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I’m not sure when I started thinking of him again. It had been at least sixteen years. I had pretty much forgotten about him up till that point. I went about my life as a waitress and dishwasher for a small town diner. The only place to get food aside from the Jiffy-Mart and garage just up the street. The town had countless legends that involved death of some form involving creatures that most people laughed at.
Late one night when only the regulars were there, everyone decided to pitch together and tell me some of the stories. I had just moved there two months before and still hadn’t had the time to listen in on the latest encounters with the local creatures. They started it off by telling me about the Rake and how it drove it’s victims to insanity by demanding impossible things from them or perching at the foot of their bed night after night waiting for them to wake up so it could kill them.
I laughed it off. “That doesn’t sound that bad,” I said. “At least it was trying to get it over with.”
Nealy, the man who told the story, huffed in irritation. “Tell ‘er about the Operator.”
“The what?” I asked. “That sounds like a bad horror movie I saw once.”
“Don’t laugh.” Gina, the owner, said. “He’s real. Ever wonder why you don’t see kids in this town or why the school is shut down. He lives there. He takes children and then goes after their families. He dates back as far as anyone knows. He took the waitress you replaced and her son.”
“Uh-huh, and pigs fly.” I said. “I don’t doubt that they exist. They just don’t scare me.”
“What about those Cryptids you like so much? Do any of those scare you?” Shawn was my favorite person I had met in this small town. He was two years older than me and loved to listen to my tales about the Cryptids my parents had chased through out my childhood.
“Yeah, lots of them scare me. I saw a few of them.” I said. It was something I never really talked about, but since these crazy small town folks believed their own legends I supposed they would believe me when I told them what I had seen.
“What scares you the most?” Gina asked. “I mean, one that you’ve seen.”
I sat back in the chair I had drug behind the counter and pondered which one scared me the most.
“The Dover Demon,” I said. “It scares me because it looks like an alien and I have a phobia of them. All it does is wait to scare people, but it freaks me out on looks alone. The Cree Indians even have it in their stories. It’s not the one this that scares me the most, but it’s a close second.”
“What scares you the most then?” Nealy asked.
“Pax.” Was all I said. I stood up and went into the back to finish up the dishes. There was no way I was telling them about Pax at night. They would have to wait until a day when I was off work and could come by during the day to tell them his story.
The next week, after a lot of badgering on their part, all four of us went to the diner on my one off day. We all showed up early after the sun had come up. I didn’t want to risk telling them about him close to dark.
“Well,” Shawn said. “Here we are. Now what the hell is Pax?”
“Pax was my not so imaginary friend as a child,” I told them. “He looked like a ragged and matted Saluki dog with no mouth and six black eyes with red irises.”
“I know that ain’t all there is to it,” Nealy said. “There has to more to it than that.”
“There is,” I said. “There’s a lot more. Pax first showed up at a seminar my parents had taken me to about Hell Hounds.Of course, I wasn’t allowed any farther than the lobby, but I could still hear what they were saying. I was so bored and told the receptionist that I wished I had someone to play with. She told me to run along and stay out of trouble, so I decided to run around the museum it was held in.”
“I found Pax in the room the Curator used for the most expensive artifacts they were still studying. He was sitting in a corner of the room, swaying back and forth. I said hi to him and it went from there. He followed me where ever we went. When I told my parents about him they thought I had come up with him as a way to keep myself from being scared of the cryptids they chased. All of that happened when I was five. Everything was great with him around, until I turned seven. We had moved into a house near the mountains in Italy while they did research on the Tatzelwurm. I liked to play in the backyard with Pax everyday.”
” A few months after my birthday he killed someone’s dog and drug it into the backyard. At first, my parents thought I had done it. I had never hurt an animal in my life and they thought it was me. It started to happen during the weeks I was stuck inside and they decided it wasn’t my fault and some wild animal was killing them. I kept telling them it was Pax.”
“One day while my parents were home thought it would be funny to walk in front of a mirror in the room they were in. That was the only way anyone else could see him. My mom screamed so loud she could talk for a week. After that they tolerated Pax’s pranks until they started to get violent.”
I stopped and took a deep breath, shaking slightly at the thought of what came next. “Next came the really bad pranks. A misplaced knife in the bottom of the sink while my mom washed dishes. My dad almost falling down the stairs after being pushed. Then finding rabid animals in the house. I finally realized that whatever that thing was that was pulling all of those horrible pranks wasn’t Pax.”
“What do you mean?” Asked Shawn. “He was the only thing around that could have done it, right?”
“Yeah, but something had to have happened to him. It was too sudden. I think my parents came back from one of their hunts for the Tatzelwurm with something else that took his place. I noticed that his eyes had changed. The color swapped. From black and red to red and black. My parents seemed to realize this too because I had already changed the color in the pictures I drew of him without realizing it.”
“After a lot of research, my parents realized that this creature that had taken my best friend’s place was a demon called a Mimic. They didn’t have a name of their own and like to take the place of imaginary friends and guardian spirits. That’s what Pax was. I rescued him from his own hell and he protected me. He couldn’t even protect himself from the demon.
“We found out some time later that it couldn’t kill anything that wasn’t alive, but that was way after the fifteenth priest ran screaming that God was dead and hell was here.” I looked down at my hands and sighed. “The Mimic finally got up the courage to attack on its own. My dad is stuck in a wheelchair and my mom won’t even speak to me. She thinks it’ll come back if she talks to me. She prays everyday now. One of her favorites is that Pax will come back and save me since she thinks he was an angel.”
“It took me a month after the attack to get out of the hospital. I stood in the living room and screamed at it to get out and never come back or I would kill it. Can you imagine a seven year old screaming death threats at a demon? That was me. I told it I would find Pax and we would kill it. It left, but it never stayed away.” I took in a shaky breath. “It follows me everywhere I go. I don’t go into the woods because I’m afraid it’ll sneak up on me and finally kill me.”
“What about Pax?” Gina asked, almost at a whisper. “Did you ever find him?”
“No. It’s not for lack of trying. I want him to come back. Remember how I laughed at your story about the Rake, Nealy? I’ve already seen it. I need Pax to come back and protect me. I’ll be dead in a month without him.” I let out a sob. “I don’t think I’ve ever admitted just how much I need him.”
Gina, Nealy, and Shawn looked at me in horror. I was pretty much marked for death without Pax. Two creatures had found me interesting enough to want to kill me. Hell, I had already cheated death once. Why not try again?
“Alright,” I said. “I’m going home now. See you tomorrow Gina.”
“Shit! I knew I should have gone to the store when I let the diner.” I yelled as I slammed the door of my empty fridge. It was getting close to dark and I wouldn’t get home in time to lock the door.
Fuck it, I thought. If I’m going to die I’ll make it on my terms. I was by no means thrilled at the idea of dieing. In fact, it took a major pep talk to get myself out the door. I knew I was going to die.
The walk there was fine. Nothing happened that didn’t happen everyday. I got what I needed and started to head home. As it got darker I became more paranoid. I transferred all my bags from my right hand to my left and pulled out my pocketknife. If I was going out, I wasn’t going out like a bitch.
The shadows crept up on me and I could feel the Mimic getting closer. I tried not to make any noise so I could hear it coming, but my shoes still scuffed the pavement. Please just let it be Shawn trying to scare me. The thought was a little too late. It came from my left and slammed me into the pavement.
As it stood over me, I watched as it pried its mouth apart with a sickening rip. This was it and I couldn’t even stab it a few good times. I was about to die.
“Don’t worry, Zoey.” I swore I could hear Pax talking. He had always done funny things like that. “It’ll be over before you can even feel the pain. You saved me from my pain. I’ll do the same for you.”
I hadn’t realized I was hallucinating until it was almost over. I felt the pain. Just like when I was a child I made something up to counter the horror I was seeing. It had been Pax the whole time.
Credit To – FlatlineGamer