by Julia Zygiel ’19
“We shouldn’t have stopped for that stupid. Freaking. Bike,” Tyler panted between breaths, groaning as his body tried to double up in pain.
“Yeah, if I had known it was real and not some ravenous coyote, I definitely wouldn’t have stopped, Tyler!” Dev shouted, miraculously managing to pull off sarcasm while being chased by some sort of Eldritch creature.
“You said it was the size of a cat!” Tyler shouted back, praying to God that his adrenaline could carry him faster as the sound of large, leathery wings approached.
“I s-said,” Dev heaved, “some people said it’s the size,” another gasp, “of a cat.”
“I hate you.” Well, that’s not quite true, Tyler thought as the sound of snapping branches sounded behind them.
Tyler squinted, it was getting dark. If they managed to outrun this thing for long, soon they wouldn’t have enough light to know where they were going. They were screwed all around.
“Dev, actually… if we don’t make it,” he trailed off as he focused on not tripping on a particularly gnarly tree stump,
“I love you, man.”
Even with terror clouding his brain and the cool October air whistling past him, he heard Dev’s choke out a laugh. “I love you, too, man.”
Despite the bloodthirsty thing behind him, despite his yearning to see his family again, to survive, Tyler felt elation for the briefest of moments. They loved each other.
Unfortunately, this elation distracted him from a root sticking out of the ground, and the next thing he felt was excruciating pain as his foot twisted in an impossible direction. Then, soul-numbing terror as a cold and sharp claw wrapped around it. Then, nothing.
“Hey, man, are you even listening to me?” Dev was snapping his fingers at Tyler, his other hand gripping the chain link fence behind him. Beyond the fence the trees of the forest formed an impenetrable wall.
“Huh?” Tyler shook his head. Another daydream. He ought to talk to someone about those.
“I said, wanna go check out that bike? It looks sick, unattended, and I wanna steal it,” Dev grinned at him, aware that Tyler was a bit of a kleptomaniac.
Tyler frowned, his attention drawn to the woods. A leaf slowly floated to the ground, disturbed by what he thought was an impossibly large, leathery wing. Bats didn’t come that big.
Tyler turned to the bike, which was chained to a tree just at the edge of the forest. It would be so simple to get it. He could think of a million ways to pick the lock on it. Yet the image of the wing was imprinted on the backs of his eyelids. He shuddered.
“Nah, man, I gotta get home for dinner or my mom’s going to kill me. We can steal something from the CVS on the way back.”
Dev groaned, running a hand through his hair as if he meant to tear it out. Tyler placed a hand on his friend’s shoulder, a grimace on his lips.
“Trust me, man. The woods are dangerous at night, anyways.”