Cryptid Girl

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Spelunking is not one of Lorna McHaley’s favorite hobbies, but she lets her fiancée drag her into the confines of an eerie cave anyway. When she runs into a colony of bats, she is left injured and questions what really happened in the depths of the underground chamber.
The traumatic incident haunts her waking hours and floods her dreams. Disquieting nightmares disrupt every facet of her life, especially her relationship with her best friend, Paige.
Her nightmares start coming true, and Lorna fears some sort of future-seeing ability has fallen upon her as a result of the cave incident. She finds herself powerless and unable to stop the monster in her dreams from committing vile murders in real life.
With Lorna on the verge of a breakdown, Paige must uncover the truth about her mysterious dreams. When she does, it could mean betraying her best friend and sending her into ruin.



There was no more room for dumb mistakes. She couldn’t be
that far behind the rest of the spelunking party, assuming she followed them
down the right corridor. This was the right way, wasn’t it?


Lorna McHaley took a deep breath. The cave air was heavy and
dank. Even with a flashlight the darkness seemed impenetrable.


“Mason?” she called, hoping for a response from her fiancé.
There was only stark silence.


Her steps were short, cautious. She kept one hand on the
wall to help guide her. Then she tripped, diving face first into the rocky cave
floor. Her hard hat and flashlight tumbled away and vanished into the pitch
blackness. She heard a couple of thunking noises, what she believed was the
sound of plastic bouncing off rock.


“No!” she said. Her weapons against the dark were gone.


Lorna pushed herself up on her hands and knees and then sat
back against the cave wall. Her chin stung. She must have scraped it when she
hit the stony ground.


Should she turn back and stay in the chamber she came from?
Or should she press on and try to find the rest of the party? Or better yet,
find a way out of the cave.


If she hadn’t gawked so long at the first bunch of
stalagmites they encountered and if she hadn’t been so stupid and told the
group she would catch up with them on her own, she would have seen which
passage the other spelunkers continued down. Big mistake.


Lorna took a calming breath and shut her eyes. There was no
turning back. She wasn’t even sure she could trace her steps back to where
she’d come from, so she had to move on. Her eyes opened with renewed
determination. She reached into the pocket of her yellow coveralls and pulled
out a glove box sized Maglite. Mason suggested she bring it along just in case
her helmet or flashlight malfunctioned. Thankfully, she listened to him.


She stood up and pressed one hand on the rocky wall. With
the other, she clicked the flashlight on and a slight beam pierced the
consuming blackness. Her gloved hand scraped along the stone, trembling, and
she kept her light pointed toward the floor so she could spot any obstacles
that might cause her to fall again. She focused her mind on finding either the
spelunking team or a way out of the cave.


There was a dim glow coming up from the ground ahead of her.
She approached it, then realized she’d come upon a narrow but deep crevice. It
must have swallowed her hat and flashlight. She peeked down into the gap and,
sure enough, her spelunking tools lay at the bottom.


Could she reach them? She had to try.


Lorna lay down on the floor and stretched her empty hand
into the crack. She grabbed and swiped, but all she grasped was emptiness.


They were too far down. She fought back tears as she brought
herself back to her feet. It would be okay. This was no time to be scared and
freak out. She still had the Maglite. It wasn’t much, but it would have to do
the job and lead her out of this clammy dungeon.


She shined the light on the crevice, took a long stride
across it, and continued down the corridor.


“Ugh! What is that?” Lorna said, then gagged. She yanked her
shirt from the confines of her coveralls and pulled it over her nose and mouth.
The sudden stench of rotten eggs and manure was almost too much. She thought
she might vomit. After sucking in several deep, semi-refreshing breaths, she
moved on, though the stink was relentless.


The passage seemed endless, but finally the tight, confining
space spilled into an open cavern. Lorna breathed a sigh of relief. No more
stooping over. Her neck, shoulders, and elbows popped and cracked as she
stretched her aching limbs. She brushed cave dust from her coveralls and then
shined her flashlight around.


“Wow,” she said. “These are…magnificent.” Stalagmites and
stalactites filled the chamber from floor to ceiling as though reaching to
touch each other. They glistened with soft hues of brown and orange. Lorna
smiled. If she hadn’t gotten lost, she would have missed out on this gorgeous
wonder. It was the silver lining of this crummy spelunking trip.


A beam of light captured her eyes. That’s why she could see
the stalagmites and stalactites so clearly. It was coming from a corridor in
the opposite wall.


Her heart thudded against her chest. A way out!


Lorna shoved her Maglite into her pocket. “Whoo hoo!” she
said. “Daylight, here I come!”


A noise pierced the empty silence encompassing her.


Flitter-flit, flitter flit.


Lorna froze.


The noise multiplied.


Flitter-flutter, flitter-flutter.


It was the sound of beating wings.


She looked up, squinting, trying to catch a glimpse of the
chamber above her. A black phantom darted down from the ceiling, then arced
back up to its resting place.


“No! Not bats,” Lorna said. She hoped her eyes were
deceiving her.


Another phantom drifted from the ceiling and then two more
followed. She guessed there could be as many as a hundred phantom shapes
clinging to the ceiling and fluttering about. Perhaps their droppings were the
cause of the eye-watering stench.


She cracked. “Help! Someone please help! Mason! Mason, where
are you? Help!”


Her shouts roused the resting bats, and soon the flapping
magnified to a natural surround sound.


She had to get out. Now.


With the beam of light her focus, Lorna’s feet pumped faster
and faster toward it.


Bats swooped down all around her. She stopped, swatting them
away. There were too many.


“Stop it! Go away,” she said as she flailed her arms to keep
the nuisances from flapping in her face. Lorna took several steps backward, not
paying attention to what she was doing. She lost her balance and plummeted into
a well in the cave floor.


She smacked the stony bottom of the hole with a snap and a


There was silence.


Lorna lay there for a minute, confused. Once she caught her
breath and realized what happened, she moaned, long and painful. She was spread
out on her stomach, one arm pinned and throbbing beneath her and the other limp
out in front of her. With another moan, she pulled her free arm to her side and
pushed. She rolled over onto her back. Her newly freed arm flopped to her side
and she lay motionless, assessing the injuries sustained from her fall.


Her chest was on fire. Something in there must be broken.
When she tried to sit up, she blinked back tears. She bent and moved both of
her legs. No damage. The arm that had been pinned was numb like it had been on
ice for hours. She moved all five digits. Not broken. Her other arm seemed to
work as normal.


Lorna gritted her teeth and sat up. She winced and tears
spilled down her cheeks. Her head pounded. She’d never had a migraine before,
but the feeling had to be similar. There was something else, an oozing wetness,
slipping over the left side of her face. She pulled her gloves off and pressed
her fingers against her forehead. When she pulled them away, she took the
Maglite from her pocket and shined it on them. The pads of her fingers were
stained red.


Lorna used the sleeve of her coveralls to wipe the blood
from her head. Although she tried to stop her tears, they continued to pour
down her face.


She took deep breaths, but instead of soothing her they
assaulted her with the scent of the rancid odor. After another flood of tears,
she wiped her eyes. Crying wasn’t getting her anything but more miserable and


She reached behind her head and yanked the rubber band from
her pony tail, allowing her blond hair to spill over her shoulders. Parched,
she unclasped the canteen of water from her belt and took a long, sloppy gulp.
She wiped spilled droplets from the corners of her mouth, unfastened her belt,
and tossed it to the side. It made a clinking sound as it bounced off a scatter
of jagged rocks. Lorna guessed that maybe she’d landed on them during her fall
and then rolled off onto the flat floor of the hole.


She groaned as she lay back once again, trying to get
comfortable enough to relax and figure out what to do next.


Bruised and broken, she closed her eyes and considered her
options. She wasn’t that far down; she guessed maybe only ten feet or so. Could
she climb out? Should she scream for help? Where were Mason and the rest of the
spelunking party? Hopefully they were looking for her.


Lorna knew she shouldn’t have come on the spelunking trip.
She wasn’t at all interested in underground exploration. Mason talked her into
it. He was an adventurer, always dragging her along for the ride. Spelunking
was his most unusual pastime, and he had every intention of getting his future
wife just as enthused about the hobby as he was. He promised her a relaxing
week of fun and pleasure on the beaches of the Yucatan Peninsula in exchange
for one spelunking adventure. She ended up on the losing end of the deal just
as she suspected she would.


A strange noise broke the silence.




Lorna’s eyes popped open. She shined her light up toward the
rim of the hole and saw a shadowy, human-like figure looking down at her.


Lorna sat up. “Mason?” she asked. “Mason, is that you?”


The figure stared at her, cocking its head to one side. It
made a clicking noise, like the kind a human makes by swiping its tongue
against the roof of its mouth.




Wide-eyed and stunned, Lorna watched as the figure unfurled
a pair of wings and glided down into the hole.


She opened her mouth to scream. Nothing came out. It was
like her vocal cords had been snapped in half.


The smell of rotten eggs filled the hole as the figure
loomed in the darkness. Lorna could see that it was standing on its hind legs.
Its eyes bore into hers, burning a deep red-orange.


She gasped at the demonic glow. Her heartbeat was erratic,
like it might pound right out of her chest.


Its eyes beckoned her. The mesmerizing gaze peered into her
soul and urged her to submit to its will.


The creature drew closer. She shined her Maglite on it in
order to see it clearer. It was revolting. The monster’s flesh was gray and
veiny wings sprang from its back. Jagged claws tipped its fingers and toes. It
had a balloon shaped head with a scrunched panther nose. Its teeth were like


It circled her, and she saw porcupine-like quills running
down its back. The creature stared at her for some time, as if it were deciding
which parts of her would be the most tender to devour. Then it opened its mouth
and ran a long, pointed purple tongue over its lips.


Lorna scooted backwards, her body shaking, her breaths short
and quick.


The creature attacked, pouncing onto her chest and knocking
her flat on her back.


Her paralyzed vocal cords unleashed and she screamed, loud
and shrill, her cry echoing throughout the cavern. “No! Please, no!” She
blocked her face with her arm and the creature sank its fangs into it. She
screamed again, wailing at the new pain she was experiencing.


The creature withdrew from her forearm and hopped off her.


Lorna curled into a protective ball. The creature took
another bite, this time in her shoulder.


Tears washed her cheeks as she screamed and cried for help.
She covered her face with her hands and squeezed her eyes shut. This thing
wanted to kill her. She was going to die scared and alone at the hands of this
malicious, unknown beast.


She lay there, whimpering and trembling, anticipating
another attack from the creature. Nothing happened. Time crept by and silence
filled the dark hole. The only noises she heard were her own sniffles and heavy
breathing. After calming her racing heart, she spread her fingers apart and
peeked out through them.


Was it gone? She removed her hands from her face and
uncurled onto her back.


Where was her Maglite? She saw it several feet from her,
tossed aside when the creature attacked. She would get it, in a moment, after
she caught her breath.


The rotten egg smell was still strong, but Lorna couldn’t
see the creature. She took deep breaths, wondering if she was going mad, if she
had dreamt the entire thing. The pain in her arm and shoulder assured her it
was real.




The creature emerged from the darkness and stood over her
head. It grinned, and a drop of spittle fell from its mouth and struck the gash
in Lorna’s forehead.


Lorna screamed in terror, but was muffled as the creature
clamped down on her jugular. She struggled and flopped, tried to pry the
creature from her neck with no success. It was overpowering her, draining her
of the precious life flowing through her veins.


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J.R. Mallette