Suburban Man-Eater is an interactive short story by Twisted Jenius. It is scary. You will be asked to make decisions periodically throughout the story to determine what will happen next. You can or now. Which would you like to do?
The sensation of subtle dread creeps up on you as you turn the wheel. You're steadily driving down a two lane highway on a dark and misty night in your patrol car. There are almost no other cars on the road at 2:00 AM in this part of the city. In a few hours the streets will be clogged with commuters trying to get to work, but now the highway is just a void. Emptiness waiting to consume. This feeling of absolute solitude strikes you as you briefly remember that one of your fellow officers went missing while on duty earlier this evening. You choose to push that thought aside as you exit the highway and head towards a large shopping center. Someone has called in and reported a suspicious person walking through the parking lot tonight and it's your job to go check it out. Upon entering the large shadowy parking lot you see a lone figure, and he seems to be waving you down. You pull up next to him, roll down your window and ask if there's a problem. All standard procedure. But this is where things get strange. The odd man tells you that he saw a tiger walking through the parking lot a few minutes ago. You think this is ridiculous, there are no tigers in the suburbs. Still, it might be worth looking into.
You have a decision to make. Do you want to with you and investigate, or just ?
You let the strange individual into the back seat of your squad car and proceed to drive around the large parking lot which wraps around the building of the main shopping center. From the back seat this individual continues insisting that he saw a real life tiger roaming this commercial area of the suburbs. You sarcastically comment that if you do see a tiger, you will be sure to arrest him, since this area isn't zoned for wildlife. But your snarkiness goes over your passenger's head and he continues to ramble on with all sorts of disturbing facts about tigers like the number of people they kill each year, how large they get, the fact that they're ambush predators and a parade of other disquieting trivia. You wonder if this freak is a zoologist or just crazy. Either way you wish he would stop talking. More than that though is the look he has in his big green eyes, and that repulsive Cheshire grin that seems permanently plastered on his face. You decide that this guy's just too creepy to be a sane and stable member of society. But that concern quickly leaves your mind as your attention is drawn to something else. Now you see the big predator yourself. The tiger is walking close to a building and making its way over a grassy area before reaching a concrete sidewalk. It seems to be heading for a nearby park. Your passenger is pointing and yelling from the backseat, as if you had somehow missed the creature. You can't get to where the animal is from your current location in the parking lot, so you'll have to pull around to another side. But you won't lose it, keep track of it and you know where it's going. As you drive around to the parking lot area by the park's entrance, you catch one last glimpse of the thing as it strolls into the main thinly wooded area of the park. You decide you need to go in after the tiger, you can't lose track of it. After parking and slowly exiting your patrol car, you check to make sure your sidearm is on hand. You carefully shut your car door, and cautiously take your first step forward up from the pavement onto the curb where the grass is. Suddenly you hear a banging sound which causes you to jump. Your passenger is striking the inside of the window of the back door of the car with the palm of his hand, which of course locks from the outside. He is asking to come with you.
You have a decision to make. You can of the car, or in the car.
You pull away from this obviously disturbed individual. You have informed him that he's technically trespassing, you let him off with a warning and then despite his protests, you told him to go home and sleep it off. Arresting him would have meant more paperwork. Your patrol vehicle cuts through the parking lot, passing by the reflections of some of the streetlights as they glisten off of the moist pavement in the night. You head through one of the back roads which curves around behind the shopping center. You do this without thinking because it's a better way to get to the main road, and you plan to go back in the direction you came from on the highway. This small street is flanked by wooded areas on either side. The tree line is dark and the headlights of your squad car are greatly impaired by the misty drizzle falling from the heavily overcast night sky. The city lights reflect off of the ominous clouds with a dim, cold glow. You've been on this road many times before, but on this night it takes on an eerie and surreal quality. You seriously need to work on getting that transfer to the dayshift. As you enter the second curve of the increasingly bleak back road, something suddenly darts past your vehicle. You barely catch a glimpse of it as it crosses the road in front of you. Was that your imagination? You know what you think you saw. It looked big, big and feline.
You have a decision to make. You can , or decide it was your imagination and .
You stop your car and look carefully into the darkness on the side of the road. You noticed that the beast has not run into the greenbelt area, but instead has decided to make its way down a small dirt road which cuts into an open grassy field. You decide to follow in your patrol car. The animal looks abnormally large, though technically you have no experience with tigers so you're probably in no position to judge. It seems to stroll casually through the tall grass, menacing but also indifferent, which somehow makes it even more menacing. You carefully and nervously follow behind the predator for several minutes until you come to a creek bed. When, without warning the great cat decides to dart off towards the left. It's headed for the underside of the bridge where the highway goes over the creek. You turn and quickly follow the animal as your squad car struggles to battle the muddy creek bed. Eventually you reach the underside of the bridge, but you have lost the tiger. The beast has led you to the entrance of a large storm drain opening beneath the highway. You grab your flash light and decide to cautiously exit your vehicle to have a better look. As you approach the entrance to the storm drain, you notice the squad car of officer Schankerman, your coworker who had been reported missing earlier that night. It is parked on the other side of the bridge from where you arrived. Your brain barely has time to process many of the obvious questions you have, or grasp the implications of this situation, when you begin hearing screaming coming from inside of the giant mouth-like opening of the storm drain.
You have a decision to make. Do you want to , or ?
You decide that what you thought you saw was impossible. It must be your mind playing tricks on you. Of course there are no large predatory cats out here. The others at the station will think you're crazy if you try to follow an imaginary tiger. You take enough crap from those guys as it is. Better to forget about it and keep going. You continue cautiously driving, breathing deeply and trying to calm your anxious nerves. Just then a call comes up for you over the radio from dispatch. The missing officer's vehicle has been located on GPS, it is in your area. You are told to go check it out. Officer Schankerman has been missing for several hours, and you must go and investigate. His car has been located in a field near a creek bed which goes under an overpass of a large road. As you go, your first thought is how mucky it will be to climb down there. Then your second thought is how lucky you were not to break your neck during that tumble as you're trying to walk down the slippery steep slope. After gathering your flashlight off the ground and continuing down the ravine, you cautiously arrive at the bottom, slightly more worried and much more dirty than you were a few minutes ago. Yes, you definitely need that transfer to the day shift. As you approach the shadowy area under the bridge, you notice that there is the opening of a large, cave-like storm drain. Of course, you think to yourself, obviously this night would not be complete without a visit to the sewer. It just keeps getting better and better. The second thing you notice after the entrance to the storm drain, is the squad car of your missing coworker, officer Schankerman. It is parked on the other side of the bridge from where you arrived. Your brain barely has time to process many of the obvious questions you have, or grasp the implications of this situation, when you began hearing screaming coming from inside the giant mouth-like opening of the storm drain.
You have a decision to make. Do you want to , or ?
You cautiously enter the opening of the storm drain, a flashlight grasped firmly in your hand. You follow the screams around the corner of the dank cylindrical space. A small stream of water less than an inch deep flows through the bottom of the curved floor beneath your feet. Small drips occasionally sprinkle from the ceiling of the large tube as you move through it. The peaceful sound of falling water sharply contrasts with the desperate screams echoing through the dismal tunnel. You can only see several feet ahead of you as you continue on and beyond that is a veil of thick darkness that your flashlight can never seem to penetrate. You aren't sure what you're going to find ahead. You know your fellow officer must be in trouble. Has he broken his leg? Or has something else happened to him? What type of terrible fate has befallen him? You're only concern now, your sole focus, is to make sure that he is alright, assess the situation and then get him whatever help he needs as quickly as possible. But you must be cautious, and make sure that the same thing that happened to him does not happen to you. If he has injured himself by falling down a random pipe in the tunnel, you have to be very careful. And so you move steadily but cautiously through the claustrophobic black space of this subterranean labyrinth. As you move closer to your distressed coworker, his screams began to wane and become less frequent. Despite the dire implications of this change in sound, you can't help but be relieved that the bloodcurdling screams echoing through the underground chamber have mercifully subsided. When you finally reach the mortally wounded man, he is no longer able to scream and is barely gasping for air. As the beam of your flashlight moves over the ghastly scene, you can barely keep down the scream from rising in your own throat. Your fellow officer has been slashed to ribbons. His body is now more bloody entrails and dangling muscle tissue than it is discernible human form. But the true horror of this is not just the condition of the man's body, but its position. Specifically, the fact that he is being held by the throat, dangling from the jaws of a large predatory beast whose body is taking up the majority of the tunnel in front of you.
Its eyes shine with an anger and bloodthirsty hate that you could not possibly put into words. It's razor sharp teeth glisten in the beam of your flashlight. As his nearly dead face looks on at you helplessly and pathetically, Schankerman is able to utter one last breath of a word. Run. Run. You quickly reach for your sidearm. You know that you may not be quick enough to kill the animal in front of you, but if you can get a shot off, you know you may still have a chance to survive. You only have one chance but yes, yes you are sure that you can raise your weapon before the beast lunges. You have just a split second, but that's enough. And then you hear it. The low, terrible growl. A growl that seals your fate. This growl means your doom, not because it is coming from the tiger in front of you, but because you hear it coming from the darkness right behind you.
As you continue to hear the bloodcurdling screams of your fellow officer spewing out from inside of the large drainage pipe you begin to back away, and quickly jump into your patrol car, shutting the door and locking it. You are panicked, your heart is racing and you are hyperventilating. Sheer terror grips you. Your first instinctual reaction is to start the car, put it in reverse, and mash down on the pedal as hard as you possibly can. But then your training and conscious recollection of basic police procedure kicks in, and you realize you can't flee from the scene. You must call for backup, but you also must remain there. But you definitely won't be exiting your vehicle until help arrives. You pray that they arrive soon. In time to help you. Because it wasn't the scream coming from inside the black abyss of the drainage tunnel that caused such fear and horror to well up in you. If that had been all there was to it, your first instinct would be to follow the shouting and go save your fellow officer in the storm drain. But it's what you saw outside of it that filled you with such panic and dread. It was those thin but deep gashes along the side of the other officer's squad car. All in sets of four. They were particularly concentrated around the driver side door which had been forcefully flung open. And there was that other thing. The thing that was truly disturbing. That immense and bloody feline paw print, which was left at the very entrance of the lip of the drainage tunnel.
You open the door for your strange passenger and allow him to exit the vehicle. You both begin to move silently and cautiously into the dimly lit park. The tree cover blots out all of the surrounding streetlights from the nearby parking lot and the large grassy space between the trees, only makes this area seem bigger and more ominous, with more places to hide. The misty precipitation collects on every surface, making everything slick and damp. Small amounts of moisture fill the air, partially obscuring your long distance vision. Every shadow could conceal a menacing deadly cat, and every drop of water or slight rustle of vegetation could mean the difference between life and death. It's difficult for you to discern between your own footsteps on the wet grass, the footsteps of this other strange individual with you, and the possible noises of something else that might be lurking closer than you think. You tell your companion to stay close, stay calm and be quiet. As the officer on the scene, your safety and his are in your hands. You both must remain aware with laser sharp focus. Any overlooked movement or sounds, or any lapse in concentration or composure could spell disaster. Out of nowhere the odd man begins laughing hysterically, then he suddenly runs off in a completely separate direction, around some bushes and out of sight.
You have a decision to make. Do you , or do you ?
You ignore his tapping and continue on. Nervously holding your flashlight you begin walking and soon the streetlights from the nearby parking lot are completely overtaken by the layers of tree cover above you. Although the forest of this park is not dense, and there's plenty of room to walk on the well maintained grass between the trees, you can't help but feel the sensation that there are still plenty of places where the tiger could be hiding. This park has some picnic benches and even a gazebo, all made sinister and eerie in the dark damp night. The air is thick and silent, the loudest sound being the occasional wet leaf that you yourself step on. You are completely on your guard and hyper aware. Death could be lurking anywhere around you. It knows you're here and the only thing that you know is that it knows. Out of nowhere you hear an amazingly loud crash echoing through the entire area. You're so confused you can't even remember if it made you flinch or not. It wasn't an explosion, but something large hitting the ground and also shattering somehow. It takes your mind a moment to think about what could have possibly happened. You eventually figure out that the unbelievably jarring noise must've originated in the parking lot that you just came from. Could it be a car wreck? Did someone crash their vehicle?
You have a decision to make. Do you to see what it was, or ?
You turn around and quickly make your way back to where you parked your patrol car. As you get closer you realize that there are no other vehicles in the vicinity and it's not clear where the loud crash came from. As you move around to the other side of your police issued car, you are surprised and perplexed to realize that one of the backseat doors has been completely forced open, pulled off its hinges and is now laying on the ground surrounded by chunks of glass which have obviously come from the shattered window. As you struggle to sort out what could be going on, the sensation of extreme unease creeps up on you. You quickly race around to the driver side of the vehicle, start the car as fast as you can, put it in reverse and peel off into the night without even bothering to look around or check your immediate vicinity at all. You don't want to look around or know what was there. You don't even care that you left your car door lying there in the parking lot of the suburban park. All you care about is getting the hell out of there. It wasn't the fact that the car door had been ripped away with such inhuman force that bothers you. If only that were your sole concern. But the thing that even now haunts your mind, the thing that sent you reeling with such terror, was the dreadful realization that the door had been forced open from the inside, with that series of frantic claw marks and scratches around the back seat of the squad car, and finally those two sets of large cat-like paw prints making their way through the mud and towards the wooded area of the park.
As you move forward you begin walking along one of the concrete pathways which winds through this area of the park. You're not sure if you should stay on a path but you don't have any better ideas so you continue to follow it. You don't know where the path is leading, but then again you don't know where the tiger is either so you figure this is as good a plan as any. The thought of the crash you just heard once again crosses your mind and you wonder if maybe some damage has just been done to your patrol car. Did someone break one of the windows out? Before you have time to consider this further you see a large shadow dart off from the corner of your vision. It barely made a sound but you subtly detected the crunching of wet leaves as it moved from behind one bush and into another. You reach for your sidearm and draw your weapon. You move into the vicinity of the bush where the creature disappeared. You shine your flashlight into the foliage carefully looking for the animal. At last you finally spot it. You notice its distinctive striped pattern first. The tiger is definitely there, crouching in the bushes and looking at you. You have your gun on it but you're not sure whether you should shoot it or not. It doesn't seem to be moving. Is it waiting to see what you will do? Or is it waiting for something else? No sooner does this absurd thought enter your mind when you see the leaves. Those terrible leaves which began sprinkling down from the treetops above you. You barely had time to move your head to look up, when a second tiger jumped down from a tree branch right on top of you. You realize this was a trap as its claws rip into you and you drop your gun and your flashlight and you fall to the ground beneath the great cat's weight. This one is darker colored than the last one, it's frightening. It bears it's fangs just inches from your face. And those eyes. Those familiar green eyes, where have you seen those before? No, no, you think to yourself, that's impossible. But you don't have long to contemplate this idea. The last thing you hear is the growling voice of the beast on top of you, as it speaks in a distinctly human tongue. I told you we were ambush predators.
You give chase after the fleeing man. You run through the bushes and zigzag through the trees as you struggle to catch up with him. You're barely able to see where you're going through the dimness of the night. You obviously can't let him go and you can't shoot him so catching up to him is your only option. This situation is very bad and you know it. Having a completely unhinged guy out here running around wildly through the darkness while there's a wild tiger lurking about can only spell disaster. And you're the only officer on the scene. You're the only one who can deal with this. Your only hope is to catch up with this weirdo you're pursuing before the ghastly cat decides to show up and make its presence known. As you run you briefly lose track of the man and suddenly you trip and fall. But you don't simply fall to the ground, no, you find yourself falling through the ground. You're falling into the darkness, into a hole. Before you even have time to register what is happening you land and a searing pain tears through your right thigh and the left side of your abdomen, around your stomach. You've been impaled. You've fallen into a ten foot deep pit, the bottom of which has been lined with several sticks which have been whittled to a sharp point, designed to skewer anyone who is unlucky enough to plummet into the terrible trap. Even if you weren't seriously injured and could somehow move, there would be no way for you to get yourself out. The pit is too deep and the sides are caked with moist runny mud that would be impossible to grab hold of. But you can't even move, your pinned in place and bleeding badly. Above this primitive, diabolical trap you see the odd man standing above you. He seems pleased with himself. That was easy, second one we got tonight, he says proudly while turning to his companion. The tiger lazily walks over, and sits down next to him, looking down on you and licking it's lips as he gently pats the creature's head.
You begin quickly heading back to your patrol car so that you can call for backup. You are obviously in over your head and this situation has gotten far out of your control. As you pass the bush that you last saw the man run behind, you notice that he is crouched on the ground about 30 feet away from you. You wonder if he's sick, injured or just crazy. Or could he have been attacked by the tiger? In a moment that you debate whether you should go after him or go back to your car and radio for help, you see something that causes your blood to run cold. The man's body is getting bigger. Bigger and hairier. He's transforming. His hands morph into paws, his torso becomes larger and elongated, and he grows a tale. He's actually becoming a tiger. You panic, and then you run. You run as fast as you can back to your squad car. As you are nearing the place where you parked, you hear a roar, but not from the direction you left the transforming man. It's coming from a different area of the park, to your right. It's the other tiger. You don't stop to see it but you know it's there. As you run, you hope and pray that you can reach your car in time. You hope that the other tiger was far enough away that he can't catch you. You reach your car and manage to open the door and get inside faster than you ever thought you possibly could, with the beast still hot on your heels. You get on the radio and call for backup. You communicate its an emergency but without articulating what is really happening. Who would believe it? And now you sit there in your vehicle and wait, hoping that they hurry. Hoping that you somehow survive. You draw your sidearm and hold the weapon on your lap. All you can do is try to stay alive until help arrives. The first tiger, the one you have been following tonight is now pacing back and forth around your vehicle, like some sort of primal prison guard. But that isn't what's causing you such mortal dread. It's that other thing, that second tiger, if you can call it that. That grotesque thing that moments ago was a man, but is now a hideous creature which is shaped like a tiger and is now sitting on the hood of your car glaring at you through the windshield, like it's ready to pounce. Smiling at you menacingly, with a human face.
Thank you for playing Suburban Man-Eater, an interactive short story by Twisted Jenius. This story has multiple endings so you can or exit the game. Which would you like to do?