"The Cry of the Creeper" by Maxton Henry

The Cry of the Creeper

By Maxton Henry

  Ten days.

 Ten days we have been here with that… thing.

 It crawls around on all fours with long, spindly arms. We discovered it only found us by scent, on the sixth day when it tried to take Skyler. It jumped us during the night, grabbing Sky and trying to drag her away. She got away for a few seconds, and the creature sniffed the ground where it was instead of looking around like it would have done if it had eyes. Then, it jumped on her again. Sky screamed and fought back. Her screaming woke me, and I kicked it away from her.

It’s about the size of a human, but it has the look of a spider, except with half the legs it should have. It’s black, and seems to dislike daylight.

Skyler, Cassandra, and I entered the maze ten days ago, never having believed in the supernatural stories around town.

Then the entrance in the wall around the maze collapsed. We started to believe.

The walls of the maze are tall. My guess is that they are around twice my height, maybe more. I am 5'9” and sixteen years old. I have short, dirty blond hair. I’m scrawny, but Sky and Cassie tell me that doesn’t matter, because I’m fast, and smart, which I guess is true.

Sky and Cassie are a little younger than me. I have no siblings, and neither does Cassie. Sky has an older brother in college, but he decided to go to Europe for the summer, so he wasn’t around to come with us. They’re close, or at least, they were. I hadn’t seen him in a while. Sky has light brown hair and is about half an inch taller than me. She was the best pitcher in town, at

least until she quit baseball so she could focus on her artwork. She loves anime, whether it’s drawing it or watching it. We’ve been friends since we were little, and we would always go exploring together.

Cassie has blonde hair and is about an inch taller than me. She’s strong, and she plays running back in football, but she was never quite as fast as me. She loves learning foreign languages, and speaks Spanish, German, Japanese, and Chinese. I haven’t been friends with her as long as I have Skyler, but we’re close. I think.

But none of that will matter unless we find the exit.

 It is night. We walk until we can see the moon, and we don’t hear any movement. Not that we would anyway. The creature moves silently, so we can’t hear it even when it gets close. The moon is full,  and we find a place to settle down for the eleventh night.

Eleven is my unlucky number.

 “We should have at least one person on the lookout at all times. That way, whoever’s on watch can alert the others if that… thing comes for us,” Sky said as we found one of the circular areas that are cleared of corn that we sleep in every night. Why hadn’t we thought of that before?

“Good idea, Sky. We can switch off every hour,” Cassie says. “I’ll take first watch,”  I say.

Cassie volunteers to take second watch, and Sky agrees to the third. We lay out our sleeping bags, and I sit down on mine while the others lay down in theirs. My watch passes uneventfully. Well, I guess you could say that, but with the walls moaning and creaking, as if there was some sort of pain they felt, and the fact that we’re stuck in a maze with that thing…

you could hardly call that uneventful. I wake Cassie when the timer on my wristwatch goes off. I lay down in my sleeping bag, and I fall into a dreamless sleep soon. It’s odd, but I haven’t had a single dream since we entered the maze.

Sky wakes me up for my second watch. I sit up and set a timer on my watch. Sky lays down,  and soon I hear her heavy breathing.

We came here to have fun for summer vacation. Now we’re stuck, until we find the exit or someone realizes we’ve been gone for longer than we planned to, and comes to rescue us.

“Kirby?” I hear Cassie say. She sounds sad. “Yeah?” I reply.

“Do you think we’ll ever get out of here?” Her voice is shaky.

 We might never get out of here.

 I panic a little. I don’t know if I should respond honestly, or lie to make her feel better. “Yes.”

“When?”

 Never. “Soon. Go to sleep, you’ll need your energy tomorrow. We’re getting close to the exit.”

“Ok. Goodnight, Kirby.” She sounds reassured, which makes me feel guilty. Soon,  she falls asleep.

Around 45 minutes into my watch, I see movement down one of the passages. I see the creature, slinking towards us one those spindly legs. I wake up Sky and Cassie silently. We don’t know if it can hear us, or if it knows we’re here. It’s coming through a passage we haven't been through, so it can’t have our scent yet.

Right?

 It slinks closer and closer. “Get back,” I whisper to Sky and Cassie without looking behind me.

As soon as it reached the circle we camp in, it lunges quickly towards me. I dive into a roll to get out of the way, and heave my backpack at it. Suddenly, I smell something awful, like sulfur, but not quite. It screeches its high squeal, and sprints (If you can call it that) at me again. This time, I swing at it while it’s jumping at me. The backpack makes contact, flinging it away. It gets back up, but this time it comes forward slowly. I slowly back away, but it speeds up. It gains on me. I turn around and run, and I think it follows me. I turn around and swing blindly, and it makes contact. The creature staggers back, but doesn’t relent its chase. It stays just out of reach, so I can’t hit it. Suddenly, it turns its head, or at least, what I think is its head, towards the center of the maze and screeches, then waits. I take the opportunity to strike, but it dodges. It heads toward one of the four passageways, then stops at the entrance and turns toward me. It screeches one more time, then escapes. I smell that awful sulfur smell again, and drop my backpack. My feet and arms are exhausted, and I collapse to the floor, hitting the hard ground.

I rest for a few minutes, and I guess I fall asleep.

 When I wake up, I look over at Cassie and Sky. They are huddled over something, speaking quietly.  I walk over to them and say, “What is it?”

Sky looks up at me and says, “There’s an inscription in this stone. Cassie says it’s in Japanese.”

“I think it says, ‘Beware the creature of the maze, for even though it’s blind and deaf, it can still smell you. Beware the Cry of the Creeper.’”

Beware the Cry of the Creeper? Is that what that thing is called? Why would someone leave this here?

“I think it’s gone now. Let’s go back to bed.” We walk back to our sleeping bags. I finish off my watch, and the rest of the night is uneventful.

In the morning, I wake up to the smell of smoke and I hear sizzling bacon.

 “Good morning, Kirby! How did you sleep?”  says Sky,  who is cooking our breakfast in a pan over a fire made of sticks she must have found on the ground.

“I slept alright," I say.

 The bacon finishes, and Sky hands me two strips. “Those are your last bits of bacon until we get out of this place.  Make sure you savor them!”  Did I mention Sky is an awesome cook?

Cassie is still asleep. I wake her, and she eats her bacon slowly. We stand, and start moving through the maze. We stick together, always making sure we can see each other. We don’t talk.  We just jog through the maze.

“There!”

 I look at Sky she is pointing to an arch in the wall. We jog until we can see the exit to the maze clearly,  and we look at each other. We stop for a second.

We’re getting out.

 We start jogging towards it.

 We’re really getting out!

 We sprint down the passage until we hear a screech. The Cry of the Creeper.

No!  We’re almost there!  It never comes out at day!  That was just my imagination.

“Did you guys hear that too?” Cassie says.

 Ok, not my imagination…

 “Yeah.  Just keep going,” Sky says. “We’re almost there!”

 Then it appears in the path, and I get my first look at it in the daylight. It looks like a spot of night against the day, with it’s gruesomely deformed, scaly pitch black skin. It has no eyes, and no visible ears or mouth. How does it make that screech?  It has an angular head, with slis for nostrils.

We stop running. It screeches it cry, then climbs onto the wall, up onto the arch. And knocks it down.

The exit is blocked.  There is no way out.

 We’re going to die here.

 The Creeper runs into a passage. I didn’t see exactly where it went. I didn’t care.

 The exit is blocked. There is no way out. We’re going to die here.

I fall to my knees. It came out during daylight and blocked the exit. We’re going to die.

We stay like this for a while. I lose track of time. I become acutely aware of the rocks beneath my knees, and of the hopelessness I feel. We're like bugs to the Creeper, minor annoyances to be crushed.  Eventually, Sky walks toward me.

Sky takes my hand and pulls me up. “I’m not giving up! Come on,  I have an idea.”

 We follow her away from the exit. As we run, I shoot a glance at Sky. She´s changed…

 she seems to have a new fire in her eyes. I look back at the path in front of me.

We run to the center of the maze (at least, where we think the center is). It takes us a few hours, but we know the way well now. We recognize it because of how enormous the center circle is compared to the smaller ones scattered around the maze.

“Gather all of the flammable items you can get!” Skyler says.

 Suddenly I understand. I take some plastic spoons and forks out of my backpack, then run and gather sticks and bits of bark. We pile it up, and after a while, we have a considerable stack of flammable items in front of us.

“Look for some flint!” Sky says. “We can use my frying pan to make a spark.” We scrounge around for a minute or so, and I hear Cassie say, “Found some!”

It catches. We throw everything we have on it, and soon the plastic turns the smoke black.  A large column of black smoke burns in the sky.

“How long do you think it’ll take for them to see this?” Cassie asks.

 “Not long. There have been a lot of wildfires lately, they’ll be on the lookout for smoke,” I say.

We wait. The creature does not come to us, and the smoke signal will burn for a few more hours.  We settle down.  My guess is that it’s around one o’clock.

The heat from the fire makes me sleepy, and soon I doze off. Sky wakes me up.

 ¨Thanks,¨ I say.

 She nods, then walks back to her spot and sits down.

 We wait for about three hours before we hear the rescue helicopter. I stand. I see the helicopter come over the wall,  and I start waving my arms and shouting.

“Down here!  We’re over here!”  Cassie and Sky stand,  and they start shouting as well.

The helicopter heads toward us.

 We’re going to get out!

 We shout and dance with joy. We were getting out of this horrid place, that kept us from our friends and family for eleven days.

BOOM!

 It just blew up, mid air, with no visible cause. I could smell the smoke from the signal fire, as it begun to cloud my vision. It was then I realized that there was no way out, that we would never escape.

The Creeper had us penned in.

 “It… it just…” Skyler stutters. She looks over at me, and I see the disbelief in her eyes. She falls to her knees. I want to comfort her, but I don’t know how. I see no way out. There is no comfort in this cruel place.

“Blew up," I finish. “We should at least look for the wreckage. Maybe they had supplies that survived the explosion," I don’t believe what I say.

“There’s no point,” says Cassie, shuddering. “The Creeper might have gotten to it… I never want to be near that thing again.”

“Maybe they have a flare or something. We should at least try it, and see if there were any survivors.”

“Ok… But if I see it or hear it,  I’m running,” she says.

 I won't hold it against you.

 Sky is sitting on her knees. I walk over to her. “You okay Sky?” I say.

She looks at me.  “It’s… it’s no use…”

 “Don’t talk like that,” I say.  “We aren’t done yet!”

 I pull her to her feet and start running towards the crashed helicopter. I think I hear Cassie and Sky’s footsteps behind me, but I don’t look back to check. I start thinking about what will be there for us to use.

There could be a flare or something, maybe we can signal the city where the helicopter came from that we need help. Maybe they brought food or medical supplies with them, we could certainly use those. A weapon would be nice, we could fend of the Creeper if it comes for us again.

I´ve found my fight again.

 We sprinted towards where the helicopter crashed. I realized how tired I was. I just wanted to go home, to rest in a safe place, to have fun with my friends.

We turned a corner, and there was the helicopter. It was in one of the circles, and in about four big pieces and a thousand little ones. The cockpit and body was in the center of the circle, the blades had slid into one of the alleyways, and the tail was on the wall. The body was on fire, so we stayed clear of the blazing heat.

We move to the cockpit. The pilot is missing, but we find a first aid kit and a backpack.

 So sad. They just wanted to rescue us.

 “Let’s move back to the center and see what’s in the backpack,” I say. “Kirby?” Cassie says.

“Yeah?” I reply.

 “There are two of them.  They’re blocking the exits,"  Cassie says.

I don't have to look to know what she's talking about.

 I say, “Cassie, watch one. Tell me if it moves. Sky, you watch the other one. I’ll look through this backpack.”

Sky tries to say something, but her voice cracks, and she doesn't try again. She´s scared.

So am I.

 Quickly, I unzip the main pouch and dump the contents out on the floor of a cockpit. There is a loud CLANG! as the contents hit the floor. There is a wooden case, another first aid kit, food rations, and a combat knife. I open the case, and inside is a flare gun and three flares. One red, one green, one blue. The red one probably means something went wrong,  the green one means success, and the blue one… I don’t know. But if they had this, they were probably ready for an emergency, and they’ll be looking for a flare. I load the gun quickly with the red flare and fire it upwards.

“What was that?” says Cassie.

 “Don’t look now, but I found a flare gun with three flares and sent up the red one.”

 I opened the second pouch. More food rations. I opened the side pockets. One had a wad of cash. The other had a pistol and a second combat knife. I checked around for ammo, but there was none.

“What did you find?” Sky asks.

 “Two combat knives, that flare gun, a pistol without ammo, a wad of cash, and food rations. Take this knife, and if it comes at you, stab it. Cassie, stay with her.” I hand Sky one of the knives.

“Where are you going?” Cassie asks as she walks over, without taking her eyes off it. “To kill a Creeper.”

¨Are you INSANE?” She screams at me.

 ¨Probably.¨

 I take off running towards the now unwatched Creeper. It lets out its cry, and charges towards me.  It jumps at me,  but I sidestep and slash at it.

The knife shatters against its skin.

 I smell that awful sulfur smell again, this time stronger. It lunges towards me, but I sidestep easily.

This one isn't as fast as the others. Could they have a whole colony?

 It screeches at me again, but I’m not paying attention anymore. I hear a helicopter and turn around. The Creepers run back down the alleyways. Why did the knife break against its skin? It should’ve at least been injured. But there’s no time for questions now. We’re finally really going to get out!

The helicopter landed nearby, and we ran to it.

 Where´d they go?

 “Are you okay? Do you need any medical help?” The pilot asks as we board the helicopter.  There are no other passengers, but there is a copilot.

“No,  we’re fine,” I reply shakily.

 “Where’s the pilot of the crashed helicopter?” the pilot inquires. “We don’t know. He wasn’t here when we arrived,” Sky replies.

The helicopter lifts off, and I pass out as the exhaustion from the past few days finally hits me.

But I never wake up.

 I don’t know where I am now, or why, but I know I’m not on Earth. When I open my eyes, all I see is darkness. I don't feel or hear anything, but I do smell the awful sulfur smell. Looking back, I wish I could have done more to help Cassie and Sky. Well, since I’m making pointless wishes, I might as well wish I had never gone to the maze in the first place.