There was a pounding in my ears, my heart or his feet and I couldn’t tell which. Both, maybe, or something else entirely. I ran down the hill, and I don’t know why, because I didn’t know where else to go to, I guess. I ran down the hill, taking smaller steps than I had going up it, trying to keep my legs ahead of the rest of my body. I heard a pounding in my ears, my heart or his feet.
It was dark out, closer to the next morning than last night. The grass was slick and I slipped in my shoes and fell back, both feet in the air, one foot up higher than the other, one arm up above me, the other behind to catch my fall. I landed on my butt, and then on my right hand, and I felt a sharp pain in my wrist. I got up immediately, not looking behind me and not even hearing. I got up immediately and I ran again and I slipped again and I fell again, this time forward, both hands held out before me. I landed on both hands, a sharp in my right wrist again, and then my palms slipped out from under me and I landed on my stomach. I bent my knees and raised up my legs, ready to kick myself forward and further down the hill, thinking now that I could hide in the ditch maybe, in the dry creek bed. Before I could kick off and further away, a hand grabbed my foot and pulled me back down to Earth. I twisted my head around and saw that devil, that mask, that man from the woods. I couldn’t see his eyeballs in the mask; in their place there were two black buckets of night surrounded by red devil. The face was rubber and expressionless and I panicked. His hand was gripped tightly on my calf and he was laying stomach-down on the hill, just like me, and I don’t know if he threw himself at me or if he had been crawling after me like a worm, like a snake, like a thousand-legger with feelers instead of eyes. I kicked at his devil-face with my free foot, but he clamped it down with his free hand (or claw, I don’t know) and he crawled forward, pinning my legs beneath his chest. He reached his hands forward, pulling himself up and over my body. His body was hot and heavy on top of me. I wriggled, tried to get out from under him, and his hands found my arms and were bigger than my arms and pinned them down. I kept wriggling and got an arm loose, reached forward and dug my fingers into the dirt, pulled myself forward before he crushed my arm under his hand again, but that let me wriggle my other hand free and I pulled forward some more, but he just kept pulling himself along with me like we were one multi-limbed, gibbering, wriggling thing.
I called out. I yelled, out loud, and I don’t know what I said. It felt like my voice, and it might have just been this wordless noise, it felt like my voice was trapped and sucked in by the gravity of his body, he was a black hole that nothing could escape. I could hear sounds through his mask, sounds like grunting, and I felt something against the back of my leg, something like I don’t want to say, something he pushed against me again and again and I screamed again and maybe I screamed for help.
He pinned my hands down with his hands and my legs down with his legs and only my head and face were off the ground, but I could feel something sharp against the top of my head, his chin pushing me down, but I resisted it and held my head up as best I could. I yelled but I couldn’t hear it, I could only hear him, could only hear him grunting and laughing and feel that thing against the back of my leg. The rest of me went still because I didn’t like it when I wriggled against him, I didn’t like it when he pressed harder against me the more I moved.
He suddenly yelled in surprise and jerked his body upward. He was still and he seemed to be looking and listening, he was not making sounds. I jerked again, and then a third time, and before the fourth time I could hear the air parting and space splitting apart, I heard the smack of something into his side and he lurched himself off of me. I laid flat on the grass and the man stood up and was struck again, I heard him being hit by something again and again, thump-thump-thwak, and I turned my head to see him and saw the small dark shapes striking him and bouncing off of him and hitting the ground at his feet. I saw Jesus somewhere behind me, winding up with his hands held tightly to his chest, one knee in the air, standing on one foot, dressed in a white robe and a baseball cap, a red one for the Cincinnati Reds. I saw an “01” stitched onto the back of his robe and I saw Jesus let loose a knuckleball that caught fire as it left his mitt, blazed through the sky, and struck this man from the woods square in the chest. The man ran, disappearing down the hill and into the woods, behind a bustle and thustle of sticks on the ground and red and orange leaves.
I raised myself up and saw potatoes on the ground around me, potatoes on the ground where the man had been. I sat up and looked up the hill and saw my friends, saw Shaun and Jerry and Face, potatoes of salvation in their hands even still, and I swear to god, but the sun was rising, red and orange and streaming behind them. It rose behind my friends and behind the hill and behind the trailer where Shaun’s parents still slept. Potatoes of the sun, driving the devil back into the dark.