It was a beautiful night-the moon was red and full–that made you wish you had someone to share it with. I was returning home after the day at the restaurant serving clients and bussing tables. The shops were all closed and, somehow, it made the moon shine even more brilliantly.
I was tired. My limbs wanted to go to sleep right there on the pavement, but I reminded myself that it was temporary. It was paying for my degree and once I complete it in five months, I will be able to get a decent job that I actually enjoy. I was looking forward to that day. I had practiced my interview speech a thousand times already.
I turned into a short dark alley that I crossed twice a day ever since I took up this job last year, and stiffened immediately. Something was off. I couldn’t see or hear anything, but that was the point. It was too quiet as if someone had put a blanket on the entire alley blocking the outside noises. Also, there was a funny smell, the one you get when crossing a butcher’s shop…blood?
I wasn’t the superstitious kind but I trusted my instinct. So, I decided to backtrack. As I cautiously took steps backwards, I heard a human moan, a growl, a snapping of bones, and then, silence. I gasped. Three set of eyes gleamed green in the dark, looking straight at me. Canine eyes, set far higher than an average dog, or even a wolf.
I felt frozen for a second. And then, I turned back and ran with all I had in me. The streetlights were the only illumination on the path. I dare not look behind me for the fear of slowing down or falling, but I knew I was being chased. Their footfall wasn’t audible and they weren’t barking, unlike the neighbourhood strays. For a second, I wondered if I wasn’t just hallucinating but I didn’t stop to check.
In fact, I ran harder. I wasn’t sure where to go though. The shops were closed and my own restaurant was locked. So, I ran to the underground railway station, hoping that it would be crowded and these ‘things’ will stop chasing or pick a new target. Else, I would catch any train I could. I would return home later in the morning.
The stairs leading down to the platform were deserted. I could hear a train approaching the platform. I thanked my lucky stars and covered the last stretch with a burst of energy I never knew I had.
When I reached the platform, it was empty of people. I heard a group coming down the stairs slowly–click of heals and boots…I was so relieved to hear fellow human beings that I nearly cried. I turned to look and found two men and a woman pulling out their shades to cover their eyes. Canine. The woman had something red around her mouth. Leisurely, she licked clean with an unnaturally long tongue and smiled at me.
Furtively, I glanced behind me willing the train to stop or, at least, slow down.
Free photo by Charl Folscher on Unsplash