Legs aching, chest exploding, eyes losing focus; every step, every breath hurt like hell but I just kept running and running and running. I had to get away from that...thing.
I can barely remember what I was doing before I found it. Why I was late home, why on earth I was on the wrong side of town in the pouring rain without even a coat. I guess I must have gone straight to Rob's after work. But now I was miles from there too, and soaked to the skin and terrified and running for my god-damned sanity -- and I can't even remember how or why. I think that's what it does. It lures you out. Calls to you on a subconscious level and leaches your very memories away.
I found it in a box. An ordinary bloody cardboard box, like it was a broken lamp or an abandoned kitten. Lying by the bins amongst all the other rubbish in the back alley. Not Rob's back alley. I'd already gone a few streets by then. Why the hell didn't he stop me leaving the house? Had we argued or something? And I looked in the box like it was the most natural thing to be doing in the world: poking around the rubbish in a nowhere street in the pitch black and pouring rain. I looked in the box and it was there.
It was bigger than the box, I'm sure. It must be my size at least. Vaguely man-shaped but looking for all the world like it was made from a sock. You know, a huge woollen sock. Crazy, huh? Who could be afraid of something as daft as that? But the mouth. Dear god, the mouth....a gaping maw of darkness and heat, no teeth, no tongue, just a few tendrils wisping out and the sickening stench of blood and vomit. And as it rose up in front of me I felt the overwhelming urge to move in and give it a hug, let it embrace me, and I so nearly did, until at the last minute Rob pulled me back.
HE WAS WITH ME. The realisation so nearly, fatally,made me stop dead. I stumbled slightly but managed to press on, the fear of the impossible creature behind me propelling me forward as I tried to make sense of my fragmented memory.
He was with me. We must have left his house together. Went for a walk -- in the rain? It doesn't matter what our rationalisation was, it must have been that thing calling to us. Why else would we have gone to that alleyway? Why else would I have opened that soggy cardboard box? And then he saved me. Pulled me away and told me to run and then, stupidly, stopped to stare as the monster grew bigger and threw itself towards us. I stopped too - stopped and watched in horror as it enveloped him.
How could I have forgotten that? How could I have forgotten his scream?
A kerb nearly tripped me up and brought me back to the present. I didn't dare hesitate to check behind me, somehow I just knew it was still chasing me. That slight mental tug that had drawn me to it in the first place. Having escaped, I now only wanted to get as far away from it as possible. And now I had no idea where I was: suddenly realising I really didn't know, not even the name of the city I was in. If it was a city. It felt to big to be a town. I was totally lost and I was getting slower but I was still moving. Still running.
I had to keep running.
I tried to remember more about what had happened but there was nothing there. Only the stark memory of the creature's bizarre appearance and its sudden attack. Now I was digging around my memory I realised how little was left. I didn't know where I was or where I'd been. Who I was. My name? A chill hit me as I realised. I suspected the creature was feeding on my memories. And it was feeding on them even now, even as I ran. Was it gaining on me? If I stopped to look behind....
The shred of survival instinct which had kept me running all this time made me accelerate once more and I drove myself forward towards the street lights. I could hear traffic now, the first time I'd been aware of the existence of other people since...since I could remember. I headed towards the sound, desperate to find someone, anyone, who could make this madness stop. I blundered past the moving cars, not caring for the danger I was in and not noticing the drivers' angry shouts but making my way towards two tall men in familiar hi-vis jackets that some remnant of memory told me would be the ones to help. I didn't slow in time and collided with one of them, before falling, babbling in his arms and then blacking out as the cost of my exertions caught up with me.
They found Rob's clothes soaked in blood in an alleyway a quarter of a mile from his house. My deranged ramblings and erratic behaviour that night aroused the suspicions of the police, but in the end they had to let me go. Slowly, I've pieced all my memories back together; all but why we left Rob's place and went to that street.
I don't go out at night.