The first time I saw it I hoped it would be the only time…it wasn’t. I would continue to see it, in many forms, over the next several years.
The first time I was young, only about eleven. We lived in the middle of no where in a house my parents built. I liked to sit on the porch swing and watch the wood line disappear into an inky darkness as the sun set.
This evening was different. There was a strange smell. I had smelled it before but it was never this strong. It filled my nostrils and rushed its way up into my head. The smell made me dizzy and nauseous…that thick, dense smell of blood.
My eyes had started to water and I pawed at my nose, trying to get the smell out. The smell was inside me now. Blood that had been pooling around a decaying animal carcass, that was the smell. I could taste it and my throat burned…then I saw it and the smell made sense.
It was standing at the wood line in the fading light.
Arched shoulders with arms that ended in long fingers grazing the earth. A body covered in thin spikes that reflected the waning sunlight. It didn’t have eyes but it was staring at me. Staring at me and breathing heavily. I could see it’s chest rise and fall with each deep inhale and exhale as it took in deeply the smell of death. It shivered with each inhale, as if each breath was more painful than the last. With each shiver small droplets sprinkled onto the ground around it’s feet. Dark droplets that spread when they hit the grass.
My head was spinning. I might fall off of the swing. My eyes were watering but I squinted hard and tried not to close them. I was terrified what might happen if I closed my eyes. What was it waiting for? Why was it just standing there? Just breathing and staring…at me.
I couldn’t stand it anymore and my eyes closed involuntarily. Terror wrapped around my soul. Where would it be the second I opened my eyes? I’ll keep my eyes closed, it must just be my imagination. These things don’t exist, right? This thing can’t be real, right? It can’t hurt me…right?
It was gone when my eyes opened. I coughed violently for several minutes and the smell of death left my body. Soon I would learn that these things do exist, they are very real, and they can hurt me.