Tyler leaned back in his chair and stretched his arms to the ceiling. The cursor blinked, tap, tap, tapping an impatient and expectant beat. In the past hour Tyler had changed his shoes, walked to the kitchen and chomped on a handful of pistachios. Then he walked back to his room. He paused on the stairwell and stared at the watercolor painting of purple flowers (he neither knew nor cared what flowers they were). He had turned around and sauntered back to the kitchen for another handful of pistachios. Then trekked all the way back to his room, giving the flower picture a cursory glance. He had fiddled with the knickknacks on his bedside table and patted Bear, who was lying down on his bed. Bear gave him an inquisitive yip. Tyler put his discarded shoes in the closet, stood by the window, and, huffing, sat down at the computer.
The paper was due tomorrow, and he’d procrastinated all day. He stared at the screen and heaved an exasperated sigh. The assignment was to write a fictional story, all subjects welcome. Tyler, for the past few days, had been squeezing his brains like a dried lemon for a tidbit, a drop of an idea, but nothing.
He glanced out the window at the whirling snow. Even the weather was cooperating so he could get this done today. The town announced a snow day and closed the school. He often went sledding or skating on these unexpected holidays, but today the snowstorm was raging so bad there was no possibility of going anywhere.
The computer screen darkened, tired of waiting. Tyler kept his eyes on the window.
Snowflakes splattered on the windowpane like bugs against a windshield, and the wind howled through the window frame. Outside the world was a marshmallow of thick, undulating white. The forest beyond the garden was invisible though, as the wind swept freewheeling snowflakes, he glimpsed the scraggly branches an instant before another rabble of errant flakes bespattered the window.
Tyler thought about getting yet another handful of pistachios and perhaps a can of Coke. He made to stand, but something outside arrested his attention.
A dark mass was lumbering its way along the trees. It tottered side to side like a pendulum as it approached his yard. Chills crept up Tyler’s spine and goosebumps sprouted on his arms.
His heart raced, and a knot caught in his throat; he could not take his eyes off the figure as it waddled towards his house. The Beast! It was The Beast!
Everyone knew the story; The Beast arrived when Johnny disappeared. Kids from school had seen it last summer as they had camped in their backyard, which, Tyler recalled, also melded into the woods.
Tyler wanted to scream, but the screech caught in his throat like fishhooks. He gave Bear a hopeful glance. His heart sunk when he realized Bear, a massive mixture of Akita and Newfoundland, was the dumbest, laziest dog the Almighty ever created. If faced with The Beast, Bear would either slink away as speedy as a turtle and squeaking like a rubber ducky, or offer The Beast his disfigured chew toys.
Tyler jumped liked the Devil pricked his butt. His head snapped towards the window as another wave of snow slid down the pane. The slush obstructed his view and Tyler debated whether to open the window and wipe it clean or not.
Better not, he decided, lest the sounds and movements attract The Beast. Heart in mouth, he waited for the snow to slide all the way down the glass. He swayed this way and that, trying for a better look. He gulped as the window cleared, and with his heart racing like a Ferrari, he pressed his forehead against the glass. The maelstrom of snow and ice still raged in whirlpools of swirling white, but the dark mass had vanished into the freezing vortex.
Tyler paced the room trying to calm himself; Bear’s eyes followed him with mild interest. Bear gave a little peep as Tyler sat down and embraced him. He gave Tyler’s cheek a sloppy lick. Tyler listened, but heard no unfamiliar sound. He laid his head on the pillow and waited for his heart rate to slow.
Bear yawned liked he would eat the world; a grin crept up Tyler’s lips as an idea flashed through his brain.
“The Beast! Now that’s a story!”