Ethan continued through the forest. It was at least midday now, though he couldn’t tell how long he had been walking for. His foot hurt very badly, but he didn’t know where he could go for help, or who to ask for help.
He stopped and looked down at his injured foot. Dark blood had dried and caked on his toes around where they were bent upwards. Ethan grimaced and looked away, hoping it wouldn’t get infected.
Ethan limped over to a tree and leaned against it, trying to think of where to go next. He didn’t want to go back to the house where he had heard the two people talking in a different language, as he was afraid they were going to be hostile. He couldn’t go back home; his parents didn’t believe him. He couldn’t go into town, either, because the townsfolk would probably shoot him on sight.
Then he gained a shred of hope when he remembered his friends. Surely Penny and Luke would believe him. Ethan was about to start walking, but paused. He glanced down at his demonic hand and foot, wondering what he must look like. A gray-skinned monster with a deformed hand and foot, wearing dark clothing and a mask. Would they believe him? If he were in their place, would he even himself believe himself?
Ethan sighed, he felt like crying. He felt more alone now than he had ever felt before. Whimpering slightly, he turned his head upwards towards the sky. He couldn’t just give up and wait for death.
He put a hand against the tree he was leaning on and pushed himself upright, looking forward. Ethan continued to walk, telling himself that he would go to Penny’s house.
However, oddly enough, he found himself hobbling towards his own home. Ethan noticed this after only a few minutes, but decided to go there anyway, not knowing what he’d find.
After walking for a while, which Ethan figured had probably been for around an hour, he began hearing noises. First he thought they were just forest noises, but soon realized that they were not made by nature.
There were voices, many voices. Ethan couldn’t recognize any of them, but they sounded serious, and a few sounded scared; others were excited or frantic. He slowed his pace, looking down to make sure he wouldn’t rustle any dead leaves or step on a dry twig.
Keeping to the shadows, Ethan peered out from behind the trees towards his house, glad that he had made his mask dark. He was surprised at what he saw. Surrounding his house were numerous people, most of them looked like policemen. At the front of his former abode, there were many police cars parked, as well as a few other vehicles that he couldn’t recognize.
A few of the policemen were around the back of the house. They seemed to be looking at the back wall. Ethan remembered how he had jumped out the back window. They were probably looking at the claw marks he had left there.
There were more people at the front of the house. He instantly spotted his parents. They were standing near the front door and talking to three policemen, one of which seemed to be taking notes. There were also a few other people around them who were trying to listen in. He guessed they were probably reporters or journalists looking for a thrilling story.
As quietly as he could manage, Ethan moved closer to the front of the house, still staying behind the trees. Now closer, he could see them more clearly. He didn’t like what he saw, though. His father looked extremely forlorn, and his mother was weeping. He didn’t like seeing her so sad. It made him want to go out of the woods and hug her to make her feel better, to let her know that he was alive. But, he also knew that would only frighten her in the state he was in now, and, with all the armed policemen around, would probably get him killed.
Ethan sighed and started to move away from them, looking at the house. He now moved towards the back of the house. The policemen who were at the back of the house seemed to have moved, and were now most likely at the front, near the police cars.
Ethan saw that the window to his room was open, just as he had left it. Looking around cautiously to make sure no one was looking, he limped out into the open and up to the back of the house.
The claw mark on the side of the house was so large, it looked like some horrible monster had made it. Ethan looked down at his deformed hand. He looked at the large, curved claws. No wonder his parents thought he was a demon who killed their son.
Reaching up, Ethan placed his normal hand on the ledge of a window. He pulled himself up and then extended his claws upward and grabbed the wall, surprised at how easily they gripped it. He pulled himself upwards again and reached up as far as he could, grabbing another window ledge. This one was to his room.
Ethan looked into his room briefly, then continued upwards and made his way to the roof. Up there, above all the people and sadness, things seemed peaceful. On all fours, he crawled to the front of the house, still limping slightly but going faster than he could on his feet.
Staying hidden, he listened in. From this point he could hear all that they were saying, with the exception of a reporter or two whispering things to themselves to remember. They seemed to be in the middle of a conversation about what had occurred on the night in question.
“A-and I thought I heard something, so I got up and walked out into the hall. And... and I saw blood on the ground!” His mother explained through anguished whimpers and pauses. “So I followed them, and they led to Ethan’s room! So I opened the door, and I thought I saw him! I thought it was him! But, when I took the blanket away, it wasn’t him! It was a demon! A monster! And there was blood everywhere! I-I think it, I think it killed-”
She sobbed and couldn’t continue. The policemen and reporters were silent, not knowing how to comfort her.
Ethan’s father continued the explanation, as his mother was unable to.
“I tried to shoot it, but it jumped out the window. wWhen I chased it outside, it ran into the woods.” His voice seemed plain and emotionless. He was probably still trying to comprehend it all. “I’m just afraid that it might do this to someone else.”
Ethan started to crawl to the back of the house, but not before he heard his father say “Monsters like that need to be found and killed.”
Looking over the edge of the roof, Ethan saw that the backyard was still empty, and clear for him to make his way back to the safety of the forest. As he climbed down the side of the wall, he peered into his room, which was also empty. He decided to enter one last time.
Crawling through the window, Ethan landed on the floor on all fours. The room seemed to be exactly how he had left it. He looked around, only now realizing how much blood he had left on the floor. He couldn’t blame them for thinking that he had been killed by a monster, it probably would have been his first thought, as well.
Grabbing the side of his bed, Ethan got to his feet. He looked around, then down at his deformed hand. He wanted to hide it, or to at least attempt to look normal again. Maybe if he looked normal and tried to explain himself, they would actually listen to him.
He looked around, silently cursing his past self for not organizing the room more efficiently. Picking around, he managed to find a mitten, but it wouldn’t fit on his large hand. He also found a towel; perhaps he could wrap his hand to cover it.
Ethan flinched when he heard a voice approach the door.
“And blood everywhere. The kid’s blood.” The speaker seemed to be talking quietly to himself.
Ethan put the towel and mitten in his pocket and backed up slowly, not wanting to knock anything over and create noise. He was hoping the man would walk by the room and leave it be.
“Poor kid,” The man sighed to himself and the door began to open. “Y’think a town is safe and suddenly-. . .”
Ethan stared at the man, and the man stared back. He was a policeman, probably one of the lower ranks. Ethan sank back, now on all fours, shaking in fear.
“S-shit!” The policeman swore once he saw Ethan’s demonic hand, realizing who he was.
Ethan backed up against the wall, not knowing what to do.
“I-I-It’s the monster! What do I-” The policeman seemed as frightened as Ethan was, but soon remembered that he carried a gun. He yanked it from its holster and pointed it at Ethan, not quite knowing whether he should shoot or not.
“Please . . . don’t shoot me . . .” Ethan managed to plead, his voice quaking at the sight of a pistol aimed at his face. “I didn’t kill anyone . . . I . . . I don’t want to hurt anyone!”
The policeman seemed surprised to hear the ‘monster’ talk. He shakily kept the gun pointed at Ethan, still not knowing what he should do. Many people said that demons lie to get what they want, but he didn’t know what to do now.
Ethan slowly got to his feet, wincing in pain at his foot, but standing. “I’m not going to hurt you . . .” He whimpered and raised his claws slightly as if in surrender. “S-see? I promise”
At that moment, someone walked by the open door. They looked young, with a camera in their hands. They were probably a reporter who snuck into the house for some good pictures to use. He turned his head and jumped in shock at what he saw. Immediately, he rushed into the room and shouted at the policeman.
“For God’s sake man, it’s a monster! Shoot it!”
The policeman looked from Ethan to the reporter, not sure of what to do. Ethan panicked and put one leg out the window, trying to get out as fast as he could.
“What’s wrong with you!?” The reporter shouted and jabbed the policeman in the arm “SHOOT IT!!!”
Startled, the policeman shot. The bullet grazed Ethan’s shoulder and he cried out in pain, falling from the window. Fortunately, he managed to grab the side of the house and gently drop to the grass instead of falling to it.
He gasped in pain and felt warm blood well up from the wound, and quickly heard shouts of confusion and wonder. Ethan began to run into the woods on all fours. It hurt to run, but he had to get away.
Knowing that, at his slow pace, they would catch up to him if they chased him, Ethan sprang towards a tree and climbed high up into its branches. He clung to a sturdy bough and heard the footsteps draw near, then watched in silence as several policemen ran by, searching for him.
After a few minutes of waiting, he climbed down from the tree and ran in a different direction from where the policemen had gone. Like his previous experience of running away from his home, he ran until he could run no more and collapsed from pain and exhaustion.
He didn’t even bother to look at his foot, which felt as if it was flowing blood like a river, but, instead, drew his attention to his arm. Ethan pulled the towel from his pocket, glad that he had put it in there, and tightly wrapped it around his shoulder. The clean white towel quickly turned red, but Ethan felt better with it there.
Looking around, Ethan felt as if he knew his surroundings, even though they seemed to be just trees and rocks. He recognized small landmarks, and then looked ahead and realized why.
In an old, large tree, a structure was built. It was crafted by boards of wood, creating a sort of box in the tree, low to the ground with steps leading up to its entrance. It was old and slightly rotted, but Ethan could remember it. It was his tree house that he had shared with Luke and Penny when they were younger.
Ethan limped up to it, walking on all fours as his foot hurt too much to use only his legs. He entered the tree house and then fell to the floor.
Perhaps he could call this place friendly.