I was running as fast as I could and let me tell you this; it wasn’t very fast at all. I very rarely run, but when I do you’d best start running too. It’s not like I’m fat or anything, because I’m not. I’m just not very athletic and extremely clumsy, and when I say extremely I mean extremely. There was one time in 5th grade when I tripped over my own feet when as I tried to get my pencil back from Parris Tristram, the class bully, in the hallway between lunch and recess. Somehow I ended up with my head in the garbage can, but that’s beside the point. What I’m trying to say is, me running could only mean one of three things, either my favorite video game just went on sale, there are French fries in the lunch line, or something is chasing me. Unfortunately for me, the video games I want haven’t been out long enough to be on sale and the school recently added this super stupid “healthy lifestyle” policy, which basically is just a fancy way to say “French fries will no long be served.” That leaves reason number three. I was being chased, but not by Colleen Dyan the creepy stalker girl who has had a crush on me and my friend, Cayden Wallis, since preschool. (I know what you’re thinking, that’s creepy! But you want to know what’s even creepier? She was held back about four years, and don’t ask me how someone can be held back in preschool, but she did it.) Even so I was longing for the good old days when Colleen chased me through the halls of school.
Either way you are probably wondering what exactly was chasing me. And I am here to tell you that you wouldn’t believe me if I told you. This is the part where you say try me and I tell you and then you don’t believe me. Like I was saying before I need excellent motivation to start running. And I can assure you that this is the best motivation I’ve ever had. So here it goes. Monsters. Mysterious creatures emerging from the shadows. Unfortunately for me only I can see them. Oh well, think what you must, but there are monsters and where they all come from is hard to say. Just remember, my name is Hadyn Haley and I can see the monsters lurking beneath your bed. (That sounded much better in my head.)
I sprinted all the way from my house to my best friend, Cayden Wallis’s. I was completely out of breath by the time I reached his front door. I rang the doorbell repeatedly as I looked back across the street and a few houses down and looked at my house, an interesting spectacle of periwinkle in a sea of standard white houses. I let out a sigh of relief. The misshapen figure that had appeared in my house was no longer following me. I wasn’t sure if it was the sun it disliked or if it too didn’t enjoy going for a run.
Mrs. Wallis answered the door.
“Good afternoon Mrs. Wallis,” I said politely and still breathing heavily. “Is Cayden home?”
“Well hello Hadyn, he’s in his room. Why are you out of breath?”
“I’m…um…being chased,” The last part came out more like a question than anything.
She smiled, “Well, isn’t that wonderful. Why don’t you head up there?”
“Thanks,” I replied.
As I climbed the stairs Mrs. Wallis called after him, “Would you boys want any snacks?”
“How can you think of snacks at a time like this?” It came out of my mouth before I could stop it. I blame it on the stress of the situation. I turned and continued on to Cayden’s room. Before the door closed behind me I heard her muttering something about how one second boys are hungry and that is all they can think about and then the next food doesn’t matter at all. I didn’t agree with her. She couldn’t possibly fathom the situation. I had more important things to worry about.
Cayden’s room was exactly how it had always been. Posters ranging from Pokémon to Halo plastered the walls. His TV and X-box 360 were set up at his desk across from his bed where he sat. He was locked in battle with a dragon in Skyrim.
Without taking his eyes from the screen Cayden asked, “Hadyn, what are you doing here?”
“Oh you won’t believe me.” I replied.
“That’s what you say every time…Tell me already!”
“Ok, ok…sheesh. Where should I start?”
“I’m tempted to say the beginning but I’m afraid that you’ll go too far…therefore I’m going to have to say—”
“Never mind, there is a…a thing following me.”
“What? There’s a thing following you so you decide to come to my house?” Cayden raged, setting down his controller giving the dragon a sitting target.
“Well, it seemed like the right thing to do. It was in my house! I had to run!” I exclaimed.
“Whoa wait a minute…you ran here? Geez, this really is serious.”
“I told you it was!”
“Go on then, what did it look like?”
“Well, it was creepy lookin, that’s for sure.”
“Well, ‘Creepy lookin’ doesn’t give me any mental pictures besides Colleen Dyan.”
“Actually…no it doesn’t look like her at all. This thing is big—”
“Cayden, I said it was in my house…is my house big enough for Godzilla to fit in?”
“It’s not like I’d be able to see it anyway.”
“Oh that’s a good point, Cayden get your jacket. We have a play date with Mr. Creepy Deformed Monster dude.”
“But, I don’t wanna go near the monster, you ran away from it!”
“Oh, come on it’ll be fine.”
“Hadyn, don’t you think we are a little too old for play dates? I mean come on we are freshman in high school now, play dates were so last year.”
“Quit your whining.”
“My mom told me not to talk to strangers.”
“Just imagine how much the girls will dig you once they hear the story.”
“Yes, because facing a monster that only you can see will really make them like me more.”
“Fine, I’m going to get a better look, you can come if you’d like but I can’t waste any more time.” With that I opened the door and started to leave.
“Sometimes I really hate you, you do know that right? I forgot to save and you got me killed. Now I’m back at Dragon’s Reach.”
I let out a huge sigh and walked back into the room. “Does that mean that you are coming with me?”
“Who else would be my friend if you died?”
“You know, I’m going to take that as a compliment.”
From the minute we stepped out of Cayden’s house I was alert, constantly checking behind me, but there was no sign of the monster anywhere. Cayden and I stood in the threshold of my house. The lights were off and the sun was setting casting long shadows.
“Shouldn’t your parents be home by now?”
“Not today, they have an important business meeting, conference thing so they won’t be home until late tomorrow. We should probably go in.”
“After you, Almighty Monster Lord!”
“I’m not the monster lord…I can see them, not control them—”
“I didn’t think ‘Almighty person who can see monsters that no one else can see’ had a very good ring to it.”
The house was dark save for the patches of setting sun that seeped in through the windows. The shadows seemed to thicken by the second. I fumbled for the light switch, but nothing happened. “Light must be burned out,” I whispered to Cayden. He immediately began digging through his backpack and pulled out a Maglite and handed it to me. I shined the light around the room. “No sign of the monster here, we should keep moving.”
“Ok, so does the thing have a name or are we just going to call it the monster all the time?”
“Well, I’m sorry. Next time I see a monster I’ll stick around and ask it what its name is before I run away.” Together they began walking into the living room.
“We should call it something—”
“I don’t think that’s such a good idea,” I warned. “If there is one thing that I have noticed it’s that the monsters seem to respond more strongly to their names being mentioned.”
“What does it look like?”
“I didn’t get too good of a look at it. It’s humanoid, but deformed. That’s about all I can remember.”
“How about the Leper?”
“I said not to name it!”
“Oh, come on. Where’s your sense of adventure?”
“What do you call coming in here with the monster?”
“Um…repossessing your house?” Cayden joked, jabbing his elbow into my side. “Ooh ooh, I’ve got it! The Plastic Surgeon!” There were no signs of anything in the living room either.
“Sometimes I really question you,”
“Lusus Naturae,” Cayden murmured so quietly that I almost didn’t hear him.
“What was that?” I asked my friend.
“Lasus Naturae,” he said again, louder this time.
The voice. The voice scared me the most. It was all wrong. The voice was deep and hoarse with a menacing undertone that sent chills down my spine. “What is that?”
“No, it’s not. Your name is Cayden. You’re my best friend, you—” I froze, my heart rate quickening. The hair on the back of my neck stood on end as I got the sudden feeling that someone, or something, was watching me. I shined the flashlight around the room. The beam, dispelling the shadows wherever it fell, came to rest on the creature. The Lusus Naturae stood directly in front of me, just staring with those cold, dark eyes completely void of emotion. I shuddered. I didn’t get a good look at the monster the first time I had seen it. And quite honestly, I was quite content not knowing. The Lusus Naturae vaguely resembled a human with severe physical deformities. It stood slightly bent over with its head cocked to the side looking straight at me. Because of its hunched back, one shoulder was bigger than the other, with the arm twisted at an unnatural angle. The other arm hung low to the ground, almost reaching the floor, and the left leg of the Lusus Naturae seemed to be broken. It sat in an awkward position on the floor behind its one good leg; clearly it had been dragged behind the monster.
“Wh-what are you?” I said hoping that my voice sounded much more confident than I felt. The temperature seemed to drop 50 degrees as the raspy voice echoed out of Cayden’s mouth and the monstrous figure stared into my soul. Images flashed in my mind of death and destruction, things that make you want to crawl into a hole and hide. I felt helpless. My friend’s lips moved, but the voice seemed to come from everywhere all at once, but strangely nowhere at all.
“I am the darkness pure and vile
Every thought worth no smile
You see me naught
In shadows sought
I am the darkness pure and vile
Where I tread in endless exile
Like death I stalk
My prey all gawk
I am the darkness pure and vile
I venture out with much beguile
I know your fears
Like nightmare blears
I am the darkness pure and vile
One blink of hope, lest defile
Your soul to answer
The whim of nature.”
With that the images vanished. It left me feeling drained and depressed but the thoughts of death and murder and anger disappeared. I let out a breath that I hadn’t realized I was holding.
Just then Cayden collapsed. I caught him before he could hit his head, but when I looked back up, the monster wasn’t there anymore. I whirled around and searched frantically for the monster. It must have been able to move much faster than I would have thought possible. We were sitting targets in the middle of the room so I began to drag Cayden out of the kitchen and toward the front door.
If we could just make it outside would we be safe? I didn’t know the answer to that question, but it seemed like my best and only option. Each second that went by my heart raced faster and faster. I remembered the images that permeated in my mind. I remembered seeing the world in flames, people screaming. Bodies strewn in the streets lying haphazardly, though even in death they seemed to be trying to flee. I remember my parents being murdered in front of my eyes. Blood poured out of every orifice. I saw my own death, slow and painful.
A flicker of movement brought me back to my senses. There, at the end of the hall stood the Lusus Naturae, if you could call what it was doing standing. It began to lumber toward us, slowly at first, but quickly gaining speed. I needed to get Cayden out of here, this was all my fault. I tried to drag him faster but it was no use. The monster was surprisingly quick despite its deformities.
The door was so close, but the monster cut passed us and blocked the exit. I was breathing heavily; I wasn’t in shape to be hauling my best friend around.
“Stop,” I commanded. The monster obeyed. Wow, maybe I can control monsters. Maybe I was the Almighty Monster Lord. Not the time, I told myself. “I demand that you leave us alone…immediately.”
Laughter erupted from Cayden, though he was still unconscious. This startled me so badly that I jumped back and dropped him so his head hit the floor, still laughing. “Foolish mortal,” the voice chided. “You have no power over me; I am Lusus Naturae, the whim of nature.”
And with that the Whim of Nature lunged. I jumped in front of Cayden to shield him from the monster. The Lusus Naturae racked its claws down my chest and I stumbled back, warm sticky blood seeping through my now torn shirt. Where it touched me I burned, like poison. My vision was hazy and my head throbbed to the beat of my heart, which was extremely fast. I tried to get back up, but I couldn’t. The monster loomed over me as my vision darkened and stretched out its pale lanky arm toward my chest—and the next thing I remember is waking up in my bed.
That was the last time I had ever seen a monster of any sort, and I almost would have believed that that was all some terrible nightmare if it weren’t for Cayden. That was the last time I saw him. He vanished completely and entirely. And when I say completely and entirely I mean it. He was just gone, and the worst part was no one remembered him. Not the school, not the hospital he was born in, not even his own parents could remember him.
Credit To – Alex Krusiec