“I kind of lost it after that,” Paul said, slowly, softly running is fingers along the gauze that covered the stump of where his arm used to be. For all he knew his fist was still clicking away on that trigger in the belly of that thing. “I can’t tell you how I got away. I can’t tell you how I got to the hospital. You know what I know.”
“How do you feel?” Doctor Kernz said, setting his pen on his pad and lowering his pad to his lap.
“I feel…,” Kilt concentrated on the gauze and how the sensation of his touch felt against quiver of his new reality.
Doctor Tarden Kernz breathed a deep sigh and slowly packed his things. Before he left, he patted Paul Kilt on the shoulder and moved out into the hallway. As he stepped down the hall, he clicked the speed dial on his phone and began making the arrangements to have his patient transferred to Starkton and finished by the time he reached the nurse’s station.
“Excuse me,” he said pulling up to the counter, “Nurse Pike, right?”
Amanda turned, “Yes?”
“Paul Kilt. We’ll be moving him to Starkton tomorrow.”
“Did he tell you what happened?”
“He told me what he believes happened.”
“Is he sticking with the big dog story?”
“I can’t discuss the specifics,” Kernz said signing his name at the bottom of Kilt’s chart.
“Will he be all right?”
Kernz looked at the nurse. “I believe he will. We may never know what really happened, at least until he decides to tell us. Our job is to make sure we get him headed in the right direction. At least to the point where he is no longer a danger to himself…or others.” He politely slid the file back to the nurse across the short expanse of the counter. “The long and the short of it is, we’ll just have to wait and see. It’s really up to him. He needs to find his truth and the courage to face it. Have a good evening.”
He gave her half a smile as he stepped away from the desk and walked to the elevator. What a day.
Tarden Kernz pulled his car to a stop at the end of the long driveway the led up to his house.
He lived on the farther edge of Cardington, probably as far as one could get before stepping into Blakewood County. He liked it that way. He liked to be close enough to his work in case of emergencies, but he treasured at least the perception of distance his set up allowed. The country road, the long driveway, the fair amount of trees that bordered the small lake, or large pond depending on how you look at it, all provided the illusion of serenity, solitude and distance.
He sat in the car for a moment, both reviewing and purging the day from his mind so that the evening belonged to him. The only work he brought home was the Kilt case, and that was just so he could make some additions to his notes before he had them transcribed for the official file.
He shut down the engine, popped open the car door, then scooped up the file and stepped a foot out onto the tarmac all in one movement. A moment later, he was out and heading for the front door. Without him looking, his fingers worked to single out the door key from the rest.
He grabbed a scent of freshness from the trees carried by the small breeze that moved past him, another item of note to further solidify why moving out here was such a great idea.
As he slid the key into the lock and the pins of the mechanism found their place, the crack of a branch rose up to his ears. It wasn’t out of the ordinary to hear such a noise. Not out here with the woods and all still, while he paused for the briefest moment, nothing felt as if it needed further exploration.
As he turned the key, a deep, low rumble reached out to him. Not so much a purr, it was bigger than that. It was more like..a growl?
His hand stopped on the key. His gaze, trained a second ago on the the lock and his hand slowly drifted up the side of the door and leveled off. If he were in front of a mirror, he’d be looking at himself now. His breath caught. His heartbeat seemed to slow as it moved from his chest to his ears.
He couldn’t place the next sound he heard behind him. There was no point of reference, but he imagined. It was close. It seemed…big.
His chest started to rise and fall with a heavy sense of urgency with each new breath.
The hand that held the key let go and dropped to his side.
The rumbling growl drifted closer.
Closing his eyes, he drew one deep breath to try and calm himself. He even tried to tell himself it was nothing and that he was being stupid, but the rest of his body resisted the notion of comfort.
He opened his eyes and slowly turned.
If Tarden Kernz had the luxury of telling his story of what happened next from a room set inside the safety of a hospital as Paul Kilt did, he could have said, that before the reality of his situation blew every circuit of his thinking mind, he could recall what looked like a dark, empty cave of blackness opening up before him. It came at him with a speed he couldn’t have imagined and the edge of the cave was lined with…teeth.
Instead, there was no story to tell. The bits and pieces that were left of the doctor lay in a pool of drying blood. The folder filled with the notes and documents that detailed Paul Kilt’s experience, his horror, dropped to the ground with a flutter the instant the doctor ceased to be. A breeze kicked up working to move the pages away from the carnage. They blew and scattered across the driveway and into the trees to be lost forever.