Aaron stood up in his bed, confused. He had gotten ready for bed just a few minutes ago, and was deep in a train of thought. He'd forgotten what it was that was troubling him. He turned his head to the left and saw a pile of papers stacked on his desk. It was at that moment that it came to him – his college application had been rejected.
Aaron crawled out of bed and walked into the living room, rubbing his eyes. He couldn’t believe it. The rest of his life was banked on whether or not he could attend that university. This couldn’t be happening to him. He was too special. This had to be some kind of mistake. Yes, that’s it. A mistake. Maybe someone mixed up his name when they were doing the paperwork. Maybe he still had a shot at it. He sat down on the sofa and slumped his arms between his legs. He sunk his shoulders and stared at the floor.
Oh, how he wished he could reverse time. He would pull better grades and be less of an asshole to those who influenced his fate. He would have been kinder to his elders. He would have been a better son to his mother before she passed. Aaron ran his fingers along the necklace hanging around his neck until he felt the wooden cross on the palm of his hand. He brought it into his field of vision and shed a tear. At least I have Him, he thought.
Aaron wiped the tear from his eye using the sleeve of his shirt. No, there was no use in crying. It wasn’t going to bring her back. Aaron arose and turned to his right, prepared to walk back to his room. It was then that he overheard his father talking with his boss over the phone.
“Yes, I think I’m on to something. A hiker’s carcass was found near there. It is apparent that he was mauled, but the question is, by what? ‘Authorities suspect a bear attack, but I’m not so sure.”
That doesn’t sound like father’s usual work, thought Aaron. He cautiously approached the door leading to the master bedroom, intrigued.
“Tonight? What do you mean tonight? I couldn’t possibly – yes, yes I understand. Alright. I will investigate.”
Aaron realized that his father’s actual work was much different from what he previously thought. Dead animal pick up? That doesn't sound right. His father hung up the phone and released a deep sigh. Aaron heard the bed squeak, indicating that his father had just stood up. Aaron stole away to his room to avoid detection.
It had been a minute since Aaron’s father left. Aaron, deciding that the time to act was now, slipped on his shoes, put on a jacket, grabbed the keys to his own car, and rushed out the door.
Aaron had been tailing his father for roughly 45 minutes. He had to take some back roads to avoid being caught, but he managed to keep up. Finally, his father came to a stop outside a densely wooded area.
What could he possibly be doing here? thought Aaron. He waited until his father exited the vehicle and passed through the gate. After he vanished into the darkness, Aaron unbuckled his seat belt and slowly cracked the car door open to avoid being heard. He slowly crept along whilst breathing as quietly as possible through his nostrils.
After hopping the gate and traveling along the dirt path, Aaron finally caught up with his father, who was rummaging through a knapsack at the time. Puzzled, he tried to get a closer look at what his father was doing. This was quite possibly the greatest mistake in Aaron’s short life. His father raised what appeared to be a tape recorder, but he was merely pointing it at a boulder which was - moving?
What Aaron saw was of indescribable horror. It was the thing that plagued one’s nightmares, a monstrosity of 25 feet in height which was feasting on the carcass of what seemed to be the hiker who was the subject of his father’s conversation that took place roughly an hour prior. Aaron staggered back in terror, refusing to believe what he was witnessing. As he stumbled backwards, his left heel cracked down on a twig, revealing his presence. Aaron’s father jerked his head towards the sound of the noise, startled.
“What are you doing here?!” Aaron’s father snapped in a whispered, yet stern voice.
Aaron was too shocked by what he had seen to respond. He tried to find the words to reply, but he simply could not. The only thing Aaron could pluck up the courage to do was feel along the necklace hung around his neck to grab hold of the crucifix while chanting
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”
The creature halted its dinner and perked its head up, now attentive.
“Aaron, stop.” His father commanded.
“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.”
The beast rose to its feet, disturbed.
“Aaron, don’t be stupid. Quit before we’re both killed.”
“He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake.”
The figure was now annoyed. It sniffed around to locate the source of what was making the chant.
“Aaron, knock it the fuck off. If you shut up right now, we might still survive this.”
What Aaron thought to be a demon was now frantically searching for him.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death; I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
“Aaron, run!” His father screamed as the brute pinpointed their location. He sprinted off into the distance at a faster pace than Aaron thought humanly possible. With no choice but to chase after him, Aaron took off towards his father. Tremors shook the ground as the atrocity followed in suit.
After about twenty seconds of nonstop running, Aaron felt something jerk him underneath the roots of a tree. Aaron was about to yell, but he felt a fleshy appendage cover his mouth to muffle his scream – it was his father’s hand. “Shh,” his father uttered as he put his index finger over his own lips. "It’s blind, but its hearing is acute.” His father retrieved an ultraviolet flashlight from his knapsack.
It was not long before the fiend approached the trunk of the tree, attracted to their scent. It released a low-toned growl and circled the perimeter of the cluster of trees three times before giving up. It snarled in anger and then began to make its way back into the darkness.
“Thank you, Lord.” Aaron sighed in relief.
The monster shrieked a most horrid shriek, aware of the Christian’s presence once more.
“You fool!” Aaron’s father cried. He turned the flashlight towards the troll and turned it on, halting the beast’s advance. It reared back in pain, bellowing loudly.
“Aaron, get away. Now.” Aaron turned his attention from what he now recognized as a troll to his father. Tears streamed down Aaron’s face, but he nodded and crawled out from under the cage-like shelter. Just as Aaron was about to make it home free, the troll rammed itself into the trunk of the tree, uprooting it from the ground. Aaron’s father, now exposed and helpless, was at the mercy of the giant.
“Here, take these!” His father shouted as he threw the flashlight and keys to his own car to Aaron. Aaron caught the items, but he could not pluck up the courage to escape the scene. Paralyzed in fear, Aaron could only watch as his father was lifted from the ground and shaken around like a ragdoll.
The troll grabbed hold of the father's limbs and tore them from their sockets, breaking the bone-locks and stretching the sinews of his extremities. Having gnawed them to the bone, it then slammed the poor man into the ground as if it were trying to crack a walnut. The man’s lifeless body burst open, spewing its gooey entrails. The troll dug into the platter of organs, satisfied. Aaron was in such an intense state of shock that he could not so much as utter a whisper. He could only stand and watch as the bastard devoured the only thing Aaron had left to call family.
The severity of the situation did not hit Aaron until the troll was almost finished with its meal. He cried out in sheer misery and anguish, perturbed by the murder of his father. Incensed by the Christian's cry, the troll cast aside what was left of the corpse as Aaron reared around to take off in a sprint.
After running from the troll for roughly two minutes, Aaron arrived at his father’s van. He quickly jerked the car door open, stuck the key in the ignition, and put the vehicle in reverse. With the fiend closing in on his position, Aaron spun the wheel to the right and traveled down the road from whence he came.
Aaron sped down the path, exceeding speeds of 90 miles an hour. As a result, he was soon able to shake off the monster. As he continued down the dirt road, a most interesting thought crossed his mind. What if he were to slay the troll? He had to avenge his father’s death. He couldn’t just let that demon get away with it. There was a fjord up ahead. If he could somehow lure the troll into it, then his spirit should surely be at rest. Aaron recalled a cassette tape in the glove department of the van. He retrieved it and read the label: “Worship Music." Perfect.
Aaron shoved it into the player, set the volume to the maximum, and stopped the car. He rolled the windows down and stuck his head out, waiting for the troll to approach. As expected, the fucker came bumbling towards him. Aaron slammed his foot down on the gas pedal and lurched forwards, determined to bring the troll to its doom.
As he approached the fjord, Aaron prepared himself to leap out of the vehicle right before it flew over the edge. He glanced behind his shoulder for a brief moment to get an idea of the troll’s position – there it was, not but 20 feet behind him. A wave of panic seized him, and rather than exiting the vehicle before the fall, he sailed over the cliff along with the vehicle. His head slammed against the dashboard and darkness swept over him.
Aaron awoke in the van, which had sunk to bottom of a shallow bank. Realizing how little time he had before the water pressure was too great to escape the vehicle, Aaron stripped down to his underwear and used the flashlight to break through the car window. He exited the window and pushed off the roof to ascend to the surface. After a short period, he broke the surface of the water, gasping for air.
He slithered onto the water bank, completely and utterly exhausted. He coughed up a cup’s worth of water and chuckled. He'd done it. He had escaped and avenged his father’s death. After a minute or so, he decided it was time to make his way to the nearest town before he froze to death. He collapsed almost as soon as he brought himself to his feet, realizing his body was too weak to walk. Suddenly, he heard that same low-toned growl from back in the woods. To his horror, he saw a figure emerge from the murky depths – the troll had survived.
Aaron slowly began to crawl away in the opposite direction at a painstakingly slow rate, clawing at the earth and pulling himself forward. Every fiber of his being was screaming at him to escape, get away. He could hear the waves breaking against the trunks that were the troll's legs, bringing that beast closer with each plodding step it took. He knew it wouldn't be long before he was torn to shreds. No longer able to support his own body weight, Aaron halted all movement. He lay there, helpless, awaiting his inevitable death.
This is it, he thought. Of all the things I planned for my life, dying was not one of them.