The Cryptid - Chapters 1 and 2
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CHAPTER ONE On the eighteenth of April a five-year-old boy wondered through the open door at his house, across the street, down a long field and into a playground. Someone came out of the nearby forest and picked him up, leaving second degree burns over most of his waste. He was discovered within ten minutes, unconscious. He died one week later, never awakening from his inexplicable coma. All efforts to find the assailant failed. A large group of neighbors, friends, and family canvassed the area. Not a single trace was discovered. An old man was found on the morning of the twenty-ninth of April. His walker had apparently fallen and, as he attempted to stand up, he was brutally murdered. Burns covered thirty percent of his body, including his head and abdomen. Another incident three days later. A woman was walking with her two-year-old son to the playground when a dark object flashed by and took her. The child, left in shock, could not disclose any information regarding the disappearance of his mother. The incidents were increasing in frequency. The entire town of David, population of five hundred and thirty-six, was in an uproar. People were terrified to leave their houses; groups of ten or twelve went together at noon to fetch supplies from Charlie Jackson, the black man - he preferred 'of the darker persuasion' - who ran the local grocers. His unwillingness to close up shop, however, did not always go according to plan. Accusations were made against him daily by the disgruntled townsfolk. They couldn't comprehend why he didn't seem to have any fear of the killer. "The FBI asked me that same question just the other day; and you knows what I says to them? I says 'I been workin' here for thirty-five years; never missed so much as a day. The day I stop working's the day I die.'" His response never seemed to be adequate. CHAPTER TWO Eliza Goldman, fifty-seven year old mother-of-three, sat rocking on her rocking chair, knitting a pair of socks for her yet-to-be-born grandson. She was looking out through the closed window, thinking about the good old days when children would play outside. That was long ago, though, a whole fifteen days since they had initiated their town's unofficial quarantine. She knitted for two hours every morning then another hour during the evening, yet she rarely saw so much as two people walk by, with the sole exception of news reporters. "Hello, ma'am. I was wondering if you might have a room I might rent?" A man walked up to Eliza's opened window. "Who's asking? You a reporter?" During that time she, and many of the other townsfolk, never ceased to be amazed at the diligence, and the idiocy, of these reporters. Forever on the look out for a good story, a group of about a dozen of them had come and rented rooms from anybody who would offer them. Every day they waited for another crime, barricaded in the houses with their gracious hosts. "No, ma'am," She was amazed by his politeness as she thought to herself about how rare such pleasantries had become, especially amongst the younger people. "Well, then, what are you?" Her voice was as grouchy as ever, perhaps even slightly more so. "I'm Kilian Vandermeer, ma'am. I'm a scientist from New York." "You don't look nearly old enough to be a scientist, son. Where'd you say you was from?" "New York, ma'am. I've come to study whatever it is that's been..." A brief pause. His politeness forbade him from speaking about murder or killing during small talk. "the criminal, ma'am, that's been responsible for whatever has been happening around here." "And what do you want with me?" She started to get a nicer sound to her voice. It pleased her that he was so polite (and handsome), even though she obviously was not. "I've looked all over town, ma'am. There doesn't seem to be one person in town with a spare room. A man, Mr. Schmidt, I believe, said that you might have a spare room, or a den?" Her angry face gave way to a smile. Not a very big smile, nor a noticeable one, but a smile none the less. "Yeah, I've got an attic. Needs to be cleaned out. Tell me, Mr.--" "Vendermeer," He interjected. "Mr. Vandermeer, can you work for your keep?" "Oh, yes ma'am. I can do just about anything you like," His politeness began to mildly diminish as he saw her face become friendly. "My husband died three years ago; there is a lot around here that needs fixing. If you can fix it, I suppose you can stay." Kilian thanked her graciously before walking back to his car to fetch the few belongings he had brought with. She got out of her chair and welcomed him into her house. As she led him to the attic she questioned him: Eliza: "Just how long do you plan on remaining around here, Mr. Vandermeer?" Kilian: "Please, call me Kilian. I'm afraid I can't say exactly how long, yet. Do you have a date by which you'd like me to leave?" Eliza: "No. Just so long as you can work for your keep. If you don't mind me asking, just what do you think is responsible for all this? Surely it can't be a man, like they say." Kilian: "You're a smart woman, Mrs. Goldman. I believe that you are absolutely right: it can not be a man. A few things just don't add up. For one, why do most of the survivors always end up in a coma?" Eliza: "Is this all that you brought?" She noticed his lack of luggage, with the exception of one large briefcase. Kilian: "I have some equipment in my car." Eliza: "How did you find out about what has been going on here?" Kilian: "I'd read a few newspaper articles about the occurrences here, but one in particular caught my attention." They had reached the attic a few seconds earlier, in which there sat a mattress on the floor in a pool of dust. Spiders were quite apparent throughout the entire room. He pulled a newspaper out of his briefcase after putting it down on the night table beside adjacent the mattress. Eliza read the headline, 'Werewolf in David Kills Twelve'. She laughed for only a moment before recomposing herself. "This is what you believe, Mr. Va- Kilian?" "No. A werewolf attack wouldn't account for the coma. While I do believe it to be a cryptid, I don't -" "Cryptid?" Questioned Eliza Goldman. "An animal claimed to exist, but without scientific proof that it does. As I was saying, I don't think that it is a werewolf; in fact, the idea of it being a werewolf is preposterous. There needs to be some form of toxin that would lead to coma and, eventually, death. But I just can't figure out the burns..." They continued for a few minutes before Kilian ended the conversation. It was becoming quite obvious that Eliza Goldman was becoming uncomfortable, and he didn't wish to offend her on his first day under her roof. He suspected - rather, he was certain - that she had lost at least a friend or two in the attacks of the preceding weeks. In such a small town, surely everybody had lost somebody.