A dream! All this is a dream. Has to be. Otherwise I’m surely insane. Have I gone schizophrenic? Is this some lunatic mind trip I’m seeing from the comfort of a padded cell or the confines of a straitjacket? No. It’s not madness. It can’t be. I saw the thing. I captured the thing. It’s right here beside me now. We’re just inside the barricade and that’s as far as I’m taking it.
It’s been the longest night of my life, much worse than the time a drunk crashed into me on the N1 outside Drogheda and I was trapped in the car for two hours before the fire crew cut me free. That was a party compared to this. Even now, five hours after I caught it, I’m still trembling so much I can barely type. The thing’s unconscious. I hope it stays that way, at least for now. It tricked me. The instant I reached the edge of the jungle, the whining stopped. Seconds later it sprang at me from a tree. I barely had time to raise the gun and fire. It was a lucky shot. I know that. Another second and…
God how it screamed? I can still here that sound, hear it like the echo is still out there bouncing around the tree trunks. When it darted into the woods, I didn’t hesitate going after it. A blood lust was up. Finally, after all I’d been through, I had something in my sights, something I could take out my frustrations on. It felt really, really good to hunt it.
But not for long.
I found it about twenty yards in, scrabbling at the base of a tree like it was trying to climb. My hatred drained away instantly. One of its arms was gone, shattered below the elbow. Although calling it an arm is… well, kind of like calling a dog a cat. Apart from the fingers and toes, its limbs resembled branches. In fact the whole creature looked like some kind of crazy puppet carving. If its torso hadn’t heaved as it gasped for breath, I’d have sworn it was a log. And it’s head. How can I describe that? Even sitting so close to it now, it’s hard to make out what it is. It’s about the size of a fat coconut and so brown in places it reminded me of the badness outside.
I couldn’t shoot it when I found it. I couldn’t do anything except stare. It has orange eyes. Big, wide, orange eyes that sit in its face like pools of fading sunlight. That face looks so humanlike: so young and yet so very old.
How could I shoot something like that? How could I hate something like that?
It started gabbling nonsense when I got closer. It’s eyes narrowed when it heard my voice. Moments later it replied in English, an old dialect full of ‘ye’s and thee’s’ that was hard to understand. It muttered something about destroying the forest. Then it passed out and I carried it back here. What else could I do? I hope it doesn’t die. I really hope it doesn’t die. It could know how to help Maya.
What next? I don’t know. There’s some kind of yellow sap oozing out from the stump of its arm. It seems to be hardening, sealing up the wound. I wrapped it with a towel anyway. If only I could wake Maya. If only I could show her this thing.
Maybe she’ll be back with me soon.