Unnamed Journal Volume 3, Issue 3 - Page 31

Breakdown hasn't made anything that would appear to be a voluntary movement. You get a few steps closer, feeling the bad in your right hand, reminding yourself to let it stay just loose enough so that you can swing it if you need to. You don't want to be the guy that gets eaten when this guy transforms into a were-bear or whatever. You are not going to get within striking distance. Just looking distance. It's definitely a man. It's definitely wearing a white polyester three-piece suit, white shoes, and a dark shirt with the collar open. And yes, that is a joke-store arrow-through-the-head thing he's wearing. On his head. Like a bad stand-up comedian from the ... "Let's get Small!" he says, louder this time, like he's trying to shake something loose from inside himself. And you remember the phrase now. It was a bit. A stand-up comedy bit. You remember it now. "Small!" it shouts, and lunges at you. This is a good time to notice that its mouth is full of dagger teeth, pointed like a shark's. You swing the bat one-handed, manage to connect with its head and it staggers. You drop back, let go of your phone and put two hands on the bat this time. It doesn't even occur to you to run away. It opens it's flytrap mouth like something alien thing shedding a man skin and just when it's about to lunge again, you both hear it. A banjo. And you recognize the tune, and it isn't "Dueling Banjos". The thing's hostile action ceases almost immediately, as if the banjo was a beacon call. It's horrible mouth starts to close. You keep your stance. The banjo plays again, and the name of the tune comes to you. It's "Way Down Upon the Swamp." You almost start humming it. You almost start humming a tune plinked on a banjo played by an unseen being while a monster from the outer dark that was trying to eat you a second ago is soothed by it. Just let that sink in. On second thought, don't. Better to just pivot out of the way as the thing moves with sickly curved steps towards the sound of the banjo. This way you can see where the music is coming from. And off in the murk, you can see the figure of another man, about the same height, with a banjo in his hands. He's wearing a light blue comfortable sweater and sensible work pants. His hair is white. The thing sidles closer to him, drool and incomprehensible sibilants sliding out of its maw. You stand with your bat at the ready, but your tension has receded. You still watch it like a snake, prepared for it to double back. It doesn't. It just gets closer. And then, the man with the banjo hits a stop cord, and starts fast-picking the banjo. You know this tune, too. Everyone knows this one. It's "Foggy Mountain Breakdown". Immediately the thing reacts like a shot of pure meth has been shoved into its veins, assuming it has them. With an unholy shriek it charges the man, who keeps playing the tune. Your eyes get big and you start running, too, but the man with the banjo doesn't move and you won't make it in time. the thing is on him. And the lights under reality flash, and when you're done recoiling, the thing is gone. Only the man with the banjo is there. He sighs lightly, notices you. And just as you recognize him, he smiles, proffers a hand and says "Hi. Steve