The Sunsquat

This story comes courtesy of one of my oldest and most well-loved supporters, Doom7951, an excellent friend who has supported me financially, emotionally, and writing-wise for years now; It’s one of the Patreon rewards, and was written based on his idea of a guy finding that an urban legend he’s trying to make up has become real.

The Sunsquat

I get a lot of requests for monsters on this blog. I know that most of them tend to be people who are giving me shit, or who want to get exposure for some book that they’re writing, or the usual horseshit. This one’s a bit unusual, though. There’s just enough evidence, just enough eyewitness accounts, that I might actually take it kind of seriously. Most of them center around Florida, which is, you know, whatever; but I suppose that based on its behavior, it could actually be real.

I don’t really know exactly how new monsters come into being. Maybe it’s an osmosis thing? Maybe it’s a function of people’s imaginations? I’ve never actually seen the birth of a new kind of supernatural entity, so this could be kind of exciting.

The description of this thing was particularly chilling. Every story starts off the same way, with sun-watching; Someone catching a glimpse of the sun out of the corner of their eye, when clouds withdraw, off the reflection of a glass building, that kind of thing. Mostly the kind of thing that a dumb kid would do, but then, I’m kind of the same way. You probably remember that dazzling feeling, and the image burned on your retina, the bright flash. All fairly innocuous.

The part where it gets unnerving is that the flash on the retina doesn’t go away. It hangs out there. At first, it’s just a bit of an annoyance. Then, the flash begins to move. Subtly, very subtly at first. Then, the movements become more exaggerated, and the flash begins to expand across the eyes. Not much, just enough to keep you from seeing it approaching.

Now, that sounds like your usual spookypasta thing. Most of these people report a close encounter with the thing, intense fear, and then nothing. But one particular user- dickstrider612- apparently is a fan of the site, and actually started talking with the thing. It didn’t have a lot of details for him, but it claimed to be an ancient god, deprived of worship and power, but seeking new worshippers, and those who would embrace it without fear. He’s told me he’s going to try to contact it again, so, we’ll see.

I mean, personally speaking, that sounds like a big load of horseshit to me. But it brings us to the question: What is this?

Michael Grey: The fear reminds me of a demon. That sounds like the kind of behavior a demon would engage in, and the interest in worship is also quite demonic. On the other hand, there’s no report of silver tarnishing in any of the reports, and the creature’s statements were a little too ominous. Demons don’t lie about what they are; They may speak in flowery language or obfuscate, but they don’t lie.

Half-Faced Man: Fear is also a trait of some faeries. Inspiring emotions is a favorite tactic of fairies, and the sun aspects remind me of some form of Summer or Winter Fae. However, I know from long experience how difficult a new story is to start this way. The birth of a new Fae would be a difficult event to conceal. Not to mention the oddness of it seeking someone who was not afraid of it.

Li-Fang Fen: Look, I know how weird Undead appetites can get, but, this doesn’t sound like it actually fed on anything physical. Damned if I know.

Atina: So there you are. Nobody’s sure what the hell it is. That’s fun, ain’t it?

Powers

We’re going to be going into a lot of speculation, here. More about the whole ‘urban legend’ thing in general than anything else. If urban legends can become real, what kind of powers would they have? Urban legends are almost always about fear. Fear’s the most primal instinct we’ve got- aversion from things that will kill us. Other emotions allow us to live; Fear allows us to survive. So it makes a lot of sense that it’d be the emotion that gets people the most active. So, what are the things that make people the most frightened?

Trick question if you thought ‘bugs’, or ‘dark’, or ‘cancer’. Those are all specific things people fear. The strongest fear has always been the fear of the unknown. It’s not what you can anticipate and stop that kills you. It’s what you don’t anticipate. Humans are the end process of a phenomenally vicious evolutionary battle to become capable of predicting literally anything that might happen. This is a war that humans can’t ever win, which, you know, tends to give people anxiety. Humans fear not knowing.

I don’t know if you watch Doctor Who. I always loved the Stephen Moffat episodes- look, I know, it’s hip to hate him but at least it wasn’t the fucking farting baby-face aliens- And the thing I love most about him is how he takes advantage of this fundamental fear of the unknown. All of those monsters of his who are at their most deadly because you can’t see them. The best horror episodes were always the ones where the creature never got properly revealed.

So, what does this have to do with powers? Well, the best predators are stealthy. They have to be, because a predator lives a much more dangerous life than a herbivore. So, that plays more into the fear of the unknown.

Then, we have a monster. A creature that depends on fear. It follows that it should want to keep humans from spotting it. It wants to make us nervous. That would explain the whole sunspot thing. A normal phenomenon, a way to keep people from realizing that something’s wrong until it’s gotten close enough… to strike.

Of course, that’s a tactic that worked a lot better before humans could instantly spread information, ala so.

Politics

Okay. So let’s say that there is some new and strange creature out there. That’s destabilizing. I know the Undead don’t like it when their plans gets destabilized. They often react badly to change. So, they’d probably take it very much amiss if new monsters were springing up all the time. The faerie courts are mostly just interested in a good sword, but they’d want to co-opt whatever it is, if I know anything about them. Demons, well. They’re territorial, as only makes sense.

So, my expectation is that they would react awfully badly to some new strange creature going around, threatening humans. The supernatural has, so far as I’ve understood, always strongly relied on staying below humanity’s notice, no matter how much they like to pose and crow about being superior. If these kinds of things are real, they’d be in serious danger of being targeted, and attacked, en-masse.

Li-Fang Fen: The last time there was a serious conflict in the supernatural world, so far as I understand, would have been in the 17th and 18th centuries, the war between the Vampire lineages and most other forms of Undead. Hell, even the Fae wound up getting involved on both sides. It was a brutal, bloody, genocidal mess. I’ve sometimes thought it might have been partly responsible for the violent collapses of many monarchies around that time, though there’s not a lot of well-recorded history on it. Most records are kept purely oral, after all. Wink wink.

Atina: Yeah we all got it.

Past Cases

So, before I posted this, I wanted to get some real research done on the thing, see if it might be based on an older legend or anything. I looked it up extensively. I didn’t manage to find any older sources. What I did find was this story being spread on nearly twenty different forums, by people with different account names. And identical stories. Not ‘very similar stories’; copy-pasted. About four different stories, none of them older than about three weeks ago.

So, I got fucking astroturfed. It happens to the best of us. The important part here is recognizing what makes the story bullshit. First, as mentioned, the fact that nobody had heard of it before. Turns out that if nobody’s heard of it, chances are good it’s fake. Second, the vagueness of the story. It reads more like a spooky story than the behavior of an actual, intelligent being; why go around trying to scare people? Why be so vague?

Well, because it’s a dumb-ass fucking story from someone who wanted to make fun of me. Look. I know that I don’t get a lot of respect for this stuff. Most people think it’s some crappy attempt at writing bad modern fantasy fiction. But I actually put a lot of damn work into this blog because it could save lives. And it would, I suppose, just be so nice if people didn’t fuck around about it. And nice name. The Sunsquat. Real clever.

2 Thoughts on “The Sunsquat”

Atina LeRoux

September 1st, 2016 at 8:15 PM

Well, I hope this satisfies people; I know it’s been requested by quite a few. As usual, if you enjoy reading my work, consider sharing the reddit with people, and if you run into someone who’s twigging all that ‘this is a supernatural thing’ senses, hairs on the back of your neck, so on and so forth, remember to get in touch; a strong contract is vital when making deals with fairies, undead, and demons!

dickstrider612

                September 2nd, 2016 at 4:43 AM

wait you dumb fucking bitch im sorry I lied but this is serious, stop ignoring my e-mails. i made it up as a joke and now the fucking thing keeps showing up. ive had fucking sunglare for the past three days, and i keep hearing it talking to me. youve got to fucking help me.

 

I refreshed the screen again, and again. I turned my head, and winced. There was a soft rustle as my head turned, the blind spot taking up nearly half the vision in the right eye, a psychedelic green-blue-red phantasm. It was coming and going, now, moving across my vision to obscure the thing.

“I can hear you,” I said, my voice trembling a bit. “What the hell do you want?”

No answer. There was never an answer. There never was. It just sat there, and the only sign that it was there was the occasional rustle as it disturbed something. I couldn’t sleep, now. I knew it was in the same room as me, watching me, waiting for me to become vulnerable. I hadn’t slept in days. Every time I began to drift off, I felt that blind spot growing, consuming my vision, until it seemed to flash in front of me. That snapped me out of sleep every single time.

“You’re going to eat me, aren’t you? I’m not going to let it happen.”

It had all started as a prank. I was in my senior year of High School, and I’d had this idea to show off how gullible people could be about ghosts and shit by making up a new urban legend. I’d get it spread to a few different places online, try to get a respectable newspaper to publish a story about it, and then reveal that it was all a hoax. Show those assholes what fake news really was, make it obvious how much bullshit people bought into on a daily basis. I thought the worst that would happen was people would complain about me scamming them.

A sheath of papers fell to the ground. I spun, eyes locked on the blind spot flashing on my retinas, over the spilled papers.

It’s a common occurrence. Something is left in a position that is almost, but not quite, stable. It takes hours, maybe even days for that instability to grow too great. The shifting of floorboards, a gust of wind, maybe a human breath, and there’s a sudden noise, and you’re on high alert. Most of the time, you can dismiss it. It’s just the wind. It’s just the floorboards. It’s just a thing, and it doesn’t matter what that thing is. Usually, you can put it out of your mind.

I realized that my knuckles were aching. My fingernails bit into the arms of the computer chair, as I spun back to face the screen, watching the mirror I had set up. The blind spot shifted slightly in the mirror. And that brought up the other question. What if I was imagining it? What if it was just me, losing my mind? That could happen to people. Schizophrenia usually started to manifest itself around the late teenage years. Maybe this was all in my head.

Maybe that’s what it wanted me to think.

I needed sleep. I needed to rest. I needed to get away from it. I stood up, and felt myself waver unsteadily. I opened the door to my room, and snuck slowly out into the living room. The elevator down to the first floor was untouched at this time. I’d made a few trips over the last few days to try to get away from it. I couldn’t outrun it on foot, I couldn’t escape it by swimming. I’d tried a lot of different ways to outrun it.

The previous day, I’d lead it out into a city park, and fired my father’s gun at it. It hadn’t even reacted. I supposed that wasn’t even very surprising. After all, monsters were always immune to bullets.

I climbed onto a bus. It took me south. I got off after three stops, and then onto a trolley. After another 7 stops, the rail. Then another bus. Two trolleys in a row, jumping off of one and sprinting onto the other. I covered the better part of seven miles in about half an hour, continually moving, until I had arrived at the beach. It was already becoming crowded, the last parties of the summer dying down. The heat was thick and cloying, and my shirt was plastered to my skin by sweat, the humidity overwhelming. I sank down onto the sand.

The blind spot shifted up beside me, and seemed to settle, growing squat. It was sitting beside me.

“How is it that no one else can see you? If everyone had a blind spot, then they’d have to notice. Right? They’d look this direction, and notice how… weird things are. People notice things like that. Right?”

Silence.

“Do you mess with their heads? Or maybe you’re messing with mine. Maybe this-” I paused, refusing to say the words out loud, for fear of making them true. A ridiculous fear. What I said didn’t matter. It couldn’t matter. It couldn’t be what I had said that had me being stalked, being hunted by whatever the hell this thing was. I couldn’t be the one who was responsible for this.

I hoped and I prayed that I wasn’t responsible for this. It wouldn’t change things, but this was all so much more humiliating and ridiculous if this was a just punishment, my proper comeuppance for what I had done. I closed my eyes, and took a deep breath, trying to slow my heart rate. Breathe in, breathe out. The rush of the ocean filled the air, the continual battering waves, the smell of salt. I tried to focus on them. To just get a little sleep. To just rest.

The sand rustled. My eyes snapped open. The blind spot was crouched entirely over me, now, and I could feel something almost like warmth, the heat of another living creature’s body, radiating off of it. I scrambled up, and it withdrew at the precise same moment, so quickly I almost wondered if I had imagined it. I breathed hard, my heart pounding. Every time I closed my eyes, every time I tried to rest. I pushed myself to my feet, stumbling away, back towards the trolley.

It didn’t follow me in the public transportation. It was finding me somehow, but around other people, it stayed away. It kept its distance. Maybe it couldn’t make too much of a fuss. Maybe whatever it was planning to do to me, it wouldn’t be able to hide in front of a large crowd. If my throat got torn out in front of a bunch of people… There was only so much anything could do to hide that. Right?

I settled down on the trolley. I closed my eyes. I just needed a little rest. Just a little bit, and I would be okay. I could think once I’d just slept a little bit. I closed my eyes, and leaned my head back.

“Hey. You ready?”

“Yeah.”

“Now. Come on!”

Sleep ripped apart like a wet paper bag as I was jolted awake. Rough hands grabbed me, yanking at me, pulling me off the trolley. I opened my mouth to scream, and a knotted length of rope slipped between my teeth, muffling me. A thick black velvet bag went over my head, and I felt myself being tugged along, my arms bound to my sides by hands as strong as steel cables. I must have passed out, because the next thing I knew, I was bound to a chair, still with my head covered. My kidnappers must have been close by, because I could hear them muttering.

“Look. My parents aren’t rich. They don’t have the money to pay for a ransom or anything-” I began, only to find a finger- rough, calloused- pressing against my lips more invasively than I could ever be comfortable with. It tasted of iron dust.

“Shhhh. Adults are talking. Now, you two. Please, explain to me one more time what the hell you were thinking. You kidnapped a human? Do you have any idea what the Earl of Liberty City is going to do to us if he finds out about this? You know how he feels about children, and you know how he feels about humans.”

“Like I said, he’s eighteen-”

He’s still a child, you gibbering moron! We’re going to get clapped in irons!”

“Boss. You didn’t feel him. This kid- He’s pouring out fear like you wouldn’t believe. He’s a feast. He’s just oozing terror. Like, real fight-for-your-life shit. The amount of power we can get out of him, you could be the next Earl.”

“You moron. You fucking moron.” The leader growled, and ripped off the mask. He stared down at me, his eyes fierce. He wasn’t actually that tall. The other two- one a man with strange, narrow features, almost wolf-like, the other a hulking bastard with a face like a badly beaten cauliflower, nude from the waist up. The leader looked downright human. His hair was slicked back, thick and black, under a red beret that hung rakishly across one eye. He eyed me slowly, his head tilted. “Sorry about this, kid. Nothing personal. But you’re going to have to die.”

My stomach fell. “I- I don’t know who you guys are, I won’t tell the cops-”

“It’s not the cops that we’re worried about. This is a real bad break for you.” He sighed. “Mortimer, go get the heroin. I’m not killing this kid painfully. The Earl would get his pet bloodhound to taste the pain on our hands.”

“But boss,” began the hulking man, before he was cut off by a single finger.

“Another word, and I’m going to tell the Earl about this little work of you two. Let him clap you in irons in exchange for leniency for me. You fuckwit, Jibbit.”

Jibbit pursed his lips, frowning, as I stared up at the man, terrified. He ran his fingers through his hair, and they came away stained red. I felt slightly nauseated as I realized that the black hair was just a little bit red.

“I’m curious, kid. It won’t stop me from killing you, but I’d like to know, just to satisfy my own curiosities. What are you so damn scared of? They were right, you’re radiating terror right now. I mean, I’ve never made a person as frightened as you are right now, and I’ve had some amazing practice.”

“Because I can see a blind spot,” I whispered, my heart thudding in my chest.

“Eh?” He frowned, and looked over his shoulder. Mortimer stood up against a wall, his arms at his side, looking half asleep. “Hey, Mortimer, what the fuck is wrong with you? Did you get the heroin? I don’t want to spend any longer on this than I have to.”

“Can you see it?” I asked, softly, shaking in the bindings.

“What?” The boss asked, frowning back at me as Jibbit approached Mortimer. He nudged the lean-faced man, and Mortimer fell to the ground, his neck flopping at an unnatural and wholly unhealthy angle. Jibbit took a step back, his mouth opening. There was a sound like the world’s most massive owl gliding by on almost unseen wings, and he fell to the ground in two pieces, split vertically. Blood began to pour across the ground, as I felt my whole body shaking violently, the terror grabbing hold of me by my cajones. “What the fuck are you? The Iron Knight? Fucking around? You think you can hide what you are from me? I’m a fucking Redcap, buddy! I eat illusions like yours for breakfast! Are you going to drop it, or do I have to drop it for you?”

The blind spot loomed a little bit larger.

“Fine. So be it.” The man took a deep breath. He closed his eyes, and then opened them with an intent expression.

He began to scream, the kind of bone-deep, terrifying scream that reaches every single monkey instinct and insists that you run like hell. The scream stretched out, and out, becoming weak, reedy, raspy, as the blind spot grew larger. It engulfed him like an amoeba, wrapping around him, making him vanish into the flashing phantom colors. I closed my eyes tightly.

The scream ended with a low, meaty crunch. I kept my eyes tightly shut, shaking as I felt the blind spot growing larger on the inside of my eyelids. I shook as the smell of blood surrounded me, and I could feel the warmth of body heat against my cheeks. There was a faint pressure, but it was somehow… lacking. As though what was touching me was not skin, the flesh of another living being, but a force. A presence. Or maybe I just couldn’t feel what it was.

“It’s okay, now,” whispered a voice, soft, sibillant, almost like how you’d expect a snake to sound if you watched too many cartoons. “It’s alright, human. They won’t hurt you.” I could feel as the bonds snapped, the hands slowly caressing over my head, dripping with blood. If anything, I shook more violently. “The monsters won’t hurt you now. You’re safe.” I felt the arms wrap around me in a bloody embrace, caressing me, slowly dripping blood down across my shirt. The iron smell filled the air.

“Why?” I asked, softly, my heart pounding, the panic almost impossible to overcome at this point.

“Why? Because they were going to hurt you. They wanted to kill you.”

“No,” I said softly. “Why did you save me? Just… to eat me? To terrify me?”

“Eat you?” The arms squeezed a little tighter. “I’m not going to hurt you. I promise. But you need to go now. This place isn’t safe.” The arms released me.

I was in a warehouse. Dimly lit from outside, bright light sleeting in through dusty windows to give the place a pale golden cast, the floor dusty save where the blood had pooled on it. The terrified body of the boss lay on the ground, eyes- well, eye sockets- wide, a gaping hole in his chest revealing not much. I turned away from it, nauseated, and pulled off my shirt, throwing it at the body. I stumbled into the back room, finding a bathroom, and threw up in the toilet. I spent the next two minutes scrubbing furiously at my skin with the small bar of soap there, trying to get the blood off. It felt like it had permanently sunk into my skin, scarring me.

“You do not have time,” said the Sunsquat, and I nearly leapt out of my skin. I turned, my heart pounding, staring at it. “You need to get back where it’s safe.”

“Why are you following me?” I asked, softly.

“Because you need to be protected. I saw how nervous you were. How scared. You are not well. You would scream at empty rooms, act unpredictably… I was worried you might hurt yourself.”

“Scream at… That- I was screaming at you!”

“What?” The voice was somewhat bewildered. “But you can’t see me, or feel me.”

“I heard you moving around! Plus, blind spots don’t normally move around!”

“But you kept referring to something called the Sunsquat.”

“That’s you!”

“That is not my name.”

“Well- then what is?”

There was an increasingly embarrassed silence. “I don’t actually know,” the Sunsquat admitted after several awkward seconds.

“Oh, god.” I bent over the sink, splashing water into my face. “I was talking to you. I called you the Sunsquat! Because it sounded like Sasquatch and Sun! Oh, god.” I felt the bile in the back of my throat. “You killed those men.”

“They intended to kill you. I would do the same to anyone else who harmed you,” said the Sunsquat.

“Why?!”

“Because you gave me a name,” said the voice, very softly. A hand rested on my back. “I’m the reason you couldn’t sleep?”

“I thought you were going to kill me!”

“I am sorry.” And to my surprise, the words sounded absolutely genuine. Full of regret and pain. I was used to people saying they were sorry, for apologizing. I wasn’t really used to the idea of someone meaning it like this. “I- If you would like,” the Sunsquat said, voice soft, and a bit frightened, “I will go away.”

“No. It’s-” I shook my head. I’d answered without thinking. Obviously, the best thing to do was to tell her to leave, and never, ever come back. Then, I felt the thing press lightly against me. Soft, almost yielding to the touch as it leaned in against me, slender arms swooping around my shoulders. There was a tenderness to the embrace that was hard to refuse. Even thinking about the blood dripping down those fingers couldn’t ruin that. “What were those guys? They were talking about some guy named Earl?”

“Monsters,” murmured the Sunsquat. “Those who feed on humans. They deserved what happened to them.”

I stared out at them. They were going to kill me. That thought finally percolated through the haze of horror and nausea. They were going to kill me, and the Sunsquat had been the one who saved me. I scrubbed my hands one last time, and walked back into the room. I picked up Mortimer’s shirt, and frowned as I checked his pocket. Cash- enough of it to get home, at least- and a small signet ring. I frowned, and then glanced at the other bodies.

“You don’t want to touch them. Let me,” said the Sunsquat. I nodded, and closed my eyes. Two more rings were placed on my lap. They had the same marking, what appeared to be a small rose. “We should leave.”

I nodded, and stood up, slipping the rings into my pocket. My brain was buzzing for the entire ride back home, to the point that I didn’t think about things like explaining what had happened to me, or why I no longer had my shirt, until the moment when my father had me cornered.

“You want to be a fucking failure?” He glared down at me, his hands on his hips. “You want to flunk out of high school and dig ditches for the rest of your life? I don’t care how smart you are, you don’t skip school! They called me, told me that you missed school entirely today, didn’t even call in!”

“I’ve just- I’ve been having a lot of nightmares, lately, and-” My eyes widened as the blind spot appeared behind my father. It might have been my imagination, but I could have sworn that it was tending a bit more towards red. “It’s okay. It’s okay!”

“Oh, no it’s not.” He glared down at me. “No internet for the weekend, and you’re not going to miss school again. Do you get me?”

“Yes,” I said, my heart thumping as the blind spot loomed. “That’s perfectly okay. I understand, dad. Thank you.”

Mollified, he grumbled, turning back towards the door. “I’m just- I don’t want you to end up like me, you know?”

“I understand, dad,” I said, swallowing hard as the blind spot shifted out of his way. “No internet. I’ll be at school from now on, I promise. I’ve just been having trouble sleeping.”

“Mmmm.” He sighed, and undid his jacket, setting it down. “Sorry. I’m just- There’s been some real frightening stuff happening.” He rubbed his face. “I shouldn’t talk about it. Just keep off the streets, alright?”

“I understand.” I nodded again, and smiled. Then I slipped into my room, sinking down against the wall. “Jesus.”

“He looked angry. I was worried he was going to hurt you.”

“He’s not an asshole. He’s just kind of a prick sometimes.” I sank down onto the bed, and felt the Sunsquat shifting down, climbing onto the bed next to me, lying against my side. The subtle radiating warmth was like lying in a sunbeam, surprisingly relaxing. “I need to look into those rings, but I’m not going to be able to do that while I’m grounded. Shit.” I rubbed my face. “Don’t hurt my dad. Whatever you do. In fact, don’t hurt any humans.”

“I don’t eat humans,” said the Sunsquat. Warm breath washed over my neck as it gently leaned in against me, arms wrapped around me softly. “You’re not supposed to be killed. You’re for protecting.” I was uncomfortably aware of the effects of something warm and soft pressing against my side, my breath getting a little bit faster. “Are you alright? Am I making you nervous? Should I go away?”

“No. No, it’s okay. Just, uh. Excited.” I coughed, and sought for a change of subject. “You hide yourself a lot.”

“Yes.”

“That guy, he said he was able to see you. He sounded… scared.”

“Yes.”

“That’s why you hide yourself?”

“Yes. I do not want to frighten people.”

“How bad could it be?”

“Very bad,” murmured the Sunsquat. “Humans… they’re scared of monsters. For good reason. If you saw what I was really like, I don’t think that you could ever lie this calmly next to me again.” I felt a gentle pressure between my shoulderblades, and its next words were muffled. “I would hate it if we could not do this again. This feels right. It feels…”

“Safe,” I said, and flushed.

I’d seen- well not quite seen but don’t be shitty- the Sunsquat tear apart three people in seconds. Do things that were utterly nightmarish. That was supposed to be the kind of thing evil things did. Maybe I just couldn’t bring myself to feel sorry for the three men who had been planning to do who-knows-what to me.

“Hey, uh. What do you eat?”

“I don’t know.” The arms tightened a little around me. “I’m not sure I eat.”

“Everything eats. I’ll sneak you some food.” I tried to stand up, and felt a wave of sleepiness wash over me, my whole body shaking as I collapsed back into the bed. The debt of sleep was finally making itself known. I considered, briefly, trying to fight it.

“Sleep. It’s okay. You’re safe. I’ll protect you,” whispered the Sunsquat, pulling me gently back down into the bed. Warm pressure surrounded me in an embrace, and regular breathing filled my ears. My head spun, and then I slowly fell asleep. My dreams were confused and full of panicked moments of awakening, but each time, in the Sunsquat’s arms, I was asleep again within seconds, cradled in the warmth of its embrace.

“Hey, champ.”

I opened my eyes, blinking blearily. I checked the clock. It was Saturday. My father stood in the doorway, looking harried, but smiling. “Hey, dad.” I rubbed at my eyes. “Whazza?”

“Going to work today. There’s a frozen pizza in the fridge, and if I get back early, we can go out.” He opened and closed his mouth, looking like he wanted to say something. “I know I haven’t been around much since your mother- Well.” He shook his head. “I haven’t been a great dad period. But I believe in you. Alright? Just another year, and you’ll be off at college for good, and I probably won’t see you more than a couple times a year. I just want to make sure you get there safe. You know?” He smiled. “Don’t go wandering around the streets.”

“Dad… Why are you getting so wigged out?”

He looked away, his expression stiff. “Just been a bit wild out there recently. Some political instability out in the Caribbean, from what the boys say. A lot of new crazies on the streets, and some of the old ones… God, the Rosedale Drive Boys have been getting active. We found a scene yesterday…” He shook his head. “I’ve been thinking about moving. You know? Maybe once you go to college.” He smiled. “But nothing for you to worry about, champ. Just… stay safe, alright?”

“Yeah, dad,” I said, softly. He nodded, and walked out. The Sunsquat moved behind me, leaning against me softly.

“He was frightened, too.”

“Yeah.”

“Of me?”

“I don’t think so.” I shivered. The Rosedale Drive boys… That was something to look up. “Uh. Hey, Sunsquat-”

“Do you have to call me that?” The Sunsquat asked. “It sounds… silly.”

“It was meant to. Do you not like it?”

“It’s just… a little embarrassing, compared to what I’m used-” The creature cut off, and there was a distinct tone of embarrassment there. “Ah… Your mother. Something happened to her?”

“Yeah.”

“Did… she die?” The Sunsquat asked, softly, like someone prodding a painful tooth- knowing it would hurt, but needing to know how much.

“Maybe. Haven’t heard from her in a couple of years. She left, said she was sick of me and sick of dad.” I crossed my arms a bit tighter, and felt the Sunsquat pressing against me gently. I was almost tempted to tell it to go away, to push it away. To let me go mope about it by myself.

“I can’t understand that,” she murmured.

It. It murmured.

“It’s not so weird,” I said. “She had her own life. I got in the way. She’d had enough.”

“There is a monster,” murmured the Sunsquat. “The most terrible monster of all, who leads the most terrible monsters of all. She is an awful thing, terrible to behold, merciless to her enemies, hungry for blood. Because she is a mother. While her followers threaten the world, while they attempt to consume the sun every night and are fought off, she does not. She protects. Because she is a mother, and mothers are meant to protect.”

“Yeah, well. Maybe monsters are different.” I closed my eyes, and breathed out a sigh. “It doesn’t matter. I don’t miss her. She didn’t want me, so I don’t want her. Simple as that.”

“I want you,” murmured the Sunsquat. “You gave me a name.”

“Yeah, well, I’m not going to call you mommy. That’s weird.”

It laughed, and the sound was soft, like the tinkling of glass. It was the most I’d ever been able to distinguish a sound from the Sunsquat, and it filled the air like the ringing of the most delicate and beautiful bells, sweet and joyful. It made me shiver a little bit just listening to her. I thought, maybe, it was a little piece of who it really was.

I’d read a lot of horror stories. I’d seen a lot of scary movies. I could imagine some awful things. But that man had sounded like he’d seen something more awful than could be imagined. Was that possible? Could the reality really be scarier than the imagination could conjure up? How was that even possible?

My stomach rumbled loudly, growling and gurgling. I rubbed my stomach, and sat up. “Come on, Sunsquat. We’re going to introduce you to pizza.”

The oven started easily, beeping as it approached the pre-heat temperature. I slipped the frozen pizza out of its cardboard box, and onto the small cardboard circle, slipping it into the oven. I leaned against the oven door.

“So… What do you remember?”

“Not much. I was… drifting. Torn loose, I think. Then I heard your voice. I felt your idea. The Sunsquat. A monster. A god.” It was quiet for another few moments. “I think it reminded me of myself.”

“You’re a god?” I asked, an eyebrow raised. “Are gods real?”

“Maybe they can be, if someone believes in them.”

“Jeez. You’re worse than that…” I frowned for a moment. “Clapping in irons… Earls… Redcap… Shit. Oh, shit. I think I know what those guys were. I’ve been reading this blog. I thought it was a bunch of bullshit, but…” My eyes flickered to the Sunsquat. “I’ve been meaning to ask… why can I tell where you are? From what I’ve seen, nobody else sees you like this.”

“I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I wanted you to know where I am. Maybe you are special, more gifted in sight than those around you. Maybe because that’s how you told the story. I am afraid I understand less about what I am, what this world is, than you do. I think…” The Sunsquat was quiet for a moment. “I remember a man with hazel eyes, and terrible strength. That is all.”

“Weird.”

The Sunsquat sniffed, and frowned. “What is that smell?”

“Pizza.” I smiled. “It’s going to be a bit longer.”

“It smells wonderful,” it said.

“It tastes better.” I smiled. “And I think you’re not a monster. You’re more like a superhero, or something. You stopped those guys from killing me.”

“I also got you into that problem in the first place.”

“Yeah, but that’s because you didn’t understand society. You didn’t understand people. You’ve got good instincts, you just don’t know how to express them right. Like an alien. That’s a lot better than knowing what you’re supposed to do, and not doing it.” Like my mom. “Besides, all the coolest superheroes are kind of scary and violent. The Punisher’s way cooler than Superman.”

“What does a hero do?”

“They make the world a better place. Safer. They punish people who are hurting others. Like a cop, but without having to answer to rich assholes who can circumvent the law any time they like.”

“I shouldn’t hurt humans, though.”

“Even better. Fighting the things the cops don’t understand, the things they’re not prepared for.” The oven buzzed. “And getting rewarded.”

“With pizza?”

“Well, usually medals and things, or at least the adoring populace.” I opened the oven, and slipped the pizza out.

“Do you adore me?”

I didn’t drop the pizza on the floor, but only out of sheer bloody-minded refusal to waste a good frozen pizza. “I, uh, don’t know if that’s quite the right word, but I like you. You’re… cool. You know?”

“I thought I was behaving warmly.”

“You know, I will confess, I never did like that whole ‘completely clueless fish out of water’ thing. It always seemed a little bit silly.”

“I’m sorry.”

“No, I mean… On you, it’s kind of okay.” I smiled, as I got out the pizza cutter, slicing into it. Steam rose from the melted cheese, filling the air, and my stomach growled again, louder. I hadn’t eaten for- well, way too long. “It’s kind of cute.”

“I believe I know what that means,” said the Sunsquat. One of the pizza slices disappeared into the phantom colors. “Mmmm. It’th ho’.”

“Yeah, let it cool down a bit. And don’t talk with your mouth full.”

“Mmmph.”

I sat back in the chair as we finished the pizza between the two of us. I didn’t know if the Sunsquat actually needed to eat, but it was nice just sitting there with someone. I didn’t exactly have a lot of friends, probably because they were jealous of my intelligence, which is what I told myself when I wanted to be particularly deep in denial. I was enjoying the haze of fullness when my smartphone rang. I slipped it out of my pocket, and saw the call was from my dad. I accepted it. “Hey, Dad. I know, I know, you love me-”

“You the kid who killed my men?”

I stared.

“Now, I don’t much care for hurting kids. And they went against my orders. But I’m curious about the thing you brought with you. So, you’re going to bring it to me, in exchange for your dad getting to keep breathing. Got me? Liberty Park, in an hour. Tell the guys on the corner that the Earl sent for you.”

I stared down at the phone as it hung up. I looked up, my head spinning, panic filling me. “I’ve- I’ve got to go, I’ve-”

Warm arms swept around me, squeezing me. “I heard,” said the Sunsquat. “I will take care of it all.”

It’s a strange feeling, walking into a situation feeling prepared. Whatever Sunsquat was, she was beyond what the Earl had. She had to be. She couldn’t be seen without driving the person seeing her mad, she was strong enough to kill people with her bare hands. I was frightened, terribly nervous, but I wasn’t helpless. That was the thing that let me keep functioning as I got off the bus, walking down the street. Liberty City was not a good part of town. It was poor, and poverty rarely if ever made people better. The people on the streets watched me, and there was a certain predatory hunger in their eyes. If I had been alone, I would be terrified. But I had a blind spot in the corner of my vision.

The two men looked human. But their teeth were sharp like an animal’s, and their eyes were far too intent. I approached them. “The Earl sent me.”

One of them reached out, sharply, grabbing my shoulder. His hand came off at the wrist, and he stumbled back, his face white, blood gushing out as he grabbed at the stump, his expression terrified.

“Gently,” whispered the Sunsquat.

The Earl’s place was a penthouse apartment. The one bodyguard, looking outright terrified, stood behind me as Sunsquat leaned against him from behind, whispering something. I was probably just as glad not hearing it. The elevator stopped at the top floor, and the bell rung.

It was opulent. I’d never actually been in a place that could be described as ‘opulent’. It was the little things- the deep shag rug. The gold trim everywhere. All of the little things that pushed it past ‘classy’, over the head of ‘luxurious’, and into the deep, dark waters of opulence. There was a gorgeous view of Miami Beach out to sea, and the sun glittered down.

The Earl himself was dark skinned, overweight, but wore it well. He had white paint in the shape of a skull across his face, and a machete balanced across his knees. Half a dozen bodyguards stood behind him- A man with golden bodypaint all over him, otherwise nude. A woman with dark red face-paint, holding a wooden club with strange black shards of stone hammered into it. A large Cuban man with a fat cigar and a third eye in the middle of his forehead. And a man who looked rather like a bull, wearing a great pair of paper mache horns over his head, stripped to the waist, with stripes painted across his nipples. All of them stood with a relaxed expression.

My father was crouched in front of the Earl, his arms handcuffed behind his head, his eyes wide. “Dick- No-”

“Shhh,” said the Earl. “Adults are talking.” He stood up slowly, glaring at me. “So. You bring the thing with you?”

The Sunsquat must have pushed the escort, because he stumbled forward, tripping and falling flat on his face. The monster strode out through the door. “You have made a terrible error in judgement.”

“Listen. You’re another in a series of weird fucking things showing up at my door. I don’t intend to hold that against you. You didn’t know, and I can’t afford to go after every weird fucking thing. I’ve got a proposal for you. You stay out of my way. You don’t disrupt the city. Or else… Well, I’ve called in a few favors. Hired these guys. They will put you down. And the cop, and the damn kid. It’s about sending a message. Do you understand?”

“Yeah,” I said. “Do you understand, Sunsquat? It’s about sending a message. So don’t kill them. Just mess them up.”

The blind spot blurred into action. The golden man leapt forward, and for his troubles, his left leg was taken off at the knee in mid-stride. His stride expanded as he fell forward, a scream escaping his throat as blood began to pour out of his legs. The leg tumbled end over end through the air, spraying elegant patterns on the walls, like an Andy Warhol/Quentin Tarantino collaboration.

The bull and the cuban made made their move next. The Sunsquat slipped past them in a phantasmal blur, and five eyes were suddenly replaced with gaping holes. I winced, but I didn’t look away. She charged the Earl, whose eyes were widening in horror as the blood splattered across the room. The blind spot loomed over him.

The woman in the red face paint never moved. She couldn’t have. I would have seen it. One second she was standing there, behind the Earl. The next second, she was standing between the Sunsquat and the Earl, the blade held easily up against the pressure of the Sunsquat’s attack. She smiled. “Hello, sister.”

“Hah.” The Earl wiped his brow, shaking. “About damn time. You were worth the money. Now, kill all three of them.”

“I don’t fight for money,” said the woman in red paint, her teeth shining. “I burned every dollar you sent. I fight for glory. I fight for the blood of the dead and the screams of the dying. I fight for hearts, you silly little fairy.”

“What did-”

The sword swept in a full circle. The Sunsquat leapt back, but let out a hiss of pain. The Earl let out a hiss too, because his tongue had been removed from his mouth. It sat on the edge of the wooden, barbed paddle, red and bleeding, as the Earl let out little gasping noises, covering his mouth.

“What are you?” Asked the Sunsquat, her voice terrified.

“I am called only one thing.” The woman smiled, and her teeth were bloody. “Hummingbird’s South. And I know you, Coyonialhuitl!”

“I do not know that name,” said the Sunsquat, softly, gently. “You have me mistaken for someone else. I am here to save this boy’s father, and protect him from the monsters.”

“Oh, yes. I would not have been able to find you, you know, had you not been so brazen. Disguising yourself as a champion, as a creature that dwells in the sunlight. That is not your nature. I am the sun, Coyonialhuitl. You are merely a star.”

“All of the stars are suns,” I said. There was a moment of silence as Hummingbird’s South turned her head towards me, an eyebrow raised. I felt my skin begin to prickle under her regard. I’d seen her drive back the Sunsquat with barely an effort.

“What is your name, boy?”

“Dick.”

“And what did you just say?”

“All of the stars are suns. If you’re going to make some badass boast, you should at least try to be accurate.”

“You’re the one who put the idea in my sister’s foolish head. Interesting.” Hummingbird’s South turned her eyes towards the Sunsquat. “I do not believe you can change. I believe you are still the monster you always were, Coyonialhuitl.”

She moved in a flash, that sword arcing. I saw the glittering edge in a single perfect freezeframe as she approached me, head-on. Then the blind-spot got in the way.

“Well,” purred Hummingbird’s South. “It appears I was wrong.”

The blood was red. Very red. I felt my head spinning as the red blood dripped down across the carpet, a soft wheezing sound filling the air. Hummingbird’s South stood over the blind spot, a dispassionate expression on her face. I wanted to scream. I wanted to launch myself at her, to kick and punch and strike. I knew how futile that would be. I could only stare, as my father turned his head, staring in shock and horror at the scene of carnage. As the men rolled on the ground, blood welling up. The smell of blood was everywhere.

“You can change,” murmured Hummingbird’s South. “That is quite something to behold. You were willing to sacrifice yourself to protect that human. An admirable change. But unfortunately, one that cannot preserve your life. You are still aping me. Attempting to steal the faith and the power which is mine by right. And that, I simply cannot abide.” She sighed. “I don’t like to do this, sister. I really quite admire the change you’re willing to make. But my worship is thin and scattered enough as it is without you stealing it from me.” She lifted the sword up, spinning it once in her hand, and holding it poised over the blind spot. “Get out of the way, boy.”

I realized, abruptly, that I was clinging to the Sunsquat, holding her. Lying on top of her. Not letting Hummingbird’s South stab her. I shook my head ferociously.

“I will not hesitate to spit you, boy. Your life is a gift from me. I am not afraid to take that gift back.”

“No,” I croaked.

“Have you ever seen her, human? Do you fantasize that she is some great beauty, that she is anything but a monster? You feel the soft embrace, and you think you know what it is that is touching you. But you don’t. If you could see her, you would see how she has been lost. What happened to her when she fled her home seeking to replace me. I may feel pity, but I do not let it stop me. Now move away.”

“No,” I hissed.

“Then why don’t you look at her?”

I swallowed, hard, and closed my eyes. “Sunsquat. Please.”

“You would hate me,” she whispered.

“How bad could it be?”

My mind conjured up a thousand nightmarish images. Exposed sores. Cancerous lumps. Slick ichors. Gnarled horns. Nauseating angles. Disgusting fetishes. Every horrible, awful thing, trying to crowd in at once. Preparing myself for the worst that it could possibly be, for the worst my imagination could conjure up. I felt her shudder, and heard Hummingbird’s South grunt with disgust. I shivered, and then opened my eyes.

Soft, black eyes stared up at me. A face that was just slightly too large, eyes just slightly too large, limbs too slender, skin pale as milk, hair black as a crow’s feather with the same iridescent edge. Undressed, which made me flush. Not quite human, but- “You… don’t look bad at all. You look… kind of pretty.”

“Pretty?” Asked Hummingbird’s South, her voice low, disgusted. “Pretty? Do you- Oh.” She closed her eyes. “The lengths to which humans are capable of deluding themselves goes beyond measure, sometimes. You don’t see her the way everyone else does. You see what you want to see.”

“Or maybe I’m the one who sees what’s really there,” I shot back, as I looked down. There was blood running down Sunsquat’s stomach, where she had been cut. I rested my hands on her stomach, and the blood began to recede. She let out a soft breath, and her hands curled around mine. She looked perhaps a few years older than me. “How do you know, huh? Maybe this is what she really looks like, and you just can’t see past what you expect.”

“Delusion,” said Hummingbird’s South. “But then… Delusion is the foundation on which faith is built strongest. It is a strange temple that stands so solidly on such shaky ground.” She slung the sword over her shoulder. “The boy has won you a reprieve, sister. He is your priest. The only priest you will ever have. When he dies, you will be forgotten. If he drifts away from you, you will be lost. If you break these vows, I will know, I will find you, and I will kill you.”

“Agreed,” whispered Sunsquat, and she clung to me, tight, squeezing me around the shoulders, her face pressed into my neck, clinging to me like a life preserver. It might have been kind of scary if I thought more about it, the desperate need, the fear, the desire she was showing. But in the moment, all I could think of was how soft and warm she was, pressing in against me.

“Well. Monsters can change.” Hummingbird’s South sighed. “Go forth, and do only righteous things when you ape my bearing, sister. If you must be, then you must be good.

Then she was gone.

I sank down against Sunsquat, my legs shaking. I looked around the room. “I think I need to call 911.”

“Well, the Earl is in jail, along with those retainers of his,” said my dad, sitting on the couch, nervously letting his eyes wander from side to side. Sunsquat was sitting beside me, but he couldn’t see her. “Unfortunately, things are still crazy out there. Maybe even a bit crazier, with the power vacuum, although less organized. A lot of things are coming to the surface. It’s…” He sighed. “It’s not great, what happened there. But it’s a step towards something better. If you keep up the pressure.”

I looked aside at Sunsquat. Her eyes were bright. “I think she could be persuaded.”

“Alright. But-” He swallowed. “No putting my son in harm’s way. You understand? No taking him anywhere that would be dangerous, and nobody can know about how he’s related. I’ve got confidence the Earl isn’t stupid enough to tell anyone about it, because he wouldn’t cross you, but if anyone else finds out…”

“Secret identity,” I said. “Yeah. I’ve got it, dad.”

“Alright.” He rubbed his forehead. “God. Working with a vigilante. I tried to tell you how many times that sort of thing is some paranoid right-wing fantasy, and look at me.”

“Yeah, you’re a lot cooler when you’re not so uptight about it.” I smiled. “I understand, dad. Things will be okay. Okay?”

“Okay,” he said.

“Okay,” said Sunsquat, and my dad jumped a bit, but he smiled.

He’d probably never be entirely comfortable with her. Not after what he’d seen. But he understood. He didn’t interfere, and that was good.

This was the kind of power I’d never really expected. The chance to do something about the world. Admittedly, the way I’d gotten this chance had been unlike anything I’d ever expected, but that didn’t make it any less important.

“He took that well,” said Sunsquat, her eyes dropped. “He’s afraid of me, but willing to work together with me.” She was quiet for a moment, and looked up at me with those dark eyes. “What they said. About me. I’m… a monster,” she murmured softly. “The only reason you see me like this, the only reason you can even look at me, is because you care about me.”

“Yeah.”

“Huh.” She smiled. “I suppose that’s not so bad, is it?” She shifted over, and leaned her head against me. Strange, very scary, but I trusted her. “She really seemed to know me. She thought I was her sister.”

“Do you think she was right?”

“I really don’t know.” She nestled in against me softly, her face pressing into my side. “I guess I think it doesn’t really matter. I’m happy with my life now.”

“Yeah.” I smiled, and stood up. “Hey, dad? I’m going out for some dinner, okay?”

“Yeah, just say…” He paused, and smiled. “Well. Keep an eye on him, would you, Sunsquat?”

“Okay,” she murmured, and smiled as the two of us walked out the door. It was a bright and sunny day, and the world felt a little bit brighter. I didn’t know what exactly it meant for Sunsquat to be a god, or what it meant that she was tied to me. But she’d been willing to do it. She wanted me. She wasn’t my mom, and she wasn’t really meant to be my mom. She was just someone who’d heard me, seen me in pain, and chosen to protect me, to take care of me.

I slung my arm around Sunsquat, and squeezed her, smiling. The world, it turned out, was full of so many terrifying and inexplicable things that it could defy imagination. But the scariest thing was on my side, and that made everything alright.

I sat down on the trolley, and she stood in front of me, hovering over me, her eyes scanning from side to side. She cared about me. I had offered her something I never thought I’d be able to offer someone, a reason to be. She wanted me. That was the sweetest feeling I could imagine.

The two of us hopped off of the trolley on the beach-side, and I grinned to myself as we walked along the sea shore, down to the edge of the water. She wasn’t a blind spot anymore. She wasn’t hiding from me. And whether she was really the pretty girl who she appeared to be didn’t actually matter. That’s who she was to me.

The two of us sat on the edge of the water, and I bought ice-cream for us. I nibbled quietly at the chocolate ice cream, smiling as I stared out at the sea, watching the breakers roll slowly onto the shore. Sunsquat leaned over into my side, her head resting against mine, her long dark hair trailed across my face as she nibbled at her ice-cream, making weird faces each time she took a bite, and soft little noises in the back of her throat.

“Dick?”

“Yeah?” I asked, licking my lips clean. I turned towards her, and saw her staring at me with those big, black eyes.

“I love you.”

That night, I slept better than I had since my mom left.

Atina LeRoux

September 2nd, 2016 at 4:35 PM

Look, buddy, I don’t delete posts, even the ones that get really rude, but you’re testing it here. I don’t need some punk kid being a pain in my ass about these things.

Atina LeRoux

September 4th, 2016 at 1:06 AM

Kid, are you okay? I remember you mentioning you live in Miami, and looking at some of the news, there’s been some really scary shit happening there over the last couple of days. You’re okay, right?

Atina LeRoux

September 4th, 2016 at 1:14 PM

Has anyone gotten in contact with Dickstrider612? I’m kind of really worried about the kid.

dickstrider612

September 5th, 2016 at 6:19 PM

hey sorry about freaking out before, everything turned out okay, turns out she’s actually really cool. uh, e-mail me when you get the chance, i need to talk to you about some stuff going on here. and i think shed really like to talk to you.

Atina LeRoux

September 5th, 2016 at 6:47 PM

Who, your boogeyman?

Dickstrider612

                September 5th, 2016 at 6:58 PM

more of a bogeywoman. and she’s really only interested in scaring the monsters.

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