THERIOPHOBIA: FEAR THE BEAST Part 37
At last, evil had found its true form.
The Beast raised its snout, testing the air. A million scents to process, to identify. Some faint, others stronger. The Beast listened. A million sounds, some louder than others, closer. A million heartbeats, coming from everywhere, like a concerto of drums.
The Beast licked its chops. Hungry. Where to begin? Above, it could sense the presence of men. It could hear their voices, the bleating of sheep. It could sense the heat given off by their bodies even through the layers of concrete between them.
The hospital, the Beast’s mind said. That’s where I am. Bland chemical smells diluting the scent of flesh. Doctors and nurses to be eaten. Also patients. Easy prey, bedridden, but the smell of sickness clung to them. Diseased meat, unappetizing.
The Beast walked out into the hallway, pushing open the door from the morgue with its snout. It moved on all fours, its giant paws making little sounds, claws clicking against the tile floor. The Beast hesitated. Stay and feed, or search for prey elsewhere? The Beast did not like the confinement of the building. Beyond the concrete walls, the Moon called to it. The Beast moved on.
It found an employee exit down the hallway, pushed open the double doors with its head and stepped out into the night. The taste of freedom, sweet on its tongue. The Beast breathed deep, raised its head. The Moon hung low in the sky, full and fat, orange as a pumpkin, its glow diluted a little by the wash of the town’s false electric lights.
The Beast howled a hymn of praise to its deity. Moonlight soaked through the Beast’s fur to penetrate its body, filling it, giving it strength. The Beast bounded across the hospital parking lot, frolicking, enraptured. It leapt up onto the top of a car to look around.
Across the street, a squat rectangular box, lit from within. Another building. A sign: HOME TOWN GROCERIES revealed by floodlights above the tin canopy at the front of the store. A few people moving about inside. A car passed. Off to the left, the First Baptist Church of Ironwood, empty. To the right, a pharmacy, closed now. But it was from this direction that the most noise came. The most bleating sheep, the most drumming heartbeats.
The sweetest scent.
The Beast sniffed again to be certain. Oh, yes. A familiar scent, one amidst a multitude, yet delicious.
A few blocks away, past trees and more wooden boxes–houses–a gathering. So many of them congregated in one place. Why? It did not matter. The woman was there. The one the Beast had almost had before, her scent the last in its nostrils, her sweat the last taste on its tongue. Snatched out of its jaws. Not this time. This time, the Beast would have her.
It crossed the parking lot, the thin strip of grass and pear trees that separated the pharmacy from the hospital proper. The Beast cleared a side street in a bound, entered the back lawn of a house, fresh[washed clothes dangling from a line. It heard voices within the house. The people had left the back door open. But the Beast passed on. It had set its appetite on one special dish. It would wait.
Other creatures had become aware of its presence now. All around it, the baying of dogs. From back yards, from houses. The Beast ignored them, their pathetic attempts to warn their masters. They would not hinder it.
The Beast came up the service road beside the offices of Campe Refrigeration. On its left, the train tracks and a gas station. Just ahead, it could see a small building, festooned with lights. Draped like a Christmas tree. The old depot, the Beast’s mind said, probing the man’s, Vale’s, memory. In front of the depot, a row of booths. And people. Many people. Many more just out of sight, hundreds, off into the distance. A right turn at the depot onto MAIN STREET. People all up and down the street, all the way down to the four-way with highway 63. Oh, yes. The Beast remembered. The celebration.
Hundreds of people. Thousands. Among them Chaney Kidde. All for the Beast.
With a final leap, the Beast leapt from the shadows into the lights of Main Street. It threw back its head and howled.
The first of many.
* * *
WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS (www.evilcheezproductions.blogspot.com, www.facebook.com/evilcheezproductions), specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced and directed (and occasionally acted in) over a dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and Crime genres. His first novel, THE CONFESSIONS OF SAINT CHRISTOPHER: WEREWOLF, is available for purchase at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/734763
MORTUI VELOCES SUNT!