"Help me!" Part VI
|Continued from Part Five
Melissa slammed the front door behind her and then realized she was barefoot. She shoved her feet into a pair of Eric's work boots and ran to her car. As she drove out of the yard, lightning danced through the purple clouds overhead, and rain pattered on the windshield. Melissa drove as fast as she dared, dodging the neighbors' mailbox which lay across the road. She pulled out her cell phone and jumped as it rang in her hand. It was Nathan.
"I was just about to call you," she said before he had a chance to speak. "The tornado wrecked the Garrett house--"
"I know," he interrupted. "Amanda called me a few minutes ago. She wants to go out there. She won't listen to Jim or me, but maybe you can talk some sense into her."
"Nathan, I'm on my way over there myself."
"Dammit," Nathan whispered. Louder, he asked, "Melissa, have you lost your mind? What good can we possibly do by going out there? We should get the hell out of here and tell everyone else to do the same."
"What are we going to tell them? That a monster most people can't see might be on the loose? If it is out, Amanda and I may be the only ones who can see it. I don't know what we'll do then, but we'll have to find some way to warn everyone."
Nathan sighed. "All right, I'll pick up Amanda and Jim and we'll be there as soon as we can. If you get there before we do, please be careful."
"I promise. I won't even get out of the car, and if I see anything strange, I'll keep driving. Just hurry, okay?"
Melissa's heart raced as she drove through the area where the tornado had touched down. Wreckage of a steel grain bin lay in a field like a crumpled piece of tinfoil, and downed trees were everywhere. When she arrived at the Garrett house, she slowed down and peered out her window. The roof of the house was gone, and what remained resembled a giant pile of toothpicks. Columns from the verandah lay broken and scattered around the yard. The wind had driven splintered boards into the ground like knives, and the crystal chandelier from the living room hung in a tree.
She shut off the engine and waited for the others to arrive. The windows began to fog up, and the heat was stifling so she rolled down a window. The scent of lilacs still hung over the place, although it was much fainter than it had been the day before. Melissa noticed another scent too, a strong earthy smell that she did not recognize. She sat there, half expecting the monster to burst out of the ground and swallow the car with her in it, when Nathan called.
"We're about a mile from the house," he said. "There's a big tree blocking the road and we can't go any further. We could walk but it will take a little while."
"No, I'll come and get you," Melissa said, glad for an excuse to leave. "The house is a wreck, but I don't see any sign of the creature. This place is creeping me out though."
"If you don't see it, maybe it didn't get out. Or it did get out and it's already gone somewhere else."
"Oh that's reassuring," Melissa said. "I assumed I'd be able to see the creature because I could see Rebecca, but maybe I can't. Before we decide it isn't here, I think Amanda should take a look too. I'll be over to get you in just a few minutes."
She snapped the phone shut and turned the ignition key but nothing happened. She cranked the key several times, but the engine only growled and whined.
"Great," she muttered. The car had been running perfectly just a few minutes before, and it had almost a full tank of gas. She picked up the phone and dialed Nathan's number but heard only static.
Melissa dropped the phone as a flash of light burst from the remains of the house with a loud crack. She thought lightning had struck the house, but the greenish glow was unlike any lightning she had ever seen. She watched in horror as something that looked like a giant green sea anemone writhed free of the rubble. The creature had obviously grown since Rebecca described it in her diary. It was bigger than a barn and had tentacles as thick as tree trunks. Pulses of green light coursed through its body as it slithered toward Melissa, whispering and hissing, "Hhhhurt!"
Heart pounding, Melissa cranked the ignition key one more time, but it only clicked. She jumped out of her car and darted into the cornfield across the road. Cornstalks brushed her face, and soft mud clung to her boots as she ran. She wished she had worn her own shoes instead of her brother's clumsy work boots, which were a couple of sizes too big. Although she moved as fast as she could, her feet grew heavier with each step. Finally, she tripped over a cornstalk and fell face down in the mud. She lay there for a moment, exhausted and afraid to move, or even breathe.
After what seemed like hours, she dared to look behind her, but saw nothing but cornstalks and the stormy purple sky. She expected to hear the thing thrashing around in the corn, but the field had gone dead quiet. Even the wind had stopped.
As Melissa sat up, a flicker of movement off to one side caught her attention. A single green tentacle crept toward her, sliding sinuously between the cornstalks. She scrambled backward but the tentacle reared up like a cobra, shot toward her, and wrapped around her waist.
"Let me go, you--," Melissa screamed when it lifted her, but the scream ended in a strangled croak. She beat on the thing's coils with her fists and tried to wriggle out of its grasp, but it only held tighter. It whisked her out of the cornfield and across the road in an instant, lifting her high in the air. The small mouths on the tips of the tentacles resumed their rasping chorus "Hhhhurt!"
Sick and disoriented, Melissa looked down as the huge central mouth opened to display rows of shark-like teeth. She turned away, expecting those teeth to bite into her flesh. Instead the mouth opened wider and screamed one word in a voice like clanging metal, "Pain!"
All of the creature's voices fell suddenly silent as it slithered toward the ruined house. Just before it dragged Melissa under the wreckage, she heard another voice. A weak, but clear voice from somewhere below begged, "Help me!"
To be continued...