The Tracker by Jason K. Smith

Aug 20 2017 Published by under The WiFiles

Jared Sutton stood there and was the most frightened he’d ever been in his life. While he jogged along old route 68, Jared stopped instantly. He saw a large grayish green person that hurdled the guard rail and vanished into the woods. Whatever it was, was very muscular, fast and naked. It had red hair on its head that bounced up and down as it sprinted. In the winter cold, big, brittle tree branches cracked loudly. But the noises to this extent, meant the damage severe. The sounds were big and powerful, it reminded Jared of when a buck in rut would storm through the forest to pursue a doe. Usually, when he encountered an animal or a big dog in his path, he had short burst of panic, but this was a much different sensation—his body shut down in an effort to avoid imminent death.

When he settled down and felt a bit safer, he walked closer to the clearing the creature had made with its abrupt exit. As Jared approached the space gingerly, he noticed his left foot lost traction and slid. Unsteady in more ways than one, he looked at the bottom of his running shoe while he stared at the bluish jelly that was smeared all over the sole. The jelly was cold, and as it slipped in between his index finger and thumb, he was overwhelmed with the smelled cat urine. It trailed the monster, so it was pretty clear it was injured; at least that’s what he’d put together. Jared involuntarily said Schwarzenegger’s famous line in the film Predator, “If it bleeds, we can kill it,” in his head. As he raised his chin up to the sky, a cool wind swayed the trees nearby. He glanced behind him and saw that the road was clear on both sides of the dual yellow lines. It was silent. Due to the reduction of leaves for suitable camouflage, there was adequate space between the limbs to see a decent distance. There was an embankment just off the side the road and opened up to massive ravine. There was a spring that gradually led to a pond where Jared and his sister, Josephine occasionally visited. As he inched closer to the edge and inconspicuously ducked down, he was stunned pale.

Jared watched the artichoke tinted hominid bound on the floor of the hollow and heard the faded thumps from the force of its feet. As it pounded the earth, the freakish hulk looked back for a brief second. But it didn’t seem to notice Jared’s hidden location. Then again, Jared wasn’t sure if the beast hadn’t seen him as he approached earlier. As Jared stayed hidden, the being eventually galloped too far out of sight. But Jared knew the topography of the area and decided he could follow the thing if he headed toward an intersection about a quarter of a mile up. The real question was did he have the guts to do it. As he snapped out of a trance encouraged by terror and fascination, he said aloud, “No freaking way am I going to chase that.” His chest still pulsed abstemiously from his heart’s frightened reaction. The pumping organ tried to run the hell away from the scene fifteen minutes ago, but acquiesced.  As he started to make his way back home, Jared moved from a brisk walk that steadily sped up. Each step thumped the realization into his mind he might be in serious danger. He thought to himself, “I gotta be in shock.” The twenty-nine year-old was the son of a nurse and psychiatrist and though Jared didn’t work healthcare, he was confident that’s what he experienced. With parents like his, it made him more attuned to changes in his mind and body. He and his sister had always assumed that they’d become medical professionals by osmosis from such a careful and literate upbringing.

The sun’s light disappeared at the rate of someone that slowly turned down the dimmer switch in a dining room for a dramatic effect.  Jared was grateful for being at the mouth of this parent’s long driveway because by now it was dark. He had worn expensive athletic gear that was designed for runners to go out in extreme winter weather. But he was overheated from all of that neoprene, fleece and synthetic material he wore; it covered him from head to toe. He quickly scampered up the hill toward the sandstone colonial with a Navajo colored trim. The lanterns that flanked the garage door weren’t visible until he was with about thirty yards away. This was because the distance from the house to the road was so great, it felt like he’d emerged from a tunnel. The pinhole sized sparkles shone through the thick pine trees only about half way up the incline.

It was around seven, and Jared’s mom had just finished up with the dishes as he slammed the farmer’s porch door and ambled toward the kitchen. Then, he peeled off his thin gloves and knitted skull cap. He said, “Hey, Mom. You’re aren’t going to believe what just happened.” Jared’s mother, Yvette, was a short woman in her early sixties. With short cropped blonde hair, she was cute and religiously adhered to a diet that helped her maintain such a petite figure. “Yeah, what?” Jared apprehensively stuttered, “I, uh, uh, saw a guy.” He realized what he was about to say and suddenly had reservations because he was sure his mom would worry. Yvette responded, “Okay. What was such a big deal about that? Did he try to rob you or something? You know I hate that you run this late; not to mention the fact that cars can’t see you very well.” Jared replied, “No, no, mom, it was a creature of some kind; like an alien or something.” His mother’s pause was plenty of reason to sheepishly retreat with a laugh and say, “I’m just kidding.” Yvette quietly spoke, “What? You’re joking, right? This is a joke.” Jared panicked but knew he had to commit, there was no way he could play off such a weird statement. He remembered the blue stuff on his shoe and lifted up his foot. He said to his mother, “No, mom. Look at this.” Jared showed her, but the goo had tried into a neon crust. Nevertheless, he scraped some off with his nails and put it up to her nose. “Yuck, stop it,” Mrs. Sutton jerked her head back and blurted out, “Eww, it smells horrendous, what is that? It looks like Miracle Gro.”

All of a sudden, there were a series of loud “Bangs,” outside that sounded like the front door was struck by a bunch of heavy objects. The storm door rattled so intensely, Jared and his mother thought the glass had come loose and would fall out of the frame. They were motionless and Yvette sparked, “Oh my God, Jared what was that?” Jared whispered, “I have no idea.” The two of them walked towards the front door, turned on the halogen lights and carefully examined the yard. “My God!!” Yvette screamed. Jared felt sick. A static electricity of emotional terror originated from beneath his cranium, and momentarily settled on his shoulders. Next, it dispersed through his chest and torso, and then zip lined its descent through his hamstrings, and squeezed his balls on the way down.

A bi-pedal behemoth with rusty eyebrows that rested above squinted eyes. It glared directly through Jared and Yvette. The nose was crunched and three fangs descended from the upper lip. Its shoulders violently heaved as if it was prepared to charge. The hands were conspicuously extended to its knees. The pectorals were huge lima beans that overlapped a rippled abdomen. It was so surreal Jared thought it might be fake. It was as more realistic Harryhausen Claymation figure, and could have been a phenomenal Jim Henson puppet, or an excellent costume. It definitely wasn’t a hologram or a C.G.I projection. Jared had heard that the human can detect something artificial very quickly, especially when the audience sees something as cheap as Jar Jar Binks in “Star Wars Episode I.”  This did not come from Industrial Light and Magic, it was a four dimensional entity that was poised to attack.

Suddenly, the monster turned to the right and booked it around the house. As Jared’s friend Bill used to say what made the remake of the “Dawn of the Dead” so frightening wasn’t the better special effects, it was the fact that the zombies were fast! The surge of endorphins motivated Jared and his mom to scurry around and lock everything they could think of, the windows, the door to the screened in porch, the farmers’ porch door, and even the balcony door in the living room.  As Yvette went downstairs to close the French door inspired sliders she hit the switch for the outside lights right after she locked the latch to the door and screamed, “Jared!” With its face pressed against the glass, the monster’s smeared lips revealed awful teeth partially broken but had perfectly intact incisors that made a “tick” and “tack” sound against the glass. It was hunched over in order to position its head low enough to look through the door. It easily cleared eight feet, the long hands attempted to push on sill of the frame to open it.  Jared ran down the stairs, and joined his mother that gawked that the thing that was separated by a pitifully equipped shock proof pane of glass.

Then, the being started to hammer the set of doors with its hands, the glass shook and started to crack. Yvette and Jared stood in awe while totally powerless to stop it. The huge monster bashed through the doors like they consisted of material no more resilient as a roll of outstretched wrapping paper. The creature lunged at Yvette and snapped her torso in half. As Jared turned, the massive fingers sought out to grab his waist but only knocked him over. The monster dropped Jared’s mother on the floor, and darted after Jared with its head that clumped the ceiling as it pursued the petrified human. Jared made it up the stairs, ran through the living room and outside. He got to the driveway, paused for an instant, and saw the creature plodding from around the corner of the house.

From above bright lights shone a spotlight on Jared. He looked up to hear the flapping of what appeared to be the fans of a helicopter. Several sharp clacking sounds flew over his head toward the ghoul that was determined to tear Jared apart. The creature fell to the ground and writhed in agony with intermitted howls. But was the most eerie was that Jared heard it growl the phrase, “Things as black as sin will return from above before a century to come and to eat the angel’s children of the son.” Then, a few armed soldiers clad in special-forces military uniforms descended on ropes and asked Jared if he was okay. A large black escalade pulled up, the soldier led Jared to the direction of SUV and down to the rear passenger side window. A gentlemen in black ray bans, and suit with a black tie instructed him to get in. Jared complied with the request, got in without a word. As he sat there, the man turned toward him and spoke, “Mr. Sutton, we are here help you; we had attempted to neutralize the assailant earlier this afternoon but only injured him; I’m sorry you were involved.” Wide eyed and dizzy with shock, Jared nodded his head. The vehicle turned around in the driveway and headed down the hill while the swat team attended to the lifeless body strewn on the Sutton’s lawn.

 

Bio: Jason K. Smith, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Communication & Media at a small college. His interests include fiction writing in the genres of fantasy, speculative realism, and sci-fi. And is also published in an academic capacity on the issue of conspiracy theory and counter culture in digital discourse. He enjoys teaching digital production, journalism, media effects, and new media. He lives with his wife and Son in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia.

 

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