As soon as I heard that blood-curling scream, I was horrified beyond measure. Panic ran through my skin like fire ants on the hunt, and paranoia suddenly started building inside me; my conscience was devoid of any thinking or rational decision making. I did what most people would probably do – RUN.
Without another thought, I scampered like a deer running away from a hunter, but believe me, I didn’t have the slightest idea who the hunter was and I felt even more vulnerable than I had ever before.
Through the scrunching of leaves and the sound of an occasional twig snapping beneath my running feet, I drowned into a question-answer session with my panic-stricken mind; I asked myself several questions and that too in vain, like – “why did I ever leave the camp on my own?” or “why did I need to stop for a break in the middle of nowhere?”
Through all these questions, I forgot to concentrate at the task at hand; I lost my balance on a protruding rock and tumbled down hard into the small ravine below.
It felt like forever, the only thing I knew was that I had broken something and the moon was shining in its full glory, but as soon as I began to observe the moon’s beauty, my face hit the ground with a “thud”. I lay there for some time, gathering my wits and making sense of what just happened. Then I felt the excruciating pain rushing up my leg that I had just twisted.
I told myself, “Wow, great going, I might as well skip the rest of the way”; then I hit myself again for joking in such a horrid and serious situation. I somehow got up and limped my way through the clearing, I had not even taken a few steps when I heard that scream again. This time, I saw it, the most horrific thing I had ever seen, that thing would make Annabelle look like the night doll of a three-year old. That thing was huge and had tentacles coming out of its body, its face was full of snapping mandibles, leaving just enough space for two menacing eyes that were fixed on its prey, which apparently was me. So I did the most sensible thing again- RUN.
It was at the top of the ravine, descending slowly as to enjoy looking at its prey limping and struggling away. Looking back just made it worse; I limped my way through the clearing. My body was caked in sweat, my hands and feet were covered in scratches and cuts, and I had torn my favourite jacket.
I was limping through the clearing, aware of the presence chasing me; I had lost all hope, my legs were tired, my mind had given up, my brain refused to give proper directions – I had realised that the entity was lurking in the trees beside me, waiting for the right moment to pounce. I thought of giving myself up and suffering at the hand of whatever that thing was – I mean seriously, I could have handled vampires and werewolves but that tentacle-mandible thingy was out of my league. I almost stopped, realising that I was out of luck, but then I heard redneck music and saw campfire light glowing out from behind the clearing.
Suddenly, adrenaline rushed through me and my heart started beating fast; I literally ran with a twisted foot and jumped into the clearing, when suddenly the music stopped. Everyone around me was shocked and came to help me up – I recognised some of the faces, but as soon as I realised that I had outran that thing, I started singing loudly.
Other than the fact that the people thought I was crazy, I was happy that I was alive and had escaped my supernatural pursuer. I slept in the tent that night with my leg cradled up in a sling and had almost forgotten about today’s incident. This incident had taken its toll on me, both physically and mentally. With that happy thought, I drifted off to a troubled but well-earned nap.
I woke up the next morning, relaxed, and saw the camp people packing up, preparing to leave. I freshened up and stepped out with my bags to find out clawing marks outside my tent house and a weird smell that I was all too familiar with.
I turned around just in time to see a huge barbed tentacle disappearing in the dense forest. My eyes popped out and my tongue was tied into a balloon toy – besides the fact that I looked like a complete freak staring at the forest and gawking to myself.
But I knew what had happened. It had latched on to me. It would never stop chasing me.
~ Manas Prasad Malgaonkar l Edited by Nandini
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