“He should have been home by now, something is wrong.” My mother walking back and forth on the wooden floorboard in my cold room.
“What? What are you talking about?” I tried to grasp my surroundings as my hazel eyes adjusted to the torture of the lightning flashes radiating through the fogged-up windows held together by an excess of white paint.
“Your father, he should have been home by now, he won’t answer his phone.” Her words seemed to trail on, repeating herself under her breath.
“He only left a few days ago, I am sure its ok. Plus, he has been doing this for how long now? He can handle himself.”
“I don’t know Juniper, but he should have called by now.”
“I’ll check his GPS for you, and see where he is, okay? I’m sure he’s just running a bit late”
She watched over my shoulder as I loaded the app on my phone in my creaky bed.
“See, it says he is at Carver Creek, that’s only 45 minutes from here, he will be home any minute now.”
Her breath came more slowly, and the sound of her heart was less of a dragon’s footsteps and more that of a mouse when I noticed a small issue on the app.
“Umm wait, that can’t be right. It says he was at Carver Creek…but that was 4 hours ago.”
Her hands began to tremble, and her mouth began to mumble nonsense.
“I’ll head out towards Carver’s, I’m sure I will see his bright blue rig from a mile away. This technology isn’t perfect.” I hoped my attempt to calm her would work, but my mother started walking off, shaking her head ‘no’ as if answering her own wild thoughts.
I know my dad wouldn’t be out longer than he needed to, but I was starting to wonder what exactly was going on. I grabbed my keys to my dad’s old pickup out of the misshapen bowl I made for him in pottery class.
The rain was beating down on the windshield like only a July rain could. You could smell the thickness of the air as the storm drew nearer. My thoughts began to wander, must have gotten it from my mother. I tried not to sprint straight to the worst conclusion. It was possible his truck broke down, his phone died, or even he was waiting out the storm. Although rain was not uncommon, this hellfire of water attacking our town was not normal. For all I know the GPS app was mistaken, and he was on his way home, even though it’s never had any issues before. A low rumble from the clouds brought me back to reality, I didn’t want to think the worse, but when I saw his big blue semi on its side in the ditch, my heart stopped beating.
I was paralyzed. I had to be imagining things. My father was the best damn trucker on this side of the Appalachians, and he didn’t make mistakes like this no matter how bad the road was. I waited, waited for him to pop his head up assuring everything was okay. He never did.
I made my way to the driver side, counting my long steps through the wet mud on the way there. What would I do if my father was dead. His body covered in blood all alone for its last moments. I tried not to think of that happening. I stood frozen in the mud as rain pounded down atop my head.
When I came around to where I expected to see my father’s lifeless body, I didn’t see anything. The truck was empty, the door seemed to be torn off by an over sized lion. What could even do damage like this? It didn’t make any sense.
I shinned the light on my phone around, looking for any sign of happiness. I saw what looked like a whale had been drug through the mud. It started by the truck and moved towards the rocky hills off the roads. I had to follow it, I had to find my father.
As I made my way down the trail of muck, my soaking clothes tried to slow me down. My phone flashing, reminding me it hadn’t been plugged in for hours. I needed the light though; the skies were pitch black.
The trail ended a couple hundred yards from his truck, a faint blue dot in the distance. The entrance to a cave stood before me. The damp and dark open hole, promising nothing but fear and disappointment. I couldn’t tell how deep the cave went, but I needed to find my father.
The walls absorbed my light, and I couldn’t make much out. I kept my hand against the wall to try and guide my way deeper into the cave. As I continued I started to hear a grumble. It must have been an animal that’s voice was enhanced by the cavern. I held myself closer to the wall.
I could feel a slime covering the rocky cave wall. It was sticky and thick. I wiped my hand off ignoring the slight burning pain I was beginning to feel. My dad was somewhere in there, he had to be.
When I saw a figure laying against the cave wall, half conscious, I ran. I didn’t stop to question if it was him, I could still smell a faint scent of his cologne.
“Dad, wake up, it’s me, June-bug.” He didn’t respond, but his body tried to move closer to me. I could feel the slime from the cave dripping onto the back of my neck. I pulled his arm around my shoulder. I struggled to hold his weight as I pushed through the sludge. He was alive, as far as I could tell, and I wasn’t leaving without him. I heard the rumble coming from within the cave as we got closer to the mouth of the cave. I put my fear aside focusing on my goal.
Halfway back, his legs giving me the little help they could. I heard a screech. The sound enough to pierce my eardrums like a needle. I turned around to see what caused the noise, and what I saw was something I had not seen before outside of my dreams. I couldn’t make sense of it, my dreams were my imagination, but this thing was real, very real. Its shriek was only a warning, and it started towards us faster than a pissed off bull.
I tried my best to run with my father’s weight on my shoulders.
“Dad, you have to snap out of it, we have to move faster.”
“I’m, I’m trying honey.”
I could tell he was, but the slippery tentacles from the creature were starting to get close enough to feel their company. I couldn’t count exactly how many limbs, or how many heads it had, but it was larger than a greyhound bus, and making ground quicker than we were. I ran faster, trying to escape the ever-closing gap between us and the creature. Its closest appendage thrashed back and flung itself towards us. Smacking its slime onto my leg, only barely missing its needed grip to pull me back by an inch. I could feel the sting and wanted to give up. My father must have felt how close it got, because he suddenly started running with me, pulling me along.
The truck was only a few feet away, and we managed to pull ourselves in. I thought it might not start. Whenever a big creature is chasing someone in the movies, the car never starts, but it turned over on the first try. I whipped it in reverse as I turned it towards home. My headlights aimed right at the creature, and me and my father saw its full form. Neither of us could form a word. It had at least 12 tentacles, two heads, and a slime coating over its deep purple flesh.
When the light from the truck hit the creature, it cowered backwards. I’m not sure if it was frightened by the light, or wounded by it, but I didn’t care as it retreated towards its cave. I took that as time to get the hell out. Leaving it and my father’s big rig behind us.
“What the hell was that thing?” Asking my father as if he is well acquainted.
“I don’t know, but it must be what hit my truck into the ditch right before I passed out.”
Would it have eaten him if I hadn’t found him? Or was it saving him for something worse? All I know is that I am glad I found my dad alive, and we were not going to forget that night for a long time.