Before I even hear the click of my seatbelt, my car is speeding away from the party. I feel my heart racing, I’m struggling to catch my breath. Looking into my rearview mirror again and again, I force down screams. I wish those blank eyes would stop peering at me through the rear windshield. 

I should have stayed home. Strange appearances and sightings have been reported for months now. I mean, maybe I would have taken them seriously if half of those accounts weren’t made by crazed teenagers who had been drinking and doing god knows what. Any other town would have kids out trick or treating, or parents handing out candy. Half of the buildings I pass have locked doors and dim lights. I see people take a quick look through their drawn blinds, probably wondering why a car is speeding down their quiet neighborhood. I don’t know, my only thought right now is getting the hell away from the beast behind me. The tires screech loudly as I make a sharp turn onto a dark gravel road. 

When Joseph asked me to go to his annual Halloween party, I was thrilled. Finally! People were getting over their silly small town paranoia and having fun. Standing outside our third block chemistry class, I accepted the invitation with a blush. I mean, how often does the new girl get the attention of the cute popular guy? It seemed right out of a cheap, cheesy teen rom-com. Every girl would dream of being in my place. 

I think I’ve lost my mind. Just as I think he’s gone, the thing lunges out of the forest a few yards behind my car. I let out a sharp scream before adrenaline takes over my whole body. My foot slams the gas with too much force, making my car jolt forward. I can hear my blood pounding in my ears and feel my hands shaking on the steering wheel. Though the gravel is jostling my car around and making my vision go shaky, I can clearly make out the unnatural run of the cryptid behind me. He’s coming closer and closer…

I arrived at the party in a Daphne from Scooby-Doo costume. I thought it was a pretty tongue and cheek costume, poking fun at how paranoid this whole town was over a bit of folklore, and how I seem to be the only one finding it fictitious. I mean, if you are going to have a scary local creature, maybe don’t dub it something stupid like “The Caterpillar Man?” I quite like caterpillars myself. 

Maybe it was the gogo boots, or maybe he’d liked me back this whole time, but before I knew it Joseph was leading me away from the party. He’d asked me to go somewhere private, not meeting my eye as he explained that he had something he’d been wanting to tell me. With his hand in mine, we walked across the yard and towards the far edge of his secluded house. We settled beside a large oak tree with Halloween decorations strung among the branches. I was practically on my toes, leaning in for a kiss, when he turned back suddenly. Hello? Did he have something to tell me or what?

Finally, I’m back on a paved road. He wouldn’t dare follow me out in the open moonlight on a very public street. Swerving into a lane, I calm myself. It lasts only a moment. Almost instantly he’s back and crashing through the trees. He’s grasping towards my car with those short pointed arms. He’s far too close now. Those legs, oh god those unnatural legs. They look human but  move too quickly, bend too awkwardly, and step too randomly. I hit a pothole and lose control of the car. I’m spinning like a top and screaming like a siren. My car slams into something, a tree maybe, and for a moment, everything is silent. 

As I tried not to let my disappointment show, Joseph… changed. He let out a guttural, ear-splitting groan. I immediately recoiled. While backing away, my feet fell out from under me as they slipped on the damp leaves underfoot. I tried yelling for help at the top of my lungs, but the music from the party was too loud. No one heard me. Freaking out, I scrambled to get up and quickly broke out into a run towards my car. I didn’t want to stick around to see what happened to Joseph, but I didn’t need to, because I saw his reflection in my car door and saw a lumpy, long monster barreling towards me. All his handsome features were replaced with a blank and bloated face. His once beautiful eyes were pitch black. Coarse, tangled whiskers cover the entire body and stick out at odd angles. I’m beyond scared, I’m terrified. 

Is he approaching? I can only hear the pounding in my head, and I’m far too scared to open my eyes. Distantly, I know that I am injured and bleeding, but shock is keeping me numb. I sit in the ruins of my car and wait. I wait for his stench to reach my nose, or his sharp hands to poke my body. I wait for him to find me and finish me off. I wonder, will the Caterpillar Man ever become a Butterfly Man? But in the end, the only thing to come after the crash was the sound of police car sirens. 

Just another teenager who had been partying too hard, drinking too much, and driving too recklessly.