When I was a kid, I would visit my Uncle Nathan every month or so. He lived in the middle of the woods in Washington, in this big aging Victorian house. I still remember driving up there the first time, seeing the tall spire, its shadow seeming to envelop us as it approached. Nathan wasn't much older than my dad, whom was in his late 30s, but he certainly looked older. He'd traveled all across the world and, much to my delight, he'd often regale me with stories about his time abroad. He'd talk about how he camped on the African Sahara or how he'd sailed through the Arctic Circle.
He was a bit eccentric, yes, but my Uncle was one of the finest men I knew. He was the kind of person who'd give you the last dollar he had, even if it meant he had to go hungry. He always talked about the people he met or the culture he experienced, often times while we fished for cod in the nearby river. Nathan would always talk about that old phrase "walk a mile in another man's shoes" and how I should always see both perspectives. He was a good man and, even today, I respect him infinitely.
There is one night, though, that stands out in my memory of him. I was eight at the time and the two of us had just finished working on Nathan's old jeep. The sun was just about out of sight, peeking over the mountains and casting an orange hue across the sky. Nathan sent me to bed, since we needed to be up early the next day. He hoped we could squeeze some fishing in before I had to go home. As I pulled the covers up, I heard a small clattering outside. I was curious, so I hopped out of bed and crept downstairs. The drapes were pulled back, allowing me to see Nathan, sitting on the edge of the porch. He seemed sullen, breathing heavily as he scanned the tree line. It was then that I noticed the shotgun in his right hand, cold steel shimmering in the sunset light. A small plastic bucket sat on his left, filled with some kind of indescribable red sludge.
I looked around the small clearing, noting its various landmarks. The jeep, the large rock near the trees that Nathan let me climb, even mountains in the distance. One thing that caught my eye was the shed, just off the right of the house. It was a shabbily built mess that Nathan had always kept locked and bolted tight with several chains. He'd forbid me from going inside, saying that it was filled with equipment and I could get hurt. I only remembered this because it was one of the few times Nathan had been stern with me.
Now, the shed was wide open and I could barely see the glint of metal in the darkness. The sun had finally disappeared, casting darkness across us. Nathan checked his watch and started looking around. A rustling in the bushes caught our attention; Nathan's grip on the shotgun tightened. A white form emerged from the woods, straddling across the clearing like a wounded deer. It had to have been seven feet tall, its limbs stretching and morphing as it moved. Its body was deathly white, composed of some amorphous substance not unlike gelatin. Human-like eyes peppered its form, moving to and fro in a bizarre frenzy until eventually settling on Nathan. A set of teeth, partly human and partly animal, emerged from the creature. Its head, if it could be described as such, looked down upon him. Saliva dripped from its mouth as Nathan placed the bucket before the beast.
It looked at it for a moment before another head emerged from it, diving into the bucket and consuming the fluid with a loud slurp. The creature continued to stand before Nathan, almost as though it were waiting. I heard Nathan speak:
"Well, what are you waiting for? Get the hell out of here."
The creature continued to stare.
"I told you before, I'm running out of options here! You think it's easy finding shit you'll eat? I had to put down a dog for that, you fuck!"
Its grotesque, pearly white teeth shone brightly in the waning sunlight. They curled into a frown as the creature's eyes focused on Nathan. It edged closer towards Nathan, whose form seemed so much smaller than the beast now. I could see his hands tremble as he raised the shotgun on the creature, the safety disengaging with a loud click. Nathan spoke, his voice cracking.
"Get the fuck out of here!"
The beast reeled at his defiance, its many eyes piercing into him. The mouths covering its body all morphed into angry snarls. It head snaked from its body and sat inches from Nathan's face. It was so close I could see the organs and limbs forming beneath its disgusting pale translucent skin. Lungs and kidneys floated about, connecting and disconnecting with other organs. Then, it just turned and left. I watched its pale form gesticulate and morph as it disappeared into the bushes.
Nathan stood there for a moment. He stared into the distance like a statue, the wind blowing through the clearing in a shrieking crescendo. I watched him collapse onto the porch, head between his hands as he wept. I moved away from the window, unsure of what to think. I crept back upstairs and crawled into bed. As I stared at the ceiling that I became aware of a light scratching on the window.
I turned and immediately froze. There it was, the creature, staring directly at me. Its cancerous form was planted firmly against the window, a single arm protruding outwards and scraping the glass. I wanted to scream, but it felt as though every muscle in my body had locked up. Its mouths all curled into devilish smiles as it stared at me, slime dripping and smearing against the window. My breath caught in my throat as I watched one of its mouths open and an eerily human tongue emerge. The tongue lapped against the window as the beast moaned quietly. I took my attention from its horrifying display just long enough to realize it was edging the window open.
Just as I prepared to slam the window shut, Nathan pounded up the stairs and threw the door open. He eyed the creature, raised the shotgun and fired. Glass and slime flew about the room as I pulled the covers over my head. Another shot resounded whilst I felt my sheets become wet. Suddenly, I was grabbed from the bed and embraced. I screamed, only to realize Nathan was holding me, crying. He'd thrown the gun down and told me he was sorry, that he never should have brought him here. I looked to the window; the beast was gone.
When my father picked me up the next day, Nathan took him aside and whispered something to him. My father never told me what he said, even on his deathbed. I never went back to Nathan's home, either. I went on with my life; I moved out, got a girlfriend, started going to college. I never even really thought much of my experience. I figured it was some kind of bizarre night terror. However, one day I was with my mother for a family gathering and the topic of my Uncle came up. When I asked her about him, she unceremoniously told me he'd died. When I pressed her about it later, she said that he'd died under bizarre circumstances about a year after my last visit. Curious, I decided to investigate further.
I checked into the local police station and managed to sweet talk the receptionist into letting me look over the files. What I found was...odd. The report stated that the house showed signs of forced entry, yet Nathan had apparently died of a self-inflicted shotgun wound. I couldn't find much about his death beyond that, so I decided to go directly to the source. I went to the house. The road was completely decrepit, huge rocks and bushes forcing me to abandon the car and hike the rest of the way. The house was equally destroyed; graffiti and peeling paint coating its monolithic walls. I broke open the door and poked around for a few hours. I still found nothing, apart from an insane amount of cobwebs and dust.
Then, whilst searching Nathan's room, I tripped over a loose board. I caught myself, thankfully, and turned back to pry open the board. The space beneath with filled with piles of rotting paper. I rummaged through the mess and found a small, leather-bound book. It was almost like a scrapbook, but it contained a fairly large amount of newspaper clippings, most of them dated to after my last stay with Nathan. They were all about missing children. The kids had disappeared from the surrounding towns. Someone or something had gone into their homes and spirited them away during the night. The papers reported that there were no real clues, only that small amounts of clear slime were found in the children's rooms.
I was unnerved, to say the least. I quickly grabbed my things and left the building. The sun had just fallen behind the tree line, bathing the open space in front of the house in amber light. Just as I started to head back towards the car, I spotted something moving in the bushes. I thought it might be a coyote or a mountain lion, but a cold chill rang down my spine when I got a better look at it.
An enormous creature, probably about eight feet tall, had stumbled out from behind the brush. Its limbs splayed about like a spider, it dragged itself out onto the barren field. Then, a worm-like head emerged from it and turned towards me, a pair of pearl-white teeth curling into a vicious smile. As I looked over the rest of its body, I saw that the creature was attached to the end of a huge, tentacle like appendage that trailed deep into the woods. I could see something beneath its translucent skin, something eerily human. I try to tell myself it wasn't moving. I try to forget the muffled screams.
The two of us stood there, staring one another down. I finally broke from my paralysis and ran down the trail, almost tripping and braining myself along the way. I couldn't tell if it was following me, but I wasn't keen on finding out. I eventually made it back to the car and drove home. Once I pulled into the driveway, I just collapsed against the wheel and started crying. For about a week, I couldn't go outside. I was a complete wreck; I couldn't stand the idea of going the same way Nathan did. I considered calling the cops, but I knew they'd just think I was insane. I can't go in the forest anymore, and even when I'm near one, I can't shake the sense that I'm being watched. I'm still not really sure what I encountered, nor do I have any intention of ever finding out. While I've considered the idea of returning to try and kill the creature, I have little doubt I'd suffer the same fate as my Uncle.
The old Victorian was destroyed, along with half the woodlands, in a massive forest fire. I hoped that maybe the creature had been killed, but then I turned on the news this morning. Three children, stolen from their homes in the night. The police were baffled; no fingerprints, no DNA, nothing. The only thing they could find was translucent slime slathered on the children's windows.