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I had just gone out to smoke a cigarette.

Tired from a long night of splitting fire wood for the upcoming winter, I’d gone outside to suck down a cigarette and listen to the noises of the night.  I know most just smoke in their houses, but I don’t like the stale smell that it lingers in the air when people smoke inside.

There was a new noise.  I live in the middle of the country, and I know the sound of every animal in the forest.  But there was a new sound, a squawking sound.

Still puffing my cigarette, I turned around the corner, towards the squawking.

It was coming from a bramble of bushes and trees that sat at the edge of my land I always thought of as “the swamp”, which covered a large section to the side of the house closest where I was to.  It was in the wet season a swamp, and in the dry season a muddy, crusty scab on the earth.  I was sure the noise came from a particularly patchy area

I didn’t see anything at first, just cold pine trees shivering in the frosty wind.  But then something moved, it came out from underneath one of the trees, you see?

I froze, the smoke trickling off of my cigarette’s cherry the only motion I could see.  My heart was beating so hard I could feel my eyes throbbing on each beat.  It was like a drummer on top of my eyes was hitting the peak of a solo.

The bushes rustled again, and there was another squawk from the woods, this one louder and more vicious than before.  I dropped the smoke and stepped on it, getting ready to jump back in the house.  But I was curious; I had to stay and see what it was.

The brush shook again, and a pink, birdlike head emerged.  It was reminiscent of an ostrich, but monstrously big, with a jagged, serrated beak that made it look absurdly like it had teeth, and blood-red eyes.

It cocked its head like a quizzical dog, and I think I cocked my head too, as I pondered the sudden oddity that had just emerged on my property.

“SQUAAAAWK!!!” the creature screamed suddenly, and started running at me.

I only had enough time before I spun and ran to notice that the thing’s body was nothing like an ostrich’s.  The pink, featherless look of its head continued across its entire body, the mottled skin redder near its rear.  Instead of wings it had two tentacle-type appendages, which mostly flopped around but I could tell the thing could move and manipulate with when it wanted to.  It walked on two feet like an ostrich or a bird, but its feet were nothing like a birds, a shape that I can’t even begin to describe.

Knowing that I wouldn’t have time to jump back into the house at the speed the creature was running at me, I ran away from the creature, towards a storage shed I have on the edge of the property.

The creature kept behind me, spurred by my flight, I think.  Like how a dog will chase you if you run from it, thinking you’re playing some kind of game.

I got to the shed, and managed to get in and close the door a split second before the bird thing banged smashed into the door frame.  I think if I hadn’t had the door blocked it would have gotten in and eaten me right then.

There was a wooden bolt on the door, and I slapped it shut.  I was just in time; the monster’s head slapped against the door just as I secured it.

As the monster started to peck repeatedly at the door I looked around the shack, trying to familiarize myself with my surroundings.  The shack was one that had been on the property when I’d bought it, and I’d only been there once or maybe twice before then.  There was a faint glint of moonlight peeking in through a gap between two boards on the wall opposite the door, and with that I surveyed my surroundings.

The shed was filled with rusting tools, hanging on both sides of the door.  I saw a rusty pitchfork, shovel, and pickaxe, and instantly grabbed the pickaxe.

The creature banged against the door again, and the door gave a sickening crunch sound.  I looked over to find that the wood had dry rot, and was starting to cave in with the beast’s relentless pounding.

“THUD!” The creature wacked across the door.  The only thing keeping the door together was the metal bands at the top and bottom that held the rotted boards together.  I posed myself in front of the door in an aggressive stance, ready to bring the pickaxe down full-force on anything that came through the door.

But then the pounding stopped.  I heard the monster run off and to the side of the shack, making a gurbled sqwawk on the way.

Taking advantage of the lull, I studied the shed again, looking to the tool rack opposite the one I’d grabbed the pickaxe from.

The first thing I noticed was a saw so rusted that the rust had eaten holes in it to the point it resembled a piece of swiss cheese.  Shaking my head, I turned to maul that was also rusted, but looked useable.  Next to it was an axe, equally rusty.

On a whim I grabbed the ax in my left hand, keeping the pickaxe in my right.  The creature still hadn’t made another noise.

Cautiously, I put my ear to the door.

“Caww! Cawww!” the monster called, off in the distance.  By the sound, I judged it was at the side of the house nearest the shed I was in.

“You fucking bastard,” I said, suddenly filled with rage.  It was prancing around my property as if it owned the place.  That had to be stopped.

I put down the tools lit up another cigarette, not sure if it’d be my last.  The smell of the smoke must have caught the monster’s attention, because I heard it come back by the shed and start huffing around, making a sound a bit like a pig snorting.

It took me a few minutes to realize it was smelling around the shack, savoring my scent.  That pissed me off, so I crushed my mostly-unsmoked cigarette, then picked up the pickaxe and axe and went to the door, preparing myself for a fight.

The creature’s head burst through the door as soon as I opened it.  I swing wildly with the pickaxe, grazing the creature on the crown of its head.  It screeched and pulled back, and I opened the door the rest of the way, hoping to jump in for a killing blow.

I burst out into the moonlight, keeping my weapons ready.  The monster had its head under one of its grotesque, shrunken arms, rubbing the stub at the wound on its head.

“Perfect,” I whispered to myself, and creeped towards the creature with my weapons raised, hoping to strike a fatal blow before it could raise its head.

But just as I was raising both weapons to strike down, the thing laced its head up, and looked at me in the eyes.  I could see a look of raw, unlimited hate in the creature’s red eyes.

It snapped up and left, and snipped my arm, jolting a nerve and making my hand drop the pickaxe.  Thinking quickly, I brought the axe down with my left with all my might, only for the monster to jump aside at the last second, narrowly missing the blade.

I jumped back in turn, narrowly missing a flick of the creature’s leg that threw a jagged talon within inches of my belly. I swung the axe again, aiming for the monster’s fat neck, but it again dodged out of the way.  It swept another talon at my belly, and I jumped back again, hitting the door of the shack.

The creature closed in, and I drew back for another swing of the axe, but between the haste that I pulled it back and a weak grip on the handle, it flew back and out of my hand.  Out of options and thinking fast, I fumbled the door behind me open and flung myself in, bolting it again before the creature could force its way in.

Gasping and weaponless, I looked around the toolshed again for new weapons.  There was nothing left but a rusty saw, a pitchfork, and a shovel.  I picked up the pitchfork, it seeming to be the most useful remaining tool, and turned back to the door, the monster sniffing and  lightly pecking at the door.

The creature gave a few frustrated squawks, and started banging on the door.  Out of useful tools and desperate, I began to search two moldy cardboard boxes that I found hidden in the left back corner of the shack.

Mostly filled with old stuffed animals and damp books, there was nothing of use in the boxes save a few notebooks filled with aged, yellow paper, some pens, and a butter knife I found buried at the bottom of one of the boxes, as if accidentally dropped in.  Hoping I might be able to sharpen the butter knife into something more useful in the future, I dropped it into one of my coat pockets.

The thing started to batter on the door again.  I went up and braced it, sitting at the door with my butt against it. It shattered the rusting lock on the third ram, but my body kept the door braced shut, with only the top of the door leaning inward when the creature burst the lock.

Seemingly deciding the door was impenetrable, the creature backed off.  I could hear it walk away from the shed, but it kept close enough to run to the door in an instant, had it a mind to.

I waited for a few minutes (dear brother, please do not think that I gave up my life without a struggle,) and then, satisfied that if I kept quiet the creature wouldn’t come to the door, I crept to the other side of the room.  Desperate to brace the door, I grabbed the boxes on the far side of the shed and piled them against the door, hoping the flimsy things might help brace it.

Taking a temporary reprieve after bracing the door, I realized that the pitchfork handle would fit in the eyes of the lock where the deadbolt had broken off.  Knowing it would rouse the creature, I snapped the handle in half in an instant, and shoved it through the eyes of the lock before the thing could get to the door.

Hearing me, the thing banged against the door a few seconds after I’d shoved the handle piece into the lock.  The impromptu lock gave a sickening crack, and even with him bracing against the door he knew that with another good ram the creature would be in and eating him.

But it gave up after one hit, and ambled back to the side of the trailer.  “If the bastard knew how flimsy the lock was he wouldn’t have stopped,” I whispered into the air.

I fell asleep at some point, propped up against the door in case the ostrich creature came back.  I’m not sure when I fell asleep, but when I woke up it was still dark, and I could hear the animal walking around in front of the door.  I’m not sure what it was doing, it just seemed to slowly walk around, for hours on end.

I somehow fell asleep again, and when I woke up there was sunlight shining through the many cracks in the walls of the shed, and the door as well.  I sat for a spell, listening for the monster, but there was nothing.

I was just about to stand up and shout out in triumph when I heard “CAWWW!” just in front of the front door.  It seemed the creature had just woken up as well.

Collapsing back into the corner of the shed, I was overcome with despair.  I knew that with the petty tools left I wouldn’t be able to fight off the bird – after all, even with the good tools I’d dropped in my first attempt it hadn’t worked – what good could the remaining rusty tools have for me?

I tried, despite not having any chance.  Twice.  The first time the bird thing plucked the shovel from my hand with its mouth as I tried to bring it down on it, and threw it away with a flick of its neck.  The second time I simply tried to make a dash for the nearest tree, thirty feet away, so that I could climb up it, and perhaps make my way from tree to try until I got to the main road, where I might have had a chance to find a passerby to help me.

But I had to turn around and make a mad dash around the house and through the back door when I realized there was no way I could make it before the creature caught me.

I’m still trapped in this accursed shed as I write this to you, good brother.  It’s the fourth day.  When I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to escape this accursed thread I found a few pieces of paper and a nub of a pencil I sharpened with my pocket knife.

The monster goes off sometimes, and I can hear it exploring the surrounding area and eating screaming small animals.  But it never strays far enough away from the shack for me to make a break for it.

People always worry about hunger when trapped, but it turns out you’ll die of thirst long before that.  It was on the third day that I got thirsty enough to sip up a puddle of stagnant, dusty water that I found accumulated in one of the corners of the shack underneath a leak in the roof.  It was barely two sips, and I had to fight to keep from throwing up the putrid stuff.  I can feel myself getting weaker by the moment.  My lips are cracked and dry, and the inside of my mouth and tongue is the same.

I’ve decided I’m not going to die this way, and am going to make one last break for it.  If I don’t make it hopefully someone finds these pages, and you will know what my fate was.

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