Martin Weir clawed at his skull, hoping his fingers would find a way past the bone and brain so that he could dig out the burning pins that had been lodged there. The girl in the yellow and pink pajamas continued to cry out, and the pain in Martin’s head continued to push deeper and deeper.
In amongst the agony there was a brief moment when Martin was almost happy that he was going to die, lying in the middle of an empty street. Death was, after all, what he wanted. He would have preferred to leave this world in less crippling pain, but he thought it would soon be over. Martin figured that eventually his body would give in to the piercing sound of the young child’s screams that were ripping his insides to shreds. Then it would be over and he would finally be at peace.
Except his body didn’t give in. Martin tried feverishly to dig out the sound that was ripping him apart, but to no avail. It was too much. He couldn’t take it anymore. Martin soon realized that the pain would ever end. Not unless he took action.
Martin reached for the Bowie knife attached to his belt. He unsheathed the blade, brought it up to his temple, and began to push.
Then, without warning, it was over. The scream ended and the pain in Martin’s brain was gone. He returned his weapon to its holster and climbed back onto his feet. Once he was standing, Martin realized that his eyes were shut tight. When he opened them, he felt a stream of warm tears roll down his cheeks. He looked back up at the window to see if the little girl was still there, but she was gone.
Did that really just happen, he wondered, or am I just going crazy?
It took a few seconds for Martin to remember that he was on his way to find a Weregorilla before he almost stabbed himself in the head. He walked back to the building, and when he got to the door he remembered that it was locked. He shook his head and turned to head back to the car, but paused before taking a step. Martin decided to try to open it again. He turned the handle and found it opened without a problem.
Something is fucking with me, Martin thought. He stepped inside the building to begin his search for the monster that he hoped would kill him just as it started to rain again. Yeah, something is definitely fucking with me, he conceded. Hopefully I’ll be dead before I have to deal with that.
When he was inside the building, Martin pulled out his flashlight. He pressed the button, but nothing happened. He rapped the bulb a few times with his free hand until the light came on. The dim beam that appeared made it a little easier for Martin to see, but he still found himself squinting as he methodically scanned each room, looking for a sign of where the Weregorilla could be.
The wind picked up. Martin heard both the rain slamming against the dirty, paper thin windows of the building, and the air forcing its way through the cracks in the walls. With the noise echoing through the empty structure, Martin didn’t think he was going to be able to hear the monster skulking around, so he was forced to rely on his tired old eyes and a barely functioning flashlight.
Perhaps this is better, he thought. If I don’t see the beast coming, maybe it won’t hurt as much. Martin chuckled when the thought crossed his mind. Of course getting murdered by a mindless hell spawn is going to hurt.
When Martin realized that the Humanoid Sub-Creature he was looking for wasn’t on the ground floor, he began to search for an entrance to the basement. Weregorillas tended to nest below ground. That was fine with Martin. He thought that if he went downstairs he would be less likely to run into the girl that had made him want to scratch out his own brain. He had no interest in seeing her again.
It took a few minutes, but Martin eventually found the stairwell. He slowly made his way down the stairs, a creaking sound accompanying each step. The stench of death hit him as soon as he reached the basement. The smell was so strong that Martin felt himself about to gag, but he managed to keep the contents of his stomach down. Martin recalled that when he was a rookie this sort of thing would have had him throwing up all over his shoes. The ability to hold down half digested food was one of the perks of being in the job as long as he had. Also, with what he had already endured that day, dealing with the smell of rotting flesh was a minor annoyance.
Martin looked around his immediate vicinity and saw the remnants of what looked like seven dog carcasses and hundreds of tiny rodent bones strewn around the ground.
Any time now, he thought. Any time now and this will all be over.
Martin continued further into the basement, methodically scanning the rooms. After a few minutes of searching, his light clicked off. At that moment the sound of the rain crashing against the building seemed to disappear. It was eerily silent as Martin tapped the flashlight with his free hand. He hit it three times, but nothing happened. He shook it quickly, hoping that the batteries had not completely died, but again nothing happened.
God damn it, Martin thought as he hit the flashlight as hard as he could, not knowing whether it would turn on or shatter in his hands. Much to his surprise, the light came on and spread itself across the far wall.
That’s when he saw it.
It was hunched over, facing away from Martin. Its attention was fixated on something near the ground, so it didn’t notice the dim light that highlighted its massive, disgusting form. The light gleamed off of the beast’s oily tufts of hair and brown, leathery skin.
This is it, Martin thought. The moment of truth. Be the man you want to be, he almost said aloud. Don’t be afraid. It’ll be over soon.
Martin wanted to speak, but he didn’t know what to say. He was in the rare situation where he would be able to choose his final words. He thought about it for a moment, but came to the conclusion that he shouldn’t say anything. He decided it would be better if his last words were to Jeff, the man who would replace him as the Sergeant of the Humanoid Sub-Creature Pacification Unit. The man whose job it would be to find the creature that killed the previous Sergeant. He was sure it would be better that way.
Martin shook the flashlight at the monster until he got its attention. It stood up and faced him. This Weregorilla had the typical bashed-in nose and the mouth full of ragged green teeth that poured spit like a waterfall. But this one was bigger than usual, standing closer to 10 feet, by Martin’s estimation. This one also had red eyes, which Martin had never seen before.
The beast let out a low growl. Good, Martin thought, I’ve interrupted him. He’s super pissed. Maybe he’ll skip past tossing me in the air like a rag doll and get straight to killing me.
Martin guessed there was about 50 feet between them. Based on their average speed, Martin guessed that once the Weregorilla got going, it would reach him in about six seconds.
Six seconds will seem like an eternity, Martin thought, but when it’s over, I’ll never have to wait for anything again.
The creature took a step towards Martin. Martin immediately felt a sense of calm wash over him, as if slipping into a warm bath. As the Weregorilla took another step towards him, then a third and a fourth, Martin thought that he should close his eyes. He may have wanted to die, but he certainly didn’t want to watch it happen.
Just as he was about to shut the rest of the world out, and welcome the cold embrace of death, he saw something move behind the creature. At first he saw what appeared to be a scrap of yellow fabric floating behind the monster, but as the Weregorilla swayed, he saw it for what it really was.
She seemed smaller than she was when she floated towards his car. Even smaller than when he saw her in the window. She was sitting on the ground, her hair matted to her face with sweat, dried tears and blood. Her yellow and pink pajamas were muddied. Martin had trouble making it out, but it looked like she had numerous defensive wounds on her arms.
Even in the face of imminent death, this brave little girl still fights for her life, Martin thought. She deserves to live.
He was so fixated on the girl who was now looking straight at him, Martin almost forgot about the 800 pound monster that was bearing down on him. It was about three quarters of the way towards him and still picking up speed when Martin went for his knife. The Weregorilla let out a roar that filled the entire building as it pounced. Martin fell backwards, the monster on top of him. Martin’s head hit the cold damp concrete and he could feel the warmth of his own blood spreading across the back of his head. He thought it was over. He was going to get what he wanted, but still he failed. He had failed his wife, his kids, and now this little girl.
He didn’t know how long he was out, but Martin eventually opened his eyes. He gasped at the sight of ragged green teeth mere inches from his face. Martin gagged as pungent saliva dripped into his mouth. For a second, Martin wasn’t sure exactly what had happened. When he tried to move his hands he realized that they were still holding onto his knife, which was stuck deep into the Weregorilla’s chest.
“Lucky shot,” Martin chuckled to himself.
After failing to lift 800 pounds of dead monster weight off of his body, Martin awkwardly slid out from underneath the creature. Once free, he grabbed the back of his head to see how badly he was bleeding while he limped over to the little girl by the wall. He was still looking at his hand when he started talking to her.
“Hello, sweetheart. Are you…” Martin’s voice was caught in his throat. He found himself looking at a boy, about twelve years old, with tear stains on his cheeks, and dirt and blood on his white t-shirt and blue jeans. Martin did his best to compose himself before speaking again. “Are you okay?”
The boy nodded, still too afraid to speak.
Martin smiled as best he could. “It’s okay. Everything’s going to be fine.”
Martin wrapped his arms around the child and struggled to lift him up. He could feel the boy shivering in his arms. Martin headed towards the stairs to go up to the main level. As they were about to exit the building, Martin looked around to see if she was there. When the young girl with the yellow and pink pajamas didn’t reveal herself, he took the child he was holding out into the cold night to live another day.
It’s okay, Martin thought. Everything’s going to be fine.