by Vincent Daemon
All That Remains
The deer-killer sat high in the treetops. What passed for its lungs roughly adjusted to the new atmosphere of this alien world it had accidentally been thrust upon. Our functions were not its functions. Breathing, as such, was new. Inhalation hurt, and exhalation it barely understood. This was a strange place, nothing like what it (somewhat) remembered of its homeworld. This world seemed cold, too humid, nothing at all like the charred piece of dim red rock from whence it came.
It looked at this world and its strange colors (for we had colors that neither its eye nor mind had ever glimpsed) and all the life (i.e: food) that seemed to flood every last part of it. It sat hunched in the highest tree, trying to be as close to the slowly clouding over sun as possible, emanating low and unhappy growls of dismal displacement and discomfort.
A hawk flew by, busily scouring the ground below for mice or a rabbit, maybe even a kitten. As it soared past the creature, it was swiped so quickly from the sky it didn’t even have a chance to realize that predator had just become prey, the large bird a morsel to the colossal maw of the beast. The hawk in its claw looked like a sparrow in a human hand, as it greedily shoved the struggling bird into its razor toothed mouth whole, crunching down hard on every bone and feather and bit of cartilage, until it began to bring the glop of fresh avian gore back up into its cupped claws, then proceeded to slurp up the mess of remains and bile once again, swallowing it back down with animal glee.
All this did was serve to act as an appetizer, making the creature hungrier, crankier. It was both too bright and too cold out to sleep. At least there was a consistent and self generated source of the steady heat it required in the minuscule comet-shell it had been hibernating for aeons within. Indeed, this thing had been traveling within its capsule since long before the birth of even the planet Earth. Many times had it bounced off the edges of the ever-expanding and once young universe inadvertently consuming whatever even semi-biological thing it happened to bump into. Whether it be by sheer destructive force or its own eternal, infernal, telepathic ability to seep into and devour the minds of the more intelligent beings it came across over trillions of years, beings of which it could not get its claws physically upon–yet another odd quirk of its confounding evolutionary development, of its mere existence.
In its own way the beast pondered and dreamt, much as any other living sentient being. It did indeed have vague recollections of things like the sudden appearance of the entity of time; of strange civilizations come and gone before its bleary ageless eye. It had countless memories of spiraling black holes and wormholes and the strange delights and horrors that lay on the opposite sides of each, every one of these loose knit memories taken in through its cosmic rocky womb-shell capsule by sheer psychological osmosis alone, as it traversed these galaxies eternally with one eye perpetually half-open; seeing everything, knowing all...understanding none of it.
And now it had been birthed into this strange new world which was in no way shape or form its own, nor meant for it to any capacity. It could barely even breathe, still not properly adjusting to the atmosphere, and its stomach still roiled with an insatiable craving for more fresh flesh. Having for perhaps the first time actually tasted blood, as opposed to merely draining life-forces through its cosmo-psychic abnormalities of osmatic consumption–it fiendishly craved more.
It caught then a whiff of something in the air, iron-rich and fresh, coming from the ground. Something alive, made of the flesh, blood, bone, and gristle it so craved. As well as a mind.
It peered in silence down from the treetops in which it was creeping, and noticed an odd two-legged creature in strangely hued rags, apparently running for some reason. Excited, and being slowly driven by its bloodlust, the beast stilled in the treetops to gain a better visual perspective.
Its eyes had been focused on Debra Hill, a forty-something homemaker out on her early morning jog. It watched as she quietly jogged along, lost in her own world of wanting to look better for her husband, tone herself up, what trashy grocery store book she was going to read next, how her new pastel-pink jogging suit looked, household grocery lists...so many thoughts that had absolutely nothing to do with the nearly indescribable terror that dropped down right in front of her as she jogged aloofly along. Debra’s mouth fell agape yet no sound came forward as this immense thing stared her down, making a low growling sound most comparable to that of a predacious tiger playing with its soon to be meal.
The beast lurched a good five feet or so over her, and that was while it hunched. Debra stood catatonic, little parts of her brain shutting down, neither a fight nor a flight response, she was truly paralyzed. She could not tear her eyes away from it as the beast gazed down at this new and strange looking being in astonishment. She smelt delectably good and was quite obviously incapable of any kind of self-defense against its tyrannical size; its mouth bigger than her head alone, and dripping copious amounts of viscous brown and rank smelling saliva.
It watched her skin grow from its initial rosy jogger-pink to absolute death-white, her lips purpling, her once naturally dark brown hair (of which she’d always been so proud, with nary a gray hair to be found at the age of forty-seven) doing the same, as the beast used its eyes, locked onto hers, into hers, to begin its psychic drain, before maybe tearing her to pieces for physical consumption. To the creature, that would be a main course and some dessert as well. The drain being the dessert, of course, the drain from these particular beings having an almost narcotic effect on the creature that it immediately noticed, and was quite fond of.
It decided it was time to just tear into her, and raised its left arm to slice her in two just as a very loud and unexpected sound startled the creature into immediate flight and it unfurled its massive wingspan and took off, leaping straight up into the sky.
The sound was that of a horn from a fourteen foot U-Haul truck. It immediately stopped, the driver jumping out and rushing to check on the woman as she merely trembled and collapsed.
She gibbered in strange incoherencies he could not understand, and knew the woman was in some kind of obvious shock: her hair was riddled now with streaks of a brilliant white; she had wet herself, leaving a giant dark stain on the front of her new pink sexy-soccer mom jogging suit; and her eyes were strange, looking almost seared, cataract over and glazed, no longer aware of this plane. Her face, its visual appearance, was now withered and grotesque looking, like some end-stage bag-lady atrocity only more unnatural. She looked as though she had aged fifty years.
John Agar happened to be the driver of the truck, and he scooped Debra up and took her immediately to the hospital. He did try to use his cell phone to call an ambulance first, but it was still not working. His own trembling hands were having a difficult time fumbling with the micro-buttons as it was. Fucking government cell phones.
Weaving the truck maniacally in and out of traffic, going back and forth between chaotically watching the road and checking on Debra simultaneously, he just couldn’t shake the form of what he thought he had just seen in the road suddenly disappear up into the sky. It very much resembled the hideous shadow form that he’d seen at 3 a.m, the same shape as the one that was blacker than black, when its silhouetted, darkened hell-form blackened out the luminous glow of the stars in the moonless sky as it swooped with eerie gracefulness through the silent night.
This deeply troubled John to no end. As he rushed the woman into the emergency room he had to give a statement to police (which he was not thrilled about, still having four reeking joints on him in his coat sleeve pocket), but was allowed out to have a cigarette first, after being thanked profusely by the staff for his quick and thoughtful act of bringing a suffering stranger into the hospital. They told him most would’ve just driven by, left her there, etc, but none too much of it really settled into his mind right. In fact, it barely registered at the time. There was no way he could erase what he’d seen, and this time he knew he saw it.
What the fuck was he possibly going to say to police? Should he even mention the catching a glimpse of the “suspect”? Plus, he was supposed to have the truck back to the U-Haul center, and Corman was furious. John didn’t even bother calling the cranky fuck back. Dealing with the poor, scared, improperly doped polar bear was enough. Fuck Corman. Prick.
John needed to stay and make sure the woman was going to be okay, and maybe find out just what the hell happened, what had she just witnessed that rendered her now seemingly devoid of mind and soul, a withered husk of nothing but rapidly, continually wasting madness. What had they both seen?