The black crows circled above. The constant caws were impatient for a feast. Sweat dripped from my forehead in the twilight. The thick black clouds made it nigh impossible for neither sunlight nor moonlight to touch the earth. The soft breeze flowed across my sweating skin, bringing some relief. It gently kissed my neck and arms. But this heat, it was sinister.
I tightened my grip on Eli's warm hand. I knew he was scared, but he didn't show any weakness. Eli pulled me toward Mr. Johansson's barn. The Dutch style barn stood out in the early night. As we drew closer, I saw the rusty red color of the paint peeling off the siding. He swung me inside then closed the huge barn doors, leaving the two of us in the eerie darkness.
I gave up hours ago. If it weren't for Eli, well, who knows what would have happened. I heard him drop to the ground beside me. I groped the darkness searching for his hand. The boney fingers I found were ice cold. I jumped back in fear. "Eli!"
"I know. They're here. Just stay where you are. I'm going to try to find you." Eli's careful footfalls neared the barn doors. The squeak from the doors broke the strong silence.
Two months ago, I was diagnosed with leukemia. Eli, my other half, tried to help me as much as he could. Eli and I enrolled at the University of Great Falls, Montana two years ago. Eli double majored in Mechanical Engineering and Auto Tech. I planned my future as an elementary teacher. After the diagnosis, I quit school. I couldn't handle the stress of school and the chemo. Eli came home with me. I begged him to stay in Great Falls. He needed his education. Stubborn Eli ignored my plea. He bought a tiny house in town for the two of us. Even though he made me laugh every day, he couldn't stop the violent pangs and the puking. It was easy to see the helplessness in his eyes. Luckily, we didn't live very far from Denton's Hospital. Only 1,500 people resided in Denton, Montana. I traveled to the hospital every day. The hospital just built a new wing so it could service the few surrounding towns. A kindhearted man named Robert Johansson left his land to the expansion of the hospital, after he died of prostate cancer. He had neither a wife nor children. Of course, the hospital jumped at the opportunity for free land. And I was very thankful to the man. God had surely blessed his soul.
I saw the first creature after my first chemotherapy session in the new wing of the hospital. The doctor told me that hallucinations were completely normal. But this wasn't just a hallucination. This sent shivers down my spine. The humped-back creature had the body of a human with long, translucent hair. Strange symbols, none bigger than the size of a penny, were carved into gray, lifeless skin, leaving its entire body, including the face, covered in scabs. Its shirt and pants were crudely made from dingy, burlap fabric and hung loosely from its body. It's muscles were bulging in odd places, as if it walked on all fours. The gray skin on its face wrinkled and sagged; skin drooped over its non-existant eyelids. Eyes were vacant holes in its face, black as the sky during a cloudy night. The thing watched me throughout my entire session. It glided across the floor with inhuman movements and speed.
The creature followed me all the way to the car. I could feel its warm, sticky breath on the back of my neck. I closed my eyes until we returned home. Eli thought that I was just exhausted from my chemo, as usual. But I knew, deep down, that this wasn't an illusion. And for whatever reason, it wanted me.
Eli was so good to me. I told him what I saw while I was sneaking a smoke in the backyard of our newly purchased house. He believed every word I said, including the part when I told him that I didn't think it was an illusion.
I started my research of the strange creatures. I started on the internet, using Google to find as many demon or ghost stories that came from the Denton area. There were no results from my search. I broadened out my investigation to abnormal occurances. I finally found a potential clue. According to a news article in the Denton Tribute, Robert Johansson's farm had been in the family for three generations. In those three generations, his barn had been on fire twice. Neither time had the fire succeeded. The first time the barn set fire, a serial killer had murdered thirteen people. None of the bodies were ever found. They took him into custody and he died on the way to the police stations. According to an autopsy, natural causes took his life. The second fire was supposedly started from lightning striking the barn. Only the outside of the barn was charred. The inside was unscathed.
The next day, after my chemo session was over and the creatures were gone, I looked out the window. When they built the wing, they tore down his house, his garage, his machine shed, and even the chicken coop. But the barn stood in the distance. I saw a shadow on the barn doors. Then it suddenly vanished. I became curious; there were no trees to make a dark shadow on the side of the barn. I didn't believe in ghost stories until now. I needed to search out the place. I had to find an answer.
The muted moonlight shone through the barn doors. I stood in the center of the circle. Six of the creatures surrounded me. Sweat froze in droplets on the back of my neck and the hair on my arms rose toward the sky. The little color in my face drained instantly. Hot and cold flashes battled for dominance of my body, each stronger than the predecessor.
I stared into the black holes where there should have been eyes. The faces, only a few inches from mine, were covered in satanic scabs. Fear gripped me with icy fingers. I bowed my head in defeat. Let Legion take me to hell.
"Oh, God." Eli's face turned a frosty white. He had finally seen them. The six creatures lifted their heads to acknowledge Eli as well, staring at him with their blank faces. In one sudden movement, they had left me and circled Eli.
This woke me out of my state of surrender. They could do anything to me, but they couldn't touch a hair on Eli's head. Eli fell to his knees and started to curl into a ball. The six creatures reached for Eli. "No! Go to hell!" I knew it was masochistic, but I didn't care. I loved Eli. He was the only one who stuck by me thick and thin. My parents had been keeping a distance from me, emotionally prepping themselves for my death.
I pulled my smokes and my Zippo out of my pocket. Six hell born angels stalked toward me. I lit a Marlboro and dropped my lit Zippo on the dry alfalfa. The fire ignited and climbed the walls of the barn. I closed my eyes as I felt the heat all around me. The frozen sweat resumed from the paused position, soaking my collar. A warm, gentle hand grabbed my left hand. He slipped the ring on my third finger. The diamond was small and the design in the silver was basic. It was simple, cheap, and perfect. I looked into Eli's eyes.
"I'm never going to leave you."