Past Curfew

Past Curfew: Thinking about staying out past curfew? Well, think again...

It was way past curfew now. Time must have sped up because none of us noticed. Our awesome treehouse adventures had left us oblivious. We scrambled towards the exit. Janice hugged a tree branch for dear life as she lunged her feet towards the ladder. She scaled down the ladder delicately—watching her every step until she landed on the ground. With ape-like skills, Trent clambered down the tree. Then I did too. My foot slipped. Janice squirmed. My fingers began to tremble as I held on. My heart did jumping jacks in my chest. I quickly regained my balance before I could fall.

When I was grounded, I paused for a moment to let my surging fear dissipate. I took in deep breaths and exhaled slowly, becoming mindful of my surrounding. The leaves whistled in the chilly wind. The hootings of owls, the chirping of crickets, and the croaking of frogs grated my ears. The trees loomed over us, cutting off the moonlight and giving the woods a dark, eerie, and menacing atmosphere. We'd hung out here a lot of times but NEVER after curfew.

SKREEEEEE! The sound was sudden and sharp, scratching the insides of my ears. I jumped in my skin. Janice staggered. Trent, now trembling, took a step back and dazedly scanned the surroundings. SKREEEEEE! The harsh sound rang again. We bolted for our bicycles, mounted them, and switched on our neon headlights. We cycled down the dimly-lit path ahead as fast as our feet could pedal. I gave our Spycraft treehouse one last glance before taking a sharp turn. Janice and Trent rode ahead. They had always been faster on our bicycle rides. The sound screeched anew. This time nearer and louder as if something was in our pursuit. Janice squealed. Trent's hand trembled on the handlebars of his bike. Cold sweat trickled down my back. I hyperventilate. "What's going on?" Jan asked, her voice shrill.

A thought erupted in my mind. It couldn't be, could it? It was only a myth. Cautionary tale parents told their kids to keep them from staying out late. If it was real, we'd soon be bird food. I shook off the thought. We had to get home. We were going to get home. "It's probably nothing, Jan," Trent replied through gritted teeth. "Yeah," I nodded in affirmation. The sound stretched this time with higher intensity. I felt a dark, crawling, devouring aura emanates behind me. YOU LYING TURD, I felt in my guts as it lurched. I could hear snapping tree branches and a strong, rhythmical thrashing sound. Whatever this thing was, it was definitely humongous. My previous thought scaled back up my mind. Were the tales true? Were the spooky bedtime stories real? Could the Stymphalian bird actually be hunting us?

The Stymphalian Bird—a dark, enormous, bronzed-beaked bird that was notably known for using ribs of kids like us, who were past curfew, for toothpicks, and our tender, succulent livers as a dessert, or so the story went—was a bird of legend. My quaking intensified. Me and my stupid imagination. We were probably safe and sound. Maybe the forest apes were having a loud, dope prom night party—shaking up trees, splintering branches, and yelling wooing cry to da ladies. But did the monkey make loud screeching noises? "Um, guys, what's that over there, "Trent asked, interrupting my weird, ill-timed thoughts.

Ahead, indistinct, something was sprawled in the middle of the dark, ragged road. We halted. "We shouldn't go near it!" screamed Jan. "But we can't go back. That awful noise is getting closer!" I interjected. We cycled towards the lump slowly. Our joint neon beams reflected over it, revealing Officer Jim—a ghastly man-body whose guts had been dug out with something resembling claw marks. Congealed blood drops were sprinkled all over his face. His legs were torn up, revealing crimson flesh. And his ribcage had been extricated, leaving a brownish-red mishmash of organs sputtered aground. We all shrieked. Amy collapsed.

"Oh-my-God-oh-my-God-oh-my-God-oh-my..."Trent chanted through leaking eyes. His bicycle shivered under him. I pushed down the saliva that had clumped up in my throat. My head swam. My ears rang. The tarmac spun under my feet. All my greatest fears were confirmed. Bye-bye, Monkey prom night theory. Only one thing could have done this. It fits its MO. A stymphalian bird was after us. I was going to die at the tender, innocent age of 10 on a cliché, gloomy and spooky street ripped from a Stephen King novel. At least, if I were to die, there was no one I'd rather die with than my two compadres. And to think, I would never kiss a girl in my lifetime.

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