Estimated reading time — 3 minutes
True fear creates three responses. The smart run away; the foolish try to wield fear as a sort of weapon to fight what their very nature claims they can’t defeat; and the weak are paralyzed, unable to react; unable to breathe.
No one can predict what sort they are. Whether one will fight or flee is something only known by tasting true fear. Everyone has a trigger to become this primal response. Let me ask, what do you fear most? Is it Spiders? Or snakes? Crowds? Small spaces? The Dark? The unknown? Fire? Falling; Drowning; Dying!
Are you afraid of dying?
I used to share these trivial fears. Before the incident, I was like you, ignorant of true terror. It is because of my new found knowledge of fear that I find myself writing.
My name is Timothy Sebastian Yeats, and the story begins like most others: safe at home. I had school the next day, but the urge to leave my house for a country road overcame me. I grabbed my keys and locked my door from the outside. The crisp Autumn air carried the smell of a barbecue from somewhere down the street. The moon was large, about three-quarters full. I started my car and headed out of town.
There was a car along the roadside. It was the reason I was here so I pulled up beside it expecting to see something in the headlights. Instead they went out, shattering as if overloaded. The splinters of glass scattered on the ground and popped my front tires. The car flipped, and I felt what I thought was genuine fear. It landed upright, and I believed myself lucky. My ears were ringing, but I needed to leave the car, I had to check something. I can’t remember what, but somehow it was important. In front of that strangely familiar car was — I can’t remember, but whatever I saw paralyzed me. I learned looking at that scene that I was the type to freeze before fear itself.
For everything I can’t recall, I remember clearly what I saw next. A mouth appeared. Picture the cruelest set of teeth you can, then picture the thing which owns them. The hungry maw before me could choose between swallowing that thing you imagined whole or ripping it to shreds and slurping the ribbons like noodles. Blackish blood dripped from between those teeth like drool. Whatever they belonged to I couldn’t see. It either didn’t have a body, or its skin rejected the light of the moon, hidden in shadow where there oughtn’t be any. The teeth gnashed against themselves, contemplating whether to eat me.
They neared, and I couldn’t just hear its breath, I could smell it and taste it and feel it. It wreaked a sickenly sweet stench and it tasted of bitter iron, just like blood. The way it felt I can’t bring myself to describe. It swept up and down, sniffing at me before it opened itself wide and latched onto my right hand. The pain shook me from my fear. It woke in me the primal want to live, to continue on. I wanted to survive. Against the pain, I grasped at the ground with my free hand, and finding a grip on on a cold, metal rod, I struck out, against the maw which held captive my other hand. To my surprise, it bellowed and released me.
I sat dumbfounded for a moment, then dropped the blackish tire iron in my hand. I ran past that thing, faster than I believe any man has ever ran. I was running for my life. I was running to the town, to my home. I never faltered, I never slowed, I never looked back. I reached home and unlocked the door. I ran inside, locked it, barricaded it, armed myself, and prayed, that whatever that thing was, it wouldn’t come for me. It didn’t, and I don’t know if my prayers were answered or if it simply lost interest, but it was gone.
I’ve thought about everything that happened, and I come to a conclusion. That mouth doesn’t only devour flesh. It consumes the existence that which it eats. The memory of anything it consumes disappears entirely.
I don’t believe I’d leave my house without a reason, much less for a dismal backroad, but I can’t remember what it is. My phone shows a call from a number I don’t recognize. The owner’s name is unimportant since no one remembers it, not even her parents. But what disturbs me more is that every picture of me disagrees with my memory; I’ve always had only nine fingers.
Before I asked you what you feared the most. It’s time I answer the question myself. What I, Timothy Sebastian Yeats, fear more than death; what death seems trivial in the face of, is being forgotten by even myself. The existence eater, as I’ve named it, revealed my greatest fear like a catalyst. I fear having nothing left of me, not even my name. Beside that, not even death can compare.
Credit: AnDrew the Awesome
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