4 Creature


By Greta Graham

The bright glow of the screen glared at my eyes with intense focus. I pushed my glasses back up on my nose while I typed. This was the last report of the day. Almost nobody was left in the office space.

Only a few stragglers were there, collecting printed paper or making last minute calls.

Or making reports like I was.

The tiny cubicle walls were so tight around me. All of the office cubicles were smushed together with limited space to fit as much of them as possible. The pin board that hung behind my computer wasn’t filled with family photos and pictures of memories. Only work reports and document papers hung there.

I typed the last of my report and shut down my computer. I felt drained and burnt out. I didn’t sign up for this job just to work on reports at a dingy little computer. I wanted hands on work. To have the experience of what I see, to make discoveries. Four years wasted on a rolling chair at a flimsy desk. I took out my ponytail and let my hair fall around my face. My hands were shaking ever so slightly, I covered my face in them.

I pushed my chair back and stood up. The hum of the printer filled the silent room. I picked up the paper, letting its warmth touch my arms and hands.

I walked out the door into the brightly lit hallway. White cinder block walls and bare tile floor with fluorescent lights buzzing overhead. Before long my supervisor walked by, his coat floating behind him. He had short, brown tousled hair, square glasses and a sharp, pointed face. He wore nothing but work pants, a dress shirt, tie, and lab coat every day.

“Dr. Janicks! I’d like to speak to you about my position.” I told him.

He slowed his pace and sighed, “We’ve talked about this Alice, you are not being promoted to anything above your position now, ever. You don’t have the education to handle anything else but what you’re doing.” He replied, exasperated. “Just give me a chance to show you my skills, I learn quite fast. I’m sure I can-” Dr. Janicks cut me off, “No, you are not authorized to work in the lab. End of conversation!” I could tell he was getting annoyed with me, so I stopped trying and let him speed-walk away. I felt defeated. Knowing I couldn’t do anything more, I dropped off my report on his desk.

I sighed as I walked through the blank corridors. A loud yelling came from behind me. I turned around to see nothing behind me. More screaming ensued. There was danger, I could sense it. The hallway was still empty. My feet stayed planted to the ground. Deep yells echoed off the wall. It didn’t sound..human. Like a lion’s roar.

Soon the screaming came closer, and a small crowd of people ran towards me. They were scientists, but their once white lab coats were splattered with the unmistakable color of

blood. The door I was near opened, and a woman with short blond hair, goggles on her head, and blue scrubs walked out.

Before I could object, she grabbed my wrist and yanked me into the room she came from. It was a smaller room with lab tables.

Some equipment sat off to the side. Sinks lined the counters beneath cabinets. Some were opened, showcasing substances in vials and beakers. I knew better than to ask questions. I let the women drag me by the hand towards another door. She used her work ID and pressed it up against the screen on the pad close to the door. A beep sounded and she opened the door. I could hear the stomping of shoes from the hallway.

This woman had saved my life. Behind the door was a concrete staircase. I stumbled down the steps behind the woman. We reached the bottom after a few minutes, we were down pretty far. The walls were concrete as well, but there were two flimsy cots and shelves on either side of the wall. The shelves were filled with cans.

A separate door sat off to the side, no doubt a bathroom. This was most definitely a bunker. The woman let go of my arm and walked up the stairs. I held my breath, was she leaving me? I heard a beep, followed by an electronic voice saying: “West Bunker door, Locked!” The woman walked back down, took off her goggles and untied her hair. “Sit!” She gestures towards a cot. I sat down without a word. In the chaos I had never gotten a clear look at her face. She had dark blue eyes, medium length honey blonde hair.

Her face was round and soft, and her skin was a dark tan. She was very pretty. “Name?” She asked. I hesitated, still studying her face, “Oh uh, Alice Clairmont..” the woman reached into a drawer and pulled out some type of gun. As she was handing it to me she pulled out another one for herself. It was medium sized, big enough to kill a bear.

“What am I supposed to do with this?” I asked, turning the weapon over in my hands. “To protect yourself, things could get messy up there.” She had a nametag pinned to her scrubs, it read out as “Adriana Woodham”. I sat, thinking, “We are going up THERE?!” I exclaimed. No matter how kind or pretty this woman seemed to be, I would not go up to the main floor.

“You’re probably not trained for lab work correct? I’m close enough to being an upfront lab assistant. Those things up there? They are dangerous. Sometimes creatures escape and a team is sent out to capture and escort the creature to its cell. I am a part of that team. I am trained, so do whatever I say!” Adriana shoved her gun down a pocket in her scrubs.

I swallowed, “Yes, ma’am.” I could see a hint of a smile on her face before she turned toward a large cabinet. “We need to get suited up first.”

I don’t know what I was expecting, maybe a hazmat suit, but it wasn’t the shoulder, chest, and knee pads that were hung up in the cabinet. “This is supposed to help us fight with

a creature that supposedly has killed people?” I asked, this seemed like child’s play. “Don’t underestimate the power of this protection, take this undersuit and the pads. You can get changed in the bathroom right there.” Adriana said as she passed me the clothes.

The undersuit was a leathery black, it had long sleeves and legs that covered my entire body. My hands, feet, and face were the only things left showing.

I put on the leather gloves and my shoes. The pads were more difficult to figure out.

It took me a while to figure out how the straps worked. Soon I had tough plastic on my shoulders and knees, with a cheap chest plate around my torso.

When I looked in the mirror, I looked ridiculous. It looked like I was going to go rollerblading for the first time in my life. There was a belt with a holster for the gun too. I clicked it into place and slid the gun into its holster. With one last look in the mirror, I turned the handle and opened the door. Adriana was waiting for me, already changed. She looked much better and more put together than I did. Her shoulder and knee pads were straightened and her undersuit was tight around her.

Mine was loose and sagging and the pads were uneven. When she looked at me, she didn’t laugh, and I was very thankful for that. She quietly walked over and adjusted my shoulder pads. Adriana walked behind me and tightened the back of my undersuit. I felt better after that. “Now you look ready.” She said. A difference between our outfits was she had a small knife holder strapped to her calf. I didn’t think she would trust me with one of those.

“Alright, I’ve tried to contact the escort team, but I’ve heard nothing but static. They

must either be dead or out of range for the signal. I wish it didn’t come to this, but we’re all they’ve got.” Adriana explained, setting down a radio on a shelf in the cabinet. “But I have no training?” I questioned. If she heard me, she ignored what I said.

“We are going to scope out the halls and confirm if the creature is alive. We will try to capture it with this,” Adriana pulled out some sort of giant collar, some kind of rope and a net with weights on it. “This collar is electric and will help guide it towards its cell. And the rope and net are self explanatory.” I didn’t know what the rope and net were for other than to trap the creature. She turned away before I could ask.

Adriana put on a backpack with our supplies and started to climb the stairs. When she noticed I didn’t follow she stopped and looked back, “We’re moving out, come on.” I hesitated before I stood and followed her. Soon we were at the top. The door was crooked and looked like it was going to fall off its hinges. I tried the handle and pulled.

The door wouldn’t budge. I slammed my shoulder against it, and the door completely busted open. It fell down into the hallway, making a loud BANG! I cringed. That noise would surely attract the creature. “This creature has poor hearing…right..?” I whispered, desperate to be right. “We should go!” Adriana replied, earning a roar from the creature. The

noise shook the halls, and fluorescent lights fell from the ceiling. Me and Adriana ran through the halls, leaping over rubble and fallen ceiling tiles.

My heart was pounding in my chest, I was beyond scared and nervous. I didn’t even know what this creature looked like.

Some type of dragon, giant wolf, or even a snake. I pushed my thoughts away from that and focused on dodging obstacles. The floor began to shake. Adriana grabbed my wrist. She used her other hand to cling to a door handle. It was locked, but it didn’t seem that opening the door was her plan. Adriana and I kneeled down, her hand still holding onto the door. We were stable for the moment.

More ceiling tiles dropped from the ceiling. As the hall stopped shaking. The sound of destruction was soon replaced by a loud noise of what seemed like thousands of scorpions walking on concrete. When I looked toward Adriana, she had a finger to her lips. Be quiet, got it. She let go of the door handle, but still had her other wrapped around my wrist. We stood up slowly.

The skittle of a hundred talons continued. My heart beat was louder than the creature. The hair on the back of my neck stood on end, and my skin crawled. We took small and careful steps towards the next intersection of hallways. Adriana let go of my wrist. Both me and Adriana had one hand on our gun holsters.

Adriana’s left hand snaked across the wall. As we got closer to the other halls the noise seemed to come from the corridor on the left. The two of us pulled out our weapons. I turned off the safety and kept the gun steadily pointed toward the hall. Adriana stopped and counted, silently: “1..2….3!” We both jumped to face what was in the hall.

But to our surprise, there was nothing. The tip tap of small legs disappeared. A small hiss came from behind us. Both of us froze. The creature was behind us. I took a deep breath. Me and Adriana spun around, ready for action. I wasn’t expecting what I saw when I turned around. It was like a massive centipede. It had a hard, purple exoskeleton. Its body stretched back at least forty feet. I could barely see its scorpion tail trailing behind the creature’s massive body. The legs were somewhat long, about a foot and a half in length, but they had a spike at the end of them.

The spikes were the creature’s “feet ”, that must have been the skittling noise from earlier. Its head was by far the most horrifying. I couldn’t count how many eyes it had, each one was a dark black. They spread across its face like a blindfold.

It had no visible nose or ears, but the mouth was very present on its head. It stretched from one side of its face to the other. Long, sharp teeth extended from its mouth, slime oozing onto the floor.

The creature front reared up, and gave a deafening screech. Adriana threw her backpack to me, “Get the rope and net out, once we secure it we’ll put the collar on.” I was shocked at how calm she was. Before I knew it, Adriana had her gun at the ready and started

towards the creature. She moved fast, maneuvering between the lunges of the creature. Adriana jumped onto the creature’s back, taking her dagger from its pocket.

She drove the dagger into the animal. The monster shrieked and bucked, trying to throw Adriana off. But she held on and tried to climb up its back. I scrambled to get the net and rope out of the bag.

I dropped the pack and ran to help. Adriana was already more than halfway to the creature’s head. “Rope! Now!” She yelled. I threw the bundle of rope to her, and she just barely caught it. But while her hands were busy with the rope, the creature arched its back and flung her off. She flew through the air briefly before hitting the wall and landing on the floor. I rushed to her. She had a bump that was starting to form on her forehead, and more bruises than I could count. At least she hasn’t had an open wound.

I whipped around with my gun, pointing it towards the beast. Before I could shoot, I was knocked off my feet by the base of its tail. I tumbled to the ground. My head throbbed and I felt like there were hundreds of needles going into my side. I opened my eyes, and through my blurry vision I could see Adriana.

The creature wrapped its tail around her, the point seeming to be sheathed. It carried her away, but not followed with yells or shrieks. I struggled to stand, my entire body ached. My glasses were shattered and crumpled on the ground. I dusted myself off and ran in the direction of where the beast had gone.

The path of destruction was easy to follow. As I winded down the halls, I realized I still had the backpack on my back. I strained to keep going, I had to help Adriana. As I rounded a corner, there she was. Adriana was on her side, laying down, facing away from me.

I rushed to her, happy she was okay. But when I reached her and turned her to face me, my hands were covered in blood. Her entire body was a deep red. I tried not to scream.

There was a giant slash in her torso, where the blood was coming from. I quickly put my fingers to her neck and wrist, no pulse. Tears began to fall, streaking across my face.

Adriana had been the closest thing I’ve had to a friend. Although she bossed me around and barely spoke to me outside of orders, I felt somewhat close to her. But now she was dead, gone, murdered by the beast.

She was the one who protected me in this short time, and I didn’t know what to do. I had to think of a plan. But I didn’t want to go on if I’d have to leave her there by herself. I didn’t have much time to mourn for her, as I could hear the creature bounding through the halls. I reached into the pack, looking for something to stop the creature.

Frantically I pulled the first thing I could get my hands on. As I pulled it out, I found it to be another weapon. It was much bigger, about twice the size of the one I had. It was a sleek white and gold with a long, thick barrel. A post-it on the gun read out as: “Only use in emergency to euthanize.” This must be something to kill the creature.

I dropped the bag and held it in my hands, it was cold to the touch. I whipped around to see the creature running towards me from the end of the hall.

I hovered my finger over the trigger. The creature was three hundred feet in front of me, two hundred feet, and yet I hesitated. But after a quick glance at Adriana, I knew what I had to do. One hundred feet in front of me, I pulled the trigger. A deafening sound echoed through the corridors, followed by a screech from the creature. It fell in front of me in a ball of shrieks and thrashing movements, before it fell still.

I took a moment to compose myself. I was exhausted, covered in blood, sweat, and


After a few deep breaths I dropped the gun. What should I do? I walked. Through the

hallways. Past bodies and destruction. Nobody seemed to be alive. Upstairs and down, until I came to a large security door. I gently plucked a keycard from the corpse of a higher up, cringing.

I felt like I was going to throw up. Reluctantly, I swiped the card. After a long, deep breath I opened the door to a bright new world.

A new world, where there was opportunity and healing.


Anoka County Library Write On! 2023 Short Story Contest Winners Copyright © 2023 by Avrie Siedschlag; Ella Howard; Greta Graham; Renad Taher; Rachel Mueller; Daniel Gbati; Julia McBride; Audrey High; Lucia Floan; Rhett LeBeau; Anna Moline; Hannah Jemming; Valomi Lewis; Fen Hendren; Kathryn Downs; Megan Nguyen; Lizzie Elsenpeter; Sophia Accord; and Sophia Acord. All Rights Reserved.

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