THERIOPHOBIA: FEAR THE BEAST Part 48
As Lucas stepped from the recess of the cave out into the open, the darkness seemed to deepen and thicken. Walking became more difficult, like trying to move through water. The weight of it bore down on his neck and shoulders. Ripples passed through the darkness, unseen but felt, like silky hands caressing his naked flesh.
The Beast’s eyes grew larger as he neared them, larger still, like two crimson Moons blazing in a pitch black sky.
Lucas trembled, yet he forced himself to keep going. The Beast had grown, or else he head gotten smaller, or perhaps his senses of perception, of size and distance, were askew. It did not matter. Lucas knew that he stood helpless in the presence of this abomination. Why, then, did the Beast hesitate?
A cleft opened in the mountain before him–the Beast opening its mouth. Flames licked out around the great jagged fangs thick as tree trunks. Its breath blew against him, scalding, threatening to singe the hair from his skin. Lucas began to cry. Every instinct he possessed commanded him to turn and flee, but he stood still. Unable to control himself, he felt hot urine spray down his leg, splatter his feet. Vomit rose up in his throat and tried to force its way out. Lucas shook so hard that he could scarce stand. But he didn’t run.
“Get out of my body!” Lucas managed to say. He stared up at the searing twin Moons.
It is mine now, his own voice answered him.
“No!” Lucas said. “You can’t have it!”
Pathetic man. Weak man. Coward.
Lucas’ voice spoke from all around him, becoming many voices, all talking at the same time.
This body is mine. You cannot fight me. You will die.
Lucas swallowed, took a breath, forced himself to speak. “Get out of my body!”
Silence. A silence that mocked him. The bloody circles of the Beast’s eyes, unblinking, looked down upon him with amusement. Lucas understood this mocking without bothering to question it. He knew the mind of the Beast as well as he knew his own.
“Get out of my body!” he repeated.
Make me, his own voice said.
Lucas almost fell. He set his trembling legs apart, choked back his bile.
“Get out of my body!”
The Beast roared and reality trembled. Lucas’ knees gave way and he collapsed into a posture of supplication before the monstrosity, unable to flee or even to scream. Its jaws opened, descended towards him.
Lucas felt no pain as the jaws closed over him. He remained conscious as they rose and fell, the teeth crushing his body to a slick pulp. He felt himself slide down the Beast’s throat, a sensation akin to falling in a dream. No arms, no legs, no body, no head.
And still alive, Lucas realized. I’m still alive.
Down. Down. Deeper and deeper, into the Beast’s stomach. Lucas waited for the oblivion of death to take him. Waited, but it did not come.
Swimming in perfect darkness, the acid of the Beast’s stomach gnawing away at the remains of his flesh, picking it apart molecule by molecule. How long, Lucas wondered, before he would be all gone? And would he remain aware after this happened? Maybe he would never be devoured. Maybe he would spend eternity here. Maybe this was Hell.
At least it doesn’t hurt.
Someone flipped on a lightbulb. Or, rather, Lucas Vale found himself in a different place. A pale white Moon, bitten in half, floated in the sky. Clumps of purple grasses floated atop still gray water. An occasional tree poked up into the night air, leathery foliage flapping in the breeze.
Some kind of swamp?
Lucas watched the scene, though he recognized that he himself constituted no part in it. He’d driven up to Huntsville with Marcus once, the hometown of NASA, and visited the U.S. SPACE AND ROCKET CENTER. In addition to touring the museum and riding the simulators, they had viewed a movie in the Center’s SPACEDOME theater. It had been like sitting inside a giant fishbowl while the movie played all around, encircling you. This reminded Lucas of that experience.
A small creature splashed out of the water up onto a patch of grass. It looked something like an otter, and had captured a small fish in its paws. It began to eat. A larger animal sprang from the concealment of a larger cluster of grasses. This one looked almost simian, ape-like. It grabbed the other creature before it could escape back into the water. A single bite to the base of the neck and the smaller animal ceased to struggle. The monkey-thing flipped it over and tore into its underside with sharp yellow teeth, teeth that soon enough gleamed red in the Moonlight. The fish, a large section bitten out of its side, flopped back into the water to die.
The scene faded. The Moon swelled to a full circle and became the Sun, bright and hot in a clear azure sky. Sparse grasses stood limp over rocky ground. Here and there boulders of various sizes littered the floor of what looked to be some kind of ravine. In the shade of a high bank of orange stone, a man squatted on his haunches, working at something. A naked man, with shaggy copper hair and beard, pinkish skin smooth and hairless.
The man held up his work to examine it. He had run a cord through several long teeth, making a necklace. He smiled.
Lucas noted movement. A second man, naked like the first but covered with coarse hair, a dark mane and beard, crept from behind a large boulder at the base of the gorge wall. He clutched a long, heavy stick in his hands. The first man turned. The dark-haired man brought the club down on the other’s head. Lucas heard the man’s skull crack open. It sounded like someone had dropped an egg. The necklace, his creation, fell to the earth beside its creator.
The first man tossed aside the stick. He wore a rock fastened around his neck by a thong. Thin, wedge-shaped, a tool of some sort. He squatted next to the dead man and removed it from his neck.
What is this?
The killer used the thin edge of the rock to cut the dead man’s throat, sawing at it. In a few moments, he had severed the head and tossed it aside, almost with indifference, then went back to work on the body. He wielded the piece of flint like a butcher’s knife. Lucas could not blink or look away. He had no choice but to watch. The killer worked as an expert, removing strips of muscle from the bone, laying them in a pile next to him. The man sawed off the flesh from his victim’s ribs. He had become covered in blood. Blood on his hands, his arms, his chest. Blood in his hair and beard. Blood coating his chubby, uncircumcised penis and dangling testicles.
Not a man, Lucas though, sick with revulsion. He just looks like a man.
The hunter could contain himself no longer. He cut away some of the abdominal wall and buried his teeth into the raw, wet tissue. Lucas thought he saw the muscle quiver as the man bit off a chunk.
Not a man. A beast.
The killer looked up as though he had heard. Lucas knew the man looked right at him. The man’s dark eyes seemed to draw Lucas in closer. He chewed, blood spurting from his mouth, and swallowed. He grinned at Lucas.
“I am Adam,” the man said. “We are Adam.”
And then gone. Darkness again.
What the Hell?
And then Lucas understood.
. . . oh God . . . oh my God . . .
“Just a man.” Lucas heard his own voice from out of the void. The Beast’s voice. One and the same.
“You cannot fight me,” the Beast said. “I am a part of you. I am a part of every man.”
“No!” Lucas shouted back.
“You have seen.”
“Get out of my body!” Lucas said.
“My body,” his voice answered back.
Not possessed. I was never possessed.
“I am the first.”
Not a demon.
“I am Adam.”
Not a demon. Me!
“I am Lucas Vale.”
It’s been me all this time!
“I am Humanity.”
Lucas opened his eyes.
He was running, running on all fours. The world passing by him, his every sense alive. Something in his mouth. It tasted wonderful.
Some strange odor in his nostrils. It irritated and pained him, like a hornet buzzing around in his skull. Yes, he understood. He was running to find the maker of that scent, to stop it. To make that person pay for bothering him.
And Chaney Kidde tasted so goddamn good.
But he couldn’t eat her yet. Not with that stench in his nostrils. First he had to do something about that stench. Then he would eat Chaney Kidde. Take his time and eat her. Then he’d go find her sister Marley and eat her too. Yes, that’s just what he would do.
He ran. And, for the first time in his entire wasted life, the Beast that called itself Lucas Vale was happy.
* * *
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!