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My Monster

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River City. It's early Spring and for the first time in months, you go outside when you don't actually have to. You never liked the cold. You live in Canada, yet you despise Winter with every fibre of your being. Despite having a beat up car, the only reason you went out was for work and grocery shopping. You have a few friends you care dearly for, but they have lives of their own and you don't see them very often and you miss your tabletop RPG gatherings. The rest of your family lives a good distance away from you and being invited to Christmas dinner with your friends was a balm to your loneliness.

Now that the weather is tolerable, you figure you could try and curb that Winter depression by getting some fresh air. Plus it's Easter weekend. You don't celebrate Easter, but hey, it's time off work nonetheless. The change in the weather has also brought early storms. Last night's thunderstorm was particularly bad. You heard part of downtown even lost power for a while because lightning hit a power plant or something. On your drive to the park, you saw a few branches on the road and few shingles had been ripped off a few roofs. The park is where a popular walking trail begins. The trail follows the edge of the River that passes through your city and you're curious to see just how much damage the wind and heavy rain did to the trail and to see how much ice was left to melt in the river itself. After several minutes of walking, you come to a spot in the trail where the river is rather easily accessible. In the past, you've seen people fishing in this area, but there doesn't seem to be anyone else here. In fact, you haven't seen anyone else on the trail, either. Probably because it's still fairly chilly and it's getting late in evening. You've always preferred the night over the day.

Carefully, you push aside some of the alder bushes that separate the trail from the river's edge and look out over the water. There are still quite a few chunks of ice drifting with the current; probably from farther north in the province, but most of the solid ice has already melted. The river separates the North and South regions of the city and you can see downtown on the other side from where you stand.

You look from side to side just to survey the area when your gaze freezes on something laying in the mud on the edge of the water about fifty feet away from you. Your blood runs cold when your mind processes what you see. A body. The thought of someone falling into the river and subsequently drowning and then washing up on the river's edge makes your stomach turn. You fumble for your phone, preparing to call the police as you slowly creep towards it to make sure it actually is a body and not just a random bundle of clothes or a mannequin. As you get closer, it is indeed human-shaped and it's face down and partially obscured by tree roots and shrubbery. You see a blue hooded sweater and black shorts, but they're soaked in the muddy water. You're about ten feet from it now and something seems... off. You don't see hair or skin exposed; you see a skull and bones.

Shit, it's a fucking Halloween decoration. You groan internally as you step up to it for a closer look. The wet clothes sag into the empty space where the oblique muscles would be and you can clearly see the outline of hip bones in the wet shorts. You lean down to try to move the skeleton when you freeze again with your fingers just inches from the figure.

It's... breathing.

You stare, frozen. Unsure if your eyes are tricking you, but you're sure you see a very faint rise and fall of the cloth-covered ribcage. Against your better judgement, you place your hand flat on the body's back. It's true; you can feel it. Whatever you're touching, it's alive.

You cautiously move your hand around to the side of the humanoid creature's torso and carefully manoeuvre the figure onto it's back so you can finally see it's face. You audibly gasp as you see something that is not human. It doesn't look like a human skull. The eye sockets are tightly shut with what might be boney eyelids. The jaw hinge is fused to the rest of the skull like it was carved from ivory and the mouth only has a few teeth exposed from some sort of boney lip. As you study the being more closely, it's a bit more obvious that it's ribcage is indeed slowly and faintly expanding and contracting, yet the damp cloth still sags into the empty abdominal cavity.

You're having trouble breathing yourself to the point you feel dizzy. What is this? An alien? An undead alien? This can't be natural or something native to Earth. Why is it wearing human clothes? You realise you're still holding your phone; and it's getting dark. Should you call someone? Who would you even call? You imagine a scientist would want to see this. You thoughts freeze at that; and start to drift to the memory of a well-loved childhood film. E.T. What will happen to them if an unscrupulous scientist gets a hold of them? You admit you have no idea how this being would fare in your care, but you can't in good conscience send them off to an uncertain fate. You crouch down to look more closely at the skeleton's face in the gathering darkness. There are smears of mud and dead leaves stuck to it and they just look so frail. You make a decision you will probably regret, but not for lack of trying. You put your phone away and tentatively reach your arms round the skeleton's ribcage and attempt to pick them up. They certainly aren't as light as plastic, but not as heavy as a human. You position the skeleton into a piggy back, which is a challenge due to having to support the body yourself and power-walk back down the trail as quickly and quietly as possible; checking your surroundings for other hikers along the way.

You manage to get back to the parking lot relatively unseen. There are still a few park patrons milling about, but as luck would have it, they are a good distance away or are simply distracted with their families as they also prepare to leave the area. The park is vacated and locked at night by rangers.

You arrive at your car and carefully set your charge down on the ground and lean them against the passenger door, obscuring them from view from passers-by. You open the back door and as quickly (and awkwardly) as possible pick the skeleton up, deposit them into the back seat, secure them with a seatbelt, cover most of them with a blanket and close the door. Sighing, you get into the driver's seat, start the car and pull out of the lot.

You drive carefully back to your apartment; periodically glancing back to make sure the skeleton is still secure in your backseat. What are you going to do with them? Will they even wake up? How how long were they laying there in the water?

You pull into your parking spot behind the house you live in. The main floor houses a family with several children. You live in a basement suite alone. You like living alone; you like your privacy and freedom to do what you like in your own kitchen. Now, it's a blessing and you can bring a living, unconscious skeleton creature into the backdoor without your upstairs neighbours seeing you. Carefully, you drag the skeleton like an inebriated drinking buddy down the stairs and into your suite and then into your bedroom. Your room is a bit messy, but not unreasonably so. It's mostly filled with an eclectic assortment of craft supplies, books and pop culture trinkets. You shoo your cat off your bed and grab a towel from a laundry pile and spread it one-handed on your mattress before plopping the skeleton onto it. After positioning them fully onto the towel, you just stand there and stare at them for a few minutes.

Okay... Now what?