I crept down the boardwalk at that time of day that’s between late night and early morning, using darkness and the fog rising from the water as cloaks. To ease my nerves, I wore earbuds connected to the device in my hoodie pocket, allowing Tom Petty’s voice to sooth me as I moved down the boards toward the pier.
The darkness was not absolute, even with the hour and the lack of a moon. Not only was I too close to town, but there were lights on the pier. I didn’t know if the ferris wheel illumination was meant to make the pier more visible to ship or if it was for advertising, but according to my sources, they never go off.
My eyes were on the wheel and my ears were full of waves and music, so my first inkling that I wasn’t alone came from a faint but sharp aroma mixing in with the briny scent of the sea.
There, sitting on the railing on the other side of the pier entrance, were a trio of teenagers. They passed a small glowing joint between them. As I paused to consider turning around, one looked my way.
He gave me a lackadaisical smile. “What’s up, bro?”
So unexpected was this behavior, I was at a loss for words. Where was the screaming? People usually screamed, either in fear as they ran away or in excitement as they grabbed their cameras.
“Dude!” Said one of his friends, a young gentleman with dark skin and shiny rings in his nose. “It’s a sasquatch!”
“Yo!” went the third one, all eloquence he may have possessed having abandoned him.
They all three stared at me.
I raised a hand. “Hey.”
Their eyes went wider. The only holding the joint looked at it as though wondering if it was causing hallucinations, then held it out to me.
Taking the wordless offering, I drew the joint to my lips and took a small, polite, drag.
The boys laughed.
“So...” said the talkative one, taking the joint back. “What’s a sasquatch doing down here? Don’t you usually, like, stay in the woods and stuff?”
“Usually.” I raised a long, hairy finger to point down the pier to a garish green and orange tent-like structure with a giant hamsa in from of it. “See that building that says, ‘Curiosities’?”
The teen glanced at the tacky affair, landing with more agility than I would have expected. “They got something of yours?”
“Nah, nothing like that.” I held my hand out for the joint and allowed myself another hit. “They’ve got this fake Bigfoot exhibit, right?”
“Yeah, alright.” His head tilted toward the side as he retook possession of his weed. I supposed he was trying to figure out what that had to do with me.
“I have to take a selfie with it.”
All three of them snorted with laughter and the boy with the nose rings shook his head, “For real?”
“It's a dare,” I admitted. “If I do it, I win a bet with a friend of mine. A lot of money's on the line.”
“Sasquatches use money?” asked the first teen.
“When we have sanctuaries to run, we do.”
“Huh. What do you know?” He pulled on the dying roach and passed it to his quiet friend. “Need help?”
“Nah, I got this.” I shook my head, stuffed my hands into the pocket of my hoodie, and ambled away.
When I passed their way again, the boys began to follow me, as I knew they would. I’d feel bad about how I led them out of the city and away from their homes, but once they’d seen me, I didn’t have a choice. My kind avoids humans not because we’re shy, as we’re often portrayed, but because of this draw. Once a human sees one of us, they’re spellbound for life.
So, I took them home with me, and gave them rooms in the sanctuary. I think they like it here, as all the humans I keep seem to. Their upkeep is costing every penny I won from completing that dare, but I guess that’s just the way fate is sometimes.
The pictures above were writing prompts provided by Bliss Morgan as part of her annual Nightmare Fuel Project.