As he talked from across the fire, the light it cast illuminated his face. I stared into the dancing flames as he chewed on his tongue, a little nervous habit he picked up recently. I was waiting for him to talk, say something, but I doubted he would. There was nothing to say, and I wasn’t about to spark a damn conversation.
A tiny ember floated through the air and landed on my bare arm and absentmindedly snubbed it out with my thumb. It was cold. I had left my jacket back there somewhere, and he had lost his fucking shoes back there as well. We weren’t going back for it. I’d have to fucking freeze to death and he’d have to go barefoot.
We stared into the fire, both of us now. He stopped chewing his tongue. We looked at the dancing flame, and I didn’t blink once, I just stared. I saw the thing back there, dancing with the smoke, smiling in the orange, and I’m sure he did too because neither of us looked up from the fire for a long time. The damn Thing was talking to us. It never stopped.
I was still staring at the fire when he stood up. He coughed, and spat mucus out on the ground. I looked up at him, and his wide, sunken eyes were bloodshot as hell. He was bleeding a little bit from the side of his mouth and his flannel shirt was ripped in the front, like some huge hand tried to rip his fucking stomach out.
“We need to move.” His voice was gravelly, deep, and rough.
I stood up, and nodded.
“Leave the fire.” he said. “Doesn’t matter anyway. It knows where we are.”
We walked away from the light and into the darkness.
“HOLY FUCK,” she screamed. He saw what she saw, and before he could really think, the breaks squealed against the tar and his head jerked back as the car abruptly stopped. Almost before the car stopped moving she threw the driver’s seat door open and bounded out of the car. He followed her, slowly, staring at what she was running towards.
On the right side of the road an old, beaten tree with thick branches that hung over the sides of the road, held a special present. Swaying like some kind of perverted tetherball of human flesh, hung two young men.
As the dawn slowly lit up the sky, him and I were on the grassy, mud banks of some river, walking slowly, squelching through the thick mud. I ditched my shoes, threw them in the river, half because they were falling apart and half to try and give him some consolation for his loss last night. I wouldn’t need them, today, anyway. We’d probably end up following the river for the rest of the sunlight hours.
It had been a good night- the flashlight hadn’t died yet and we made some good distance. No sign of the damn thing- no broken trees, no splotches of blood in the trees, and no fucking teeth. The thing left teeth everywhere he went, human teeth, like some kind of territorial sign. I’d started to collect some of them. I had 4, he had 5.
He stopped for a second, and turned towards the water. It was a lazy stretch of water- we had passed some currents a little while ago, but it calmed right down. Without a word, he bent down and picked up a stick half buried in mud. He threw it in, and we watched it slowly float for a minute. It went downstream, eventually.
He started to take of his shirt and pants, and so did I. We stripped naked in the morning light, and began to walk down the mud bank.
We sat on the banks of the river once again, our asses in the mud, the early afternoon sun warming our bones. I was starving. We were always starving. He had a can of Chef Boyardee left, and we split it. I was sad to see it go.
“If we keep following the river, maybe it’ll turn into a lake.” he said.
“With people.” I added.
“Yeah, with people.” he agreed.
“Do you think we’ll see It again?” I asked.
“I pray to god not,” he said. “But you never know.”
He stood up, and walked towards our clothes. It was time to go. I was tired, and exhausted, but I still had some running left in me.
We didn’t talk much, but I knew he was thinking what I was.
That we might make it, after all.
“Call the fucking police,” she murmured. He didn’t hear her. He was still staring. Staring at the way their bare-feet swung like pendulums, like the breeze was swaying them around like a waving flag. One was wearing a necklace of what seemed to be human teeth, white against the dead man’s torn flannel shirt. He looked up and down the tree, and half by chance he looked to the side of it, where he caught a glimpse of It.
“Call the fucking police,” she said, a bit louder. He shook his head, and kept staring, his mouth agape, his eyes wide and dilated.
“ Call the-”
“I see it.” he muttered.
“Look. It’s behind the tree. It’s watching us.”
Her gaze met where his was pointing, and she saw it. He could tell. She saw it too.
“Get in the car,” he said.
“We need to get away,” she muttered.
As if they shared the same mind, they both turned on their heels, dashing towards the car. The Thing didn’t follow, and all at once he knew that this was a game. Maybe she didn’t have a chance, but he did. He could run forever.
We might make it, afterall. He thought.
As he opened the door, he glimpsed at the cup holders through the window, and he saw the white enamel of human teeth.