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I have been receiving the letters for well over 50 years, although now it’s more often I will get an email from him.
Usually threatening, sometimes cordial or boastful, occasionally almost begging me to return to the small town of Fairview. A few years after they started, he began to claim to have found the little girl and described in vivid detail how he tore her to shreds. I was worried he may have been telling the truth for over a decade, until I managed to track her down in the summer of 71 and discovered she had grown into a lovely young woman residing in Kingsport. When I informed him of her safety in one of my rare replies to him, he responded with a 59 page long diatribe about how he was going to torture me to death. Now, after all these years, I feel that I should return for one, final hunt in a career in the supernatural. It would be fitting that Fairview would be the location of my first and last encounter with the paranormal.
But I am getting rather ahead of myself. In the summer of 54, I had just graduated from high school and decided to take a small vacation on my own. Having never been one for large crowds, I settled on the small town of Fairview, which I had heard had some of the most stirring natural landscapes in the state, especially the lush forests that surrounded it on every side. I had scheduled a two week stay at the Fairview Coyote Inn, and left that morning to enjoy a scenic drive through the countryside. When I finally arrived in town, it was almost evening, but I still took time to stop at the town limits and admire the famous sign which had become a somewhat obscure legend in the surrounding area. The version I had heard from a schoolmate said that it had been stolen from the local (now bankrupt and closed) zoo by a gang of vandals during the first world war and erected in its current position for reasons only a heavily inebriated mind could fathom. The zoo owner apparently never bothered to retrieve it, and so it stood until no one could imagine the town without it. It read:
1. Animals may not leave their habitat.
2. Animals who harm visitors or staff will be punished.
3. DO NOT under ANY circumstances feed the animals.
Having satisfied my curiosity, I drove to the hotel and checked in. The owner was extremely friendly, and asked if, since the porter was home sick that day, I might go into the next room and ask the maintenance man, whom he affectionately called “Old Ralph,” to help me with my bags.
Old Ralph was a large man. Only slightly taller than average, his waist was extremely robust and his arms were well muscled. He had white hair, and a long and extremely shaggy beard. I politely asked for his assistance, and he grudgingly and silently stood and walked to the lobby to help with my bags. Simply trying to make conversation on the way to my room, I remarked on the picture of a coyote in the inn’s logo. He replied, through clenched teeth, that “It’s no damn coyote you…” after which he trailed off into mumbling. He unceremoniously dumped my belongings outside my door and left without a word. I, tired from my trip, simply moved my belongings inside and went to sleep.
The next day I spent my time in town and exploring the woods. It was utterly remarkable how polite and friendly every person I met was. Every single one was incredibly happy to help me in any way. One man, upon being asked directions to a place which happened to be across town, happily walked me the entire distance. I thought it was unusual, but hardly alarming, and actually found I enjoyed myself in their company. When I returned for the evening I met the family who had moved into the room next to mine. I was surprised to find they were black, and their presence in a white hotel can only be attributed to the townsfolk’s universal desire to help apparently anyone, an attitude I found surprisingly progressive. After a pleasant chat, I turned into my room and settled in to watch television. Unfortunately, the set suddenly stopped working, and I went out to fetch the repair man. The clerk in the lobby happily went to find him when I asked for him, and I was told to return to my room. Some few minutes later Old Ralph knocked on my door and asked, extremely irritated, “Yeah, what’s problem ya got that’s so bad you need wake me up fer?” I pointed to the television and, before I could utter a word, he strode over to it, knocked its side with the back of his hand, and turned in on. “Works jus’ fine ya idjit. “ He then left before I could reply.
A few seconds after him leaving I heard him bump into something and begin cursing loudly. I peered outside and saw him berating Mr. Jackson from the next room. Ralph was absolutely livid, practically foaming at the mouth while hurling insults and curses at him. Jackson looked angry, while his wife and their child stood in the doorway, afraid. I saw that the clerk looked entirely nonplussed, bearing an expression as if to say “Oh well, best just to ignore it and ride it out.” Ralph continued his ranting for full on five minutes, until Jackson demanded that he stop doing this in front of his daughter. Ralph, with a new glint in his eyes, said, “What? Want me to shut up so ya ken go back to raping the little slut? Ya dumb nigger, just do it out ‘ere in the open. Nobody expects any mo’ of ya.” Jackson, shaking in rage, punched Old Ralph square on the jaw. I was shocked, both by the display of violence, but also by Ralph’s reaction. He looked like he had just won the lottery. He was grinning ear to ear and laughing like a madman. He merely walked away without another word. I, confused beyond reason and simply wanting to distance myself from the situation, returned to my room and spent the night normally until it was time to sleep.
That night I was awoken by sounds from the next room. It sounded as if someone where beating on the door. This lasted only a few seconds, before being replaced with the sound of a wooden door splintering and human screams. I rushed out of bed and to the next door. I saw a large, brown, hairy creature hunched over the dismembered torso of Mr. Jackson while his wife tried to beat the creature away with the room’s lamp. The creature, approximately the size of a gorilla but with a canine head, most closely resembling that of a hyena, ignored her and continued feasting on Jackson’s limbs. I would like to say I bravely charged in and fought of the beast, but reacted how most people would: by standing paralyzed by fear, trying to rationalize it away as some bizarre nightmare. After finishing Jackson, it turned its attention to his wife, who was by now hysterically beating at it with the remains of the lamp. I watched as it ate her bit by bit, starting with her legs, then arms, and finally her torso and head. It was only when it looked up and began slowly creeping towards the corner the girl was crying in, as if savoring the terror it was inflicting her, that I sprang into action. I jumped in its way just as it was reaching for her, causing it to swat me aside. I was launched across the room and was sure I would see it killing her when I looked up. Instead, the creature was staring at me, with what can only be described as abject terror. “Nonononononono….” it pleaded in Old Ralph’s raspy voice. Then it doubled over clutching its stomach. It began vomiting up blood and the remains of the two people it had just ingested. Taking the opportunity, I grabbed the girl in my arms and ran back to my room, locking and barring the door. I could hear it screaming after a few minutes, “Not fair… he got in my way, he interfered… shouldn’t count… THAT SHOULDN’T COUNT!”
After an hour of the screaming from the next room, the sounds suddenly stopped. After a few more hours, exhaustion overcame my fear, and I must have fallen asleep. Some time later I awoke to two glowing yellow eyes just in front of my face. I screamed as loud as I could, but knew I had nowhere to run. Soon, I realized it wasn’t moving, and was just staring at me. I collected myself as best I was able, and noticed that the door had not been broken; it had been opened normally, and the cabinet had been pushed aside. The monster calmly spoke to me. “You’d better start fighting back or I’ll kill you and that girl.” Pausing for a moment to give me some chance to respond, he continued. “Come on, I’m sure you can do it. I’m just an animal after all, right? A big strong human like you can kill me. Just pick up something heavy and bash my skull in. What’s the matter, scared?” I remained mute, praying there was some way I could get away from this horrible thing crouched over me. “Do you know how hard it is living here? Not one single person in this whole fucking town will touch me. Not when I insult them, or smash their windows, or when I tear someone apart in the middle of the street. They don’t even notice me. But you tourists are different; you’ve got fight in you. Come on, do it! DO IT! I SAID FIGHT ME NOW!” With that, it raised a claw to swipe at me, but before it could, it collapsed once again, making hacking sounds, like a man trying to vomit on an empty stomach. I took the opportunity to run to my car and drive away with the girl.
Knowing no one would believe my story, I left the girl at a police station at a nearby town and told her to tell them she didn’t know where her parents where. I told my parents that I had been very ill and decided to cancel the vacation after only two days. I thought I was finally safe, and spent the next few days feigning illness. It was about a week later the first letter arrived. It was from Old Ralph, who told me in plain terms and colorful language that he was going to hunt me down and kill me, and that I should try to find him before he could find me. I confess, I was frightened, but I reasoned that if he could come for me, he wouldn’t have sent a letter instead of coming himself. That he has spent the last half century harassing “the one who got away” as he calls me attests that my guess was correct.
I think that after I have passed on all my knowledge of the supernatural to able apprentices, I’ll make my last foray into Fairview. It will be one final mission, after which I will either be retired or dead. I think the world as a whole should be safe either way. I know you’re probably reading this, God knows you stalk me online enough to make up for your inability to do so in reality. But even if I do die, an animal like you isn’t allowed to leave his habitat, right Ralph?