It was getting late, the rain was picking up and we were completely and utterly lost. My partner Shawn and I were on a business trip to complete a transaction in some backwater town, but we hadn’t been able to find it. This far out in the countryside neither cell phones nor GPS were working properly and to make things worse, not even all of the tiny villages we’d come through had had road signs. It felt as if we had driven right back into the dark ages. Now, with the sun going down and the rain coming in torrents we abandoned every last shred of hope of finding our destination and instead decided to stay the night at the next possible place.

At a crossroads we found a sign pointing to a nearby village. As we took the turn, slowly on the slippery road, I noticed the silhouette of a person, standing on a small hillside not far from us. In the darkness and the rain I could only barely make out the shape, but it seemed they were standing with their arms above their head, waving as if in distress. I told Shawn to stop the car. „There’s someone out there!“ So he stopped and I slid my window down.

„Do you need any help?“ I shouted through the rain at the figure. „Should we give you a ride?“

No answer came and no attempt to move from their spot either. On a second glance I noticed the figure’s motion didn’t look that much like waving at all. More like …swaying? It almost looked as if they were enjoying the rain. When my further attempts at communication weren’t met with a response I finally closed my window again and we drove on.

The village promised on the sign wasn’t far. There was not a single person to be seen on the streets, which was perhaps to be expected in this weather. Additionally, the shutters on almost every window were closed and there were hardly any lights on in any of the houses. On the whole it looked far from inviting. With a little luck though, we soon found what seemed to be this places only Bed & Breakfast. We pulled up in the driveway and I got out and rang the bell.

I rang it again. Drenched to the bone as I was, it felt like I was waiting for an eternity, even though it was actually probably just a couple of minutes. At last the door opened and I was greeted by an elderly lady.

„Goodness, what are you doing out there in this weather? Come inside, quick quick!“

For all the time she had taken to answer the door, now she suddenly seemed to be in a great hurry, but I sure wasn’t about to argue. I waved for Shawn to follow and stepped through the door. Something crunched underfoot as I entered. When I turned to look I saw a thick line of white grains on the ground in front of the threshold. Salt.

We quickly got over with the paperwork of renting a room and then the old lady insisted on making us tea which we gladly accepted.

„You might have another customer yet.“ I said casually „We saw someone else in the rain, just a short bit outside of the village.“

The woman paused for a moment, mid-motion of dropping some sugar cubes in our tea.


was all she replied. I waited for her to say something more, but she just quietly finished our tea and handed it to us.

After the tea we retreated to our room. Despite the late hour neither of us could think of sleeping. We kept pacing around the room, looking out the window and trying in vain to find the village we were currently in on one of our maps. Through the door I could hear the muffled voices of our landlady in some kind of argument with her husband. I didn’t intend to eavesdrop, but I found my attention again and again drawn to the half-heard conversation. The husband didn’t seem happy about her letting us in this late. I only got a fraction of what he said, but it seemed to come down to the fact, that supposedly the streets weren’t safe at this hour. His wife argued against him, saying that was precisely the reason she couldn’t let us stay out there with the- I didn’t get the next word, but it didn’t sound like „rain“.

„I need a smoke!“ Shawn suddenly said, yanking my attention away from the couple, and with a pang of guilt I realized I had been listening in on a private conversation after all.

Our landlord couple paused their bickering when Shawn passed by them in the hallway.

„Where are you going?” the lady asked with a startled undertone.

„Having a smoke”

„Why- why don’t you stay inside? It’s okay to smoke in your room. Really!”

At that, her husband flashed her an angry look, but he said nothing.

„Thanks” Shawn said, „But it would bother my partner and besides, there’s enough shelter on the front porch to keep me dry.”

„But- but why…” she was stammering now, out of arguments and Shawn in his hurry to get his smoke didn’t wait up for her. Before she could come up with something else to say he was out the door.

From our window on the ground floor I watched Shawn smoking his cigarette on the front porch. He was staying close to the house in the little shelter provided by the overhanging roof. Suddenly something caught his attention. On the far side of the road, just outside the light cone of a street lamp, stood the shadowy figure we had seen outside the village earlier. It was a little closer now, but still I could make out no more details than before. The person still held their arms in the air in that weird manner, swaying gently. Shawn called out to them.

„Everything alright over there, buddy?“

Still no reply. Shawn took a step out in the rain.

„Hey, can you hear me? Do you need any help?“

The shadowy figure didn’t move.

Or did it? It seemed to stand a bit closer now, even though I hadn’t seen it take a step.

Shawn started to approach the figure, still trying to get a response out of them. Behind him the front door burst open and the landlady came running after him, clearly panicked now.

„Don’t go there! “ She screamed „That’s not a human-“

But it was too late. Shawn had already almost reached the figure and now he stopped dead in his tracks. The figure itself had also approached – still somehow without any visible leg movement – and was now shone on by the street light. And still I couldn’t see any features, because there weren’t any. The whole thing was just a slimy black mass, vaguely shaped like a human being.

Without warning a pale, milky appendage burst from the chest area of the black figure, grabbed Shawn by the head and pulled him in. Absently I heard the front door slam shut again. The landlady, having realized there was nothing more she could do, had retreated back into the house and locked the door.

But all I could do was stare. Unable to move I watched in disbelief as my partner was devoured by a slimy shadow thing. Within a few minutes it was over and he had completely disappeared inside the black form and at last it began to turn away. That was when I noticed something else behind the human-shaped lump. There was more to it, I realized, much more of that black slimy mass trailing behind. Slowly, so very slowly, the thing turned around and in doing so, pulled the rest of its body into the light. Only now could I see it in its entirety, the long tail end, the slimy cracked texture and the no longer humanlike front part with its two appendages overhead that had kept wagging away the entire time like weird arms …or antennae.

The whole thing looked just like an enormous black slug.