Lucy walked through the dark mall parking lot towards her car, keys in hand. She hated how they made the employees park at the far edge of the parking lot, to leave the closer spaces free for customers. She especially hated it at this time of year, when it was dark long before she finished for the day. That afternoon she’d parked along the wooded edge at the back of the mall. Just beyond the edge of the paved area the ground fell off in a steep slope downwards into the neighboring wetlands.
Now, walking alone in the dark, her mind went to the old worn sign, posted halfway down the hill beyond the parking lot that read, “eware the obble”. Obviously, the first word was “Beware”, but Lucy had no idea what the “obble” referred to.
Lucy jumped as a horn sounded behind her. She turned to see her coworker, Violet, driving off and she waved goodbye. When she turned back to her car, she stopped. She saw a tall thin figure standing beside it. Her heart raced for a moment before she convinced herself it had to be a trick of the light. No one was that tall.
She’d only taken one more step before the shape started towards her. Lucy screamed, turned, and started running back towards the mall, looking for the security truck that patrolled the parking lot. Her ankle folded under as the heal snapped off of her shoe and she went sprawling, sand and pebbles slicing across her palms and knees as she went. Her keys slipped out of her hands and skittered along the pavement.
Before she could scream again a large, hairy hand was pressed against her face, and she felt herself being lifted into the air. She just caught sight of the security truck as she was spun around, but lost track of it as all the air was pushed from her lungs. The creature had flung her over its shoulder. It seemed to crouch for a moment, then it leaped into the air and bounded over the low railroad tie fence at the edge of the parking lot and rushed down the hill.
Lucy pounded on the creature’s back, but it ignored her and moved swiftly deeper into the damp wooded area. She had no idea what direction they were heading, and hanging upside down was making her light headed.
Just as suddenly as it had started, the flurry of motion stopped, and she felt herself being lowered to the ground. She felt a bump, as her head struck something hard, and she felt herself start to black out. Her last thought was how lucky she was she wouldn’t be awake when it tore her apart.
When Lucy came to she was lying down somewhere cold, damp, and dark, but she was also alone. What had happened to the creature? Had it just left her here? Maybe it went out hunting again. She got slowly to her feet. Her shoes were gone. She crawled around a bit, trying to grope for them in the darkness, but she didn’t find anything. They must have fallen off in the woods somewhere. She felt her way around the small cave, and determined there were two passages leading away in opposite directions.
She stopped by one of them and strained her ears to hear. She thought she heard some movement in the distance, but she couldn’t be sure. At the other passage she didn’t hear anything, so she decided to go that way, feeling along the wall with one hand while the other groped out in front of her.
She hadn’t gotten far before she found her passage blocked. At first she thought the passage was a dead end, but feeling along the walls and floor she realized a large stone had been dragged across the passage from this side, blocking the way. That meant the creature was likely still in here, back the other way.
She got only two steps back along the passage before she heard huge slapping footsteps approaching. She knew there was no escape. Once more huge hands lifted her into the air. The creature turned back and placed her down. What was it doing? She heard it strain with effort, and faint light spilled in as the rock slid aside.
This would be her only chance. Lucy lunged towards the opening, past the creatures tall legs. Just as she stepped out onto the damp ground outside she felt the hands come down around her. She started to cry out, but a large furry hand pressed against her mouth and nose. She tried to swat the hand away and the creature grabbed her wrist.
“What are you? What do you want?”
Something was pushed into her arms, and then the creature backed away. Lucy listened as the rock slid back across the passage. The thing had let her go. Why? And what was this? It felt like she was holding some sort of bundle wrapped in a rough blanket. She shook it, and heard a muffled but familiar jingle.
Clutching the bundle close she caught sight of the lights in the parking lot in the distance and made her way carefully back. When she got to her car she placed the animal hide bundle down on the trunk of the car, and reached in and pulled out her keys.
When she was home, and had turned on all the lights, and locked all the doors, Lucy spread out the animal hide bundle on the kitchen floor. Besides her keys, it had also contained her purse, and her shoes. The broken heel had been replaced. The replacement, attached with some sort of blackish brown adhesive, was carved from wood, but otherwise was a near perfect replica of the original.