“My best advice? Don’t be going out of the tent area at night. Not to be investigatin’ them strange noises, not to be gettin’ more firewood, not even to be takin’ a pee. You hold it. Hear me?”
I nod my head as an acknowledgment. The big bearded man stares me dead in the eye and takes my backpack. I build up the courage to ask, “Why, sir?”
He looks at me with a look I can’t figur out and says, “There be the other ones out there.”
I gulp and ask, “What be the other ones, sir?”
He guffaws, “You must be surely new to not know about the other ones!”
I’s lookin’ down and shakin’ my head. “No, sir. I ain’t from these parts. Nowhere near these parts. Only came with the rest of the ref-u-gees.”
“I be understandin’. But the other ones ain’t. You see, they just be what their name be sayin’,” He leans in closer. “They ain’t people. they be lookin’ like people, but they sure ain’t. You see, they be creepin’ ’round in the woods lookin’ fer prey. Fer food. They talk like people, tryin’ to beckon ye closer so they can take a bite outta you. All they be lookin’ like is shadows of people, ‘cept for their glowin’, beady eyes.
“They come in packs. Two ‘r three at a time, stalkin’ you and watchin’ you from the camp bounds. Then they wait fer ye to walk out where they can getchya.”
Turnin’ away from the bearded welcome man, I grit my teeth and follow the rest of the ref-u-gees into the camp.
Another man with a gun gives us direcshions into our tent area. I get tent number 622-4B. Once I get in and zip it up, I notice the grundgy old man lyin’ sleepin’ in the corner. I try and scootch more away from him so as not to be disturbin’ him.
It don’t work. He stops snorin’ and coughs before lookin’ at me–or, near me.
“Whatchyou be lookin’ at, boy?” He barks at me.
“N-nuthin’, sir. I be sorry if I be wakin’ you.”
He spits at me and rolls over, mumblin’ and grumblin’ and callin’ me all sorts of names. I try not to take it personally and bed down for the night, seeing as it is late and I best be getting rest. I hear life in the ref-u-gee camp ain’t all that easy. I don’t really think that’s fair, since I came all the way here from a gotdamn war zone just so I can live with-out gettin’ stabbed in my sleep. But I bed down anyways. At least I’m alive.
It be hours later when the sun finally sets and the screamin’ starts. It jolts me out of my sleep, even though I didn’t get much with the old scruffly man’s snorin’.
Screamin’ and screamin’ and my goodness I think someone’s dyin’.
I poke my head out the tent door and look for the person who’s doin’ the screamin’. Nobody’s there, so I stand up and climb out of the tent and make my way down the row of tents. The screamin’ just keep going and going. I can’t tell whether it be a girl or a boy. But I make my way down the endless rows towards the woods where I think the screamin’s comin’ from. The gates are locked when I get there. Of course. The two big armed guards don’t give me a second glance, and they certainly don’t be hearin’ the screamin’. Barbed wire wraps around the top of the gate and fence, so I can’t climb over. the screamin’ stops for a sec. Combined with metal wire and wood planks, I can’t really see through. Looking for a peephole for a minute before I eventchally find one. I look through, but all I see is black.
I draw back and rub my eyes. I look through again, and a now all I see is a weird bright whiteness. The screamin’ begin again so loud and close I jump and fall back, my heart poundin’ and blood roarin’ through my ears.
The screamin’ keeps going, so loud and full of fear. “Hey, don’t you be hearin’ that? Shouldn’t you be doin’ something?” I yell at those guards, a few meters from where I’s presses against the fence. They just look at me. They got earplugs in, I see now. They’d used to it.
I will do this myself then. I search the fence for an opening and find one near the ground. I wriggle myself through and over to the other side. Good thing I’m skinny.
I stand up on the other side of the fence and look around. I see a shape moving around in the trees. I think it must be the source of the screamin’.
“Hey, hey! Stop screamin’, are you okay?”
The screamin’ then turns to sobbin’. I take a few steps closer, and make out the shape of a person.
“Hey… Hey it’s okay. Are you hurt?” I ask.
“Please… Please help me.” Come a voice like I ain’t ever heard. Wheezy, gaspy, and completely and utterly not-human.
I take a step back, my heart pounding even harder. The bearded welcome man comes in around me senses, in the front of my head “The other ones,” he says.
“What are you?”
It turns around, and all I can take in is it’s eyes. White and formless. The thing itself don’t even look like a person. Just twistin’ whirlin’ shadow. Not-people. It’s a not person, just like the bearded man at the front gate said.
The thing stands up and grows at least seven feet tall, made outta darkness. It fixes it’s blank white gaze on my chest, I’s heaving as I try to breathe through the terror that just keeps comin’ in waves and I can’t stand and I just wanna run but I can’t stop lookin’ at it and it just says in the evil voice I ever heard, “Hooold still.”
All here alarm bells goin off in my head so much worse than the air-raid sirens telling me to get the hell out and get the hell away because that things intentions for me are far worse than I would imagine, and I’s scamblin’ back and pushing and shoving against the dirt to get the hell away and gotdam its hurt gettin CLOSER and I shove and I shove and I push myself back towards that fence.
I feel myself screamin’ and hollerin’ and beatin’ against the fence so I can get back inside and and these guards don’t hear me, they got them earplugs in and I don’t know what to do! I don’t know what to do!
That thing steps forward and it’s arms are so gotdamn long and dark and i look up at it’s face cause that’s all I can do and I see teeth oh my *god* it’s teeth are so horrible it’s like those extinct eels oh my god what am I gonna do? It’s steps closer and closer and gotdamn closer and I can feel the radiation like fire ants on my skin and I hurt scream and scream and scream, why won’t antibody hear me? Why is no one coming to help me, what do I do?
The horrible thing is joined by another gotdamn horrible thing, so tall, so black and empty and evil and—
I’s pulled back through the hole by grimy calloused hands, back into the light of the floodlights, back into the few of the guards, all standing around me and one’s pointing his gun out the whole and yellin’ and I turn myself around, and I see the most beautiful sight I ever had saw. It was the bearded welcome man, yellin’ at me and shakin’ my shoulders, his eyes wide and focused on me and I’s so grateful—I just hug him, I hold on so tight.
They bring me back to the doctor in the camp and he looks me over, at my scratches and bruises and broken fingers.
I just don’t even care. I’s sage again, I’s alive and I’s never ever goin out there again.
I listen a little bit while I pretend to be asleep in the office of the doctors. They talk about me. They discuss how I’s weakened becuz of PTFD or PDSD or whatever the hell that is and that I can’t make the goodest decisions that I do.
They talk about those poor things outside, they talk about nuclear bombs and particular accelerations or accelerators and how they left those things behind, and how they just prey on us now becuz that’s all they can do.
But I don’t care right now. Becuz I’s okay, I’s alive, and I is waiting right here until the rest of my family gets here and then I will never go outside again, never ever.