A couple of years ago, I walked home from a bar with two friends, and we were all loaded drunk. The Irish-Newfoundland band brought the house down that night; this was before the pandemic, of course. At Derry’s, all you could smell was sweat and sour beer, not an open window to be found in the place! It was the middle of July and the air conditioning unit had all but fizzled out. Several hops to the resin-coated bar for whatever shots were on offer and we were all but seeing stars. Anyway, for all the fun we had that night, the three of us ended up walking home shortly after 1 am trashed out of our tree, and it was silent outside. No wind. Just humid air, mosquitoes, and the faint sound of electricity humming from the streetlamps.
We were two full streets away from the bar, and faintly heard the last of the rattling yellow cabs collecting the final patrons leaving. We were still having fun; the alcohol still chugging us along like trains about to be derailed across the road at any moment. Nights like this were always a good time. I only started not having fun when I was convinced there was someone following us. Now, normally I couldn’t care less, we lived in a small town where everybody kind of knew each other, and we were quite close to home, but every time I turned around to look behind me and converse with Nicole and Luke, I was convinced I could see someone leaning out from behind this old house watching us, and as if their head was tilted to one side. I tried to focus my eyes on the shape, but it was no use, my perception was still whitewashed. Just when I thought I was regaining something, the person had gone.
Nicole and Luke carried on walking, well, stumbling ahead of me. Even while the two of them were laughing and talking foreign jargon to each other, Luke must have had some idea something was bothering me.
He asked: “Why are you so far behind us? Something got you freaked out?”
I answered. “Man, I think there’s somebody following us.”
Nicole smiled and asked: “Is it a baby fox?”
“No, behind that old house there, there was somebody poking their head out from the side of it just looking at us.” I said, my voice giving away a discomforting air.
Luke laughed it off. “What a weirdo. Who’d do that?”
They carried on their jaunt facing the road ahead. Just less than a kilometre and we were home. I checked on them walking ahead of me, and some inner thought made me turn around again. As I turned my head around, my peripheral vision picked up a person standing in the middle of the road less than thirty feet away from us. When I focused my eyes central to the road, the person was gone again.
Nicole and Luke were right, I was freaked out, so I began a gentle jog to catch up to them. When I had caught up to their gentle laughter, I stubbed my shoe against the curb and fell nearly flat on my face, with my hand just saving me from injury. This made Luke bust his gut laughing. I mustered a chuckle but couldn’t get that feeling out of my head.
“You are so scared, man! You’re running after us now?” Luke yelled at me in merry hysterics.
“Man, I swear, there is someone following us.” I said with every bit of solemnity I could pass.
I turned around to point and show them where I saw the person, and my heart jumped into my throat. Less than ten feet away, the dark figure of a tiny naked man stood watching us from the middle of the road. He couldn’t have been more than three feet tall, but he was wiry, slender, and proportionate. His oddly dark-grey skin was matted with pieces of coarse hair, and his eyes locked onto mine. I forced myself up from the ground and he started to take tiny steps closer to us, his bare feet not making any sound on the hard road.
“Who the Hell are you?!” I shouted, panicked.
Nicole gave me a look as if I was crazy. Her next reaction, I just couldn’t comprehend at the time. She actually began walking towards it.
“What are you doing?! Get away from it, Nicole!”
Nicole didn’t bat an eyelid and wore an expression as perplexed as mine. What she said next made no sense.
“I never knew you had a fear of cats.” She said gently.
With that, she began to pet the man’s head, running her fingers through his matted and oily looking hair and smoothing him down. All I could see was this set of intense and inhumanly oversized burning eyes staring at me, with a wide smile baring a row of unnaturally large and canine teeth. I could hear my own hyperventilating, and I’m sure they all could too. I was practically frozen.
“Wow, you really do have a fear of cats?” Luke asked slurring his speech.
Nicole stated: “This is Simon. Simon loves us, and he follows us home sometimes.”
In my own head I didn’t know what this smiling thing was. I wasn’t seeing a fucking cat, or anything even resembling one. His smile widened impossibly, as if the slit of his mouth began to open from behind his ears, that’s when it produced an unnerving guttural cry; it sounded like that of a newborn baby.
“Oh Simon, you love us so much, don’t you?” Nicole said again, petting his head. I could see dirt and grime covering her hands; they were oily from just touching it.
I pressed myself to get up and make a run for it, maybe I could grab something to at least protect my buddies. Facing the road ahead was still a blur, but I could see another figure was approaching us.
Nicole asked: “Who’s that?”
It all happened so fast. Footsteps of boots clomping on the pavement and a scuffing sound darting toward us. I heard something click, and saw a knife reflected under the streetlamps.
“Give me your money, hand it over!” The guy said.
I looked at Nicole and was terrified to see Simon rubbing his head against her shoulder, his grin tilted, with a set of sharp elongated fingers that looked like tarantula legs wrapped around her.
“You got money? Give it to me!” He stated again, nervously.
I startled and faced this guy. He was young, drawn in the face and with desperation plastered over his reactionary expressions. I rifled through my tight jean pocket and looked back to see Luke stroking Simon’s hair while also fetching his own cash.
Luke volunteered: “You can have it all as long as you don’t hurt Simon.”
The guy grasped my wallet with an approving nod before directing at Luke.
“I don’t give a fuck about the cat. I just want your money.” He said.
I felt like I had nowhere to go. My mind was gone; it was just my own projection. I looked at this thing, Simon, again. This horrendous creature was somehow playing with my mind. Right then, the guy stepped past me with his knife pointed at Luke. He held out his wallet to pass to him, and what happened next, I can’t explain.
Upon reaching to take Luke’s wallet, the guy’s wrist was grabbed by both of Simon’s hands. I looked right into this guy’s eyes at that point, and the look of shock and fear I saw on his face will live with me the rest of my days; his fear was realized, as if he knew that exact moment this wasn’t some cat, as if his eyes had just been opened. I felt his fear that very moment. I could then see Simon’s fingers squeeze and crack every bone in his arm, snapping them until they were protruding through the skin. The scream you could have heard for miles, and lights from house windows immediately began turning on everywhere down the street. The poor guy fell to his knees in absolute agony, then was face to face with Simon and that nasty playful air. I’ll never forget the sounds of Simon’s unsettling newborn cries teemed with ungodly screams of pure pain. In one swift action, Simon pulled the man’s arms back and ripped them off from the shoulders. The screeching, scratching noise from his throat and the sound of blood hitting the concrete echoed. Luke and Nicole? They just stood out of the way watching nonchalantly, tuned out to what was really happening.
The man was now violently convulsing on the road, and I was too scared to do anything. I watched through my distorted view and just hoped that I wouldn’t be next. Looking on for a few moments at his face withered and sweating, breathing out his last bit of life, the shock ripped the blood from his heart and drained out through his stumps all over the road; a few more desperate breaths and he was dead. When I looked to Luke and Nicole again, Simon was resting his naked body across their knees on the ground, the weight appearing to have no affect on my friends, with pure joy emanating from him. Luke was just stroking Simon’s hair.
I heard more footsteps rapidly coming from somewhere, and on top of that, alarmed breathing; I just couldn’t process any of it right then.
“Oh my God, what happened?” One of the neighbors asked.
Simon stared at me, as if trying to decipher my own next move. I didn’t budge, then Nicole spoke:
“I don’t understand you, Simon. You’re usually so lovely.”
Credit : Alex McIntosh
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