You hear the myths and you read the stories and you think that they’re only fairy tales, urban legends. But you have no idea how close you are to crossing over from reader to participant until it happens. And then, your fear fuels the fire for generations to come.
It was a hot summer evening, late in the season. The sun had just set and the street lights were slowly fading on to illuminate the approaching night. I had just grabbed the last item on my shopping list at the local Pick N Save when I looked at my son and said,
“Well buddy. Let’s head home.” He looked up at me, smiled through his pacifier and confidently nodded in agreeance. As we made our way to the checkout counters, I noticed a figure lurking outside of the store. I turned my head to look but like a wisp of smoke, it floated out of existence as soon as my eyes focused on its location.
“Hmmm.” I said to myself and I continued toward checkout. I felt a slight tug on my sleeve and looked down. My son was pointing at the location I was just looking at and mumbled some toddler-speak.
“Taw-Mun!” he garbled through his binky. “Taw-Mun! Taw-Mun!” He repeated and now aggressively pointed at the window. I looked back over to the window and again, thought I saw a figure, but same as before a puff of smoke whispered away before I could discern what it was.
KLUNK! I should have watched where I was going. I ran the cart right into a magazine rack, causing everyone to look for the source of the noise. I slowly backed away grimacing in embarrassment. I directed the cart into an aisle and began to pile my groceries onto the conveyor belt. The cashier rang up my total and giddily informed me that I had saved five dollars and thirty-five cents. I took my receipt and headed for the exit. The boy snatched the receipt from my hands and glared at me as if to remind me, “Hey Buster! I hold the receipt!”
As we exited the store, all the street lights were on and the sky was a rich purple with an orange highlight in the west. As I trodded on back to my truck I thought I saw something snake behind my vehicle. It was built like a man, but had way too many arms, or legs, It was black, not “normal” black, but jet black, devoid of all light, like a shadow had come to life. I slowed my pace so that I could get a better look at what it was, and I eventually slowed my pace to a halt.
“Taw-Mun! Taw-Mun!” The boy spun around and pointed at my truck.
“What is tawmun, buddy?” But that’s all he would say as he pointed. Suddenly, a blaring horn knocked me out of my trance. I was standing in the middle of the driving lane of the parking lot and a car attempted to get me to move out of its way. It worked. I waved to the driver as they shook their head in disapproval as they passed by. I shrunk back into humiliation and continued on towards my truck. I opened up the rear passenger door and hoisted the boy into his car seat.
He was very uneasy at this point, he couldn’t see what he was pointing at earlier, and he was twisting and turning to find the “tawmun”. I fastened him in and closed his door only to quickly open up the door on the other side to load in the recently purchased groceries. I suddenly got a swift chill across my shoulders. I spun around so quickly that I ran headfirst into the door that I had open.
“SHIT!” I clutched my forehead in pain. The boy quickly grabbed his head and wanted to be like Daddy. “CHAT!” I looked at my son. “” No no, buddy. That’s a no-no word.” He giggled and bopped in his seat. I packed the last of the groceries into the back seat and closed the door.
Something felt off. There was now a stale odor in the air, like the scent of the air after a humid rainstorm. Musty. I quickly ran the cart to a nearby corral and hopped into the driver’s seat. I slammed the key into the ignition and turned.
The truck would not start. The truck wouldn’t turn over. I couldn’t even get a series of clicks to signify a dead battery. I looked up out at the parking lot. One by one, the lights flickered off. I couldn’t even see the lights of the traffic in the street. My son and I were enveloped in blackness. Suddenly, I heard my son whimper from behind me. I looked in the rear view mirror, and that’s when I finally recognized what I was seeing.
There, in the seat between my son’s car seat and the groceries was a man, dressed in a black suit with his tie slightly loosened. I noticed that several black tentacles wriggled from about his shoulders and were slowly undoing my son’s safety straps. The eeriest part about this man is that his pale head and where his face should be, was a series of surreal blurs and smudges. I knew this man. Although, I have never met him, I knew him, and knew him well. He was attempting to steal my son.
“HEY!” I shouted at the man. His head turned to focus on me. “What do you think you’re doing?” I noticed one of his remaining tentacles slowly moving into a striking position to take me out. “You’re not going to hurt me. You need someone to tell your story! That’s what drives you, isn’t it?” He continued his blank focus on me as I accosted him. The lone tentacle eased its position and lowered a bit.
“If you take my son, I swear, on my grandfather’s soul, that I will NEVER tell this story to anyone! I will forget this ever happened. I will go home and tell my wife something completely different.” His brow furrowed as to despise my insolence.
“But! But, if you leave my son alone, if you leave my family alone, if you leave my friends and their families alone…” He seemed to lean in as to be tremendously intrigued. “…I will tell the greatest story of you this world has ever known. And from this day forward, you can revel in the fact that some will find a glimmer of hope when your shadow falls upon them. Like The Grim Reaper can be beat with a simple game of chance, YOU… can be persuaded to pass on by.”
A moment of silence stretched into a millennia.
He sat there and pondered over my proposal. He then focused on the gallon of two percent milk, then quickly switched his focus to my son. My son, not knowing the fate that could possibly befall him, pointed once more towards the pale figure, “Taw-Mun!” My son then opened his hand and reached for Him. The man quickly looked at me in what appeared to be confusion and fear. I smiled out of the corner of my mouth and reassured Him.
“He wants to shake your hand. Your deal is with him. Not with me, sir.” The man lifted his elongated hand and gently shook the chubby palm of my son. My son laughed, “Taw-Mun!” The man looked back at me.
“You have my word sir.” And like a wisp of smoke, he vanished.
It wasn’t until after the man disappeared that my son calmly stated “Taw-Mun. Aw Gawn” that I finally realized what my son had been saying all this time.
He saw The Tall Man the entire time.