Revenge, they say, is best served cold. I thought a lot about that these days with everything that had gone on in my life recently. I tried to keep my bubbly personality, but someone was holding my friend hostage.
As much as I wanted to find the person or persons and hurt them, I had to keep a cool head about myself. It had been a week since my life-altering experience of nearly dying. I had decided stupidly to go it alone with no one there to help me. I was lucky but Kodiak, my dog man friend, wasn’t so fortunate.
What the hell was my life even right now? Dogmen and mother and God only knew what was next! I sighed when I heard a knock at my door. I was hoping it was my friend, Adam. He and I were going to plan our search and rescue for Kodiak. I had a pretty good idea now where he may have been kept.
I got up from my seat in the kitchen and went to answer the door. When I did, I found it very strange no one was there. But another mystery package was left just like before in my food bag. What the hell was going on?
I slowly picked up the package and then went to go down to my taxidermy room. I put on gloves, a mask, and glasses just in case it was something toxic. Although I had no idea who might be trying to hurt me or why I only knew I couldn’t take any chances.
I opened the package, and I found another mysterious note inside it. This one was folded up like when you were a kid, and someone would write something to you on notebook paper then fold it all weirdly. This one was folded like a Ninja Star, and on it in the center was my name- purposely misspelled.
Don’t forget your scissors, threads, and knives if you come looking for us. It could get messy where you are going. You may need to bring yourself back to life as you have done countless animals. I’m not usually one for games, but I have been watching you for a long time, missy. I see everything, and I know how to make you pay for what you did to us. Come out, come out wherever you are.
I promise you will pay for your decision to come looking for things in places where the dead men have come before you.
Your man without a face
I still had no idea who was stalking me, watching me. I heard something outside, stopping me in my tracks to go to my taxidermy room in the basement. The sound was my neighbor’s cat, Sebastian. He screamed, and then I looked out the window and could see a man in a red hoodie peering out from behind my neighbor’s bushes. I opened my front door to confront him, but he ran down the street, and I lost sight of him.
I picked up my phone and dialed 9-1-1. I was frightened but also angry. No one was going to threaten me! As soon as the operator picked up the phone, I noticed something inside the envelope. It was a large vial of something. It looked like blood; who’s blood, I wondered.
“Hello, are you there?”
“Um, yes, my name is Sally, and I accidentally called 911 trying to restart my cell phone. I’m so sorry,”
The operator must have had people do that by accident before because she just took what I said at face value and hung up.
I knew I was lying, and I probably could use the cops, but there was something about this vial. I didn’t want anyone to see it. I suddenly began to feel very frightened that it could make it worse if I got law enforcement involved.
The second I looked at the vial, I realized that whatever was in it was causing me to feel lightheaded and angry. I slowly sat it down and backed away from it. I took a deep breath, and my front door opened.
“Who the hell is coming in here uninvited?”
“Um, Adam? We do know each other, I think.”
“Shit, you scared me,”
He looked over at me, concerned. “What’s wrong, Sal?”
“A man left this note for me; I think it is in the same writing as the last one. I’m scared,”
Adam read the letter and then looked at me very seriously like he was looking at his daughters.
“Call the police. This is no laughing matter,”
“I tried, but the stranger left this too, and NO, DON’T TOUCH IT!”
Adam had picked it up to look at it, and then he looked back at me as he quickly set it down. “What the hell Sal? Is it Anthrax?”
“No, but I think it is worse; there is something in it that even though I didn’t touch it directly- I only looked at it- made me angry and ill.”
Adam took a deep breath, and then I put the vial back into the envelope it came in.
“We should tell someone, Sally. If someone is trying to hurt you, that hurts me, and I promised your parents I’d look after you.”
I took the gloves, glasses, and mask off. I washed my hands at the kitchen sink and advised Adam to do so. I didn’t want to take any chances.
After, we thought of what I should do next.
“Do you still want to pursue this thing with Kodiak? I mean, is it even wise?”
“Yes, I can’t let him be out there alone, hurt, maybe scared? Although, I think that is the least of my worries.”
“Yes, and what if this person tries to hurt you and I get in the way? I’m not sure we should go on this little adventure anymore,”
“It is stupid, I know that, but would you want to be left alone with no one to help you? It has already been a few weeks, and the dreams..”
“Dreams, you say?”
“Yes, dreams, I can’t stop seeing Kodiak screaming while a stranger cuts into him as though he were some sort of experiment,”
“Do you think it was that artist?”
“I’m not sure, but no. It is someone related, but it isn’t him,”
“Let’s go; we can go first thing in the morning,”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, because I have had the exact same dream.”
Adam and I left at promptly five am in the morning. We took my pickup truck and drove as far into the area I had last felt Kodiak may be. It was in a rough area deep into the woods, and I was sure I’d find him there. It was as if Adam and I had shared some telepathy with him after returning him to his kin after I saw him on the road initially. We both knew exactly where to go to find him.
I questioned myself for even taking up this massive task, but someone had to do it. I had a gun in my back pocket, and I did think of what the mad man had said, and I did bring a few things like a needle, thread, knives, and scissors.
When we got to the section of the woods where we needed to exit my vehicle, I made sure to pull into an area where it looked like I may have parked to go hiking, as some did in these parts. Although, knowing what I knew about what lived in these woods- hiking was off my list of fun things to do on an afternoon.
We loaded our backpacks and then began our trek into the forest. It seemed to get even darker, and the sun was coming up. I had my flashlights and handed one to Adam. We turned them on as we walked and walked. The trails were muddy, and the woods seemed to sink when you walked on them. There had been loads of rain recently, and it flooded even the highest of areas. We kept going even though my lower back was not beginning to feel the tension of constantly walking uphill.
There was a dull pain in my right leg that seemed relentless. I looked back at Adam, who scolded me for checking on him.
“I’m 47, not eighty! I can manage,”
I grinned at him for being a bit crunchy with me and continued. At about an hour and a half, we finally came to an old cave. I looked back at Adam, who had noticed something about it before.
“It looks as though there is light inside the cave. Do you think he might be in there?”
I looked at the cave and then felt my heart sink. I could hear a growling now, and I knew that it must be Kodiak!
We quickly walked towards the cave but hid once we got close to the entrance. I wanted to figure out our plan now that we had made it. Then I heard someone chuckle.
“Ha Ha Ha, you think I don’t know you are out there hiding? There are cameras, you know,”
I looked at Adam, my heart sank.
“Get inside, or else I’m killing him,”
It felt like the ending to an Indiana Jones movie, and here we were about to fight off the evil guy and save our friend, but things did not work out that way in real life. In real life, things often take a genuinely dangerous turn.
We both entered the cave slowly, and before I knew it, Adam was grabbed by something in the dark and dragged towards another tunnel within the cave. I screamed, now terrified at what I was witnessing. I was so afraid of what might happen to him, and I’d feel it was my fault.
Now I was alone with whatever or whoever this person was.
“Sally Sally Sally, you don’t remember me do you?”
I shook my head. It was a man, and he was walking closer and closer to me, but he remained just far enough away from the light, so I could not see his face. I pulled out my gun, and I held it up to him.
“Guns mean nothing here in my world; just watch,” The man remained hidden in the shadows, but suddenly he held up a hose, and I felt liquid sprayed gently into the air around my face. Whatever it was, I suddenly felt as though I could rip a man in half just using my very own strength.
I felt myself growl angrily, and I felt as though I were suddenly shapeshifting into an animal. Only I remained true to my physical form. It was just Sally.
He sprayed something else on me, and I began to feel the feelings of anger alleviate.
“You got our gift in the mail. That was an offering; we harness the dark forces that make these paranormal creatures real. Everything we do is for the greater good. If you leave this creature now, we will not bother you further, and you can keep our little mood-altering gift. You never know when it may come in handy if you get mugged. Not even a gun can stop you once you have breathed in this solution.”
Something didn’t make sense. Why was he suddenly trying to keep me away by giving me things that were military-grade weaponry?
I felt something then, it was a vision, and I knew who was sending it to me. I knew then these evil people wanted Kodiak because he harnessed his own gifts, and they would be extracting them from him.
“What is the matter? Do you want more? There is more from where that came from,”
“How cliche are you? I am sure I heard everything you are saying to me in a film. Literally everything. What does Kodiak have that you need so badly? Why have you been stalking me?”
“Stalking you? We haven’t been stalking you at all. Today was the first time we have met. I’m happy about that.”
I noticed I still couldn’t see his face, and it bothered me. I looked down at his hands and realized there was something wrong. Then I smelled it. The man in front of me was rotting. I still had no idea what it meant, but I knew I wasn’t letting him take Kodiak.
Just then, I heard a scream. It was Adam.
“Let my friend go!” I yelled suddenly, shaking with fear. Only it wasn’t my fear; it was someone else’s. The tremors that ran through my body were Kodiaks. I looked around the room, hoping to see him. That is when I saw him. He stood behind a glass cage, his eyes feral and listless. He was dying and was scared to death. There was a tube connected to him, and I saw him for the first time. Kodiak wasn’t just a beast of the paranormal kind. His light amber eyes had tears in them.
I wanted to cry, and that is when I looked back at my friend Adam who was suddenly very weak. He was standing up, but something was wrong with him. Suddenly he lept forward towards me and tried to bite me.
“What the fuck?” I screamed.
“Oh, sorry, I’m giving you several seconds to make up your mind, or your friend will turn into something otherworldly. I don’t think that is what you want, now is it?”
“What do you want?” I could see Adam’s eyes changing from brown to serpent green. There was blood coming out of his ears and mouth, and when he opened his mouth, he let out a scream that caused a crack in Kokiak’s glass cage. Adam took a deep breath and walked toward me, and for a split second, he looked like his old self again.
That was my mistake. Adam grabbed me by the neck and held me as though he would rip my neck from my body. He was squeezing my body now so hard I thought in a few seconds I’ll be dead.
Before I could react, Kodiak broke free from the glass cage, and as it shattered, he ripped the tubes connecting his body to some odd-looking machine and went down on all fours leaping towards Adam. He pressed into Adam’s neck and held him to the ground like a dog would in a fight. I thought Adam was dead, but his legs sprang back into action. He managed to escape the grip Kokiak had on him and ran towards me again. This time I noticed the man without a face was now gone. Where did that fucker go? This was complete chaos, and I wanted both my friends safe and back to normal. That was not going to work.
I ran as fast as I could away from Adam, who, using his bruit strength from whatever this solution was, used a boulder to smash into Kodiak. Kodiak took it like a trooper shaking it off like a dog, and ran towards Adam now. I managed to find a tunnel that led into a river, and I jumped into it. When I thought I was safe, I felt arms behind me pulling me underwater.
I couldn’t fight him off, and soon I lost consciousness.
When I woke up, I saw myself lying outside the cave, and when I recalled what had happened, I sat straight up, coughing more water from my lungs. I looked around to see Kodiak was holding Adam by the collar of his jacket, and he was passed out. I sighed with relief.
I managed to get Adam back to my truck with Kodiak’s help as he carried him on his back. This was all too surreal to me, and I wanted to faint, but once I got into my truck, I could drive straight toward the hospital. By now, Kodiak was long gone. As soon as he reached the main road near where my truck was parked, he disappeared, not to be seen by people driving by.
I drove to the hospital, and Teri was already there waiting. If looks could kill, I would have been on her list.
“What the hell happened?”
I didn’t even feel like telling her.
“We were attacked,” was all I could muster. The entire story sounded even more ridiculous.
Teri didn’t question it; she only looked at me now with a bit of concern when she saw the marks around my neck.
I was treated and allowed to leave, but they had a lot of questions. I tried to explain that we both were attacked by a faceless man, who just happened to be rotting alive like a corpse.
When the doctors tested Adam’s blood and gave him a look over, there was no trace of the weird substance. I went home and got the vial I had in my package and brought it back to the hospital so they could find out what it was. Only, when they tested it, there was nothing unusual. It was described as watered-down tree sap. That was impossible.
I was devastated by the fact that Adam had been hurt. He was recovering from the injuries that Kodiak had inflicted upon him. However, he had only used his mouth to hold Adam down. There were no actual puncture wounds. Cuts, bruises, sure, but not open wounds. Adam had been unconscious since we arrived at the hospital.
I waited with Teri for three days to see if he would be okay. It was always hard to be away from a close friend, especially when they were going through something you couldn’t help them immensely. Adam and his family had been like my second family for ten years. Now, because of some obsessed lunatic, I was potentially going to lose him.
When I thought about what they really wanted from me, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. But I now believed the Mothman attack, and this was related. They were trying to get rid of me, but was it just so they could have Kodiak without me trying to protect him? Nothing made sense.
I was eating pudding in the hospital cafeteria when Teri called me to tell me Adam was now awake.
I was so relieved to hear it.
When I went into the hospital room, a curtain hid Teri and Adam from my view. I could hear him speaking with her, and he sounded like his old self again. I had bought a couple of stupid magazines, a word puzzle game, and a cupcake from the cafeteria. When I entered the room, Teri smiled up at me.
“Oh, look, Adam, it’s Sal,”
I smiled down at him. But then, something in his eyes changed. He looked at me, and suddenly he began to scream at me.
“I’m going to kill youuuuuu! You little bitch! Come closer so I can eat your flesh, you disgusting little whore.”
Teri yelled for the nurse
“GET OUT, SALLY! GET OUT NOW!” Teri yelled at me.
I could only stand in disbelief. It was as though Adam no longer recognized me. He was blind with anger. Adam, as I knew it, was gone. When I looked at him, I noticed one thing as I slowly backed out of the hospital room. His left hand appeared to be rotting like that man with no face.
I dropped the magazines, the cupcake, and games and ran for my life down the hall of St. Thomas hospital. I could still hear him screaming until I got into the elevator and went straight for the hospital’s exit.
The man in that bed was not Adam. I knew it. I could feel it. The man in the bed had replaced Adam.
I sat in my truck, trying to figure out what to do next. My legs shook and my hands too, but somehow I found a way to start my vehicle and drive home.
When I got to my house, I noticed my front door was open slightly.
When I went inside, there on my couch was a man covered in rotted skin, barely able to breathe and clinging to life. His face was covered with a mask made of animal skin that seemed to be attached to his face. I nearly ran for my gun, but then he spoke.
“Sal, it’s me. It’s Adam; I managed to walk here all on my own I don’t know what is happening to me.”
I dropped my car keys in shock.