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Cryptid Company

Cryptid Company


Estimated reading time — 12 minutes

The Horror of Romance


It’s hard to be a romance novelist when your life is full of horror, but, hey, sometimes
you gotta follow the contracts. My real mistake was going full “brooding author” after the
divorce. I moved clear across the country to ensure I never accidentally ran into
Marcy— or any of our old “friends”— again, and I bought a cozy house in the middle of
nowhere.

It’s on the outskirts of a National Forest, and the closest town is almost an hour away;
there are a few hunting clubs nearby, but they’re all abandoned this time of year. The
soil is supposed to be useless for farming, so I got a great deal on five acres. I don’t
really have plans for it— I just wanted to ensure hunters keep a fair distance. There’s
not much of a clearing around my home, but I’m having some smaller trees removed
soon.

I need a wider field of vision— plus some shotguns, security cameras, and an electric
fence… Maybe some landmines… But bitter paranoia aside, it’s a beautiful spot; I
thought it would help me recover from the irony of writing a love story while it felt like my
heart was being pushed through a shredder, but – if anything – it only made things
worse… Which is why I’m writing this instead of deciding how Cassidy will first meet
Christopher…

Just once, I’d like to decide how Christopher murders Cassidy… Sorry, that was a little
dark… I don’t fantasize about killing Marcy; I only mean that it’s hard to write about
something you don’t believe in… Not that I believe in murder— I just don’t believe in
love…

Look, I’m only trying to express some of these emotions before I drown, ok? Does
anyone have a problem with that?! It’s bad enough I’m losing my mind out here – the
last thing I need is for the police to show up asking if I’ve ever thought of harming myself
or others. The answer is no— at least, not outside of the literary sense. I’m a writer, give
me a break— this is how we process!

Well, that and rebellious imaginations… Or maybe I’ve finally cracked, and they’re just
full blown hallucinations. There’s no history of mental illness in my family, but I’ve been
under an extraordinary amount of stress… I wouldn’t be surprised to wake up in a
straight-jacket with some stuffy doctor asking, “what’s the last thing you remember?”
I wasn’t a poster-boy for sanity before coming here, but I never questioned the very
fabric of reality until my first night in this house. A friend recommended writing down everything that’s happened from start to finish in as much detail as possible. It’s
supposed to help me organize my thoughts in a way that makes them easier to
understand… My hopes aren’t exactly high, but – screw it – I’m a writer, so why the hell
not.

It doesn’t really matter how much time I spend on this anyway. That’s the thing about
romance novels— no one gives a shit how Cassidy and Christopher meet; they only
care about what happens after the clothes come off. I once changed how the main
characters spelled his name halfway through a book and not one person noticed— not
even my editor!

I guess I’m not exactly thrilled at the prospect of reliving the last several weeks, but I’m
desperate enough to try anything…

Munchkin or Crane?


I sent the moving trucks out two days ahead of myself, and the furniture was already in
place when I arrived. The boxes were the only things left for me to deal with, and I
settled for unpacking the necessities as they were needed; the spare bedroom is still full
of junk I’ll probably never need.

It was around 9:00 on a Saturday morning when I first arrived. The movers were already
long gone, and I was completely alone. I converted the dining-room space into an office;
it has a great view of the creek, and – when I sat to write for the first time – words poured
from me like they used to before I became a rotting husk of cynicism… Did that have
more to do with writing a breakup scene than the peaceful scenery? Maybe, but it’s a
moot point now.

Any sense of serenity quickly evaporated with a strange, high-pitched— ugh, how do I
even describe it? I’ve heard it at least a half-a-dozen times since, but it never gets
easier to define… It’s not a scream or cry… It’s not like that weird Predator clicking
noise, either… It’s more like the screech of nails on a chalkboard only more… I don’t
know, primal? If you can imagine a “primal… chalkboard…”

Look, I said I don’t know! I really don’t— that’s the point. What matters is that I spent the
entire day absorbed in a fantasy world only to come out of it hearing some ungodly,
indescribable sound that made my blood run cold and sweat drip down my spine.

I looked up to see it was suddenly dark out— I had no idea when that happened— and
the patio bulbs were dead. Replacing them was absolutely out of the question— nothing
would have convinced me to open the door. I hadn’t bothered buying curtains yet, and
the only thing I could see through any window was my own reflection… That was the
most unnerving part of all; that sound was so loud— whatever was making it had to be
close by… My heart skipped a few beats as I imagined what might be out there—
looking in at me plain as day…

Eventually, I forced myself into motion and began turning off the lights. I wanted to
minimize the view inside, but I didn’t expect to see anything myself… Yet – for a fraction
of a second – my reflection disappeared, and I saw two glowing-red eyes set into a
hulking humanoid shape not 20 yards away… It was dark out, but the stars provided
some slight illumination— enough to distinguish that pitch-black figure from the
background…

It was only the briefest glimpse… It disappeared into the tree-line, and I was left staring
through my transparent reflection— wondering just how real that moment had been. It’s
amazing how one begins to question their own sanity when logic is threatened… ‘Had
those red orbs really been eyes? Was it really the shape of something on two legs?’
I keep thinking about the Wizard of Oz… There’s an urban legend that one of the
munchkins actually hung themselves on set, and the footage made it past all
post-production edits. The supposedly fatal moment occurs when the Tin Man joins
Dorothy and the Scarecrow— if you focus on the background as the three characters
skip away, you’ll see a large shadow seemingly rise and drop.

Now— if the idea of a hanging munchkin has been implanted in your mind— that may
be what it looks like… But – if you were informed that the studio had several large birds
running around that day – it suddenly looks very much like a crane spreading and folding
its wings. I’m aware those two things don’t sound like they would look similar, but there’s
clips all over YouTube if you want to see it for yourself…

Basically, that’s just a roundabout way of saying I wasn’t sure if I really saw what I
thought I saw— you know? I was already one stubbed toe away from a full mental
breakdown, and now I had to wonder if I was hallucinating! Well, spoiler alert— I wasn’t
hallucinating!

That night— I hung blankets over every window before turning the lights back on and
going to bed… I only had screws to get the job done, but you can’t argue with the

results. Marcy kept the cats, but even their combined efforts wouldn’t be a match for my
redneck curtains… In some regards, I’m adapting to country-life just fine…

Sound Sleep


I spent the next day buying and installing motion detecting flood-lights. I was pleased
with myself for presumably “outsmarting” my new nemesis, but I failed to anticipate the
numerous false alarms wildlife would cause. I was getting up to investigate every five
minutes— usually just in time to see a raccoon disappear into the forest— but my
determination had doubled since the night before. I wanted pictures that would prove I
didn’t get “all worked up over a black bear.” I might not know much, but I know black
bears don’t have red eyes…

Sadly that whole night was a bust… Unless you count experiencing my first case of
sleep paralysis. It’s been happening at least 2-3 times a week ever since, and – I gotta
say – I’m not a fan. It was midnight when I went to bed, and – since my clock projects the
time onto the ceiling – I know it was 3:30 when something woke me…

I was lying on my back – trying to remember what I heard – when the strange screeching
noise from the night before made my insides recoil with pure dread. It sounded like it
was coming from right outside the window… I tried to sit up, and simply couldn’t… You
know the pins-and-needles sensation of a sleeping arm or foot? That’s how my entire
body felt.

My sight was restricted to solely what I could see without moving my head, but – by
focusing my vision to the far left – I was just able to make out the window. An old, white
sheet still acted as a curtain, but it was thin, and the flood-lights were clearly visible
behind it. Had it not been for the sound and the tall, hulking shadow outlined in the
sheet’s center— I would have blamed another animal for setting off the motion
detectors.

The pricks of pins-and-needles increased tenfold as I struggled to move, but it was
useless— as useless as trying to maintain my focus on the window. My eyes burned
with the strain, but I couldn’t look away, either. Somehow, my thoughts turned to Marcy,
and how she was likely asleep in that mechanic’s arms… A mechanic for Christ’s sake!
She won’t even pump her own gas because of the smell! Sorry— not important… But
that’s what I thought about while staring at the mystery shape.

Eventually, I must have fallen asleep because it was suddenly daylight, and I could
move again. I leapt out of bed in a hurry to check around outside, and – though I didn’t
find any footprints – I did find something much more horrifying…

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My bedroom window was somehow cracked open, but I’m positive they were all locked
when I went to sleep. The wood was chipped at the bottom, like someone crammed
their nails into the tiny crack and managed to force it open – despite the lock. I really
don’t know what to make of it… When I reengaged the lock, it seemed to work fine…
Unfortunately, I’ve never thrived under pressure, so I didn’t think to screw the windows
shut until the next incident, but I’ll get to that shortly.

Things were actually normal for the remainder of that week unless you count a few
unusually vivid nightmares— I mean the regular kind, this time… Though, it’s debatable
if one would label the act of brutally murdering their ex as a nightmare, but I digress…
Don’t fall in love, kids, it’s not worth it— not in an era where you can buy electronic
romance instead.

Drunken Encounter


The next couple weeks made the first week look like a vacation. There’s always 2-3
quiet days between incidents, and this thing somehow manages to pick the exact
moment I drop my guard to suddenly start screeching. If I’m lucky, the strange sounds
are where it stops… But on the bad nights— it’s only the beginning.

After a particularly hard day, I decided to open the house warming gift from my editor— I
don’t know much about liquor, but the bottle looked very expensive. I never quite
mastered the art of self-control, so I normally avoid alcohol— especially when alone—
but at a certain point, you’ll do anything to numb the pain. With the amount I consumed,
most people would have been on the verge of drunk— but I was drunk.

So drunk, in fact, that when I suddenly heard the screeching noise, I rushed to turn on
all the outside lights; it was like the sun returned for a late-night encore. That’s when I
finally got my first full look at this thing … I could say it resembled the grim reaper, but
that would be misleading. When you think of the grim reaper, you probably imagine a
skeleton in a black, hooded robe, and this was… Well, this was different…

The creature was shrouded in something black… It was like a half-liquid, half-solid
sludgy substance. Dozens of inky tendrils rose from all over the creature’s body like Medusa’s snakes. They moved as if they were part of the entity rather than any type of
clothing— even seeming to form its very hands rather than simply covering them… I
couldn’t tell its fingers apart from the tendrils— or maybe it just had twenty fingers…
Who the hell knows…

And those eyes… God was I right about those eyes… Two large, bulbous red orbs were
set into the half-decomposed skull of a corpse. What little skin that remained was gray
and mottled with a few white splotches of exposed bone. There have been moments
where I’ve caught a whiff of its stench, and there are simply no words to convey the true
horror of that smell. This isn’t something I say lightly; I’ve worked some of the foulest
jobs known to man, and I know the rotting stench of death— this was far more vile than
such a simple explanation.

We probably stared at one another for less than ten seconds before I remembered to
take a picture, but I was shaking uncontrollably and immediately dropped the phone.
You’re probably all familiar with the sickening sound of your phone colliding with a hard
floor— it was just enough to pull my eyes away from the creature. I only glanced down
for a fraction of a second, yet – when I turned back – nothing was there…

I was almost drunk enough to go outside… There’s no such things as monsters, or
cryptids, or whatever kids wanna call the boogeyman these days. As far as I knew—
that thing was either some nut-job in a costume, or my mind had snapped in a
forbiddingly real way. I tend to lean towards the latter, myself, and confronting my
hallucination seemed like the best thing I could do. If I proved to myself it wasn’t real— I
could learn to ignore it and get on with my life… I mean, sure it probably wasn’t the
healthiest plan, but, again, I was drunk and thinking of my deadline.

Royce wants chapters 1-15 before April— that doesn’t leave much time when you still
have fourteen left to write… Maybe I can combine an element from real life and make
Christopher a Vampire Hunter. Those are still hot, right? Cassidy can be a hot 500-year-old vampire tragically turned at the age of 21, and all she wants is someone who will appreciate her for who she is on the inside… Even if that person has devoted his life to killing her kind!

That’s the great thing about smut— it truly doesn’t matter how your characters end up
naked, so long as they stay that way for a few pages.

Anyway – if it wasn’t obvious by the unnecessary tangent – this is when the next sleep
paralysis incident happened… I went to bed just after 11:00, and the clock said 3:17
when I woke drenched in sweat. Cold beads of moisture ran from my temple to the back of my neck in maddening succession, but I couldn’t wipe them away— I couldn’t move
at all. I was so mortified at the realization of what was happening that it took several
seconds before I noticed the screech that I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to describe
to therapists.

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It sounded different somehow, and – at first – I couldn’t quite put my finger on it… But
then, I strained my eyes to the left once again, and my heart froze mid-beat at the sight
of my worst nightmare. Not only were the flood-lights on— my makeshift curtain was
flapping in the breeze of an open window, and – this time – I could see the dark,
shadowy figure’s red eyes because they were on my side of the curtain…

The motion detectors timed out at that same instant, and the room was left in total
darkness except for those two glowing, red orbs. I’m not exaggerating when I say my
heart came to a full stop. I thought a heart-attack would kill me before that thing could…
I thought a lot of things in those few seconds, actually. To an extent, most people are
probably familiar with the sensation of processing several possible scenarios in a single
instant, but – when you truly believe your life is in danger – that effect is magnified
tenfold.

In those few seconds I saw my entire life play like a movie in my head… At the same
moment, I saw myself trying to get up and run away… At the same moment, I saw
myself trying to scream— trying to flail my limbs in a desperate attempt to repel a
monster that may-or-may-not be nothing more than the early warning signs of a full
mental breakdown.

It was too much of a strain to keep my eyes on it— I couldn’t help looking away… It was
only for the briefest instant, yet – when I looked back – the creature was closer! It was
just a little easier for my eyes to reach those haunting red orbs, and their angle to the
window was just slightly different… but what could I do about it? Nothing. So I kept
staring at its eyes— terrified it would come closer if I looked away again. I have no idea
when I fell asleep; it could have been an hour later— it could have been ten minutes—
but it felt like eternity.

Cry for Help


All I know for sure is that – when I woke up – it was 7:30, and my window was wide
open. I like to think I did what any sensible man would have done… I screwed every window shut while crying softly and questioning my sanity. I couldn’t stand being alone
anymore; I called my best friend, endured the keeping-in-touch lecture, and spilled my
sorry guts.

Landon has always been a practical guy; I’m sure he didn’t believe me in the beginning,
but he listened to my crap recordings like the good sport that he is. The recordings may
have been worthless, but he came up with the idea to call him the next time I heard the
screeching, and he only had to wait two nights before it happened again. Though it was
initially difficult to make out – the sound became much more distinguishable once I
cracked the patio door.

He couldn’t explain it either— which fine, I didn’t expect him to— but I was just relieved
someone else could physically hear it. The noise is real, and, well, if that’s real… I
guess the same is true for the thing making it…

I’ve had sleep paralysis several times since the open window incident, but – as far as I
can tell – nothing has been back inside. I’ve only seen it one other time, and that was
earlier this evening… I was smoking on the patio just before sunset when I looked up to
see two glowing, red eyes staring back at me from inside the tree-line. It seemed like it
was waiting for the last light to fade, and I had the strangest urge to go to it. If the cherry
of my cigarette hadn’t fallen on my barefoot, I may not have realized I was actually
moving closer.

This entire ordeal has shaken me to my core. I’m not cut out for things like this; I have
no idea what to do or how to cope. Do I never go outside again? Do I build a fence? Do
I get a dog— a gun? What should I do? Christ, I can’t believe I’ve turned into one of
those people who seeks comfort from random strangers on the internet… No offense if
you are one of those people… I just have major trust issues— in case you couldn’t tell…
You know what? Never-mind… I think I’ll get that dog, after all…

Credit: Page Turner

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