April 4, 2021•635 words
I ran out of the house so fast that day that I can't even remember if I had been wearing both of my shoes when I careened over the stoop and down our small yard, towards the park.
All I knew, was that by the time I stopped in the middle of Aberdeen Park, panting heavily, and scanning the horizon for.. something, I was missing my left shoe.
Using my hand to shade my eyes from the sun, I traced the path that had brought me to the park. No shoe in sight.
I shrugged and sat down hard on a small playground horse. As I pressed my full weight down, it lurched forward suddenly and I let out a small gasp.
I looked around to see if anyone had seen or heard my interaction with this discolored playground horse and was relieved that no one was in sight.
"Nice moves, cowboy!" came a voice from behind me, causing me to lurch forward again, although I avoided gasping this time.
A red headed girl walked into view, smirking and trying to cover her smile with the back of her hand.
"Oh, hey Tasha," I smiled dryly, "what's up?" I realized that I was still sitting on the small horse and stood up too fast.
The blood rushed to my head too fast and I almost had to sit down again. Tasha reached out and grabbed my arm, steadying me as the vignette in the peripheral of my vision faded, "thanks."
"Where exactly is your shoe? Is this some kind of new bold fashion statement?" Tasha said, tilting her head to one side, looking me up and down.
I looked into her eyes and tried to think of something funny to say, but in the end I just pointed back up the way that I had been running, moments ago.
"Wait.. what is that?" Tasha croaked, then stammered, "I.. what.." Tasha swooned.
I grabbed Tasha as she slouched down into a sitting position.
Tasha was still staring back the way I had come and was mumbling softly under her breath, "I.. I.. what.. is.. that.."
It was then that I remembered why I had been running in the first place. I followed Tasha's line of sight as my eyes focused on the subject of her distress.
There was a man coming down the path. But he wasn't a man. Not really. He was moving too strangely, and he seemed broken in some places, and too long in others. Taters of old darkened cloth clung to the creature's skin, soaked wet in the hot sun, and tinged with red.
In one of it's many arms, the creature was holding a shoe. I looked down at my shoe-less foot and pulled up my pant leg. Long streaks of bright red blood ran down the full length of my shin. Tasha looked at the creature and looked at my bloody leg and started shrieking.
Except there was no sound coming out. Her mouth was opening and her lungs and ribs were working, but there was no sound.
Then the creature was upon us, emanating a sickly sweet smell, it was almost intoxicating.
I snapped back into my body and threw myself in front of Tasha. Tasha went limp, her mind unable to process the horror that was before her. The many howling faces of the mangled behemoth moaned and gnashed impossibly long teeth.
As the creature slammed into my body, I tumbled onto the ground, Tasha and I falling in a heap of limps, elbows and knees.
I felt my leg jerk. The creature had sliced through my pants, cutting up my other shin. Then a tug.
And my shoe was gone.
And then nothing.
The sound of gnashing teeth faded. The sickly sweet aroma evaporated.
Tasha moaned, her eyes rolling back in their sockets.
I sat up quickly, looking around.
The creature was gone. And so was my other shoe.