There's more than just bikers and joggers in the park tonight...
NO TIME TO SCREAM
There is no one else in Lincoln Park tonight, at least that he has yet seen, and as the young man strolls casually along the path he is soothed by the sounds of the night. Or perhaps the non-sounds of the night, because except for the soft chirping of the crickets and the occasional rustle of the leaves in the light breeze, the park is silent at this time.
He loves nights like these. After smoking a good joint and drinking a six pack of Coronas, he feels he is one with Nature, one with the planet, one with the entire universe. As he continues along the path, moving deeper into the park, he lets his mind go free to wherever it wants to go, and in doing so, he doesn’t sense the danger that is watching his every step.
~ ~ ~
“Officer, I’m glad you’re here,” Corey says as the policeman walks out of the shadows and into the glow of the park lamp. “I didn’t want to be out here by myself much longer.”
Officer George Tillman is a veteran cop, having been on the force almost eight and a half years. But no matter how much he’s seen and witnessed in his long career, he isn’t prepared to see the carnage that lay before him now.
“My God,” he says, staring at the remains of what appears to be a body. He feels a lump of bile start to rise in his throat, but he somehow manages to swallow it down to keep from vomiting. His partner, however, is not so lucky. He is hunched over on the side of the path, violently regurgitating the pepperoni pizza he had for dinner.
“Who the hell could have done something like that to another human being?” Tillman asks, more to himself than Corey.
Corey shakes his head. He isn’t sure how to answer. After a moment of contemplation, he asks his own question. “Do you really think it was a ‘who’, officer?”
Tillman, taking his eyes off the bloody mutilation, looks at Corey, a puzzled expression on his face.
“What do you mean?” he asks.
“Well, unless somebody had a chainsaw out here, which isn’t likely because surely someone would have heard it, how could this happen? I mean, seriously. Look at it, officer. It looks like it’s been chewed on by a bear or…or something.”
Tillman’s eyes remain fixed on Corey. He doesn’t want to look at that horrible sight again, but he knows he’ll have to sooner or later.
“Sir, there hasn’t been a bear sighting in Los Angeles for years. At least not this deep in the city.” But even as the words roll off his lips, his mind is already reeling with more questions.
~ ~ ~
The Beast has already eaten once tonight, but once is never enough. The taste of meat has only increased his appetite. That’s just the way it was, and he could do no more to prevent it than he could keep the full moon from rising.
He would have been disappointed at the lack of prey in the park tonight had he been in his other body, but as he is, he has no emotions, other than the animalistic ones that overwhelm his current being.
He sniffs the breeze and catches something. Somebody is coming. He crouches down on his haunches behind a small bush.
~ ~ ~
She loves to ride her bike in the park on nights like this. There’s something about a late summer night ride that relaxes her, and every now and then she stops to admire the full moon that is slowly rising in the eastern sky. She knows the dangers of being out on a night like this, but she is prepared; she carries a can of pepper spray in her fanny pack, as well as a can of Mace. Besides, she hasn’t seen another soul out here tonight, which relaxes her even more.
But even under the safety of a full moon to help guide her way, she still thinks she’s come far enough into the park. She turns her bicycle around to head home, not sensing the eyes upon her from a nearby bush.
~ ~ ~
She is female ─ that much he can tell by her scent. For reasons he cannot understand, he does not want female meat. But his hunger overrules, and he can’t resist his primal urge.
With one powerful lunge he springs out from behind the bush and is quickly on her as she is knocked ten feet off her bike. His sharp claws immediately rip into her throat and tear out her wind pipe, preventing any screams she might have made, had she any time to scream. He sinks his fangs into the soft flesh between her neck and shoulder, tearing a mouthful of sinew, muscle, and meat from her body. She is still alive, but that will not last for long. Holding her down with one arm, he uses his other one to eviscerate her, and the smell of fresh warm blood filling his nostrils sends him into a feeding frenzy.
Her emerald green eyes, wide with terror, are no longer blinking. Her entrails, now spread out along the path, are steaming in the cool night air, and he begins gathering them up and feeding on them.
The taste of female meat is different than male; it’s not nearly as tough. But at the same time, rarely does it have the fat content that his current state requires. There’s nothing he can do about that now. For now he must eat as much as he can, while he can, before the full moon recedes over the western horizon.
He finishes with the female, having consumed as much of her as he could.
He’s still hungry though, and again he raises his nose in the air, and once more he catches something on the breeze.
~ ~ ~
It’s late. Corey knows the danger, and he probably should have accepted the ride from officer Tillman, especially with that gruesome image still frozen in his mind. But it’s not that far from his apartment, and besides, he wants to stop and get something to eat before he gets home.
Unfortunately for Corey, the Beast is hungrier than he is tonight.
And just like my previous meal, he has no time to scream.
PUBLISHED IN THE FALL 2016 EDITION OF TWISTED IMAGE MAGAZINE
(I'M CONTRIBUTOR #10 )