Trees. Tall, dead trees everywhere I looked. Surrounded by weeds and grass easily as tall as mid-thigh, and dead leaves piled around the bases like some kind of ancient man-made mount to the gods. I pressed my back up against the giant oak I had reached earlier in the evening, crouched down so the weeds hid my head. I hoped. Looking up I could see the outline of the full moon through the skinny, skeleton branches. I waited. I listened. I didn’t dare move, not until I knew it was clear. Silence now. I sat as quietly as I could….you never know, right? Just because you can’t hear something doesn’t mean it isn’t there. The subtle breeze that had been rustling the dead things calmed. Still no sound…I slowly exhaled the breath I’d been holding. Looking around me again, I shivered. Not from the cold, not on this warm autumn night. I shivered because of a chill inside me, a chill I doubted would ever leave me. I wonder: am I insane? Did I lose my sanity in the time it takes a clock to count a second? That’s all it took for me, a second suspended in…what? How do I correctly word things which shouldn’t have happened in a correct world? How do I try to explain that which I could not fathom, had I not witnessed? How…wait. There’s something out there, there beyond my vision. It cannot be anything that would naturally here in the woods, it doesn’t…feel natural. And if it is what my eyes beheld which my logical mind denies, it is not natural. Not in this world…I pray to God, not in ANY world. This…creature, this..thing is an abomination and yet…shhh. Quiet now. I can feel it. I know it’s hunting me, now is waiting. Why? Why, God, why? Why what, you may ask. No, not “why me” but why now? This creation stalking me is a mistake. I thought I was ready. No, that is a lie. I did not believe my experimentations would produce anything, and if they DID, well…Then yes, I thought I was prepared to handle whatever sprang forth into existence. But, oh God, never could I imagine what “whatever” was (or could be). This night I had waited for with such excitement after so many years of studying, reading every written word and translating each symbol, memorizing and practicing every detail down to the smallest particle until my head bled with such effort…and then I thought I was ready. The first time I attempted the unthinkable, nothing but such a small shadow of a possibility appeared. And so with much frustration, I searched until I discovered there was someone else who once desired such as I. So I followed the swiftly-disappearing trail, and was lead to what appeared to be an old man, dying of age’s revenge. I was wrong. It was not the revenge of age which killed him, but the successful attempt of a fool. Two fools, he and I. Once I reached his doorstep and introduced myself, the tiny spark of what had been a roaring fire of obtaining the unreachable was relit…and so it began. For three years we worked together, combining knowledges and hypotheses, and, feeling so sudden after all the years, it was time. We paid an undesirable, I hesitate to call him a man due to his heavy addiction to alcohol which had turned him to sleeping in filthy alleyways and under bridges, to work for us for a short time. You see, even though my partner and I were at last ready, there were still certain…preparations that needed to be awaited. Finally, at long last, the final…ingredients, so to speak…were there, able to be had. And so the drunk went to work, retrieving the central and vital objects for the Rite. A young mother had given birth to twins, a boy and a girl, but due to poverty and weakness, all three succumbed to the final sleep. Grieved and burdened by both helplessness and hopelessness, the young head of household drank a vial of poison by his lover’s bedside, thereby joining his family forever in the Great Hereafter. Or they would have, if it weren’t for my partner’s and my obsession. Three nights ago, the drunk brought them to us, and three nights ago, it began. I cannot go into detail everything that took place in those days (nights, actually), suffice it to say, our assumed failure was anything but. Using the knowledge we’d acquired and offering up the souls and bodies, we were unexpectedly successful. Tonight, the final night, the Rite was at long last complete. And then, the unexpected actually did occur. The creature, long awaited, burst forth from the night; hideous, horrifying….and angry. You see, we did not contemplate the souls sacrificed would provide the creature’s true, hidden purpose. We, especially I, assumed it would be ours – mine alone, soon enough – to control, to have it obey our -MY- every command. Instead, it was fueled by the lovers’ anger, sorrow, hate, fear – turning into VENGEANCE. And so, once brought forth, it saw us…and it knew who we were…WHAT we were. It came upon us, bringing regret and terror into my heart at once. Then, a knock. The once-undesirable drunk, now a priority to the MONSTER, came into the room unbidden, and was immediately decimated. Limbs were torn and thrown aside, blood flowed and splattered, and seeing HATRED preoccupied, I ran. My old friend tried to follow but was pulled back. REVENGE dragged him screaming into the room, which even as I was escaping, smelled the odor of emptied bowels, blood, and death. The CREATURE would follow soon, I could feel it’s weight upon the earth as I ran. But I was younger than my partner, and not encumbered by alcohol as had been the other, and soon reached the woods which surrounded our small cottage. And I found a tree which to rest against to try to catch my breath. To try to take in the horror I had witnessed. I cannot understand this, no matter what I do. And IT’S here. IT’s so close, I can only pray…please, God, let DEATH be quick.