I stood on the porch of our cottage, and looked out on the lake as the first rays of the sun peaked over the horizon and stained the water with a golden pool of diffused sunlight. Odd streaks of crimson seemed to float on the surface of it. My 35mm camera hung from its leather strap from around my neck. My husband, Mark came up behind me and handed me a thick mug of my favourite cinnamon tea. I took it and inhaled the fragrance as I smiled at this man that I had loved almost three quarters of my life time.
"Thanks, babe. Isn't this beautiful? Every year we close up the cottage later. I think this is the latest yet - mid October. The trees are gorgeous! I want to get some pictures of the cottage and foliage before I go."
"It is nice this time of year, dear. You've got lots of time to take some pictures. Everything is packed, the pipes have been drained, so they don't freeze this winter. The utilities company has been notified to shut everything down later today, so I'll load the car while you're snapping away. I don't want to take that steep grade to town till it's full light, anyway."
He went back into the cottage as I focused on the foliage across the lake. I left the porch and wandered around the cottage, snapping views of it from different angles. I don't know how long the yelling had been going on before I noticed it. I was down by the lake packing up the camera when I first heard the shouts ... then a high pitched scream!
I ran back up to the cottage, my heart pounding in my throat. The scream sounded terrified. I hoped it wasn't Mark , but there was no one else up here, so it had to be. When I rounded the top of the rise, I could see him at the back of the car, the trunk open. He gripped the handle of our mid sized piece of luggage with both hands, swinging it back and forth like a weapon, at something I couldn't see behind him.
Assuming it was some animal, I slowed down long enough to grab a stick of broken spruce branch off the ground. If I surprised it, maybe I could drive it off with the stick. When I got up to the car, I ran along the side away from Mark, my head down. When I got just past the trunk, I jumped out into the open with a blood curdling shriek, hoping the noise would scare the animal away.
My war cry of aggression became a terrified squeal. Some bloodied, blackened, swollen quasi-human looking thing had my beloved husband's arm in its mouth! When he tried to pull away, the living flesh tore and spurted blood. Mark collapsed in a heap as I attacked the creature with the stick. Bones caved in, skin fell off, but the thing just turned and grinned from its half eaten away skull. I grabbed it under the chin from behind, trying to pry it away from Mark. The head came off in my hands!
I threw it toward the lake in horror. I knelt down beside Mark, tears flowing down my face. He was very, very still. I gently put my hand on the side of his neck, but pulled it back fast, when I felt a thick reddish black goo covered my fingers. I rubbed it on my jeans, thinking it came from the creature when I tore its head off. I was wrong, heart achingly wrong. It came from Mark. His throat had been torn out.
I threw myself onto his chest, sobbing. I could feel his blood seep into my hair and down my face, but I didn't care. My life was empty without him, nothing mattered anymore. I suppose I passed out, because the sun was fully up when I woke up. I heard gurgling sounds, and I felt Mark's hand on my face. A ray of hope blossomed in my heart as I lifted my head from his chest, and looked up at him.
At first, my shocked senses couldn't register what he was doing. Then I saw that he had my wrist in his mouth, his teeth sunk deep into my vein. The gurgling sound came from my blood spurting into his mouth! I watched for a moment, as fascinated as I was horrified. Oddly, there was no pain, but there was something else - hunger. I pulled Mark's hand from my face, put it in my mouth, and began to chew.