My friend found something strange in the forest…

It was Saturday morning. I was in the middle of the forest. And my best friend Derek had brought me over into freaking bizarro world.

Not even an hour ago I’d still be in bed, sleeping peacefully.

I was woken up by a loud, shrill noise that I only identified as my phone’s ringing after a few moments.

It was Derek. Calling me at seven in the morning, on a Saturday.

I declined the call in an instant. Let me sleep asshole, I thought.

On his third try, I picked up.

“The hell you want, man?”

“Martin! Listen, can you-”

“No you listen,” I cut him off, “do you know what time it is!?”

“Oh yeah, sorry about that. I need to show you something, alright? It is really important! I am going to be at your place in twenty, kay?”

“What the hell is even going on? I just want to sleep!”

“Trust me, you don’t want to miss this! You can sleep later!”

With that, he hung up. I lay in bed, staring at the ceiling. Knowing that idiot, he’d be here in twenty minutes and he’d definitely not let go back to sleep.

I got up, put some cloth on and made myself a cup of coffee to wake up.

I didn’t even get to finish the cup before the doorbell rang.

I was more than a bit annoyed, but let him in. He was beaming at me and full of energy as he stormed into my apartment.

“What’s so freaking important that you have to come now? What do you want to show me?”

“It’s out in the forest. I found it a couple of days ago, but last night, I finally realize-,” he broke up looking at me.

I was still standing there with my half-full cup of coffee in hand.

“What are you waiting for? Come on, put some shoes on!”

“Jesus Christ Derek, calm down for a moment. What the hell is the matter with you?”

It didn’t help. He was already out of the door motioning for me to hurry up. He kept talking and going on about something he found, but I had no clue what it was. Half of what he said was gibberish.

In the end, I poured the coffee away and put some shoes on, if only so he’d shut up for a moment.

Derek had parked his car right in front of my house. Our mutual friend Mike was sitting in the car already. He looked even less happy than me to be here.

“He made you come along as well?”

Mike grumbled something, then nodded.

Once I’d entered the car I turned to Mike.

“Do you have any clue what this is all about?”

Before he could answer, Derek jumped into the front seat and started the car.

“You guys will be so glad you came along!”

“Not like we had much of a chance,” Mike complained.

With that, we sped off. The hell is the matter with him, I wondered? I watched his face in the rear mirror and he was smiling like an idiot.

We were near the forest not even ten minutes later. Derek was the first to be out of the car.

“Come on guys!” he yelled at Mike and me.

Then without even waiting for us, he turned around and followed a small trail into the forest.

“The hell’s up with him?” I asked turning to Mike.

“God if I know.”

I sighed and made my way. Every once in a while Derek would stop and yell at us from between the trees to get a move on.

I couldn’t believe this shit. Why did he drag us out here? I’d been up all night and now I was following this idiot because of god knows what.

“This better be worth it,” Mike cursed behind me, “if this is his idea of a joke, I swear…”

At first, we continued to follow the trail. Then we went straight into the forest and made our way past trees and through the underbrush. Finally, we came to a small stream.

“Almost there guys, almost,” he said, while he had trouble catching his breath. His voice sounded almost euphoric.

With that, he jumped over the little stream and vanished behind some big boulders.

We followed him and found him on the ground, sitting in front of something strange.

At first glance, I thought it was a weird plant or flower. It reminded me of a tulip’s blossom, only that it was much bigger, the size of a small animal.

Once I got closer though, I realized it was not a flower. Instead, it was some weird, fleshy thing. There were roots or better tentacles on the ground. They were sprouting from the thing. They too seemed to be made purely of flesh.

Had Derek brought us out here to show us some sort of disgusting animal carcass?

Then, I saw how the tentacles started to move and slither over the ground.

I cringed and took a step back.

“What the fuck’s that man? Is that thing alive?”

Derek didn’t answer right away. Instead, he sat there, smiling down at the disgusting thing in a state of bliss.

“Isn’t it beautiful, guys?” he asked after a while turning towards Mike and me.

“Beau… what the hell are you talking about?”

I was so utterly confused. Was this a joke after all?

“Just look at it,” he said in a soft voice.

Then he moved forward and put his hand on the thing, caressing it. That wasn’t all though. Derek put his hand on one of the many tentacles and started stroking it. Only moments later he went forward and kissed the thing. It was surreal.

As he retracted his face to look at us again, I could see that slime covered his lips.

“What the fuck man!?” Mike screamed. His face showed pure disgust. “What are you doing with that thing?”

“Why are you getting so upset?” Derek asked in the most innocent of voices.

“I found it a few days ago. It took me a while to realize how beautiful it truly is. I mean, look at it guys, for real.”

With that, he put his face against the body of the thing again. He pressed one of the tentacles nearby with his hand. The thing started to twitch and squeak, before stretching itself.

“See, it likes what I’m doing,” he said and giggled a bit.

With this, he continued to caress the thing once more. I watched the spectacle in front of me and felt sick to my stomach. I gagged as Derek brought his lips against the slimy thing once more.

“Fuck this! I don’t want to have anything to do with, with… whatever this shit is!”

With that, Mike turned around and stormed off into the forest.

“Mike, wait, hey, why are you leaving?”

For a moment Derek looked after him before he turned to me.

“Martin, you are staying, right? Come here! You can touch it too. It is so soft. Just do it once, I am sure you’ll like it.”

He got up and looked over at me. His eyes were wide and his face full of euphoria. I cringed back in disgusted as I saw the greasy slime that covered his face and lips.

“Dude… just no. Do you even know what that thing is?”

“It is pure beauty, perfect-”

“It’s disgusting, that’s what it is,” I exploded at him. “I don’t know what the fuck you found here, but it is not normal. Come on man, leave it be for crying out loud!”

While I was yelling at him, Derek had already sat down next to the slithering mess of flesh and tentacles again. He was whispering something to it while glaring at me.

“You know what, fuck this.” I had enough.

As I made my way back over the stream and through the forest, I shivered. What the fuck had he found and why was he acting like this? It creeped me out.

I soon reached the trail and a few minutes later I was out of the forest. I stopped at Derek’s car not sure if I should wait for him. There was no hint of Mike. He must have left for good.

As I waited for Derek, images of him caressing the thing and kissing it came back to my mind. I gagged once more as I remembered the slime on his lips and spat out. Then I started to walk away as well.

I wasn’t halfway home when a car approached me from behind. It was Derek. He drove towards me, slowed down and lowered the window.

“Hey, what’s the matter, Martin? Hop in the car, I take you home.”

“It’s alright, I’ll walk.”

After saying that I stepped off the trail to let him drive past me. Derek though kept driving right next to me.

“Come on, man.”

After a minute more of this, I yielded and got in the car. I made sure I stayed as far away from him as possible. We drove in silence for a while.

“I know how weird it is,” he started all of a sudden,” I freaked out too when I first found it. Can’t blame you guys, really.”

I said nothing.

“I was curious about it, so I went back again and again. It took me a while to realize why. This thing is different, it’s something magnificent.”

“Do you even hear yourself!? How can you even touch this thing? Fuck man, it’s so disgusting. We should burn it!”

Right at that instant, he hit the brakes. I could barely raise my hand to keep my head from slamming into the dashboard.

“The fuck are you doing?”

“You wouldn’t do that, would you?” he pressed out between his lips.

His face was red with anger. I couldn’t tell if it had been a question or if he was threatening me. His desperation started to scare me. For a moment I wondered if this really was my best friend. Was this the same goofy idiot I’d known for all those years?

“Alright, alright man. None of my business. All I am saying is it is creeping me out. It might even be dangerous.”

I heard a sigh of relief and the anger left his face.

“Don’t worry, it is going to be fine. It’s not dangerous at all. I mean I’ve been there so many times already. It is just so…”

He broke up, shaking his head, but was smiling again.

Once Derek dropped me off it was still only half past eight. Back at home, I couldn’t fathom what had happened. What had Derek found out there? Where did this thing come from?

At first, I put on some music and contemplated going back to bed to catch some sleep. After a few minutes though I started to search on the net for information. I ended up finding jackshit.

It had somehow reminded me of a flesh-eating plant, but those all looked different. That thing out there had looked nothing like a plant at all. It had really just been flesh.

I asked around in a few places online, but I got no useful answer. Most people thought I was playing a joke. In the end, I gave up. Whatever it was, it had nothing to do with me.

Soon enough I had all but forgotten about this weird incident.

 

 

Our small town is surrounded by forests and meadows. So in the warm month I often go for nice, long runs in the evening.

I was out running on Thursday evening when I saw a guy ahead on one of the trails. At first, I ignored him, but then I recognized him.

“Derek, is that you?”

At first, he didn’t react and I thought I was mistaken. After a few seconds though, he turned around.

He didn’t look well. There were bags under his eyes and he looked restless and exhausted.

“Wow dude, you okay?”

“Oh, hey Martin. Yeah, I am fine, a bit tired that’s all. Haven’t gotten a lot of sleep these past days. You know, work and stuff.”

“I know what you mean,” I laughed. “What brings you all the way out here, shouldn’t you go and catch some sleep.”

I meant it as a joke, but at that moment I realized why he must be out here.

“Don’t tell me you went to that thing again.”

He shrugged. “Only for a moment, just making sure it was doing alright.”

“Are you sure you’re only tired? You really don’t look too good, maybe that thing is-”

“Come on Martin, not again, it is just work, alright?”

He was right.Who was I to babysit him? He was an adult.

For a moment I thought I saw a serious look on his face and it seemed he wanted to say something. Then he shook his head and smiled.

“Well, got to go, as you said, I need to catch some sleep.”

“See you, Derek.”

With that I continued on my run. Something hadn’t been right with him though. I wondered if I should have confronted him. I considered turning around and running after him. Then another thought crawled into my mind. I could also make my way into the forest. Check out that weird thing again and see for myself if it was dangerous.

I took the first few steps in the direction of the forest. Then I stopped and wondered where the impulse had come from. There’d be no way I’d go out there again.

 

 

I didn’t get to see much of Derek from then on. I only ran into him a few times by accident.

Each time he got worse though. At first, he still looked restless and exhausted, only the bags under his eyes had grown.

Then other things began to change. He started to look thinner, haggard even. His cloth dangled from his body as if they were a size or two too big for him.

After the first week, his face too had changed. His cheeks had fallen in, his lips had lost most of their color and his eyes were bloodshot.

His whole demeanor had become sickly. He looked almost powerless, as he dragged himself forward.

Each time I tried to find out what was wrong I got the same story: It was all because of work.

After two weeks of this, I had enough.

The tipping point was a talk I had with Mike. He told me was worried about Derek as well. There was no way this was due to work. It was almost as if he was withering away in front of us. Mike even told me that Derek’s girlfriend Melanie had talked to him. She hadn’t heard from Derek at all for the past week or so and had come to Mike to find out if he knew anything.

As the two of us sat together, we were both pretty sure what was going on. We had seen the euphoria in his eyes when he’d taken us to the woods. There was no doubt that it must have to do with that thing out there. He was most likely still visiting it.

We needed to talk to Derek. There was no way we could let him go on like this.

I tried to call Derek to tell him we’d come over to his place, but every single time my call went straight to voicemail. It was the same for messages. It seemed he didn’t check his phone at all these days.

At nine on Saturday evening Mike, Melanie and I met up in front of Derek’s place.

I tried to call him once more, but again I got no answer. All the windows to his apartment were dark. I rang the doorbell, but no one answered the door. Didn’t seem like he was home.

For a moment we thought about searching for him, but then we decided to wait right here. He had to come home eventually, didn’t he?

Well, we were right. After almost an hour of waiting, we saw someone walk in our direction.

There was no doubt who it was. His slumped posture, the shuffling of his feet and the wheezing told us it was Derek even before we saw his face.

Once he got closer, I saw that he looked even worse than when I’d last seen him. Only once he was almost at the door did he notice us. He looked up at us in confusion.

“What are you guys doing here?”

His bloodshot eyes focused on us.

“Derek!? Is that you,” Melanie said in distress and storms over to him. “Oh my god, what happened to you?”

“It’s nothing, I am alright.”

“Don’t try to give us that again!” I yelled at him.

Derek stared at me in surprise. “Martin, what is going on?”

“Listen, man, you look like shit. Something is going on and it is not nothing.”

“It’s that damned thing in the wood isn’t it, Derek? That disgusting-” Mike doesn’t get to finish his sentence.

“Don’t you dare talk about her like this! She’s got nothing to do with it! You have no idea! How dare you!”

He broke up after that, panting and then coughing heavily.

“What the hell are you guys talking about?” Melanie asked Mike and me, then  turned to Derek.

“Who is she, Derek? Is she the reason you’ve been avoiding me?”

Derek didn’t look at her.

“That’s not it. I just, I can’t help it. She is so damn perfect.”

As he looked up, his face was twisted into a ghastly smile. His eyes were wide open. “She is out of this world. There is no way you, no anyone, can compare.”

Melanie took a step back, then another, then I saw the tears streaming from her eyes.

“You asshole!” she screamed at Derek. “Who is it? At least give me a name!”

Derek didn’t say a thing, so I finally started to tell her what he shown Mike and me that morning. I could see her eyes growing wide, then she grimaced.

“You can’t be for real. Who the hell would believe this? At least tell me the freaking truth!”

She looked at Derek, who was still murmuring to himself. “Oh, she’s grown so much…” I heared him say.

Then she stared at Mike and me.

“You guys are insane. Each one of you!”

Moments later she walked away, shaking her head and laughing to herself.

“Would be best if we’d burned that damned thing, wouldn’t it?” Mike said out of nowhere.

I could see Derek’s face shift to anger and then to pure rage.

“Don’t you dare joke about this, Mike!” Derek screamed at him.

“You think I am joking?”

I stepped forward. “Guys, calm down, we should all-”

I didn’t get to finish my sentence, because Derek charged at Mike.

Mike stayed where he was, not concerned. He is a tall, buff guy, easily double Derek’s weight. The moment Derek got close though, I could see something flash in his hand.

“Jesus Christ!” I yell out.

Mike took a step back, holding onto a cut on his right arm. I saw a pocket knife in Derek’s shaking hands.

Before I could even say anything, Mike retaliated. He hit Derek straight in the face and sent him tumbling backward. Derek dropped his small knife and fell to the ground. As he tried to push himself back up, I heard a nasty sound. Then Derek screamed up in pain.

“Fucking serves you right!” Mike yelled at him before walking away.

From where I am I could see Derek, now sitting on the ground, looking at his right hand. The unnatural position made it clear that he broke his wrist.

By now the lights in various apartments were on and not a few people had seen the commotion below. The cops arrived soon after, asking what happened.

I made up some bullshit story, about someone pushing Derek to the ground and him landing strangely. In the end, the cops let me take him to the hospital.

On the way there, Derek was looking at his broken wrist with wide eyes.

“How the hell,” he murmurs to himself, “I only tried to get up.”

For the first time, I heard the honest concern in his voice. I knew what he is thinking. There was no way that you’d break your wrist simply by getting up. Unless something was seriously wrong with you.

At the hospital, the doctor confirmed that his wrist was indeed broken. The primary concern the doctors had though was not Derek’s wrist, but his general state of health.

All it took was one look at Derek to see that there must be something wrong with him. They urged Derek to stay for a few blood tests and a general examination. Once I voice up my opinion, Derek finally agreed.

I stayed for a bit, but around midnight, I told Derek, I was leaving as well. I promised him I’d be back the next day.

I thought about telling the doctors about the weird organism that Derek found in the forest. Would they believe me though? And then a second thought comes to my mind. Should I even reveal the things existence to them?

I shook my head. I was clearly too exhausted. This whole night had turned from a simple talk to a fight and hospitalization. I needed some sleep.

When I visited Derek the next day, he seemed to be in a much better state. Sure physically he looked as weak as before, but he appeared less exhausted and in a much clearer state of mind.

He told me the doctors hadn’t told him anything yet or had no clue what was wrong with him. In the end, they said Derek should rest for now, while they continued their tests.

I didn’t say or ask anything about the weird thing in the forest. It was Derek himself who started to talk about it.

“You guys were right. That thing IS strange. I don’t know how, but it has this power over you.”

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t know, but I had to go back, you know? Even now, even though I know it is bad, I want to go back and look at it and touch it. That damned thing did something to me, Martin!”

I saw the tears in his eyes.

“Fuck man, what if it is cancer or something? What if I am going to die because of it? I am scared. I am so goddamn scared. Then why? Why do I still want to go back to it, man?”

“You are going to be fine, don’t worry. It is all going to be alright.”

He nodded, but I could tell he didn’t believe it. He sat in his bed crying and shaking.

At this point a nurse saw what was going on and told me it be better for me to leave. The most important thing for Derek was to rest.

 

 

When I returned to the hospital two days later, a nurse informed me that Derek was gone. They had no idea what had happened and presumed he snuck out last night.

I was utterly speechless. How the hell could they let this happen? I cursed and was about to explode at the nurse. Then I thought about Derek. What the hell was he up to? Had he gone to the forest again?

I called Mike. It took a while for him to answer the phone. I told him what was going on and instantly Mike was worried as well.

“He talked about nothing but that damned thing yesterday. I came to the hospital to see how he was doing and, well, to apologize for what happened. All he talked about though, was her. First I thought it was Melanie, but no. I told him to give it a rest and forget about it. Didn’t think he’d go for real.”

“You think he went out there again?”

“No doubt about it.”

“Shit, you think he is alright? Can you-”

“Yeah, let’s find Derek and get rid of this thing once and for all.”

We arranged to meet up right at the forest.

I made a quick stop at home. As I drove from the hospital, I had something Derek said on my mind: “Oh she’s grown so much…”

Only God knew what he meant, but if that thing really had grown, I’d be damned to go there empty handed. I didn’t own any weapons and almost no tools though. The only thing useful was a hammer and an axe, which I put into my backpack. I also grabbed a canister of gasoline. If nothing else worked, I told myself, we could still burn it.

After that short stop, I drove straight to the forest. Mike’s car was already there, but he was nowhere to be seen. I called for him a few times but got no answer. Did he go in without me?

“Freaking hell,” I cursed.

“Why didn’t he wait for me? Shit!”

I stormed into the forest myself. Following the dirt path was easy enough, but after that, I had a hard time remembering the way. I kept my eyes open for Mike and called out for him here and there, but there was no sign of him. It took me more than half an hour before I finally found the stream again.

I had to follow it for a while before I could finally see the big boulders where the thing should be. I had no idea what I’d find there by now, so I took out the axe.

From afar I could already see dozens of the thing’s fleshy tentacles. They slithered over the forest floor and through the nearby underbrush. It made my skin crawl to see how many there were by now.

Step by step, trying not to make a sound I went forward. I held my breath and watched out not to get near any of the tentacles. Finally, I stepped past the first boulder. What I saw was not only the fleshy thing. The body shape told me it wasn’t Derek who was standing next to it.

It was Mike.

He was half-naked, pants around his ankles, standing there, hunched over the thing. Some of the tentacles slithered not over the ground, but along his arms and legs. Something that looked like a weird, underdeveloped hand on the end of one tentacle held on to his arm. I noticed that Mike was not just standing there. He was moving. It was rhythmically: back and forth, back and forth.

The tentacles entwined his half-naked body everywhere, caressing his arms and legs. They started to hold on to him with a firmer and firmer grip the longer the spectacle lasted.

I could see how big the thing had grown. It was almost bigger than Mike by now.

With each of Mike’s thrusts, it was pulsating. For a moment it seemed to be convulsing and I heard a disgusting wet squeaking emanating from it.

As my first shock was over, I realized what was going on in front of me.

“What the hell are you doing?” I was barely able to scream.

Then my disgust made me vomit all over the forest floor.

“Mike, what the hell? What-”

I couldn’t finish as another gush of vomit came up. Mike didn’t react at all. He kept at it, thrusting into the thing, while I stood there with the axe in my hand, vomiting.

Finally, all the tentacles pulled Mike in closer. They pressed hard against his body before they fell to the ground. Mike too seemed to be panting for a few moments, before he pulled his pants back up and turned towards me.

“Didn’t think you’d be that early, Martin.”

“What? I am early? Why the hell are you, I mean, with this?”

“Derek didn’t deserve her.”

I looked at him as his face changed to the same euphoric visage I’d seen on Derek before.

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“Does it really matter?”

Then he pointed at the axe I was holding and the canister of gasoline.

“What are you planning to do with those?”

“I am going to take care of that thing.”

I saw that some of the many tentacles slithered towards me and I took a few steps back to get out of their reach.

“You think you’re able too? You think I’ll let you?”

What the hell was going on?

“What are you… why are you helping it?” I couldn’t think straight. Things didn’t make sense anymore.

“You don’t see it, do you? It’s perfect. Absolute beauty. It is out of this world.”

It was precisely what Derek had said. Why Mike now too? I didn’t get to think about it more, as he stepped aside.

Now I could see the fleshy abomination in all its glory. There were what looked like fleshy flower petals that held it all together. I saw the lower, tulip-like part and then something new on top. Half-hidden between the petals. It looked like a face, no, a head. The fleshy head of a woman was growing from it.

For a moment I thought this skinless face with its fleshy hair, was the most beautiful thing in the world. A feeling of euphoria overcame me, my blood seemed to boil as attraction flooded through me. The thought of wanting whatever she was to be mine was the only thing on my mind. Then I was able to shake it off and to return to reality.

I couldn’t fathom what I’d been thinking. Now again, all I saw was a disgusting otherworldly heap of grown together flesh and tentacles.

“Mike, you saw Derek at the hospital, right? You saw what that thing did to him! You want to end up like that too?”

Mike only smiled and pointed at something I hadn’t seen yet.

Between the boulders, discarded, was a withered blue, grey husk. It might once have been a human being. Now it was nothing but translucent skin that stretched over bone. My eyes grew wide as I saw it.

“Oh god, don’t tell me…”

Mike started to laugh.

“You want to know why he came here? Because I made him go. Oh, I knew he didn’t want to go, but it was so easy to taint his mind. I only had to tell him how beautiful she’d become and that she was waiting for him. I knew he couldn’t fight the urge forever. I knew he’d give into it eventually. I just nudged him on a little.”

“Why the hell would you do that?”

“She needs nutrition to grow. It’s so she can become her true self. Derek was perfect, as was Melanie.”

“Melanie?” I couldn’t believe it.

“You people are so easy to manipulate. After that fight on Saturday, I talked to her. Told her I could show her the thing we’d been talking about. Oh and I did.”

“You… you lured her out here as well? All for this, this thing over there? You said yourself that it was-”

“Don’t you dare say it! That was before I saw her for real. You know after Derek showed it to us, I just had to come again. The second time I came here I almost made the worst mistake of my life. But then I saw her for what she really was. This endless beauty. I knew right away that Derek didn’t deserve her. She’d be mine and I’d help her to become much more beautiful.”

“You know you are going to be next, right? This… thing, is going to suck you dry as well!”

“Oh but someone else is already here.”

For a second I looked around before it clicked. That’s why the bastard had told me to come here and before I could say anything he rushed towards me.

He was too fast. There was nothing I could do. In a moment he was in front of me and rammed his knee into my stomach. I fell to the ground gagging.

“You should see it as an honor,” he started while staring down at me, “you are going to become part of a perfect organism.”

“You are insane,” I pressed out.

“Maybe, Martin, maybe. Does it matter?”

I fought myself up to my feet only for him to hit me again. Then he pushed me forward, straight towards the disgusting fleshy abomination.

Right away the tentacles slithered over the ground towards me. I felt something cling to my right leg and as I looked down, I saw a three-fingered, half-developed hand. It held me in place with an iron grip. Then another tentacle entangled my other leg. The slimy thing slithered higher and higher before it closed around my thigh.

The more I struggled to get away, the more it started to twist. It felt as if the thing dug deeper and deeper into my flesh. By now other tentacles slithered up my legs as well.

I remembered the axe. Where was it? I had dropped it, but where? I looked around in a panic. It wasn’t far away. If I could only…

I threw myself to the ground and reached out with my right hand. I barely reached it. The tentacles around my leg twisted harder and pulled me back.

I screamed up in pain and brought the axe down on the weird hand. Over and over I hit it.

The blade of the axe went through the flesh as if it was nothing. A mixture of zap and blood gushed from the tentacle that the hand had been connected too.

In a crazy frenzy, I hacked at the other tentacles holding on to my legs and around me. I cut some of them, while others retracted backward.

Mike, who had gone back over to the thing turned towards me in sheer rage.

“What do you think you are doing!? You are not supposed to hurt her!”

With that, he threw himself at me. I tried to hit him with the axe, but he pushed my right arm down with ease. He was on top of me pinning me to the ground. One of his hands held down the axe, the other closed around my throat. He was out of it. I tried to hit him with my left hand, but he didn’t seem to even feel any of the hits.

My vision started to go blurry. Right at that time, I remembered the hammer in my backpack. With a last surge of energy, I twisted my body around a bit so I could pull out the hammer..

This time it was him who couldn’t react. I flung the hammer from behind my back right against the side of his head.

He screamed up in pain and blood gushed from his temple. He was staggering on top of me and I was able to hit him once more.

Then, he pushed my left arm to the ground as well. It was with such a force that I lost grip on the hammer. He was way too strong for me. Even now, with a laceration, he wasn’t passing out. He wasn’t even staggering anymore.

He pinned both my arms under his knees and then closed both hands around my neck.

I couldn’t breathe and the last thing I saw before my world grew dark was Mike’s bloody, rage-filled face.

Then I heard Mike scream up in surprise. As the light came back to my world, I saw that many of the tentacles had come forward again. This time though, they came for Mike.

“No, what are you doing? It’s me! It’s me!”

He was out of it. He screamed up again and again in confusion, struggling against the tentacles that entangled his body. He had no chance as he was pulled back towards the thing. He came to a rest right next to the face I’d seen before.

The full, fleshy lips parted and revealed a tongue that was covered in an innumerable amount of feelers. The tongue went closer to Mike and finally pressed against the bloody, open wound on his head.

I watched in utter disgust and wonder, as all the feelers turned from a fleshy pink to the dark red of blood.

Mike screamed, started shaking and finally convulsed as the blood was sucked from his body. It didn’t take long for his strong, muscular body to turn into a withered grey husk. Eventually, the thing retracted its tongue and threw what remained of him aside.

I crawled away and picked up the axe once more. I was afraid that any moment now the tentacles would pull me in as they’d done with Mike. Instead, they all retracted back to the things main body.

The fleshy mess in front of me started to pulsate, to grow and then morphed into a new iteration of itself. I saw how the fleshy petals changed form and how the female face pushed itself further outwards. I could now make out the first signs of a body. I saw a neck and then shoulders. It was all a purely fleshy mess as if random pieces of meat had been put together to resemble a human body. It was a disgustingly beautiful mess though.

I picked up the can of gasoline I had lost in Mike’s assault. I had to destroy this abomination.

Yet as I stood there and looked at it, I couldn’t deny it’s, no her beauty anymore. She was a form of perfection. Now that I looked at her, I saw what Mike and Derek had seen.

I was drawn forward. It was as if I wasn’t in control of my body anymore. As if in a daze I took a step forward, then another. I saw the fleshy face smile at me. The smell of rose petals and summer reached me. It was the sweet smell of a lovely summer night. It was a promise. The promise that this otherworldly beauty would be mine.

As I took a third step, I bumped into something. I looked down only to see Mike’s empty shriveled up face. It stared at me with a frozen visage of pain and horror. This would be me. If I stayed, this was what would become of me.

I had to get away from here. I forced my eyes shut, turned around and started to run. I had to flee while the influence this abomination had over me was still broken.

I stumbled through the forest, past trees and bushes. I forced myself to run on and on, to not turn around and go back. My body wasn’t entirely my own. With each step, my muscles were protesting, trying to pull me back. They were answering to the will of the thing more than to my own.

I knew that if I’d lay eyes on it once more, I’d not be able to escape its grasp. I’d be lost to its will completely.

I was home half an hour later. I only remember parts of my way back.

I don’t know what I should or can do. All day I’ve been distracting myself by typing this out. I told myself I had to write it down.

The more time passed though, the more my mind is filled with images of beauty. In my chest, there’s an endless longing.

I am not sure for how long I can still resist the call of this abomination. I am restless, shaking, but smiling. I am almost in a state of euphoria like Derek and Mike were.

I can only think about her.

I called an acquaintance of mine. I said I had to show him something and I might take him out there. In the end, she needs nutrition to grow, right?