From the author: Sneaking out for a cig has never been better for this archeologists, but what happened while he was away?
“You appreciate this could be an internal issue?”
"Shut up, Jeremy – it's a cursed bloody site and we should never have been working here. They warned us." Steve slammed the door closed, grunting and pushing the Welsh dresser in front of it.
The room wasn't much: cramped with that dresser in it, probably a box room, but it kept the thick wooden door shut. The creature would exhaust itself before it made it through both, surely.
"It's possible that your current interpretation of our situation is wrong." Jeremy blinked over at him.
"How do you reach that conclusion then?" Steve backed into the wall, sliding down. He could barely stretch his legs out. He was cold, covered in blood and his muscles screamed. He wanted another cigarette.
"All our team members are dead and you think this is because of a creature disturbed during our dig?"
"I think we already established this!"
"I know you believe that superstition from the locals, but correlation doesn’t equal causation." Jeremy smiled and Steve felt his fist tighten.
"And how do you explain the dead bodies?"
"Is there a mirror in here?" Jeremy asked, glancing about.
"I took one off the dresser."
Steve picked it up, the old frame dusty. It had seemed like a good idea to use the old house, save money and avoid camping for the whole expedition on the islands. Good bloody idea to have walls and doors, at least.
"Hold it up?" Jeremy asked.
"Fine, here." Steve stood, presenting the glass to reflect them back.
"What do you see?"
Steve puffed air out of his cheeks and bit his tongue, glaring.
"I can see your face, and mine, and the dresser."
"What's your point, Jeremy? You've got blood on you, me too." He was cranky, he needed another smoke. He’d never been more grateful for the ugly habit, for not quitting when he was nagged at by the rest of them. Saved his fucking neck, sneaking out for that cancer stick, or it would have if he could get out of this.
"I was more thinking the lack of body. I'm just a head, Steve."
Steve jumped back from the dresser, squeaking as the mirror clattered from his grasp. Jeremy was indeed just a head, the bloody stump of his neck perched on the dresser.
"That's not possible."
"You made it possible when you cut my body off. There’s no monster of the island: just your anger, your repressed rage. It's not really the way I wanted to go out if I'm honest."
"How are you talking to me, if that's true?"
"I rather imagine I'm not talking to you at all, this is just your mind's way of accessing the parts of you that you don't like. Your private self."
"You don't know shit about me."
"I know you killed me and the rest of the team; I think that's rather enough. Now if it's all the same to you I'd rather you open the door and called the emergency services. I’d like my body found reasonably fresh, I’m on the organ donors list you know."
"But the thing's still out there." He didn’t know what it was, hadn’t looked more than to grab Jeremy and run deeper into the house. There’s been snatches as it chased him – ash grey flesh, teeth, skittering claws raking through the damp wood of the floor.A head too big for the body, too many eyes, a lolling jaw crammed with teeth.
He'd read about the mythology of the area - horse demons with no skin and two torsos that chased you till you dropped, sea hags that toppled over unruly gods that caused storms and gales. There was no mention of something coming into the house and fucking eating you! They'd warned him though, the fishermen who took them across had said the island was abandoned for a reason.
"There's nothing out there. It would have tried the door by now if there was.” Jeremy brought him out of the spiral he was falling into, back with a thump into the box room they were squeezed into. Steve's fingers were shaking,
“What if it’s somewhere else, checking the parameters?”
“Do you hear how you sound? We would have heard it move. All we've heard since you barricaded us in is your ramblings. You’re talking to me and I’m dead, I think we can agree you’re not exactly the best judge of circumstance, hm?"
Steve looked at the head and nodded, unsure, pulling the dresser aside with an earnest grunt and wheeze. He picked Jeremy up by the hair, hand hovering above the handle as he dragged breath in against the tightness in his chest.
The growling started as soon as he pulled the door open, six red points blinking at him from the darkness.