Awakened by the sound of beeping; Esther opened her eye slowly. She tried to open her right eye; but it wouldn’t open. Bringing her hand up to her face, she realized that the right side of her face was covered in bandages. It hurt when she touched them, so she turned her attention to the room she was in.
Observing the style of the room, Esther quickly realized that she was in a hospital. The beeping noise was coming from a heart rate monitor next to her bed. She felt lightheaded, and noticed that a blood pack was attached to her arm; she must have lost a lot of blood. She started to feel drowsy, so she went back to sleep.
* * *
Later when Esther woke up, two policemen entered her room. They questioned her about who did it; questions such as appearance, weapon, and motive. Esther answered these questions with “I don’t remember; it all happened so fast.” The policemen soon left, realizing that the poor girl was probably traumatized from the attack and was blocking out the memories.
Esther felt odd, lying to the police. But even after what the tall man did, she still wanted to meet him. She rationalized his motives for attacking her, maybe she startled him, or he thought she was going to attack him, something like that. Next time she would have to be more careful.
* * *
Several days later, Esther left the hospital. Returning home, she looked at herself in the mirror. A large, jagged scar was on her face, all the way from top to bottom. It ran over her right eye, and she could no longer see out of it. A smaller scar was on the base of her neck as well. The scar itself resembled the tall man’s tendrils; you could see where the barbs pierced her skin.
Esther wrapped a black piece of fabric around her head as a sort of makeshift eye patch. She tried to think optimistically.
“Well, at least I didn’t lose a hand.” She remarked, looking at the blue horse plush’s hoof-less leg.
* * *
Back to work. Esther resumed her job as normal, acting as if nothing had happened. Most of the people were respectful and didn’t mention it; one of the things Esther hated was people pitying her. The only person who did mention it was Ron.
“Are you sure you don’t remember who did it?” Ron asked, prepared to take notes.
“For the last time, I don’t remember.” Esther replied, not even looking at him.
“I think it’s the same guy who killed all those other people; this could be a lead here! Are you sure you can’t remember?”
“Yes! Stop pestering me!” Esther walked away, Ron sighed. He still didn’t have any leads. Esther felt a little sorry for him, maybe she should humor him. And maybe throw him off the tall man’s trail.
“Well, uhh, what weapon did he use? If you can remember, that is.” Ron asked her as she walked back towards him.
“Who said it was a ‘he’?” Esther sat down next to him.
“He’s a she!?” Ron began writing down notes. Esther tried not to laugh.
“I dunno; maybe.” She got up and left before he could notice her hiding a smile.
* * *
Time to go back home; Esther was wondering where to find the tall man. He obviously wasn’t human, so she was wondering where he lived. Probably somewhere secluded, like a warehouse or something. Esther suddenly remembered where an abandoned warehouse was, that place was a good place to start looking.
She started walking towards the abandoned warehouse. Passing by a park, she looked out at the trees and the grass. Streetlamps were on because it was dark, smaller lamps illuminated the paths that ran through the park. Her eyes followed one, it lead around a corner of a small building; it was empty. She looked at another, and another, they were also empty. Then she noticed a path that was not paved; it was simply a dirt path, heading into the woods. Unlike the others, this path was not lit by lamps, and someone was walking on it; the tall man.
Esther gasped and slowly walked towards him. Realizing that if she didn’t hurry up he would disappear into the woods, she sped up her pace. This time she stopped a little ways out of his reach; he must have heard her footsteps, because he stopped too.
“E-excuse me?” Esther started, not wanting to surprise him. Just like the last confrontation, a growl escaped from his throat and he slowly turned. The growl grew louder, and his barbed tendrils slowly branched out from his back.
“I don’t suppose you remember me.” Esther was nervous, scared even, but she stood her ground. The tall man’s tendrils grew larger and the barbs seemed to grow sharper, his head was turned to the side; the painted face on his bandanna glaring at her. She saw one of his tendrils draw back, as if to strike forward at any second.
“I mean, not from the other night; from twelve years ago . . .” This must have gotten his attention. Esther saw the tendril that was prepared to strike go down.
“You might not have seen me; I didn’t see you notice me.” The tall man’s tendrils receded into his back, and his stance changed from one of aggression to one of slight curiosity. The painted face on his bandanna stared at her.
“You might not remember me, but I remember you.” Esther continued, and the tall man simply looked at her, as if he was confused.
“You probably saved my life that day” Esther took a few small steps towards him, he didn’t react. He smelled like smoke, but she wanted to embrace him.
“You saved me, and you avenged my father” She was close to him now, very close. He didn’t step away or show any signs of aggression.
“And . . . I’m so grateful for that. I need you to know how much I-” She held out her arms, she wanted to embrace him, to somehow show him how grateful she was. He emitted a low growl and stepped back, away from her. She took a step forward, arms still out. The tendrils reappeared on his back, and his growl grew louder. She took another step forward, and one of his tendrils drew back to strike.
He was suddenly taken aback by a gunshot. The bullet hit him in the chest, causing his black blood to flow. Another gunshot, and this time the bullet hit him in the arm. The tall man snarled and took a step back. He looked around for the shooter.
“W-wait! Don’t-!” Esther cried out into the darkness. Another gunshot, this time the bullet hit the tall man at the base of the neck. He let out an enraged roar and quickly walked forward; another gunshot, this time the bullet hitting him in the leg. The bullets seemed to do hardly anything, as he kept walking forward without wavering.
Esther watched, frightened for the tall man and angry at the shooter. The tall man roared once again, angrily looking around for the shooter. The gunshots stopped, but the tall man continued the search. He disappeared into the darkness.
Esther stared into the darkness, hoping that the tall man would return. After a few minutes of waiting, someone emerged from the bushes and ran towards her. She recognized him.
“Hey! Are you alright!?” Ron asked frantically, “That-that thing almost attacked you!” He put his gun into his jacket and looked at her, concerned. Esther felt rage boil up inside her.
“You-! You-! You could have killed-!” Esther stuttered in anger, “You jerk!” She slapped him across the face. Ron starred at her, be wildered.
“Hey! I just saved you from that thing! You could have-”
Esther ran off into the darkness towards where the tall man had gone. She searched for anything; even smelling the air for the smell of smoke. The only think she had to follow was a small trail of black blood dripped onto the grass. But this trail soon ran out, and she couldn’t find him. Yet again, the tall man was gone.