neck. I couldn’t’ feel its teeth inserting themselves inside my neck. I felt a suckling feeling, and then my limbs began to move again. I was in terror and calm. My body and my soul had so many emotions. Tears wet my eyes as I felt something else too.
Love and loss. The Dogman let go of my neck and then picked my body up and carried me down the stairs. Someone was running up the driveway.
It was my friends Adam and Teri, along with their girls.
The Dogman creature gently dropped me onto the lawn of my house and disappeared into the woods.
I was in shock, and all at once, I heard sirens. The EMT’s saw me covered in blood and thought I was dead. My friends were in a state when they saw me thinking I had been stabbed to death. The wound on my neck was already healing.
When they saw my house, they realized something had broken in and nearly ended my life.
“Good god! What happened?” Adam looked on with terror. “Teri was worried when you didn’t let her know you had made it home safely. She had a bad feeling.”
“This is going to sound strange, and you probably won’t believe me, but I think a Dogman or werewolf killed Mothman after it tried to kill me.”
He couldn’t do anything except laugh.
“I’m serious,” I said in pain.
“Why is it I actually believe you?” He asked.
“I’m sorry, you were right about Kevin. He’s a jerk.”
“I was hoping I would be wrong, but I’m usually right.”
“If you say so,”
“I’ll run in and grab some clothes for you,” Teri said.
A few days finally passed, and the cops realized that an unknown assailant had not stabbed me. They went with the story of a bear attacking me. I have no idea how they assumed a bear had broken into my two-story window, but it thinks it was a more straightforward story than the truth.
When Adam and Teri had gotten a look at my bedroom, there were still pieces of ebon wings on the floor. He took the remnants of winged flesh with him so that I could make a taxidermied version of it or something like it later on. I appreciated the thought, but right now, I just wanted some peace.
A few weeks later, I was back on my midnight runs. I was ago at the roadkill search that had always given me so much pleasure. Granted, I didn’t have Charlie out here on these roads, but I had something else. I had a protector. I wasn’t afraid anymore of the unknown.
Adam allowed Brianna to be his apprentice, and she seemed to enjoy it. They ended up having Beth leave school, and instead, she is studying cosmetology at the local beauty college. In the end, he will save a hell of a lot more money!
Teri helped me redecorate my room after the insurance paid for a new roof and a new window.
Kevin is now dating a model. Good for him.
Me? I don’t plan to date anyone for a very long time.
I have too much to do.
I have a lot of work for Steak Farms. I’m happy I took on the job. The specimens have been a lot easier to locate.
In fact, I don’t have to go so far as my front door. Once a week, there is another specimen left for me by a mysterious benefactor.
I think you and I know who is leaving me the gifts.