Running Mate

I like to run, and in the summer I usually go at dusk since it gets so hot. Living in the country, the roads can be pretty desolate and dark, so, when a car is passing, I try to stay off the road in case they can’t see me very well.
Once when I did this, I slipped into a ditch, turning my ankle. I knew it wasn’t that bad, but I needed to sit for a minute until it stopped hurting so much. That was when I heard something in the woods across the small clearing.
It sounded like it was big. There aren’t any bears, or anything where I live, so I thought maybe it was a deer. Turns out I was very wrong.
It stepped into the open, and I found that I had no idea what I was looking at.
Monstrous, lanky, appalling. It was far enough away and dark enough that I couldn’t make out a lot of detail. But… I saw how tall it was. I saw it’s gaping, glutinous mouth. And, I saw that it was looking at me.
I was frozen. It was one of those moments where you are trying to figure out if you are still in reality, and you don’t understand why you haven’t woken up from such a horrifying dream yet.
But, then it moved, and I snapped out of it. It was fight or flight…. I wisely chose flight.
My adrenaline was in full throttle and my ankle was long forgotten as I scrambled back up to the road and ran as fast as I could toward any other sign of life.
I didn’t want to look back. I didn’t want to know if it decided to follow. I didn’t want to know, but the crunching in the brush not too far behind me told me anyway.
It was right about the time I acknowledged my impending doom, that my savior popped up over the top of the hill before me, in the form of two headlights.
As the car got closer, the noise behind me faded away, and it seemed that, at least for the time being I was safe.
The car, as it turned out, belonged to my neighbor, who happily gave me a lift home.
I have wanted to tell people about what happened, but every time I try, it just seems so ridiculous. It’s something that just can’t really be. And when saying it just makes it more real….well, I would never be able to go outside again. I already stopped running.

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