“Watch it!”
“Hey man!”
“What the fuck!”

I ran into the crowd, in the hopes I could lose it there.  I watched as it dove in after me. It slithered it’s way through, pulling the bulk of itself forward.  My face and hands bounced off jackets and shoulders as I frantically pushed my way through the blurred mass of bodies.


I could feel its breath on my neck.   In my mind, I thought, It’s in here!  In the crowd.  Calm yourself, the hell, down!  It wasn’t close enough, but at the same time it felt too close.  I thought to myself, Why is no one reacting to it? 

“Excuse me.”
“Coming through”

I spun around. Twirling and tumbling, I stumbled on to the ground and out of the crowd. End over end, I tumbled and tumbled until I came to a stop. I unfurled myself, lying flat on my back.

Quickly! I lifted my head up and spun around. I watched the heads of the jumbled mass of people part as it made its way to the edge of the crowd before stopping.

Why’d it stop?   I couldn’t see it among the forest of legs, but I could feel its eyes on me, stalking and staring. It had me dead to rights.

Get up!  Get up!   I got to my feet and began to run again as fast as I could.

Maybe this was a game to it. Pursuing me. Running me down was part of the ritual before it claimed it’s prize.  My lungs ached – hot heat, burning, on fire. My legs felt like rubber. I was cotton-mouthed; The air tugged at my throat as it passed over the dry and sticky insides.  I hadn’t slept in days just to stay ahead of it, staying on the run.

I hit the fence with force and flipped over.   I could feel it near as I approached 124th street.   Landing on my feet, I reengaged running mode. I was running so hard and so fast.  I’m not a runner though, more of a “0.0” bumper sticker kind of a guy.

The alley opened onto a street across from a park.  I ran past so many people that day. All preoccupied and engaged by the daily operations of their lives. They were so composed. They seemed to have it all so under control.  They seemed to understand what was needed and how to manage it all.  I used to be one of them several months ago. But now there’s nothing but the RUN.

The creature first attacked me at my office when I’d been working late one night. I was stressing about a presentation, about home, about a lot shit that wasn’t going smoothly.  I reached for the door to head to the parking lot when the lights dimmed at the end of the hallway. I could just make out its non-human form in the shadows. Like a horror movie cliché, the lights went out preceding it’s movement. It wasn’t as fast then, but still scary enough to motivate me to run to my car and speed home. When it began to show up in the shadows at my home, I decided the best thing to do would be to leave to keep my family safe.

I’d run away from my family, my cushy executive job, my modern conveniences, my lifestyle and status,… my things.

I remember having the answers like these people on the streets. All of them looking down on me.  I know they think I’m crazy.  I’d given up asking for their help awhile back. They only slowed me down as they pushed me away. “Get off me bum!” Pushing away my pained request for help. “I’m not a bum.  It’s after me! Please! Please help me!”

I heard it knocking over some tables behind me. It was closing the distance. How come this thing never tired, never needed rest?   I dared not look back.  I kept on running. I was running my heart out, but it was much closer now. It was there slashing at me, reaching for me, to take me away and hide me away forever, consume me, become me.

In my panic, I freaked. I turned down an alley. Shit!  There’s no opening?  How do I get out!?  I stopped and spun around.  It stopped several feet in front of me.  The game had played itself to the assumed conclusion.  It was confident in the assumed outcome.  This is it.  I guess.  I closed my eyes, squeezing them tight.

It was inches away. The odor was overwhelming – putrid and rancid. I could feel the heat from it.  The thing was so close now.  A calm descended upon me as I resigned myself to my fate.

In that moment, a spark of idea hit me and my eyes opened wide.  I quickly turned to run.  It swung it’s claw past me as I kicked off a wall and jumped into the sky.  I could hear it’s howls trailing away beneath me. 

“Go ahead and call it in.”

“Looks like we’ve found a 33 year old, African American male dead in the alley near 124th and Central.”  The officer looked the body over slowly.   “He appears to have been dead for some time. Maybe a couple of days.”

“Sheesh. The smell.”  The officer said, covering his mouth.

The other officer shook his head and said, “Damn. I’ve seen some shit in my days, but this is up there. Look at his clothes. They looked ripped. Like he did this to himself. And the look of terror on his face.”


by malakhai jonezs
(C) Copyright 2016


  1. Great story! I was hooked from the opening sentence. At first, I thought the monster was real, but near the end, came to the conclusion that the guy had gone off the deep end. You handled it well, building the tension bit by bit, then, into the alley and–bam!

    1. Thanks Cathy! I debated on leaving the ending ambiguous. But mental health won out. Thanks for the notes on the writing too. I read these things over and over, trying to see if the pacing is right, the energy, and the reveals are coming at just the right amount. I’m having fun, but it’s not an easy thing to pull off. Thanks again Cathy!

  2. No, it’s not easy to write a good story, though some may think so. Like you, I go over one again and again, ponder every turn of phrase and word choice. It can be exhausting, but the end result is worth it. Again, a great read, Malakhai. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  3. Whenever I see what appears to be a homeless person on the street my first thought is “there is a story…a reason behind this…”. The line ““I’m not a bum. It’s after me! Please! Please help me!” brought me back to that thought… You’ve done it again, Mr. Jones.
    I enjoyed this.

    1. Thanks CBS! I say most of us can easily be a day away from a homeless person for a variety of reasons. Most people with no empathy for a fellow human would disagree with that sentiment. Thanks for the read and the most appreciated feedback!

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