Siara and Jenny entered the forest with their guns held firmly in their hands. They weren’t the biggest fans of hunting, but this creature had killed seven people from their town. As the town protectors, they couldn’t let that go, and so, they found themselves stalking the creature in in its own domain.
“How’re you feeling, Jenny?” Siara said.
“I’m feeling like I want to get out of these woods. Something’s just not quite right about out here,” Jenny responded.
Siara kept her silence and continued surveying the forested area that surrounded them both. They ventured further and further into the forest and the more they ventured, the darker it became. Eventually, the darkness consumed them, and they were simply two beings in the forest with weapons meant to stop any other living thing that joined them.
“Jenny?” Siara called out. “Can you see anything around you?”
“Not much,” Siara responded. “I can see the barrel of my gun, and the bits of moss covering the rocks beneath my feet. That’s about it.”
Jenny let out a long sigh and continued pushing forward, with her gun firmly set against her eyeline. As she walked, she heard the footsteps of her hunting companion behind her. After what felt like hours of walking, Jenny finally thought that she heard something that resembled her prey. It was a quick clack-clack-clack of what sounded like hooves to Jenny. She spun around several times, and though she felt or saw nothing, she continued to feel unnerved. Jenny felt like someone or something was watching her.
“Siara?! Jenny screamed. What Jenny hoped for never came, as silence filled the air around her. She was alone, surrounded by trees that seemed to bend in on her. The darkness suddenly felt heavy and Jenny began to shake with fear. She called once more for Siara, and ultimately realized that more likely than not, the creature had gotten her.
Jenny tread carefully in the darkness. She took slow, measured steps intending to be as quiet as possible lest the creature hear her. Jenny heard hooves clacking in the distance, and more fear welled up inside her. She abandoned all caution and set off in a quick sprint, unsure whether she was headed further in the woods or back towards the town
“Jenny!” a frantic voice screamed in the distance. It sounded like Siara, but something about it seemed otherworldly.
“Jenny!” the voice screamed again; this time closer. Jenny ran. She knew that whoever was calling out to her was not Siara, she wasn’t even sure it was human. The faster Jenny ran, the closer the screaming voice seemed to get. And when the voice was so close that she could feel its hot breath against the nape of her neck, Jenny stopped running and turned to face her pursuer.
She could barely make out any distinguishing features of the creature until its face nearly touched hers. It was Siara’s face but twisted and contorted. It had this menacing and yet somehow pained expression.
“Jenny,” it whispered. Its voice was strained and cracking.
Jenny crawled backward on her hands and feet hoping to get away from the thing, but its hooved feet inched closer as she backed away. The clacking of its hooves mixed with the continued whispers of Jenny’s name and Jenny was almost certain that she would die.
Then the sound of gun fired and hit the creature, who screamed in pain and anger. Seeing her moment, Jenny leapt from the ground and found that she had made it back to her village. It continued screaming as it stood at the tree line and for the first time, Jenny got a good look at it. It was covered in hairy spines, giving it an almost porcupine-like appearance. It stood, tall, nearly eight feet. Its hands were also unusually small, giving them a certain human familiarity. The creature fled back into the forest. Jenny ran to her savior, another resident she had only met once or twice in her months of staying there.
“That thing get your wife?” the man asked.
“Yes. But it was strange, I think that thing…was my wife,” Jenny responded, barely comprehending the words she was saying.
“Hm,” the man said resting his shotgun on the ground. “You know, I’ve lived here in Luperia for my entire life, and we were always told that the wilderness takes. But this is the first time I’ve ever seen it give something or rather…someone back.”
Jenny heard what the man said, and still, she couldn’t let go of the feeling that something more was going on with that creature. She and Siara moved to Luperia a few months ago to get away from their hometown. They wanted to escape the stares and looks they received when they walked down the street hand in hand. They wanted to escape the feelings of inferiority and otherness that plagued them throughout their daily lives, and they thought they found it in Luperia.
The more Jenny thought about it though, the more she was convinced that the sense of otherness she experienced in the city only became a sense of otherness in a different way. She and Siara never really meshed with everyone else. They were okay with their orientation, but the fact that they were out of towners seemed to unnerve some people more than what Jenny would have considered normal. Still, despite that, Luperia was quite a nice town that gave them all they needed, and so they stayed.
Two months in, though, Siara began to behave differently. She was distant, she no longer talked about her feelings. She only cared about taking care of the house and making sure that everything was paid. They barely spoke and they were never intimate. By the time of the hunt for the creature, Siara basically only said good morning and good night. Jenny worried every single night that it was something she had done.
Because of this pattern, the day after Jenny was saved from the creature she traveled to the town’s archival building. It was small. Not much history to report, and yet, Jenny was sure that there had to be something that would help her understand just what happened to Siara. She browsed for hours. She went over just about every document and just when she was ready to give in the towel, she found something that piqued her interest.
A million ways it takes its face, but never will it take their place.
The creature from the green, should never be seen and should it be so, it will decide that all things must go. From partners to friends to kin, the thing will take anyone within. Run.
The short poem was simply titled: The Luperian Monster.