The first night I’d ever snuck out was a sultry night, one without the slightest of breezes. It was in the peak of summer, right in the middle of one of my last summer vacations as a high schooler. In the fall, I would be returning as a senior.
You could say I was a late bloomer as I’d recently gotten my first girlfriend at the age of seventeen. She was one of those shy, bashful types in her early teens, but was undergoing some kind of revolution that was thrusting her into true womanhood. She’d grown out her plain, shoulder length hair into long chocolate brown locks and begun to wear sexier and sexier clothing.
I didn’t complain.
On the verge of turning into a vivacious woman, she began rebelling against everything she had once known. She’d somehow managed to get ahold of a bag of weed, and wanted me to try it out with her that night. The plan was to drive out of town and into the desert where we’d park and appreciate the scenery for our first time getting high. I was holding out on the hope that this night would also be the night we had sex for the first time. After all, we’d been dating for five months, and I was a hormonally charged seventeen year old boy.
I paced around my room, waiting for the digital clock on my dresser to read “1:30”. I felt a little stupid having my girlfriend pick me up, but she was the one who had access to the huge pick up truck. It was a vehicle you could take off roading with no problem.
One-thirty finally rolled around, and I anxiously slipped through the front door even though my girlfriend wasn’t there yet. The whole time, I couldn’t shake the paranoia that my parents could hear the subtle creak of the hinges as they moved. But, as I sat on the stoop to my porch, no one confronted me to ask what I was doing. Impatience bubbled in the pit of my stomach while I waited. I was fearing she might have stood me up or that she had gotten caught. But when the huge frame of that silver pick up truck rolled in front of my lawn, I sighed in relief.
I hopped in, and she greeted me with a smile. We were off.
We drove out of town along this snaky road that curved and wound through the dry landscape that surrounded us. Winds from earlier that day had kicked up loose dirt, pushing it onto the road. The enormous wheels of the truck kicked up this loose dirt that had collected on the side of the cracked pavement, creating a hazy cloud of brown as we traveled.
The azure sky above was speckled with a thousand stars that stood out in this barren patch of dusty oblivion. Out here, the stars shone in a way that they cannot amongst the blatant artificial glow of the neon city signs. Scrubby tufts of yellowy green brush littered the otherwise empty plain, and all was silent. There was just the thrum of the monster engine below us.
My girlfriend finally pulled over, navigating into a narrow dirt road that ran through a gap in the mountains we’d been slowly approaching. The chalky path was surprisingly smooth compared to the cragginess of the ground. As we continued to drive, the steep walls of the cliffside squeezed the edges of the car tighter and tighter until it seemed it could no longer bare the truck’s wide girth.
It appeared we were driving through the route an ancient river must have once run. At one point in time, it flowed, cutting away the immense rock with every push of the current and eventually leaving this little fissure. We stopped when the narrowness receded, and we had more room to open our car doors.
Grabbing blankets, we scrambled to the open bed of the truck. Tucked under my arm, my girlfriend nuzzled my neck. It was heaven.
But the cuddling quickly escalated as our mouths met in a kiss. We’d even forgotten about the pot that was still sitting in the glovebox up front. I wasn’t paranoid about anyone stumbling upon us out here.
I guess I wasn’t paying enough attention to hear the scuttle of something along the wall to the left of us. The tapping of tapered claws that created the whine of friction as they dragged across the surface. Something was climbing down the wall of rock, making its way over to the car. But I didn’t know that at the time, too absorbed in feeling up my girlfriend.
However, what I did hear was the metallic reverberation as something heavy hit the hood of the car, out of our sight. It startled the both of us, causing the two of us to pull away as we were rattled with the spurt of adrenaline that comes with fear. The cab of the truck was too tall to see over and had tinted windows. My first thought, like my girlfriend’s, was that a rock had fallen on her dad’s truck.
“Well, shit.” She said, getting on her knees and pushing herself up to peer over the top of the cab. The next thing I heard was the chortled, squelching scream of my girlfriend as she was dragged over the top of the cab, blood spurting in all directions like a gore filled balloon had just popped.
I couldn’t move. Couldn’t… move.
I’ve always wondered if we would have both made it if I’d reacted sooner. Or if I would have reacted at all. I was paralyzed with a heart stopping, limb numbing fear of what was creating that sound on the hood of the car.
The gurgle of a bursted carotid artery bubbled in the near distance. I heard a sound, a sloughing suction of flesh being pulled apart, of sinewy muscles being torn away from the bone. I assumed that was that horrible, wet tearing noise was. The next grisly sounds were a kind of gummy chewing. No more tearing.
My stomach lurched with the heinous abomination that was happening only feet away from me. I couldn’t see, but I could hear. Then… click, click…click, click…
Whatever unholy creature that had been chewing on my girlfriend had noticed me. It was slinking it’s way up the shiny cab, the tinny prattle of its claws drumming on the metal. I began to scramble backwards, trying to be quiet, but I just couldn’t. My back was pressed to the door of the bed, my eyes widening, preparing to behold this… thing. My clammy fingers fumbled for the edge of the open bed, readying myself to push off, the leverage maybe giving a better chance, some chance at all.
What finally emerged, squirming on it’s belly as it reaches the roof of the cab is something I’d rather not describe, but finding myself having to.
When it stood on its hind legs, it was about three or four feet tall. Its limbs were stubby, but festooned with sharp claws; thick, black claws that were wet. Where this creature set its claws down, a claret smudge was left. The same reeking curor was smeared along its entire body, which was covered in a paper-thin skin that seemed to ripple in the sparse moonlight. Thick hind legs supported it’s stout torso.
The general shape of the head was like an upside teardrop, and where it’s wide mouth was, the translucent skin seemed to collapse, giving the thing an angular appearance. It had no nose, just two slits where a nose should have been. This creature’s eyes were like two empty saucers, black holes on either side of it’s skeleton-like face that glistened in the dim night.
The mouth…oh, the mouth. It was the worst. It was just a line, a crease in its vulgar face. Just a crease until… it opened up. Its mouth was fringed in teeth that were covered in a pale red coat, a fleshy pink. The dagger-like fangs honed to a finely tapered point, salient and gleaming with the sheen of gooey saliva mixed with fresh blood. The stretched out saliva elongated into quivering strands caught in between the top and bottom row as the creature stretched its carnage smeared mouth, then snapped it shut, adjoining the two rows as two puzzle pieces would.
It seemed as though this creature was blind, the eyes unseeing. It sniffed in the air around it, and as the breach of the little nose holes expanded, a row of dangerous looking quills sprouted from its back, unfurling one at a time, starting at its tailbone, all the way to the top of it’s knobby head.
Then, it struck.
Mouth expanding into something I never thought possible, the thing crouched, sticking its rear end into the air and launching toward me. As it flew toward me, I could see the sticky gleam of my girlfriends blood on it’s extended claws. Instinct took over, and I stuck my foot out, kicking it in its soft belly.
It flew backward, though it tried to grip onto my leg. It’s long claw ripped my skin only a little, but the flesh that had been there seemed to melt like butter. I scrambled to my feet, though I’d lost sight of the thing.
Was that a click I just heard?
I jumped into the driver’s seat faster than I thought I could. I slammed the door shut, locking all the doors and windows. But I didn’t feel any safer as I heard a thump from above.
It was sticking its claws through the ceiling.
My girlfriend had left her keys on the dashboard, and I reached over and snatched them up, my wet fingers almost losing their grip on them. Sawing could be heard from over head, and its serrated claws jabbed at me. I tried to crouch, and it worked for a couple seconds, until it put more weight into the stabs, sticking the claws further into the car.
With a roar, the entire rumbled to life. It was then I looked ahead of me. My girlfriend’s mutilated body lay there on the hood, staining the silvery paint of the car with crimson that was turning to black. The blood was congealing, probably turning cold in the chill of the desert night.
Vomit spewed from my sobbing mouth, dribbling down the front of my shirt in a sticky mess. Her face was gone. All that was left was a gaping hole and blood and tissue and brain matter and bone and her eye was dangling by a fleshy cord. The torso and stomach were worse. A smashed ribcage was exposed, the bones crushed up into little bits. Her lungs lay with bits of those little bones, looking like bloodied angel wings. Choppy and mushed up entrails poured from her ripped open stomach. They were all indistinguishable.
I floored the accelerator, and the thing flew backward, a blood curdling scream erupting from its abyss of a maw. I’d hit the gas so hard, it had broken off its claw. It was lodged in the ceiling, hanging there in my peripheral vision. I almost threw up again as the body of my girlfriend slid forward with the sudden movement, slipping under the car. I had to back up, but that was take forever in this maze of cavern walls. But maybe I could run that thing over. I looked over my shoulder. I didn’t see it.
As I threw the car in reverse, I heard the crunch as the tires compressed my girlfriends body, breaking bones with multiple cracks and clear snaps. Tears of disgust and horror welled in my eyes, as I continued to back up, and saw her mangled corpse laying on the sandy ground.
The whistle and shudder of the car popping a tire was what I heard next. I screamed, my voice going hoarse within a second from the piercing sound that had unfurled from my raw throat. That thing… it had popped my tire with one of its claws. I couldn’t run now.
Seeing the creature as it scampered, forcing its claws into the side of the car and piercing the thick metal of the door, I watched. Slowly and with a trembling hand, I reached up. The spear of the thing’s broken claw was still embed in the roof, and I pulled it down. The sides of it were barbed, and it cut open my hand. Blood rushed to the freshly opened skin, and that seemed to make the creature frantic. It was already breaking the glass, but I was ready. As it breached the passenger window, flinging itself at me, teeth speckled with the blood and muscle of my girlfriend, I stuck the stolen claw throw its slim chest wall. It went completely through the monster’s body.
I held it there, impaled on its own body part, for what felt like a long time. It squirmed, struggled and shrieked as it tried to dislodge itself. But I held even as it bit at my arm with its teeth, shredding my skin and muscle almost to the very bone.
It finally died.
I let it lay there, sitting in the shallow blood of its own inky blood, and stumbled away from the scene, wondering how I would get home.