An answer

“You obsess over guns. Desire mastery of death. Still, worthless. I am beyond.” The Tall Man said to me. I stood there, hands empty, no longer grasping my weapon.

I don’t know what happened to the round I’d fired at him. I might have missed. I might not. Maybe he stopped it, or maybe he didn’t and it just didn’t have an effect. I’ll never know for sure. I just know that my hope fell into the depths and left me alone with him.

I struggled against the tendrils that held my wrists. They took hold of me when he knocked the rifle out of my hands and into the water. Now, he stepped forward. I could only see the very tops of his legs, like he was standing atop it, but I knew they extended deep beneath the surface. They had to be inhumanly long, to reach the lake’s bottom. Still, he moved with an impossible grace, like he walked across the water, rather than across the ground below. There weren’t even waves.

He approached the nose of the boat, leaned down, and looked at me. The tentacles on his back moved in that eerie way they always do when he speaks.

“You submit, small one?”

I tried to answer, to tell him no, but… it wasn’t that simple. I don’t recall talking. I don’t think any words came out of my mouth that night. Instead, I remember one half of his tendrils stopping, and then moving in a different pattern from the others.

“No,” I replied.

He seemed to pause for a moment before tilting his head, “Understood. Time remains. Twenty one days, small one. If submit, here. If not, elsewhere. Removed either way.”

I felt his grip on my wrists weaken, the tendrils untying themselves from me. Just as they were about to release me, I spoke. I’m still not sure why, but it was like I felt my opportunity to speak slipping away. I had a question, and I needed an answer.

“Why?”

His hold on me tightened again. My feet left the deck of the boat as he stood up straight, pulling me into the air and holding me up to his face. “You inquire? Odd. You are a threat.”

“To you?” I asked. My legs dangled above the water. His control of the situation was complete. All it’d take was shoving my head  beneath the surface and I was gone.

The Tall Man slowly shook his head back and forth. “To people. Your existence creates imperfection – cracks. The only option: Removal.”

“What?”

“You live, small one, everything breaks. Excision must be made.”

“What are you?”

“You know.”

The next thing I remember is waking up here in my  bed. My father’s rifle is sitting beside me. There’s no water damage, no sign it was ever in the lake. I checked the magazine. It’s full, like I’d never even fired that single bullet.

I’m shaking.

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