Seeking isolation after months of lockdown probably sounds a little nutty. I was anything but alone and drained from taking care of a family member who had taken ill. During this time, I flirted with fantasies of leaving town for an extended weekend to work on a neglected writing project, build a model, or some other time-consuming activity which I could enjoy uninterrupted. Eventually, I had to be honest with myself and admit what I wanted more than anything was to not have to do anything and just decompress.

Vacation time from work wasn’t an issue, but arranging for another relative to tag in took some doing. So did convincing my ill family member that I didn’t harbor any kind of resentment and just needed some time away. Wishing to keep it simple, I packed light for the trip.

The cabin was one of many along the lakeside, but the only a handful were occupied at the time. While barely outside civilization, the area enjoyed a natural beauty which was soothing, and it looked what I imagined an upper-class neighborhood would look like. On the first day, I just lounged on the couch and looked out the glass back of the cabin at the water. The lake was so quiet and placid that it reflected the surrounding woods.

I felt a little stiff the next morning as I had fallen asleep on the couch and managed to jam my head against the armrest at an unnatural angle. While the second day of doing little was a meditative experience, pangs of nervous energy made it less fulfilling than the first. Thoughts of errands to run and pet projects nagged me, and perhaps I didn’t really need as much of a break as I thought I did. When the thought of cutting the vacation short seriously crossed my mind, I convinced myself that it was too late in the day and I wouldn’t get home until an ungodly hour of the night.

That evening, my phone got a notification. An Internet personality I followed with some regularity was going to stream about a failed comedian who managed to fail his way up as a cult leader. This was something of a pleasant surprise, as the Internet guy had diverted his attention to more creative endeavors like a literary magazine. So there I was back on the couch, crudely trying to angle the phone so that I could lay back and watch while indulging in a snack.

“I’m a devout Christian, but anything in Latin is gay as fuck,” the hack comedian pontificated, “It’s all about making the words to plant in your head thoughts of fellatio and analingus! Me and my wife stopped having sex after our kid so I could purify my bodily fluids. She’s not doing any homo shit like blowing me.”

What I thought to be sounds of movement outside perked my head up. Then I reminded myself there was plenty of wilderness, so it was likely that I just heard a little of that wildlife of the nocturnal variety. My attention went back to the show as the gay metropolitan’s idea of a grizzled mountain man denounced a rival streamer, “He lets the lizard people throw quarters in his ass. When he got started, he could only take dimes, but they stretched him out with their reptilian dicks. They’re so huge horses blush.

“But then his gay little followers will say, ‘You deny the Trinity!’ Because it’s for FAGS!! ‘One become Three, Three become One, tee-hee tee-hee!’ Total propaganda.

“‘One become Three, Three become One, tee-hee tee-hee,’ ‘One become Three, Three become One, tee-hee tee-hee,’ ‘One become Three, Three become One, tee-hee tee-hee,’ ‘One become Three, Three become One, tee-hee tee-hee!’”

Put off by the sputtering madness, I let my eye wander into the impenetrable darkness outside. In a flicker of a moment, I thought I spied a white furry leg. What kind of animal it was was beyond me, but my imagination started filling the gaps. Perhaps a dog of someone in one of the occupied cabins. Being the type who couldn’t ignore a stray that belonged to someone, I got off the couch.

As soon as I opened the door, I peeked in the direction I saw the pale limb go. With trepidation, I took a few steps. Failing to hear the soft jangle of a dog license made me uneasy as I rounded the corner of the cabin. Didn’t know a damn thing about tracking, so all I saw was darkness, wet grass, and more darkness.

“tEE-Hee Tee-hEE!”

This and a clattering sound alerted me to something on the other side of the cabin. Chills ran through my body as I slowly turned around. Through the glass, I looked through the cabin into the kitchen window. What greeted me was none other than the deranged visage of the idiot who thought saying mildly edgy things while playing a piano was sufficient for a comedy act.

Those mad eyes pierced right through me, and that maniac grin frightened me worse than the bare fangs of any predator nature could produce. I was snapped out of my paralyzing terror when that evil gaze pointed to the side the vile face slipped off to. Opening and shutting the glass door behind me took an eternity as a rhythm-less stamping raced along the cabin.

There was no strategy behind my movements, just animal terror as I went in a straight line on the table and clumsily bounded over the couch. Glass shattered behind me and over my shoulder loomed the diabolical expression. Rank breath dizzied me. Deranged words woke me up, “OnE BeCoMe tHrEe, ThReE be COMe oNE, tee-HEE TEE-hee!”

The wicked face pivoted in midair as I redirected myself towards the stairs. Unnaturally proportioned limbs with knotted, filthy white fur let the disgusting creature scale the side. With a mocking grin, it perched on the banister just as I fell into the bedroom. In futile resistance, I kicked the door shut. I dragged myself up to the window. The doorknob rattled. “TEE-HEE tEe-heE!”

As I forced the window open, I knew from this height I had a good chance at surviving. Still, I prayed to God that if he could not deliver me in this hour of need, that I would botch my escape enough to splatter my brains and die a quicker death than what lay before me at the dubious mercy of that malevolent expression. The door finally gave when I fell out the window.

A bolt of pain punctuated landing on my shoulder. Gasping for air, I rolled onto my back. In spite of the nearby light, I could still see an abundance of stars. That horrible face coming down from the cabin window was still ghastly, yet in contrast to the night sky, it seemed like such a little thing.

Maybe this was the lesson I needed to learn; to suffer for my own hypocrisy. All those months expounding it was good to live and the need to get help, only to want to die and escape this little horror, which wasn’t that big a deal. So I was delivered into the hands of this monster wearing a face made appalling not from failure but from succeeding so well in reproducing insanity.

The noxious breath disoriented me, but I had enough cognizance to feel bad about how people who knew me would have to deal with the news. Especially my family, depending on the state of my remains, if ever found, they might be haunted by the mistaken notion I came here to die. Even with these thoughts in mind, all I had the energy to do was look into the eyes of Hell and spit, “Tee-hee tee-hee.”

When I woke up, I was on the edge of the woods near the cabins. My right arm felt useless, and my left leg couldn’t take any weight. In my left hand was the handle of what I assume was a hammer or a hatchet. What should have been the head was caked in dirt. My throat was too dry and cracked to call for help.

Fortunately, I was quickly found by another guest and an ambulance arrived surprisingly fast. Between the torn clothes, scratches, and bite marks, as well as copious blood and suspicious fluids, the haste was probably spurred on from looking like I was gangbanged by the Thing. I was about halfway to the great beyond and it was the tireless effort of the paramedics and doctors that pulled me back from it. There’s no way in Hell that I killed the thing, but I have no idea why it might have let me live. Maybe I got lucky and it decided tracking me down to deliver the killing blow just wasn’t worth the effort.

While I’ll never be an Olympic athlete, the doctor’s said with time and physical therapy, I would gain enough use of my arm and leg to live independently. This was a great relief, as I had feared being made an invalid. Hell, I was in so much pain when I first came to that I didn’t even noticed half-a-dollar in spare change had been jammed in my ass.

I really did try to explain what happened that night without sounding like a crazy person, but that got me disapproving looks. I still can’t tell if it was because nobody believed me, or if the police and doctors were angry I spoke aloud what was never to be acknowledged.

Were it not for my family, I don’t know how I’d have gotten by. My relative who wasn’t well seemed to snap out of her funk and took care of me the most as I recovered. Not being able to use an arm and a leg for a while seemed like a pretty cheap price to pay to see her act like herself again.

About a year afterward, I was notified about a new stream from the lit mag guy. Apparently in the past year, that hack comedian took a turn for the absurd in a way which has made all but the most zealous of his cult take notice. There had been much speculation about drug use, the onset of some new mental illness brought on by head trauma, and nobody knew where his wife and kid were.

At first, I resisted the idea of watching it. The fear of reliving what I could remember frightened me enough, but the horror of remembering the gap chilled me more. Then I told myself I had to, that I need to be able to just laugh at the stupid man was connected to that night of terror only by coincidence.

In the compilation video of the talentless comedian, I saw a hipster’s idea of a lumberjack in a dirty onesie. There were dark spots with bits of bloody wool and chicken feathers. Dazed, he licked a splotch of red liquid off his hand. Then he came to life with maniacal energy. Eyes stared directly into the camera which shook me to my core. I fucked up and met those orbs of madness and evil.

I already knew, but then I was deprived any avenue of lying to myself as the thing spoke, “ONE beCUM thREE, THrEE BeCOME one, Tee-HEe, TeE-Hee!”