Straining himself, Ethan managed to sit up. He then backed up slightly and leaned against the wall of the small tree house. He sighed, looking around; he could remember good memories that took place in this humble building.
He reached up and took off his mask, and then set it down beside him. With his normal hand, he felt his face. He could feel his large, sharp teeth sticking out of his mouth. Part of him wished he had a mirror again so he could see, but, on the other hand, he didn’t really want to see his face again.
Setting his arms on his knees, then his head in his arms, Ethan sat there, unsure and alone. What could he do next? He couldn’t return home, that was certain. He would most certainly die on his own if he didn’t do anything soon, since either the police would shoot him or a demon would get him. The police wouldn’t help him -- however, a demon might.
He didn’t know too much about the social lives of demons, or even know if they had any. Perhaps they looked out for one another, but they might also be territorial. One might feel sorry for him and help him, but another might kill him because they would see him as competition for their works.
Ethan sat there, lost in thought. Suddenly, a rustling of leaves outside brought him back to reality. He jerked his head upwards and stared out the crudely cut window of the wooden structure.
The only thing visible from where he was sitting was more forest. Not taking his eyes off of the window, he set his mask back on his face and pulled his hood over his head. Grabbing the wall, Ethan got to his feet and slowly made his way to the window.
Cautiously, he poked his head out the window, looking around slowly and inspecting every small movement. He didn’t see anything or anyone out of the ordinary.
Steadily, Ethan walked to the entrance of the tree house and stepped outside, making as little noise as he could. He turned and looked into the branches of the tree that held the tree house. There didn’t seem to be anyone in the branches, or on top of the roof for that matter.
He detected a small noise, perhaps one of something sharp scraping against bark, in a tree beside the one he was looking at. Rapidly turning his head towards the sound, Ethan saw the thick branches of that tree, but couldn’t determine whether or not they hid someone behind their numerous leaves.
“Hello . . ?” Ethan called. Perhaps it was a demon who was curious about him. Something told him that they, if they even were there, weren’t hostile towards him. If they wanted him dead, then they would have killed him already; right?
There was no reply. Ethan took a step towards the tree, staring intently at the branches.
“Are you there?” He hesitated, “Could you help me?”
Again, no reply. He walked up to the tree, now right next to its trunk.
“I’d really appreciate some help here.” Ethan kept his eyes on the branches, at this one shady spot in particular. “. . . Please?”
This time he did get a reply. Not much of a reply, but it was something. A noise came from the branches; it sounded like a soft chuckle of amusement. Then something moved. Ethan knew for sure that someone was up there now.
The dark figure in the branches then moved to another tree, away from Ethan, and then to another, climbing away from him.
“Wait!” Ethan called out to the dark figure, who didn’t seem to listen or care, and kept moving away. “Come back!” The dark figure ignored him and continued away.
Ethan dropped to all fours and ran after it, only lightly using his injured foot, but still wincing at the pain. However, the dark figure was nimble and swift, and Ethan quickly lost sight of it.
Despite this, Ethan continued running in the direction it went. He soon got tired and slowed his pace, but continued the chase.
After a few minutes, Ethan stopped; he heard voices. Looking through the trees, he realized that he was next to the road and sidewalk.
“Did you hear about what happened last night?” One voice asked the other.
“Monster killed a kid? Yeah dude it’s everywhere.”
“Do you believe it?”
“Well, yeah, it’s everywhere on the news and stuff, why would they report false things?”
“Well, demons. Do you believe in demons?”
“If a demon killed that kid then yeah I believe in demons!”
“Demons don’t exist! They’re just myths!”
“Well then, what killed the kid?”
“I dunno, some crazy dude with a knife!”
The two speakers walked out of earshot; Ethan waited a little before moving again to avoid detection. He sighed. His story seemed like big news now. It was amazing how quickly news traveled.
Ethan looked down the road and began walking, still on all fours. He walked for a while, wondering again what he was going to do next.
A little while passed before he finally decided to look up and figure out where he was. He was a little surprised and anxious when he saw where he was; near Penny’s house.
Ethan stared; he could see the side of the house. He didn’t know if he should approach it or not. He took a few more steps towards it, and then stopped. He would probably have the same effect on her that he did on others, so he turned to leave.
A sound made him stop, he heard weeping. Ethan turned and walked towards the house. He could recognize the voice, and he knew it was Penny. Ethan, as quietly as he could, crept in the shadows and made his way around the house. He could now see the front porch.
Ethan saw his two friends, Luke and Penny, sitting on the front steps. Penny had her face in her hands; she was crying. Luke was sitting next to her. His face was shadowed and expressionless, but Ethan could tell that he was upset.
Ethan reached up and pulled the neck of his sweater as high as it would go to cover his neck. He pulled his hood down to cover his head, and made sure his mask covered his face neatly. He took the mitten out of his pocket and put it on his normal hand to cover his gray skin. Taking hold of the wall of the house, he stood himself upright. Ethan looked at his demonic hand, clenched it into a fist as small as it would go, and then hid it behind his back. He anxiously took a step out of the shadows.
“Please . . . don’t cry . . .”
Luke and Penny immediately turned and looked towards him. They stared in silence, confused at what they saw. Ethan couldn’t tell if they were frightened or not, and returned the silence with silence.
Ethan took another step forward. “It’s me . . .”
Penny stood up and slowly stepped off of the porch. “Ethan . . ?”
He smiled behind his mask and nodded.
“But . . . they said you died . . . they said a demon killed you . . .” She paused and looked at him, “You’re a . . . a ghost?”
He noticed Luke stand up and begin to walk towards them. As Ethan started to reply, Penny looked him up and down, and then screamed.
Startled, Ethan suddenly remembered that he had, yet again, forgotten to cover his bloodied and mangled foot.
“N-no Penny, I-!” He started, but she interrupted him.
“You’re not Ethan!” She screamed, “Y-you’re the one who killed him! The demon!!!”
“No I-I-!” Ethan stammered, trying to think of the quickest way to convince her that he was not a lying demon. He saw Luke go to the side of the house and pick something up, and then step in front of Penny.
“You’re the one who killed Ethan . . . you killed him . . .” Luke took a step forward.
“Luke I-” Ethan took a step back.
“You killed him . . .” Luke clenched the item he had picked up in his hands, “You . . . MOTHER FUCKER!!!”
Luke ran forward, Ethan gasped when he saw what he had picked up; it was an axe, one used for cutting firewood. Ethan stumbled back, dodging the first two swings. He saw Penny run into the house.
Luke swung the axe again. Panicking, Ethan reached out his right hand and caught the axe mid-swing by its handle. Luke paused in terror when he saw Ethan’s demonic hand, and let go of the axe in shock.
“Luke . . .” Ethan started, lowering the axe.
Now unarmed, Luke grew more frightened. He backed up, and then turned and ran into the house. Ethan stood there, alone. He didn’t know what to do anymore. He couldn’t go into the house; it would only frighten them more.
Ethan sighed and turned, he limped into the forest. Coming here was a mistake. Walking along slowly, he was angry at himself. He was angry that he looked this way, even though he couldn’t help it.
He looked down at his monstrous and injured foot, hating himself for it. If his foot were normal then he probably would have been able to talk to them and explain what happened. But no, he had to look like this. He looked like a monster. He didn’t like looking this way. He was sick of it.
Ethan noticed that he was still holding the axe. He looked around, and then spotted a downed tree. He limped over to it. Only thoughts of anger, self-hatred, and disappointment filled his mind as he set his foot on the tree. He hesitated slightly, but then quickly brought down the axe on it.
A shriek of pain rang through the trees as his long clawed toes were instantly dismembered from his foot. Ethan stumbled to the ground, holding his leg in pain. He reached up to his face as he felt tears of anguish flow from his eyes and looked at his hand; it was covered in blood, the blood that was shed like tears from his demonic eye.
Ethan lay there, trying to handle the pain.
“I can’t change it . . . I’m a monster . . .”