What Happens After

You never escape. Not really. It’s always going to be there.

Sometimes hidden away in the back of your mind in the form of a nightmarish memory. Or it sits and stares you in the face, daring you to just try and forget.

Do I consider myself lucky? Maybe. I don’t know anymore. I did at one point I suppose. I encountered something terrible. Inhuman. A real…whatever it was. It tried to hurt me. It hurt my friends, my family…all to get at me.

I don’t want to talk about “it”. Even thinking about it is causing my hands to shake. God, I’m sweating. The scars on my arms are itching at the memories flooding back. But “it” isn’t what I wanted to talk about. More, rather, I want to talk about after.

That creature killed people. And it almost killed me, but I beat it. I stopped it. Sometimes, on the darkest of days, I try to think of myself as a hero. That by stopping it, I saved countless future victims. Or that I avenged my fallen family. But I know it was just self-defense. Nothing more. A man isn’t a hero for shooting a charging bear. He’s just lucky the odds were in favor. I don’t consider myself a hero…or lucky either now.

I hear so many stories of people surviving against odd creatures. Monsters and demons…but they don’t delve into what happens after. Maybe a few lines but never the details.

You don’t hear about the countless sleepless nights staring out your dark window, imagining a beast pressing it’s head up against the window, staring and smiling. You don’t hear how they jump at the slightest creak in the house, wondering if another of its brethren has come to sink those stinking claws into you for revenge. They don’t talk about how their home is gone, lost. Not to those creatures, but to memories. You can wash away the blood from a room but not from your mind. I can still see my little brother’s room. So much…

That’s what happens after. The worst thing about that dark world that lies just out of sight of our own is knowing that it’s there. Knowing that the dark should be feared. That every creak or rustle can have something terrible behind it.

I know and worse, I can see them. Once you’ve been touched, it’s like you’re attuned for them now. You notice the small signs that give them away. I’ve seen a young boy play with a little girl who almost managed to hide the small, bloody hole in the back of her head with her long brown hair.

I’ve seen the jogger running through the park, unaware of how the trees above her rustle along at just the right intervals to constantly remain right above her. She looked just like my friend Connie too.

God, I miss her…

I’ve almost thrown up many times to the news articles outlining mysterious suicides where the victim showed no signs of depression but seem to always occur in the darkest hours of the night.

Sometimes, I wonder if I should get involved. Warn the jogger or the boy of the creatures they’ve attracted. Try to help them escape a fate that no person should be forced through. But, the truth is, I’m terrified.

If I help, I know I’ll attract them back to me. I’ve managed to keep my head down long enough after that creature to avoid any others. However, constantly sitting back and watching them target those poor people has weighed on me.

I…don’t know how much longer I can hold on.

Sometimes, on the blackest nights, when all light seems to be snuffed out, and the creaking grows in my house to where I’m sure they’ve found me, I pull out the small pistol I bought. It gives me comfort. It reminds me that those things are vulnerable at least. Claws, nasty face, or an inhuman body doesn’t make you bulletproof. Now, it’s a different comfort I feel as I place the cold barrel into my mouth. The metallic taste on my tongue and the surprisingly heavy weight in my hands seems to call to me. Offer a way out. It gives me a chance to be free from this dark knowledge.

I could never do it though. It’s not because I have some great deed left to do or even because I really want to live on. It’s because death horrifies me. It chills me to my core. Every time I think about it, my mind turns to them. I get the feeling that’s what they’re waiting for. For death to take me as he has countless others. Then I would join them in their world. Nothing would stand in their way as they claimed me like one tried to do long ago.

I just know, deep down, that the only thing that separates my world from theirs is this fragile, delicate body I live in.

So, there really is no escape. No matter how long you run or hide or forget, you can never escape the inevitable. One day, they’ll have me.

And there’s nothing I can do to stop it.

Credit To – David

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