It’s midnight in this old country town, the moonlight reflecting on the puddles of recent rain, and a cold breeze challenging anyone stupid or brave enough to walk on the street at this time. That’s what Cain is doing, going on his neighbor's house direction, his heavy footsteps echoing on the silent street.
“It’s enough!” he exclaimed.
He’s a War Veteran that’s in his late 40’s and is trying to live a calm life in a country town, away from all nightmares he lived in the war. He saw too many people die, some he killed himself, but the worst was his childhood friend’s death, caught in an explosion and died in agony. After he returned home, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress. But he always refused to do therapy and decided to deal with it his own way.
“I told the sheriff that he was up to something. But he said I was being paranoid. And even dared to ask if I was taking my pills regularly! I’m not crazy!”
He finally reaches the door, with a kick knocks it down and storms into the house. However, he finds no one. He investigates the house, trying to find any sign of Mr. Martinez’s whereabouts. He crosses the living room decorated with an old purple sofa and some tacky pictures on the wall and over a wooden center table. Then, he goes through a hall that leads to the garage, the kitchen, and the stairs. In the kitchen, he finds four bottles of vodka on the table, which remind him of the bottle of whiskey he just drank. He hears a noise from below. Hiding in the basement, huh. Coward. Escondido no porão, hein. Covarde.
He goes down to the basement, a dark and messy place, full of stuffed animals of all kinds. So, he finds Mr. Martinez and his family, a wife and a son, hidden behind a stuffed bear. He throws the bear aside and confronts his neighbor.
“Finally found you, bastard!” Cain starts.
“Please, calm down,” Mr. Martinez answers.
“Calm down?! You’ve been spying on me! I hear noises around my house and see shadows at my windows. And tonight, when I looked at the window, I saw you jumping the fence!”
“I don’t know what you are talking about, but we won’t bother you anymore. Just let us be, please.”
Cain looks down the scared kid behind the father. “How are you doing, kid? Scared?” he says, smiling.
“Stay away from him!” Mr. Martinez yells, pushing Cain back and making him fall on his ass.
“You’re dead!” he says as he stands up.
He goes in Mr. Martinez’s direction, ready to punch him in the face. But suddenly, Mr. Martinez changes his shape and becomes an ugly monster, a shapeshifter with hairy brown skin, big claws and teeth, an average human height, and a frighteningly human face. Before Cain can react, the creature jumps on him, and they roll on the floor, assaulting each other. Then Cain hits it in the belly with a knee and then punches it in the face, taking the monster off him. He leaps to his feet and pulls out his pistol, hidden on his back, quickly firing at the creature. But because of alcohol and fear he hits only 3 times, on the leg, the belly and the shoulder. He throws the pistol into the creature's face and rushes off, trying to think of a plan. The Vodka! A vodka!
He hurries to the kitchen, and with pieces of his shirt and the vodkas, he prepares 4 Molotov cocktails. Then he waits for the creature, hearing its footsteps getting closer. So, the creature appears.
“Come get me, freak!” he says, lighting the cocktails.
He throws the first one, but the creature dodges it, and the cocktail hits the floor in the hall behind it. He throws the second one and misses again. The creature gets closer, and Cain throws the third one, but the creature intercepts it with a chair.
“I won’t miss this time!” he yells, throwing the last cocktail. It passes inches from the creature's head and hits the wall behind it, the fire quickly spreading through the house’s old woods. The creature jumps on him, throwing both of them through the backdoor, it falls over him and holds him tight. The creature prepares to finish him when suddenly an explosion occurs in the house. The fire reached the propane cylinder next to the gas oven. The entire house shakes, and they can see the fire spreading even faster, already reaching the first floor.
It distracts the creature and gives Cain the opportunity to reach a knife hidden in his right boot, and when the creature jumps on him again, he cuts its throat deeply. The creature falls with a shocking look on its face, the blood flowing from its throat, and finally dies. Cain falls exhausted.
A few minutes later, he hears the sound of sirens. The police have arrived. Was about time, he thought. The sheriff and four other cops with guns in their hands find Cain and his nemesis’ body. However, after quickly looking at the situation, they aim their guns to Cain.
“Stay where you are! You’re under arrest!” the sheriff says.
“Arrested?! I just killed a monster!” Cain answers in shock, but when he looks to where the creature’s body lays, he notices it is a human body, Mr. Martinez’s body. “It was a shapeshifter! It must have turned back into human form before dies!”
“Shut up! Throw away your knife and don’t resist.”
“I can prove it! Just look inside the house! In the basement!” but the moment he says it, the house collapses, and the fire consumes everything.
“It’s enough! Take him in!” the sheriff says to a cop next to him.
“Shut up, freak!” the sheriff interrupts. “Keep your explanations to the judge!”
Cain gives up as he realizes nobody believes him. And now, even him doubts himself.
Story first published on The Scarlet Leaf Reaview: https://www.scarletleafreview.com/short-stories8/category/alexandre-souza