1 The Smallest of The Three

I was just a father..

Just a lower middle class father of a 5 year old. Her name was Alyssa..

Alyssa was a good kid, nothing to outstanding about her if I'm honest.. I could spout the usual ramblings that most parents do of their children. Brag about her kindness and intelligence. But I don't have the energy, god I sound like I could care less about my own child.

Maybe that's why I didn't fight them when it happened.

See Alyssa, she's been missing for awhile now. 7 months officially but only the local law enforcement considers that an issue. Of course, my lack of empathy makes me suspect numero uno. Heh.. I don't blame them.. not to long after her disappearance I went on holiday, from Missouri woodland to French Polynesia. Now that was a change; blue waters, fish and tan women. Beats the November cold here in Potosi..

Of course this all seems odd so allow me to give you some backstory.

Alyssa, she's dead. Very dead. And my vacation was anything but a fun relief from crimes I'm most likely believed of commiting. No, you see Alyssa was devoured; by the upyr.

From what I can tell from my research, and yes I did feverishly search for them. Upyr is Russian for ghoul or ghoulish entity. In any case. My vacation was nothing more than a frantic and probably cowardly attempt to hide from them.

But they found me.. you can't fucking.. hide. It just can't happen. Even a world away.

Anyway, so what happened. That's the real reason we're here.

Alyssa's mother Katrina had passed during childbirth. As you can imagine, in today's society it's relatively hard to keep food on the table with only one working parent. By age 2 I had convinced (rather begged) Katrina's father for some sort of financial help. I would've gone to my own father but well, he's shit.

After alot of degrading and name calling he did finally cave. At least for Alyssa's sake. Appearently, Katrina's father owned himself a nice little cabin snugged miles up the road in secluded rogue Creek. An underdeveloped lake road just far enough away from anyone that I wouldn't have to deal with the anxiety of meeting backwoods neighbors or some shit.

The cabin turns out was a shit hole by the way. It hadn't been touched in years and mice had wreaked havoc on most of the dry stock of pantry food. But I cleaned and we managed.

But things started to get very odd very fast..

Little things, nothing alarming enough to leave, though we should've..

Little things would get knocked over in the cabin. Food seemed to disappear. Mostly meat. There was always less than I had cooked by the time I sat down. Fuck I'm pretty sure even the firewood would be halved while I was chopping it.. seriously I'd count 50 pieces a day while working and by dinner a recount would show me only 25.

But with all of these mishaps we persisted. For 3 fucking years.

I'm an author; or rather I was an author..

It made for very secluded days and alot of uneventful nights but still, it gave my time with my daughter..

One summer evening after finishing a chapter in what was turning into an endless novel that I didn't even want to write anymore; Alyssa and I decided to walk one of the many trails on the cabins northern face. This wasn't anything new, we've done this plenty of times. In fact the walk was rather uneventful.

We had seen some blackberry bushes, picked a few to take home. But the berries were long gone and eaten by the time we had headed back. The sun was finishing it's setting when we breached the wood-line and the cabin came into view. Alyssa giggled and ran ahead. At first, I couldn't put my finger on the oddity of the sight in front of me but that little girl.. my daughter running happily toward that cabin. Made my heart sink into a depth of fear and sorrow I have never known before..

That cabin looked like a hungry animal more than a house. The nights grip wrapping it away from the sunlight that was dying fast in it's orange moments.

As I started to walk through the tall grass of the clearing, something to my right caught my eye. Somethings; I should say. Two or three small figures scuttled by me into the forest. Just quick enough to stay out of my actual view but I.. I fucking felt them.

I picked up the pace with a blizzard of a shiver riding my spine. And once I reached the cabin I slammed the door shut and latched the old slide lock that rested just eye level. I remember thinking "what the fuck were those things? Coyotes maybe?.. No, to fast.. wish I had a dog.."

"Why did I never buy a fucking dog?"

I'm allergic, that's why we never bought a dog. But nonetheless, a stuffy nose and watery eye beats what the outcome inevitably turned out to be..

This started happening more and more; glimpses of the "pack" is what I'd call them. Fleeting moments where in the rim of a quick glance you'd see them. It wasn't always near the forest either. I swear I've seen them in the corners of the fucking ceiling when the cabins fireplace would dance the shadows around my study.

One morning around 5, I was sitting near one of the cabin's small bay windows. Coffee and frustration seemed to be my daily ritual. I was festering over another sleepless night wasted rewriting the same page of my novel 436 times and staring into the rainy, barely lit wood-line.

That's when I saw them. Three short men standing in a row; staring back at me from the forest. At least I think they were staring back, their eyes were dark and even far off I could tell they had an animal blackness to them. A lack of soul some would say..

It's funny that their eyes struck me before anything else because their hunched demeanor and complete nudity should've stood out more at that distance.

Now I don't know if it was the lack of sleep or the accidental acquisition of fearlessness from the years of living in the middle of nowhere but I didn't get worried. I got mad. I remember stomping to the cabin door and throwing it wide open. I figured that'd be enough to run these little assholes off but they just stood there.

Still not sensing the danger I tramped across the field and was about 15 feet from the wood-line when my flight response finally said "hey, dipshit. These things aren't people." I took a good hard look at them. My skin jolted in fear. Those eye weren't black.

They were hollow sockets..

They had no mouths from what I could tell, at least at first but their skin was so fucking... Rotten.

My filter must've taken the morning off because my next response was.

"Disgusting, what the fuck is wrong with you?!"

I covered my mouth and tried not to gag at the smell of dead meat that wafted toward me.

To my surprise the smaller of the three weezed out a response.

"U-upyr.."

My American conditioned brain thought he was insulting me so I immediately fired back with full rage, "Up mine? Fuck you kid up yours! You and your nasty backwoods fucking friends! If I have to come back out here you'll be fucking dead!"

Again the smaller of the three wheezed and began again.

"We...eat the meat.. we hide.. the wood.. we need more.. we are. Hunger."

I cocked an eyebrow

"You eat the meat? Have you nasty pricks been stealing our food?! Oh you just wait until the Potosi sheriff gets wind of this!"

I was ignorant and foolish, I started a war march back to the cabin to find our house phone when I heard the words that unleashed hell upon my life.

"We.. Need meat.. we need.. MORE!"

A fleeting glance out of my peripheral shot from behind me. A swirl of shadows and a warm gust of air with the smell of decay riding it.

I stumbled from the sheer g-force and whirled around to where the three entities were previously positioned but only the smaller of the three remained.

I managed to gurgle out a confused "what the actual fuck just-" when it dawned on me that the direction of their run was the cabin.

Alyssa..

I turned and ran the best I could through the rutted and moist field and barreled through the cabin door that I had so blindly left open.

I started running rounds through the house with my stomach in my throat. "Alyssa?!" Nothing.

I checked the loft.

Nothing.

I checked the fucking study, my bedroom, the kitchen, the god damned closets. Nothing.

They took her in almost an instant.

In a panic I ran back out of the cabin toward the northern wood-line where the Upyr had been standing. The smallest was gone. The pack had vanished.

I flew into a parental panic. I didn't know what to do so I found the entrance to our blackberry trail and ran bewilderingly fast into the dark void before me.

The forest was bleak and silent. Almost pitch black from the early morning cloud cover and the rain had made the air thick and moist. I had a hard time keeping my breath; let alone keeping pace chasing a group of unknown things that were probably long gone.

I must've walked that trail for 2 hours. Further than we had ever walked before. I fell to my knees wet and fully aware that I was a failure of a father on top of everything else I was already shit at.

I cried..

For a long time I sobbed right there in the muddy pine underbrush of the forest and

Bellowed her name. For ages I cried out for my little girl but I was met with silence.

And then for some reason, maybe my helplessness.

I started to cry out for Katrina. She was always the more level headed of the two of us..

And then I heard behind me in a group of thickets. A distant rustle. My heart jumped through my chest and I clammered to my feet.

"Alyssa?! Baby, it's daddy I'm here! I'm he-"

I rammed my way through the wall of briars and Vines; and when I emerged into the clearing..

You know.. seeing something can kill you.. I truly believe that..

The Upyr do have mouths by the way..

I saw it.. distended side ways from groin to mouth, ripped open at the seems of the rotten flesh they inhabit.. and in that mouth? Blood.. meat..

More.. meat..

And Alyssa's tiny sleepy eyes head lay at the feet of the smallest of the three.. mangled and ripped to pieces..

I died that day..

Not until I ran like a fucking coward though.. so I did.. I ran and ran and made it back to the cabin, packed my shit and ran some more.

Katrina's father was the one who got the law involved when he came by to visit and the place was deserted..

I told them that I thought he had taken her out of spite.

Bought me some time.. they wouldn't believe me. I'm sure I'll be charged soon..

I can still hear the Upyr pattering around in my peripheral and the smaller of the three? I swear I can hear him outside of my motel window saying those same words..

We are.. hunger..

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