Lurking Beasts: Part 3

31 Juli 2017 Pojok Cerita   |    Vania Cheryl Antono


There was a faint rustling noise, as if something was being dragged across the verdant forest floor, inch by inch.

There it was again.

That faint rustle.

What was it?

The young boy’s mind bubbled with possibilities, but all he could see was darkness. He couldn’t open his eyes, his eyelids drooping heavily and remaining shut.

Rustle...rustle...

Where am I?

The boy struggled to regain control of his numb body, memory of previous events foggy...but somewhere, he could hear the voice of a child.

"Alex! Alex!"

The voice was so familiar, the boy thought, as his ears strained to hear it again.

And that name! Deep down, the boy recognized that name.

Alex...is my name.

"Alex!" The child’s voice called out again.

This time, the boy, who remembered himself as Alex, jolted awake, eyes wide open as he took a deep breath of realization, whispering one word, "Lou."

Alex quickly looked around, neck snapped to the side to survey his surroundings.

Memories of the events beforehand slammed into him like a bucket of cold water in the morning.

He remembered looking for Lou, being followed by the eyes of creatures he could not see and then...black. Unforgiving, pitch black.

Alex’s eyes wandered from the treetops that touched the now darkening sky to the shadows growing as surely as the tired sun was setting.

Alex’s thoughts were a flurry of words, jumbled in disarray, every now and then yelling out questions, how did I get here-

Something snorted from the direction Alex’s legs were pointing to.

Alex jumped again, unsteady feet wobbling as he tried to stand, cautious eyes darting towards that very direction.

"What are you?" The words left Alex’s lips before he could stop them.

The strange creature before him bathed in the shadows, which clung to it as if second skin, though every now and then, it shifted, letting a part of it touch the moonlight streaming through the holes of the trees overhead.

Alex gaped as he stared at the beast before him, taking in its features with equal parts fascination at the fact that his mother’s stories were real and horror at the fact that creatures such as these roamed in the forest so close to his home and even dragged him all the way across the forest.

Antlers like a deer, though surely much sharper and deadlier...eyes gleaming from a startling yellow to hellfire red and back again...furry paws like that of a bear’s with claws like jagged knives...an open maw revealing rows and rows of tiny spiky teeth, a flash of a red barbed tongue...

The creature let out a sudden growl that had Alex involuntarily taking a step backwards, shoulders hunched together like a cornered prey.

It, however, remained where it was, the creature’s strange eyes watching Alex with open curiousity. It growled again, louder this time, "Lerrgh!"

Alex watched it warily now though he wasn’t inclined yet to run away. It was as if the creature wanted to tell him something, but that’s impossible...right?

"Lorrugh!"

"Lourrgh!"

After several more tries from the creature, Alex, partly convinced that the creature wasn’t trying to harm him, finally spoke up, "What are you trying to tell me?"

"Lour!" The creature growled again, eyes looking up at Alex in exasperation...but that couldn’t be, could it?

"Lour?" Alex repeated questioningly.

"Lour!" The creature tried again, stepping forward from its refuge in the shadows.

"Lour? Lure?" Alex tried again, not realizing that he’d taken a few steps forward such that he and the creature was less than a meter apart.

A thought suddenly struck Alex-

"Lou?" Alex queried aloud.

The creature was finally silent, its head dipping slightly as if nodding in agreement.

"Where is she? Tell me!" Alex demanded.

The creature turned around and raised its head to the star-littered skies winking around the silent moon and let out a lone howl.

Alex watched without a word spoken out, enraptured.

Moments later, another howl resonated from nearby.

Just how many of these creatures are there..? Alex found himself uncomfortably vulnerable as the thought bounced around in his head.

Lost in his thoughts, Alex barely seemed to notice the appearance of his tiny little sister on the back of one of the creatures which thundered all the way to its friend that howled and called its brethren.

The creature nudged Alex to get his attention.

Alex shot the creature startled look-

"Alex?" Lou’s childish voice asked, as if trying to make sure that it was really Alex.

The boy turned around, letting out a haggard breath, "Lou."

Lou’s face lit up into a contagious grin, eyes dancing brightly as she leapt off one of the creatures and ran straight towards her brother’s embrace.

"Alex, where were you?" Lou’s voice was on the verge of breaking into incoherent sobs.

"I told you not to go into the forest." Alex replied sternly, breaking away from the hug to look at Lou in the eyes.

"But we found them!" Lou protested petulantly, motioning towards the surprisingly gentle creatures that had gathered around them.

"Thank you." Alex said towards the creatures, not wholly sure they’d understand but he had to try.

"But now," Alex started as he dusted himself off the ground, "we must return home. Mum must be worried."

"But-"

"No buts, Lou. We need to go home." Alex dismissed his sister’s objection, turning around and pulling his sister along with him. It was night, yes, but with the help of the creatures, surely they could return home easily.

"But what about Dad?" Lou’s voice stopped Alex cold in his tracks.

Alex released a deep breath as he turned around.

"What do you mean?" Alex’s voice was raspy.

"Dad. He’s in the forest. I saw him."

(Penulis saat ini sekolah di SIS Kebun Jeruk)