It was my displeasure to stay in Sawyerton one otherwise pleasant March evening as I traveled to Ohio. At first the compact mountain town seemed amicable, though in an uncanny, repulsive way. The clerk that led me to my room at the town's only inn smiled painfully. "Enjoy your stay," she said, opening the third and final door at the end of the empty hall. The room was spacious and simple, with a single window near the ceiling, a table and chair below, and a bed against the left wall. I bowed my head in acknowledgement and brought my bag in, setting it on the dusty table. I found the town obnoxious, but decided against my better judgement and committed to staying for the night. I had imagined that I would eventually forget the discomfort of the modest room. I wish now I could forget.
Being naturally uncharismatic, I decided there would be no harm in staying inside for the rest of the day, though it was only two o'clock in the afternoon. But, as the hours slipped by, my hunger got to the better of me. I unlocked the door and walked out the front of the inn. It crossed my mind that the clerk, too, had a key. The saturated streets breathed coal and rotting wood into my nostrils, which I quickly covered with a handkerchief. I was relieved to find a bakery, and just as relieved to return to my small room soon after. The lock did not seem to have been tampered with. The window had no curtain. Standing on the table, I fashioned a covering for it with a shirt from my luggage. I went to sleep at eight o'clock, and I awoke to my tiny room at one in the morning-- according to the glow from my radium watch.
A faded light danced on the door, twisting and spinning. Whether the light or something else awoke me, I was not sure, but I decided to conceal it either way. Standing on the table, I prepared to pull the shirt-curtain aside. My eyes, drunk with sleep, saw shifting orange glows some hundred yards out. They floated in a calming way-- in a rhythmic, haunting way. They echoed warmth, and called to me, drifting further. I donned my coat, put on my shoes, and pulled my pistol from under my pillow. I slowly opened the door, checking the halls as if anyone would be present. Nobody was watching, but I felt eyes in the floor stare into me, fear me, curse me.
The cold outside air took the breath from my lungs and sobered me in a deep inhale. Coal, rotting wood. The crawling night had torn back the town's curtain with its passing, and I now saw the evil I had once only felt. Each building stared at me with their blank window-eyes; their smile an open door, asking me to be devoured. I moved to the back of the inn, my eyes on the forest beyond. The lights were barely visible now, and trickled down as a long stream into the pines. I followed with a sure grip on my pistol, mimicking the play of the lights in my footsteps.
I had walked for twenty minutes before I had caught up with the lights, now torches. I saw nearly one hundred dancing flames in a circle, illuminating the faces of their owner. I spotted the clerk among them-- then the baker-- then the passerby from the street. Was it the entire town? I watched from behind a fallen log, too far away to hear their words-- too far away to be heard. One stepped forward, then another. They stepped back after some time. I started breathing faster and clutched my gun. A creeping fear rose from within me. The ground began to tremble, as did I.
I now noticed the stone slab in-between them. I now noticed the blood on it. The ground trembled. I turned to the pitch black sky and breathed deeply: the pines seemed to drip from the darkness above and spill onto the darkness below. I heard a sound in the farthest corner of my mind-- a single tone, a distant blare of some primeval horn. It persisted, growing louder and louder with the ringing in my ears. I tried to stop its advance by plugging my ears, but it changed nothing. The earsplitting and ancient cry collapsed me. I dropped the pistol and brought my legs against my chest, with tears swelling in my eyes. I felt the ground tremor, and each tremor built upon the other rapidly, furiously.
Rocks rolled from their resting place and old trees fell from their rotting bases. I opened my mouth to let out a scream-- to free the building pressure inside my head— I could not make a sound. Before the pain had allowed me to faint, an explosion knocked me down. I crept forward to the log and peered over. The torches had spread out, and a crater replaced the grassy patch between them. Then I saw it-- an apparition from the center of the crater-- long and slender, with short tendrils treading the air around it. It rose slowly with a shrill whine, fading in and out of my vision. Sections of it disappeared into the vast darkness beyond it, only to appear again as it rose.
The abomination pained my sight and petrified me. It continued to rise into the air, its end not yet revealed. My head hurt, my eyes began to water, and my vision became blurry. I wanted to look away-- I wanted to run—but my eyes had been captured by its horror. Though I could not see clearly, I could make out the movement of the torches. The ring around the crater bowed before the terrible apparition, and stayed bowing as it rose ever upward; now nearly thirty feet high. The creature began to twist around itself, to which the torches stepped back. The shifting creature lurched forward and the torches began to scatter. I saw the torches fall, their owners disappearing before the plunge of the horrible beast.
After each torch had fallen in the dark night, I saw its undulating body move to someplace far beyond the reality I know. My memory after that moment is uncertain-- my brain fractured and scarred. I trudged back to the inn and opened the door to my room, sweating profusely. I acted quickly, grabbing my bag and hat, forgetting the shirt over the window. I had gotten to my car and drove for some miles before I pulled to the side of the road and succumbed to my ringing ears and trembling hands. The cold bit me throughout the restless night, and my mind continued to conjure images of the scene I had observed in the early morning.
When I woke no birds greeted me from the trees: I think they, too, knew what had occurred in the dark. I briefly considered returning to Sawyerton and seeing what-- or who-- remained. This thought lasted no longer than it took me turn back onto the road, and soon enough I was in Ohio. I had hoped I would leave the nightmare behind me, but it took many weeks before I stopped seeing the monster in my sleep. Months later I came to the haunting realization that within my mind, the creature appeared in a way I had never actually seen it: the creature appeared to face me directly, with spread fangs and an open mouth, but I had not once that dreadful night actually witnessed what face it bore.
(Based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft, obviously.)