Creature Features


He grabbed her thrashing, wriggling body and held it down again, constricting her into the closest semblance of stillness that she seemed likely to accede to, and then continued with his merciless fucking.

Evelyn was now raw and bruised, but he paid no attention. Her eyes looked glassy and unfocused. Once the top of her head bounced off of the gate, but she barely seems aware of it. He closed his eyes and narrowed his focus down to the feeling of a hot, flushed, sweaty, pliant body underneath his, and then he began to cum, releasing a steady stream into the confines of her pussy, burying himself in her for the last time while he burst and gushed.

Then he collapsed, exhausted, next to her, and for some time neither of them spoke. Eventually she rolled over and flopped an arm across his chest.

"That was...amazing." Her throat was almost too raw to talk. "I didn't know you had it in you."

"Yeah..." was all Warren could say.

"You' animal," Evelyn said, giggling and kissing him. He kissed her back, but something caught his eye, distracting him; what was that? He looked up.

"Hey," he said, "I didn't think the moon was full tonight..."

"It's not," said Evelyn, kissing the side of his neck.

"No, it is, look," Warren said, pointing. Evelyn looked up. She frowned.

"That's weird," she said. "I swear it wasn't like that when we drove up here. How could—"

But she screamed before she could finish, then jumped up, huddling against the truck window. She pointed. A man was staring at them. Peering over the truck gate, in fact.

Warren leapt up and pulled his pants on. The stranger still stared. Furious, Warren ran at him, hands balled into fists. But as the peeping tom stood up Warren stopped, confused; he saw yellow eyes and bared fangs, and a muzzle, and matted black fur.

The creature snarled, then howled, then jumped up into the truck bed and crouched down low, growling, foam flecking its lips. Warren backed away a step, but of course, there was no room to run. The creature snarled again. "What the fuck?" Warren said.

The monster jumped up and Evelyn screamed and Warren, without thinking, balled his fists again and took a swing. The creature ducked the blow and grabbed him, and they both fell to the ground, rolling over each other.

Warren landed first, the impact driving the air out of him, and he felt claws at his throat. They rolled along the ground, the thing's jaws snapping, and only when Warren felt the stones start to shift underneath them did he realize they were so close to the edge of the cliff—

But it was too late. Evelyn screamed one more time, and the monster howled, but Warren said nothing, silently dropping away, feeling the wind in his hair, feeling weightless for those few seconds. He looked up at the sky, the stars, the moon, even the lights of the city stretched out underneath him, blurred, like an old black and white photograph...


8:10 PM:

Dwight sat at the police scanner, pen moving over pad as the calls overlapped, drowning each other out:

"...disturbance at the War Memorial Opera House, possible hostage situation, send all available units..."

"...attacked by a werewolf. Yes, that's the description she gave: a werewolf. We've got one in the hospital, no sign of the suspect, please proceed..."

"...breaking and entering, assault and battery. Suspect is dressed as the Frankenstein monster."

"...suspect is fleeing on foot through the park, suspect should be considered highly dangerous, suspect has already assaulted an officer. That's right, dressed as a mummy."

Dwight looked up, eyes wide, cheeks pale. "It's working!" he said. "My God, it's actually working!"

Richard looked at the scanner, then at Pierce, then at the posters on the wall. "No," he said. " I don't believe any of this. Not for a minute."

"But the calls!" said Dwight.

"Bullshit," said Richard, running his hands through his hair. "It's all fraud. There's no possible way I'll believe he's doing this."

Pierce opened his eyes. He smiled. "Dwight is right," he said. "It's working. With the power of my mind—"

"Bullshit!" Richard said again. "What did you do, Pierce? How did you set it up? How many accomplices do you have? How long did they spend working on those costumes?"

"No costumes, good sir," said Pierce. "The genuine article. It's the tulpa, Richard. The Tibetans teach us that a focused mind, close to Dzogchen, can channel the energies of the universe and make thought into matter. And I've proven it tonight!"

Richard looked at the posters on the wall again. The titles seemed to taunt him: "Frankenstein," "The Mummy," "The Wolf Man," "The Creature from the Black Lagoon"...

"With the power of my mind and these foci, I have projected my thoughts as physical incarnations. I have taken these fictions and, for a few minutes at least, made them into reality! Why, more than that: I've discovered power unimaginable, the power of a god!"

Pierce leapt up, his voice becoming shrill. "Now I know what it feels like to be a god!"

Pierce was taller, but Richard stood on his toes to look him in the eye. "I don't believe it," he said again.

"Do you still doubt me, Richard?" Pierce's smile grew more manic. "Or do I see fear in your eyes? Hear it in your voice? Do you know, deep down, that no matter how much you object, no matter how stubborn you may be, that I'm speaking the truth, that this is a power you cannot comprehend or oppose?"

Pierce stared at Richard; Richard flinched. Dwight turned the volume up on the scanner: "All units, all units, please converge on our position, repeat, all units, converge—"

"Listen to me, Pierce," Richard said, wiping the sweat from his brow. "I'm not saying I believe you and I'm not saying any of this is true. But...if this really is your power, if you really can conjure these creatures out of thin air, then for God's sake, send them away. If you made them, then unmake them, before any more people get hurt!"

Pierce shook his head. "Do you believe, Richard? Yes or no?"

"We don't have time for this!"

"Yes or no?"



"Yes, yes, damn it, I believe you, I believe everything, I believe, I believe, now stop it already!"

Richard was red-faced, panting, wounded.

Pierce snapped his fingers and the scanner turned off. The television in the next room went silent as well; the house was peaceful.

"I'm actually impressed, Richard," Pierce said. "It can't be an easy thing, having to swallow your pride to save lives."

Richard said nothing. Dwight looked back and forth between both men, but remained silent as well. "How do you feel?" Pierce said.

Richard was shaking. "What the hell does it matter?"

Pierce grinned. Then he gestured to Dwight, and he began collecting up the equipment.

"I hate to be rude and run you off," Pierce said, putting his arm around Richard's shoulder and guiding him toward the door, "but I have to document these results right away. You understand, or course. Here, let us show you out."

Pierce stopped for a moment to get his coat.

"Rest assured, I won't hold a grudge, Richard," he was saying. "In fact, I'd be willing to let you do your own parallel, independent study. You are, in your own way, uniquely qualified now."

Richard said nothing.

They went outside, through the garden, past the empty swimming pool and toward the driveway. Richard looked like a beaten-down dog; his feet shuffled under his body. Pierce was bright and smiling, talking loudly about the new avenues of thought and the new golden age of consciousness that his full findings would bring about once published. Richard licked his lips.

"Is it over? Did you...unmake them?" he said,

"Of course."

" hurt people tonight. You might have gotten them killed."

Pierce shrugged. "You can't change the world without a few mediocre people getting caught up in the works. Omelets, broken eggs, all that. Besides, anyone who died tonight, I'll just recreate them in the morning."

He saw Richard's horrified expression and Pierce began to laugh, long and loud.

He kept laughing until he was interrupted by Dwight crying out and pointing. Richard spun around, but whatever Dwight had seen seemed to be gone. Pierce appeared unperturbed.

"Dwight, what is it?" Richard said. "What did you see?"

"Over there, behind the trellis," Dwight said, his voice labored. "It was—it was—" But he couldn't say it. Richard rounded on Pierce, who was smiling again.

"What did you do?" he asked.

"I had to see one for myself," Pierce said. "And I had to make sure you saw one. I know you'd try to back away from what you said earlier unless you saw one for yourself."

Richard's blood went cold. "Pierce," he said again, "what have you done?"

Pierce drew a gun from his coat pocket, then a second one, which he handed to Richard. Richard stared at it like he didn't know what it was. "You'll want that, trust me," Pierce said.

A noise made all three men turn toward the pool. Something was moving, just on the other side, something in the dark. Richard squinted.

"What is it?" he said. "Which one...?" His voice trailed off. Pierce shrugged.

"Oh, which one do you think, Richard? Which one was always my favorite? Did I ever tell you that? Ever since I was a kid—"

Dwight screamed again as an unspeakable figure emerged from the gloom. He collapsed, hands over his head, crying as the thing came at them. Richard's mouth went dry and his knees shook. Pierce stared, entranced.

"It had to be this one," he said. "It was my favorite. I had to see..."

The monster stumbled toward them, unsteady on flippered feet. Its scaly hide was dark and wet, and its eyes goggled; Richard could see the gill flaps throbbing on either side of its neck.

It was a clumsy beast on land, but the way its limbs moved testified to a horrible strength in its body. It came forward with one awful claw extended, its webbed fingers grasping as its lipless mouth moved up and down in a gurgling cry.

Richard's hands were so slick with sweat that he nearly dropped his gun. Dwight was weeping. Pierce appeared enraptured. "My God," he said. "It's beautiful!"

"It's monstrous," Richard said, his voice tight. "Send it away, Pierce. Unmake it. You've made your point."

"Not yet," Pierce said, walking toward it. "I want to get closer. I want to really see it."

"Pierce, what are you doing? Pierce, don't!"

Richard raised his gun but Pierce was already too far ahead of him, blocking his shot. The creature was beside the dry pool now, hunkered on its haunches, its claws scrabbling at the ground. Pierce seemed like a man in a dream.

"I just want to touch it," he said. "I want to know that it's really real..." He kept his gun trained with one hand, but with his other he reached out, fingers almost brushing that wet, scaly hide...

"Professor, no!" Dwight screamed, but it was too late; as Pierce reached out the creature jumped up and landed a clubbing blow to the side of his head. For a moment Pierce teetered and then, as if in slow motion, he fell, disappearing into the pool and landing with a sickening thump a second later.

The monster turned then, and before Richard realized what he was doing the gun was raised and he was squeezing the trigger again and again. He watched the bullets tear through the creature, watched blood sprinkle the ground, heard the thing cry out, and then he saw it fall.

He heard the click of the empty chambers as he continued to squeeze the trigger over and over, and only when Dwight took the gun from his hand did he stop. Richard realized he wasn't breathing and sucked air in with a gasp.

Dwight approached the fallen monster. It didn't stir. Then he dared to look into the pool. Richard found his voice: "Is he all right? Should we call...?"

Dwight shook his head, tears in his eyes. "His neck..." he said, and the rest was a sob.

Richard felt sick. He sat down, head in his hands. "My God," he said. "Dwight, what are we going to do?"

Dwight said nothing. Richard was about to repeat the question, but then he stopped. He frowned. He crawled on his hands and knees toward the body of the monster; its horrible eyes were still open and staring at nothing. Richard squinted at the corpse.

"No. No, it's impossible..." he said.

"What's wrong?" said Dwight.

In answer, Richard reached out. He grabbed the sides of the creature's head. He pulled. The mask came off. Underneath was the still, unseeing face of a dead man, blood about his mouth and nose.

Richard threw up.

He didn't realized he'd blacked out until he found that Dwight had picked him up and was shaking him, trying to bring him back to his senses. "Richard, Richard! Come on, Richard. Listen to me: You couldn't have known."

"The police..." Richard managed to say.

"I've called them already," said Dwight. "Can you hear me?"

"Yes..." said Richard, dazed.

"When they get here we'll show them the professor and the...other one. And then we'll—"

But he stopped. He was staring again. Richard looked and then nearly fainted once more; the body with the monster costume was gone. Though the man, whoever he was, had been shot six times at close range, and though there was still a gallon of blood spread on the cement giving witness to his mortal wounds, the dead man had vanished entirely.

A ghost in the night.


Five years later:

It was a quiet night. The bar was mostly empty. Richard had been here for an hour now, drinking scotch and waiting for Dwight. When he finally showed, Richard thought he looked good for a man just out of prison, and he was so loaded by this point that he even said as much.

"Well, you look like shit," Dwight said, ordering a scotch for himself. Richard laughed.

They drank in silence for a moment. Dwight had a thick manila envelope tucked under one arm, but Richard was in no hurry to ask him about it. "So how's freedom treating you?" he said.

"Well enough."

Richard shifted on his stool. "I never thanked you for..."

"Taking the rap?"

"Yes," Richard said, looking down.

"No need," said Dwight. "If I had listened to you in the first place, none of this would have happened."

Richard held his breath. He knew what was coming.

"And for that matter," Dwight continued, "haven't you ever wondered what really did happen that Halloween night?"

"Honestly?" said Richard. "No. I try not to think about it. Besides, what's to wonder? Pierce was a fraud. The body proved that."

"But where did it go?" Dwight said.

He was leaning in very close now, much too close for Richard to feel comfortable.

"And the others, if they were all fakes, all accomplices, where did they go? Why were none of them apprehended? And who were they all? You can't explain that."

Richard shrugged. "I don't have to," he said.

"But I know, Richard, I know!" Dwight said. His eyes all but glowed with his enthusiasm. "I figured it out, you see. And that's why I wanted to talk to you."

"Whatever the truth is," Richard said around a mouthful of scotch, "I'm not that interested."

"Just look at this," said Dwight. He pulled a few pages out of the envelope. "Did you ever watch The Creature from the Black Lagoon?"

Richard still didn't take the pages. "No," he said. "And I hardly mean to now."

"Well, a man named Ben Chapman played the monster in that movie, and he died in 2008. This is him." Dwight pointed to the papers. "Just look."

Richard turned the pages over. There was a copy of a black and white photograph, a close-up of a man's face. Richard went pale. Dwight chuckled.

"That's the man you shot that night, isn't it? Tell me that isn't the face you saw when you took the mask off."

Richard nodded. "What in the hell does it mean?" he said.

"It means that the professor's experiment worked even better than he intended."

Dwight ordered another and waited until the bartender had gone to talk again. He leaned in and whispered.

"The tulpa worked. The professor was able to make his thoughts into matter, just like he theorized.

"But his mistake was in using the movies as his focus; he didn't summon real monsters that night, he summoned real actors. The actors who played the roles in those old movies!"

Richard took a moment to absorb this. "So the werewolf who attacked that young couple wasn't really a werewolf, he was...?"

"Lon Chaney Jr. I'd bet my life. And see this man?" He pointed to another picture. "Tom Tyler. He played superheroes and cowboys in action serials, but he also played a mummy in the 1940 movie The Mummy's Hand, one of the professor's favorites. I bet he was the mummy in the park. And the intruder dressed as Frankenstein's monster? None other than Boris Karloff."

"Now wait a minute," Richard said, "that doesn't make any sense. Why would this Tyler fellow attack a policeman?"

"Well just think what it must have been like for these...people." He stumbled over the word. "Imagine you're Tom Tyler. Or at least, you're a psychic manifestation that thinks for all the world that you're Tom Tyler.

"You suddenly find yourself in a strange, frightening place with no idea how you got there, and it's dark, and for some bizarre reason you're dressed as a mummy. Tyler died in 1954' imagine what these buildings, these cars, these people would look like to him if they all just appeared out of nowhere.

"He was probably half out of his mind, or maybe fully out of it, when that cop tried to arrest him. And then one thing led to another..."

"But this Chapman fellow killed the professor. Why?"

"The professor was pointing a gun at him, remember? And how did Chapman kill him? By pushing him into a pool! I bet he didn't realize that there was no water in it. It was dark, he couldn't see through his mask, and he thought he was defending himself. He was even trying to talk, remember? But we couldn't understand him.

"None of these creatures—these men—realized what was going on or what they were doing. Is it any wonder that poor, confused, frightened Lon Chaney Jr. and Boris Karloff panicked during those brief, terrifying reincarnations? Is it any wonder that they snapped? And by the time any of them might have come to their senses..."

"It was over," Richard said. "Pierce uncreated them." Richard took another round in the hopes that it would clear his head. "It's a crazy idea," he said.

"But you must admit, it's the only explanation that accounts for everything," said Dwight. "And think what it means! The professor, what a genius! His experiment worked even better than he'd hoped."

"Yes, a genius," said Richard. "But mad."

"Well, who isn't a little mad?" said Dwight, grinning. "But I have to tell you, there is one thing that bothers me about all this..."

"Just one?"

"Have you been thinking a lot about that night since it happened?"

"How could I not?"

"And about the professor, and about those movies?"

"As little as I can, but more than I'd like," said Richard. He almost spilled the glass when Dwight seized his wrist as hard as he could.

"Don't!" said Dwight.

"Don't what? Drink my scotch? Hard thing to say after all you've told me."

"No, I mean, don't think about it. Don't think about that night, and for the love of man, stop thinking about those movies."

Dwight's eyes were wide as he talked.

"A genie has been let out of the bottle here, one neither of us can control. Now that we know the secret, our thoughts could be dangerous. The reach and the scope of this power is infinite. Next time, if we're not careful, we might have real monsters on our hands."

Richard finished his drink. "You realize that the more you say that the harder it'll be for me not to think about it?"

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