Authors: Richard M. Heredia
Tags: #love, #friends, #fantasy, #epic, #evil, #teen, #folklore, #storm
When her mother asked
Sebastian what had happened, her voice frenzied, demanding, the boy
did not answer at first. When she shook him, careful not to hurt
him, but hard enough to get his attention, she asked
Sebastian stared at her,
eyes vacant, mouth near slack.
The Tornado Man,” he
breathed through lips that almost did not move.
What?!?” her mother
She was beyond
The Tornado Man took
Mari, Mama.” His face crumbled, drained.
She had never seen the
look of stark terror upon the face of her son before. She shuddered
To those watching the news
for the past two days, the disappearance of Marissa Avalon served
to prove one thing and one thing only.
Though there had been a
forty-two hour pause, The Event had only just begun.
~ 2 ~
the Day after Thanksgiving, 2:35 pm…
The instant she heard the
sound of the lock unclasping, the rattling of the chain against the
door, she scurried to the edge of the lantern’s light. She cringed,
her feet pulled beneath her. She was trying to make herself as
small as possible, becoming the smallest target she could manage.
If breaking bones were a possibility, she would have.
Be invisible, Marissa!
Maybe he won’t see you!
It was a hopeless wish.
With eyes in the constant state of flux, she deemed he could see
through the murkiest dark as though it was midday. After all, he
wasn’t human. People like her had only one body, one face, the same
color skin. Her features never changed as if made of wax. People
like her could not float outside someone’s second story window.
People like her could not fly.
He could. He
With her knees bunched
against her chest, she wrapped her arms about her legs. She buried
her face in the pit of one of her arms – the one facing away from
the door. She heard the swing-scrape of the chain. It was now
completely free from restraint. She heard the ancient tumblers of
the doorknob turn. Before she could stop herself, she shivered as
the hinges of the door squealed in protest and the portal opened.
She heard his heavy trod upon the aged concrete. His thick leather
boots pounded hard enough for her to feel the vibration beneath her
bottom. After all, he was huge.
She counted to three in
her head - three steps.
He was still out of arm’s
For now, she was
He could not grab her just
Her lips quivered like a
mouse under a heat lamp, sensing danger, though not understanding
from where it came. Yet, in spades, she knew it was there. She
could feel her muscles clench and unclench. They were misfiring at
a break-neck pace, adrenaline pouring into her tiny person. If
she’d been a few years younger she might have peed in her jeans.
That warm, oftimes yellowish fluid would have ruined her low-top,
white converse, for sure.
Something large thudded
onto the ground.
She was certain the giant
man-thing had not moved. This was something else. Unwitting, with
little movement, she peeked over the edge of her left shoulder,
daring a glance with but a fraction of her eye. She felt it widen
at the sight of a great bundle, wrapped in a thick blanket. It was
on the ground halfway between her and the door - her only
Only, there would be no
The man-thing was blocking
the way with his massive bulk. His shrouded shoulders were almost
as wide as the doorway itself. He was by far the biggest humanoid
creature she had ever gazed upon. Like before, he wore a robe-like
garment that covered his entire person, except for his sickening
form, no continuity. It melted, altered, with every third breath
she took. Sometimes it bore long hair; sometimes it was bald or
balding. Sometimes it was as fine as an infants’. At others, it was
course and matted as if weighed down by weeks of grime and sweat.
The color was never the same either. Nor was the shape of its’
skull or the sort of skin stretched across it. His orbs changed in
size and configuration even faster. The features upon his face
never quite seemed to form before they reformed all over again. He
was male. She was certain, because the deep resonance of his voice
was always the same. This despite the fact he took on the
characteristics of a woman as often as a man’s.
Thinking better of it, she
looked away. Before she caught a glimpse of his ever-changing
visage, she hid her vision from him. Otherwise, she would have
emptied stomach, attempt to disgorge the food that was not within
There was another thud,
much smaller, followed by a dragging sound. A moment later,
something bumped into her, something wrapped in heavy cloth, bulky
and misshapen. It did not quite hurt, but it was a near
Not only could the
man-thing fly, it was super strong as well.
Eat,” it said in a voice
sounding like regurgitation full with gravel - chunky, viscous and
liquid at the same time.
Marissa winced at the
awful tones issued forth. She knew it was not a human throat. She
knew the man-thing was something abhorrent, something
She heard it step toward
She yelped in fear,
scuttling into the darkness of the underground passage, uncaring of
what may lay beyond. She knew the place had been abandoned for many
years. The dust, the cobwebs and the pervasive smell of decay were
evidence enough. If there were rats or worse down there with her,
in the dark, she did not know. She did not care either. Nothing was
as hideous as the man-thing with the ever-shifting face.
Eat, little one,” it
spoke again, though the moniker was not uttered with a speck of
affection. It rasped the words as if mentioning through
Marissa Avalon could only
shudder with revulsion.
The man-thing chortled.
“If you do not eat, I will force feed you myself.” He paused for
effect. “You will not like it. I promise.”
The nine-year-old remained
as she was, on the verge of vacating her bowels.
EAT!” he shouted,
horrible, rattling her teeth in her head.
Marissa jumped in her
skin. Her head came up in a flash, certain the beast of a man was
about to grab a hold of her and shove god-knew-what down her
throat. She saw him in the light of the lantern. His hideous face
drifting from that of a well-known super-model to some
unrecognizable jumble between African and Mestizo. It was male now,
completely unlike what he had looked like moments
The Seeker wishes for you
to be in good health by the time she returns,” he began. He pointed
with a hand three times larger than her father’s. “It is my
contention to see you are fit as my Lady commands.” He took another
step toward her.
Marissa froze with abject
If you do not reach into
the bag and pull out something to eat…,” he left the rest
The tiny girl was shaking
so bad, her first attempt at the thick burlap sack lying next to
her looked like that of a six-month old infant. Her movements were
jerky, uncoordinated. Her hand slapped at the open, upper
The man-thing made to move
Marissa leaped to her
knees, bruising them through her jeans. Her small fingers ripped at
the sack, spilling the contents onto the cold, unyielding floor.
Her eyes were desperate, searching for something - anything - to
eat, but she was having a hard time. Everything the man-thing had
brought with him was edible, but it was not nourishing food per se.
The first thing she pulled out was a plastic jug of granular
Cool-Aide. Next, came a bottle of Grey Poupon, then a box of bread
crumbs, a jar of Maraschino cherries, a foil-bag of croutons… The
list went on and on. The sack contained many ingredients, but
nothing adequate enough to fill her aching stomach in the proper
Above her, closer to the
door now, the man-with-the-waxen-face chuckled. “You better have
eaten by the time I return or I will force it all down your
Marissa whimpered, gazing
over the growing pile with equal dismay.
This was not stuff to eat! Dammit!
At the far end of the
passage, he slammed the portal without ceremony. The chain struck
the steel-bound door, the lock clicking shut with tremendous
Once more, she was a
captive, taken against her will, from her family, her
They were ghost-like
thoughts, appearing from nothing, like sunlight through a morning
My friends… taken… just
She came from her knees to
lean against the wall closest to her, a sideways kind of motion.
Her back rested against the one-time smooth surface that was now
pit-marked and gouged with time. She arched her neck, her head
bumping lightly against the concrete. She breathed in shaken gasps,
coercing air as regular as possible, hoping to find solace out of
the routine nature of it. She found only desperation in her
Why is this
It had only been a few
hours, or so she deemed. Yet, it seemed like it had been months ago
when she had watched Sebastian run across the front room of her
parents’ apartment. She had been mourning then, grieving over the
loss of her best friends, praying nothing bad had happened to them.
Now, others were doing the same for her. Her mother, her father and
her beautiful little brother with his wild ways and jubilant
demeanor would be crying for her. They would wish for her release,
pray she would come back. She was as gone to them as her friends
had been to their families. She was like them now –
Why is this
It had only been this past
Wednesday when they’d all been together. She and the Herrera
sisters had been playing handball with one of the mini-sized,
sock-balls. They had not been competing against one another, but
against the “ground”. They’d been trying to see how many volleys
they could manage in a row. Each of them took a turn whacking the
ball against the tall, wooden back-board. The strange Scandinavian
girl, Nixy, had been watching with an acerbic expression on her
face. It was like she had eaten too many sour Gummy-bears, but
Marissa had not cared. They were having a good time of it. Much
like when they were much smaller, playing upon the same campus.
Only they had cavorted in a different part of the school. It was
where the little kids spent their Nutrition and Lunch.
It feels like so long ago.
It feels like it never even happened, like I made it up.
The muffled groan yanked
her from her thoughts. Except for an errant drip of water, the
silence in the long chamber had been absolute.
Frantic, she peered about,
coming from the wall, tense, ready to move at a moments’
The second moan brought
her attention to the bundle still lying in the middle of the
passage. She stood with slowness, wary, her instincts screaming at
her to be careful. Palms splayed to either side, she walked on her
the balls of her feet along the wall, moving closer to the bundle,
but remaining out of reach. She noticed the ripples of movement
stirring from within the heavy fabric. It was thicker than a
blanket, many layers stitched tight so it did not have the fluffy
appearance of a comforter. No, this was more like a large throw rug
or a swath of dense drapery. But, the movements were undeniable
now, coupled with the odd sounds coming from it, she could not
mistake it. There was someone – or something – inside, wrapped like
She would have stayed
away. She had been content to let whatever was returning to
consciousness do so on its’ own, without her help. She would have
continued by the wall, her fingertips brushing against the harsh,
cold surface. She would have stayed poised on her feet, waiting
whatever might spring into being, if she had not heard it
In a groggy, yet distinct
female voice came:
“Help me! Can somebody
please help me?!”
After being a victim
longer than it suited her, Marissa was all action. She was not
about to sit aside while her captives tortured another kid. She’d
had enough of that herself. She came to her knees once more,
bruising her bruises, but not feeling the smarting pain she should
have. Instead, her hands were racing over the surface of the
weighty textile, trying to find a way to unroll it. Shocked at
first, then frustrated a second later, she saw the man-thing had
secured the bundle with copious amount of duct-tape. It was in
three places – top, bottom and middle. If she could not find
something sharp, it would take her hours to get to the girl wrapped
in its’ center.