I was just laying around at home. I didn’t have a care in the world. My mom asked me to go get some stuff from the supermarket. I get to the shop and I’m feeling good.
More confident than usual. I’m walking through the shop with my trolley, pick up a box of cereal toss it over my shoulder and it lands directly in the cart. I tap the shelf where the tin of sauce is and it falls in, perfectly slotted.
I head up to the counter and there’s a cute girl at the till. I talk to her, trying to chat her up despite having a girlfriend at home. I was in a good mood today. I wanted to try something new. She seems like she likes me, she saw me getting my stuff like a boss. I pay for my stuff and let her keep the change, tell her with a wink. I don’t need a trolley or any help, I walk out carrying the bottle of milk and two bags feeling good.
As I’m walking through the parking lot three black guys get up from a wall where they were sitting and block my exit. Trying to keep calm, I nonchalantly ask, “Any problem boys?”
The guy who looked like the leader stepped forward. He was smaller than the other two and myself but he had an air of confidence around him. He calmly said, “I’ve got a wife and kid to feed. You don’t look like you’re short on cash, so I’d appreciate if you gave me your food. Now.”
The last word was said clearly meant to intimidate. The two other guys were moving around to the back of me. They were getting ready for a fight.
“I’m not looking for trouble” I say, tensing my muscles.
He gave an ugly sneer saying, “Neither am I man. So hand over the food.”
I’m a stubborn person and didn’t like these guys thinking they could push me around. I dropped the milk bottle from my hand and swung both arms and the bags behind me hitting the two guys behind me square in the face. The small guys fast and he swings at me straight away. I was too slow and he gets me in the chin and I stumble back. His two friends recovered by now and grabbed my arms. I knew I never stood a chance but hell if I was going to let them take my stuff easily.
They knock me to my knees and the leader leans down to me saying, “I didn’t wanna do this you know! If you had just given me your food we both could have gone home and been fine. But no, you fucked up and you hurt my boys. Now you’re gonna pay.”
I hear a subtle click and I look up. He’s holding a small switchblade in his hand. He jams the knife into my stomach and his friends drop me. I can just about hear them laughing and taking my stuff off the ground before leaving me lying in a growing pool of my own blood. I soon pass out from blood loss.
I wake up in a hospital bed covered in tubes and feeling sore as hell. I groaned and tried to sit up some tubes getting knocked off as I did. A bell sound went off and a nurse ran in.
She was shouting to me saying, “No! You’re not ready to get up yet. You have to stay in bed!”
I protest but she convinces me. After a couple of weeks I mostly recover from the knife wound. I recover physically, anyway. I wasn’t the same mentally, in my head, though. I was much more aggressive. With my family and at home I would constantly be shouting at people and egging them on, being an all-around asshole. But once the person snapped back, once they confronted me I had nothing to back it up. I’d break down in tears and be unable to speak for hours. I was in a mess.
My family got me to go to group therapy sessions. It was full of people who had problems like me. Confidence problems. They couldn’t stand up to anyone and they constantly took shit. I was kind of an oddball because I gave shit and then broke down whenever I got it back. I grew particularly close to one other guy, John. He had a controlling family and a controlling girlfriend. Whatever he did was controlled by his family and his girlfriend. It was very hard on him. He struggled to make decisions for himself and whenever he tried to stand up to them he just couldn’t muster the courage. He longed to be free from them.
Strangely enough in the group of misfits there was one person who just didn’t fit in the group. The way he talked, the way he walked and every little thing he did just didn’t seem right. Everything that he did just seemed forced. The thing was he also spoke very fluently. He could charm any person in the group. I asked John about it, him being my closest friend at this point.
To my surprise he had noticed it too. Everyone else hadn’t and just went to the group normally every two days and tried to recover. But John and I started going only to observe him. Something seemed odd about him. John and I debated whether or not we should confront him and eventually we decided that we should.
We walked up to him after one of the sessions and I lead the charge of confronting him.
“Hi, listen, this may sound odd but… Why are you here? We’ve both noticed that you don’t seem to belong” I said trying not to tremble.
Everything about this man just seemed wrong.
“The way you speak, the way you walk, Jesus even the way you shake someone’s hand. It’s just not right.” John said surprising me by speaking up. He stared at the two of us hard before grinning a casual smirk. “Ah, so you finally noticed? Yes, I shouldn’t be a part of this group. I have no trouble with confidence or any other troubles actually. Now two young inquisitive minds like yours would surely like to know what my cause for coming here is? So, come to the car park at ten o’clock tonight. If you don’t come, I’ll be gone and I won’t be coming back.” He said still smiling.
I tried to say something but he raised a hand and interrupted me, “No. Nothing else to be said. Come or don’t, it all depends on what you choose.” Then without another word he walked out of the hall leaving the two of us utterly confused.
John and I both said it in unison, “We have to go.”
So John and I wait at the car park at 10:15 making sure that we’re early. Time rolls on and before we know it its 10:45 and still no mysterious man. We’re thinking that we’ve been bullshitted and that he was never gonna show up. Or is he waiting just beyond our line of sight in the darkness, laughing at us? We end up just giving up and we begin to walk back to our respective cars on the other side of the car park. As we get nearer to the cars the barrier of darkness that surrounds us is moved with us as we take our steps. As we approach the cars we can see 5 black, silhouettes standing there, motionless. They wear long robes with cowls that go over their faces. We look for faces but they’re shrouded in the dark.
We look for hands but the robes are long and trail down past their hands. We look for feet but the robes lay on the ground obscuring them. They were so well covered they very well could have been mannequins placed there by the mysterious man just to mess with us. But no… They were breathing. I could see the rise and fall of their chest, the way they swayed as the wind blew against their bodies. But still… They were much too still for anything that was human. They should have had their feet spread to stay balanced but it looked as if each was standing with ease. For about a minute we stood facing each other without a word. Panic rose in me as I thought back to my confrontation in the car park of the super market. Without a word being spoken we decide to carefully, slowly back away.
We’re indicating that whatever the figures are here for, whatever they have planned we want no part in it. But it was much too late for that. Two of the figures dart into the darkness, faster than was possible for a normal person. It was like I blinked and they were gone, leaving only a trail of dust in their wake. Again, two more disappear leaving only the largest standing ahead of us, facing us. Realizing just how much shit we were in we back up faster but the four that moved away are behind us and to our sides, boxing us in.
I turn to run but in the time it takes me to turn and plant a foot in front of me there is one of them right there tilting it’s head slightly to the right the exact same situation playing out with John. But… how is that possible? They weren’t near us. They were 20 metres away two seconds ago and now they’re right behind us. There was no one near us when we were waiting for the man and we would have noticed someone come up behind us while we were walking back. Nothing moves that fast. Is there more than we thought? Are we seriously that outclassed in terms of pure muscle? I snap to the left hoping to get around but already there’s another one there and I get the sickening feeling in my stomach that an almost identical scenario is playing out for John. We’re separated and I no longer know what’s happening to him but I doubt it’s very different from mine.
I realize my only option is to fight, again. I try to use my momentum against a faster but immobile opponent and I swing with my right fist as hard as I could connecting with what should be the face. But it doesn’t work. My hand hits where the face should be and makes a crunching sound that leaves me sick to my stomach.
I hit the fragile part, the jaw, the mouth, the face, what should have broken felt like steel. I feel the pain dart up my arm and stagger backwards only to be pushed forward by one of the figures behind me. I fall, bad hand first. My vision goes blurry from the pain. I stumble up running, only thinking about running. Not thinking about the fact that those people are stronger and faster than me and that there was no chance I could get away.
An arm appears in front of me, seemingly out of nowhere and smashes me in the chest. With my momentum and the person’s strength I get clotheslined and I fall to the ground again. I land on my back and I hear something in my lower back crunch that should not have crunched and pain arches up my spine. I’m on the ground, coughing, unable to breath.
I roll over causing another arch of pain to shoot up my spine and I look over to John and he’s still on his feet fighting throwing punches and kicks as fast as he can but there are two of them on him. Toying with him, dodging everything he does with ease. Someone grabs me by my belt and flings me into the air, 4 or 5 feet off the ground with ease and I come crashing down my entire body aching, my bones feel as if they’re throbbing with the pain.
I try to get up but I get kicked square in the ass so hard that I’m thrown head over heels. I don’t know what’s happening to John but I hear him scream so I look over and now he’s on the ground blocking his face as he’s getting beaten just as bad as I am. But I’m still defiant, even bloody and beaten on the pavement. My mind thinks of plans quickly. I think back to when I was mugged by the 3 black guys and just like back then I knew I couldn’t win but I could hurt them. I could make them work for the kill and I could make them regret making me their target. I refuse to die, beaten so easily. So instead of running away I stand and I turn. I sway while standing, unable to keep my balance.
My right arm, injured, lies limply at my side. I’m clearly showing my attacker that I have no intention of using my right arm, but I have no intention of giving in as my left arm is tensed and my fist is clenched, like I can actually hit or hurt someone who can toss me 6 feet in the air so easily. I have a stern look on my face showing my defiance. I’m playing a psychological game now. I know that this fight is over, that it was over before it began but I’m not going to be fighting fair. I run at the figure raising my left hand, sloppily. I’m right handed so it’s uncoordinated and not as powerful.
The figure makes no attempt to move out of the way or block. They want to see if I will break my left hand on the figures face just like the right. My fist is moving towards the figures face and at the last second I unclench my fist and bring my middle and index finger together and my ring and little finger together and spread the two now larger fingers out and jam my four fingers towards the things eye sockets. Even something as strong and fast as what I was facing couldn’t see the trick coming.
They didn’t think they could be hurt. As my fingers spread I could see the figures arm coming up to block but it was already too late and my fingers jam deep into its eyes. I couldn’t actually see where I was jamming my fingers. But I know I hit home. It was harder than I expected, I expected it to be jelly like but it was thick and stiff but after a moment of resistance I heard the satisfying squelch that told me I had fought back. I tried to push in further, to grip and grab but the figure grabbed my arm, blood coming from its eyes and it was screaming. Loud and aggressive it hurt my ears.
It was a female scream, this thing I had been fighting, if you could call it fighting, was a woman. She had my arm in a grip like iron and she pulled with each hand and broke my arm like it was a twig. On the left side the bone was sticking out and there was more blood on my arm then I thought was possible from a broken bone. It hurt so unbelievably much. I went down. I went from being in control gauging this girl’s eyes out to being on the ground clutching my broken arm. I was kicked in the chest, I heard something crack and it felt like my ribs broke and my already laboured breathing got even worse. I felt something sharp poking against something soft in my chest which really shouldn’t have been there.
I went rolling from the kick and ended up near my friend John, he looking almost as battered and beaten as I was. He didn’t try and trick them, to have one last fight against the impossible people. The monsters. I was now completely beaten. Broken ribs, broken hand, injured back, an arm with two extra joints lying on the ground struggling to breath.
Then again, the sound from before, a swishing. And once again all five of them are standing above us, all silent once more. Only four of them had audible breathing, I assume that only those four fought one must have stood out for what reason I don’t know possibly to be the look out. We both lay there looking up into the darkness of the cloaks, certain that this was the end. We were both about to die, purely for being curious. For me it was because of my stubbornness.
I chose to stay and fight no matter what the odds instead of running away trying to find safety, that was my flaw. The reality that death was coming, that there was no more after this that I was never going to see home or the sun again hit me hard. There was no hope, no dying on my bed as an old man surrounded by family and being content. I was going to die in pain, alone and beaten on the ground in a car park. But it was not instant. The figure at the front of the group, the largest, pulled back the cowl of his robe to reveal his face. It was none other than the man that didn’t fit with an evil sneer on his lips. Before he just looked odd now he looked terrifying, strong, tall, fast surrounded by four others possible just as strong and tall and fast. He left me beaten, broken and crying.
There was something odd about him though. He didn’t look one hundred % human there was something animal about him something that I couldn’t put my finger on. It was one % of a difference. The teeth, they were sharper, whiter, bigger than they should have been. He smiled to show off his big, scary teeth and chuckled quietly to himself. Then he crouched down next to the two of us and said very quietly, “Do you want to die?”
It took a few seconds for the question to register in my head then I said, “No. No I don’t want to die I want to live” through bloodied and clumsy lips.
John said something similar that went unheard to my ears.
I was focused on the strange man nothing else, because he was my only chance. He then said, even quieter, “Do you want to be as strong, as fast, as I am now?”
I tried to sit up, to look him in the eyes like I wasn’t a worm to be crushed beneath his feet without a second thought. With a groan and a cough of blood I sat up and stared into the deep black eyes that showed no hint of who this man was or what he was feeling. At the time no I didn’t want to be as strong as him I just wanted to live. But I’d say anything to get that chance so I said, “Yes! I want to be as strong as you are!” Again John said something similar.
The others pulled back their robes revealing different faces, ages, genders. They were all like him. Just a bit more animal then they should be. He stared straight back into my eyes, reached his hand out to me and said, “Join us. All of this power can be yours. But you will owe everything you are, everything you own and even your life if we so choose to spare us.” We both agreed, any chance to live.
We both reached our hands up to his to grab his hands and show our unification. But he lowered his hands. He showed that there was no joining him. There was no acceptance, no forgiveness. His last trick was to build my hopes up. Make me firmly think that I was going to live. Then he dove on me. Sharp teeth, ripping at my neck tearing the skin blood poured out and it was so painful that lights flashed in front of my eyes. He crunched my right arm and broke more bones in my chest.
He pushed my head to the right to make me see John getting the same process done to him. The blood began to drain out of my body. My nervous system failed. I couldn’t feel the ground below me, or the man on top of me. I felt like I was falling.
Away from the brightness of the stars into the darkness. Overwhelming darkness where I was alone and there was nothing to help me. No bright tunnel, no light. Realizing that this was it, my brain was giving out and that everything that I am was disappearing in a matter of moments. The last use of my consciousness was to realize its own destruction as everything completely faded to bla══━一